Our marshes are under water

Writers Posted 29/10/19
This autumn has been a real mushroom bonanza.

The river levels have threatened to breach the banks on several occasions recently. This morning our marshes are under water. I posted a photo on our family WhatsApp and eldest daughter offered to bring back her paddle board, suggesting I use it for lookering sheep! I know I larked about on her board in our living room but that might be a challenge too far.

I’m not feeling like a dunking. A fortnight ago I responded to a call to attend my GP flu jab clinic. These are well organised and it takes no time at all. They say it’s not possible, so it must be coincidental that I developed flu three days later. A fortnight on and I’m far from fit for the shooting season. However Manuka honey, a squeeze of lemon and hot water is doing wonders for my throat. The spaniels are eagerly anticipating the prospect of getting pheasants up on the wing, and bringing back birds for the bag.

This autumn has been a real mushroom bonanza. Finding tasty natural growing food for free while out checking animals is a bonus. Nigel and Hannah delighted in discovering parasol mushrooms. The internet confirmed these were edible, so they cooked them for lunch. I declined to join their feast. Where mushrooms are concerned I tend to ere on the side of caution. I’ve never forgotten a busy night shift looking after magic mushroom eaters! But when I spotted field mushrooms, I was happy to pick them. Today’s treasure was little and large puff ball mushrooms.

‘Tesco Plant Chef Cumberland style bangers’ advert has sparked a lot of debate. The main ingredients after water is mushroom (18%), palm oil, textured pea protein. (5%) I looked it up specially. One review states ‘disappointing taste and texture with a strange plastic-like skin.’ Surely there’s no comparison with a Cumberland sausage containing 90% pork in natural casings. I also noted battered fish-free fillets main ingredient is soya.

Vegans have the gall to accuse livestock farmers of causing climate change and destroying the environment. How ethical and environmentally friendly are these vegan ingredients? I suspect supermarkets are jumping on the fake meat bandwagon because there’s a larger profit margin in it for them. Of course it’s cheaper to buy processed vegetable ingredients than to pay farmers for high welfare reared animal meat.

I had to watch the advert online as I wasn’t aware of it until I read the Hailsham market report. I’m not a great TV fan, except when it comes to World Cup rugby. I mean, who can resist watching those hunky men throwing themselves around the pitch with such gusto, I love it. Apologies, I digress.

I was dismayed by the interview discussing the Tesco advert on ‘This morning’ TV with Lucy Watson, a vegan campaigner, (former ‘made in Chelsea star’) and Abi Reader a livestock farmer. The latter did an incredibly good job, answering misinformed questions. Lucy insisted that 70% of farms in the UK are factory farms. She described animals kept in horrendous conditions, and not seeing the light of day. Lucy then claimed that if we got rid of 56 billion animals on the planet, there would be more space to grow crops and vegetables for humans to eat. No mention of suitability of soil types!

Too many people are being influenced by incorrect facts circulated on social media. More food education is vital. The government and the media need bombarding with the truth of how food is made. The supermarkets should take care not to destroy the hand that feeds them.

Dutch and French farmers took their tractors onto the streets early in October protesting against ‘Agri-Bashing’ and ‘demonising of farmers’. The current trend blaming farmers for climate change is demoralising farmers worldwide. UK farmers took no such action. Minette Batters complained to the BBC and for one week there was an improved effort to give a more balanced view, but it didn’t last.

Several tractors did take to the lanes in our nearby villages in the form of a Tractor Trundle. This event was held more for nostalgia and the love of tractors. A fun way to raise money for charity. Our grandson was very impressed by the spectacle. Memo to self, must dust off old David Brown and take part next year. Particularly impressed by sofa in trailer, admirable style.

Alba, (Nigel and Hannah’s terrier) has been chewing the tops of my wellies, her creativity has resulted in a height reduction. I’ve always bought cheap and cheerful wellies, whereas Nigel and Hannah wear top range editions. Alba never seems to touch theirs! Happily now I can keep up with their image as Alba has given me some very stylish and comfortable replacements. Perhaps that was Alba’s aim all along, to upgrade my look.

Farming wise, the bull looked bored so we brought him home. When he saw the livestock trailer he couldn’t wait to leap aboard. He’s very happy in the shed. We weaned some nine month old calves, so they’re now under cover too. We’ve altered our feeding system, making the using of large square bales easier. The rest of the cattle will soon be in, unless it comes dry. My only concern is, it’s still quite warm. The hedge cutter is on, but right now roadside hedge cutting is the only option. The dogs have just alerted me to a commotion outside. I’d left the garden gate open and some cows were peering in the back door! We can cope with four legged intruders but not the two legged variety. We’re wary about the increase in rural crime going on around our area. Our locally set up FarmWatch WhatsApp group works well. Please be vigilant, and take precautions to avoid becoming a crime victim.

I’ll sign off, prepare for the coming season. No not the dogs, it’s me that needs the training. I’ll just add a little or a lot? of whiskey to my honey drink, purely medicinal you understand!


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