Farm sales, traditionally held at this time of the year, being Michaelmas, I always feel are rather sad occasions. Rows of farm equipment greet the buyers as they arrive. Anything from a heap of rusting tin sheets to a multi thousand pound tractor are on display to attract the highest bid. Rapidly the auctioneer proceeds along the avenues of “lot” numbers surrounded by a group of interested farmers. Bidding is a discreet affair. A nod or the raising of a fore finger is enough to catch the auctioneer’s eye. Banter and humour helps along the process. Several attend the sale, not to buy, but to meet up with acquaintances and exchange news. Others attend with no intention of buying, but somehow finish up with some item they could not resist. Quickly, and well before the last “lot” has been sold, the new owners pay for and remove their purchases. Return to the farm in the evening and very little remains unsold. Just a few heaps of “miscellaneous” items are about all you will see. When the day is finally over, and the farmer is just left with empty buildings and silent cattle yards (usually the cattle are moved elsewhere to be sold) a kind of temporary gloom descends. What was a place of work and noise, has changed in a few hours to a shrine of times now past. Just such an event occurred in our neighbouring parish of Brandeston. Now no family dairy farm remains in our immediate area at all.
About 1860 Thomas Hardy wrote one of his first poems. In it he relates going with his mother to where she originally lived and asking her “How looked the place when first she settled here?” and she replied, ”Fifty years have passed since then my child, and change has marked the face of all things.” One hundred and thirty years later we can say the same. A shifting scene can open up new and unexpected opportunities. Change will stimulate new ideas. It must also be excusable to glance back and remember how it used to be!