The Countryside About Us: October 1992

posted 2 Oct 2012, 11:48 by James Mansell
It has been the “best of harvests and the worst of harvests”, to seriously misquote the opening words of Dicken’s “A Tale of Two Cities”. It was a wonderful start for the combining of winter sown barley. However, later on a struggle ensued against frequent rain showers to save peas destined for canning. Getting the wheat in, the principal crop hereabouts, vital for our daily bread as well as animal feeding-stuffs was also a “catchy” business. Beans are traditionally a “fingers crossed for good weather“ sort of crop. Linseed, a relative newcomer, has still to be gobbled up by the insatiable combine harvester. Where crops have been safely gathered in, unmolested by high winds and rain, yields have not disappointed the grower. Now, unlike a few years ago, decisions have to be made not only about what varieties to grow for next year’s harvest, but what fields are to be ”set aside” to grow nothing at all, that is to say, nothing that can be sold as a crop ! I am sure that those who come well after us will marvel at our inability to stem the flood of African hunger from the potential surpluses of our European farmlands. 

What will certainly be heading for North and West Africa quite soon will be our swallows, house martins and swifts. For some it will be the first time they perform this annual miracle of navigation. To remember them by, there will be abandoned nests and heaps of droppings on window sills! As you clear up the mess, you might like to put some insecticide in the old nests to ensure a clean start when they return to us in April next year.

The hedgerows are laden with fruit this autumn. I disregard this as a portent of a hard winter ahead of us. Last autumn was just as bountiful and I hardly put my gloves on all winter! What I did do though was enjoy several blackberry and apple pies. I hope you will too.

Roger Sykes
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