The Countryside About Us: September 1995

posted 1 Sep 2015, 05:42 by James Mansell
A summertime that recalled many halcyon days of our younger years has been our good fortune in months just gone by.  Day long hot sunshine blazing from a blue sky and the evenings bring a refreshing coolness to revive us.  It is real harvest weather. The wheat and barley fields provide an environment which demands much replenishment of lost sweat. An age old country beverage for the workers in the harvest field was cold tea. No milk or sugar. Just cold tea straight from the bottle. Not all combine harvesters provide the luxury of an air conditioned cab. Drivers quickly take on the appearance of coal miners, and  you can mark their progress in the field  by a constant cloud of penetrating and irritating dust,  What can be  even more “irritating”  is for the combine  to break down  for some mechanical failure and thereby lose precious time. To see a neighbour untroubled by such delays just adds salt into the wound!  What blessed relief it is when at the end of the day the noisy combine’s diesel engine is switched off and for a few hours silence reigns.  Of course the hard work does not stop with the combining. Straw has to be baled and carted away, sometimes to be used for livestock bedding in the winter time and sometimes sold for consumption in other parts of the country, where straw is not so readily available.  Probably by the time these notes are read, the cereal harvest will be but a dusty memory, and the process of making sure of next year’s harvest will have begun.

Amazing spectacles, not provided by nature or agriculture, can sometimes be seen in the countryside about us. It can be very surprising indeed! On this particular summer’s evening it was just an audience of two peering from behind a bramble hedge. What we witnessed was one of our frequently seen Army Air Corps helicopters putting on quite a performance.  We have all seen these versatile  craft  appear to fly  through our surrounding fields  rather than over them, but I have not seen them play their version of a skipping rope display with overhead power lines !  Nevertheless, what was an exhibition of extreme skill rather than extreme bravado, the Puma helicopter slid neatly under the power lines several times before making off!  Phew !

The brambles we were peering through at this display revealed something more relevant, I hope, to our autumn needs. The blackberries looked full of promise, and come October or sooner, could provide many an apple and blackberry pie for those who cannot resist the fruits of these thorny hedgerows.  It is all too easy now to reach out to a supermarket shelf for a neatly presented package of food. I hope you agree that it is good for the soul to occasionally get stung, scratched or bitten to secure our basics to appreciate more our easy way of living.

Sometimes I am asked about the wisdom of feeding our garden birds throughout the summer months. The R.S.P.B. say it is safe to feed all the year round, though NOT to feed peanuts or fats during May and June.  Safe foods at this time are, they suggest, sunflower seeds, sultanas, and pinhead oatmeal and meal worms. I rather think there is enough natural food around until the autumn.  However, a bird bath is always welcome.

Roger Sykes
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