The Countryside About Us: September 1991

posted 30 Aug 2011, 11:26 by James Mansell
From around 1947, in our Parishes, as well as most other East Anglian rural districts, the noble cart horse began to be replaced by the much less peaceful tractor. The “clean legged” Suffolk Punch and the mighty Shires, (less suited to our boulder clay soils because of the “feather” or hair on their lower legs which collected the sticky clay) began to become much less important as a means of farm power. Slowly, but with certainty, the tractor with all its oily smells and noise proved so much more suitable.  At one time there were probably 4 horses on every 100 acres to cope with the toil of the farming year. It was a sad day in many a stable when “Whitefoot” or “Beauty” no longer stamped their great feet on the cobbles and silence replaced the munching and snorting which accompanied well earned “baits” after a days work. However, horses are still a common sight but not ploughing wheat stubbles or pulling beet drill in immaculate straight lines. Now we see the more slender variety, with a rider up. In our three Parishes which comprise our benefice,  it is possible to see everything from a rescued Dartmoor foal to a Shetland pony, to a Suffolk mare and even the occasional Shire.  Horse drawn traps and waggonettes feature especially in the summertime. The pair of Friesian black horses, originating from Friesland in  Holland,  have no rivals for grandeur as they are exercised along our roads. Just a parish “up the road” they even have the first ever Carmague horses in England. It is good that we have not lost man's oldest and most patient servant, but rather we have seen a sort of evolution, and might again when the oil runs dry!

Walking along a shady and dampish footpath recently, I was excited to see a metre plus of a harmless grass snake gracefully gliding across in front of me. It quickly vanished into the undergrowth. Its contrasting dark and light green colours were quite beautiful.  I wished it well.  

Roger Sykes