The Countryside About Us September 1998

posted 3 Sep 2018, 05:03 by Chris Hoare

The countryside about us provides, almost every day, sights and events some of which lift your spirits and, just as effectively, cast them down. Examples of both came our way in Earl Soham parish recently. Quite a large proportion of the arable acres are farmed by one farming company. Consequently the style of their husbandry would bound to have an impact on the fields around us, and the flora and fauna this land supports. What good news it was then when the Suffolk Farming & Advisory Group award the 1998 first prize in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme to this farm. It is judged how the business of farming is carried on alongside the protection of the non commercial aspect of the farm such as unsprayed grass margins around arable fields ponds and their maintenance, hedge and tree management and so on. In other words a system that provides good farming practice coupled with enabling the natural world of the countryside to also flourish. On the other side of the coin development has decreed the need to change the character of the arboreal nave of deciduous trees from Earl Soham to Framlingham. The tree fellers and hedge grubbers have paid a visit. As Hardy so eloquently wrote “…. And change has marked the face of all things…..”

If your poultry has fallen victim to a marauding fox you would tend to curse rather than admire them. Sometimes however, one cannot fail to be impressed by their character. A friend of mine who works on a farm in Monk Soham parish tells me of such a one. Walking along the tractor wheel marks between the tall rows of winter beans in early summer, there some few yards in front of him was a vixen and three cubs. He continued forward and the cubs vanished into the jungle of beans. However the vixen stood her ground snarling at his approach. He thought she seemed rather menacing so he decided to slowly retreat along the track. To his surprise the vixen followed him for some way before deciding her cubs were no longer under threat. The story does not end there. Having reached the gateway he bent down to tie his boot lace, and virtually under the nose rushed a dog fox, which also vanished into bean field. A few days later my friend had what must be quite a unique “foxy” experience. Much in the same area he came upon the vixen lying on a sunny bankside suckling her cubs!

On a hot and breezy early August day, congregating on the wires over what was called Broad Meadow or Low Meadows nowadays, were upwards of 60 house martins, a mixture of newly flying youngsters and their parents. Far too early for migratory thoughts, it mystified me why they were holding such a convention.

Roger Sykes