How the months fly past! So much happening, both on the farms and in the world; in the case of the latter, very little to give anyone much encouragement or cheer? 

On the home farm our crop, maize, has had a chequered season. The majority of it went in almost a month late on 19/20 May due to the persistently wet conditions. Fertiliser prices and current ‘fashion’ meant our contractor was applying digestate with his huge spreading machinery on wet fields, leaving consolidation still showing as the crops approach harvest. Reduced, yellowish looking plants, about 4ft shorter than where the spreader didn’t track, and clearly going to be reflected in the end yield. 

Then, when the lower land was finally ‘workable’, the last 20 acres went in by slot seeder on 19 June, almost two months too late. All we needed to ‘cap’ the season was for the land to be flooded again. Still waiting.

In early July a gang of seven youths visited the farm buildings, on CCTV, in broad daylight, smashing the glass window of a tractor cab, presumably just for amusement. We reported it to the local school and the police. Eventually, after finding better CCTV footage, the school managed to identify several of the offenders, but because the police did absolutely nothing to help, not even providing a crime number or contacting the head teacher for over two weeks, little could be done before the summer holidays. We just have to hope the school’s excellent IT communications were able to spread the word. 

So far it seems to have done, but with no help at all from the local constabulary. Today’s police are really a pathetic reflection of a service many of my generation remember with huge respect. By widely held local perception, officers today appear to spend more time rushing along the local bypass with their sirens blaring to speed their journey to lunch or tea breaks than they do keeping their eyes on, and around, their local communities.

This summer’s furore over Mr Farage and his bank accounts has stirred very understandable concern from people across the country. Personally, although I share some of his less abrasive views, one feels he lets himself down by his aggressive, interrupting manner of speaking. 

I make no apologies for thanking him for ‘getting Brexit done’, although he obviously now has a big ‘cross on his back’, an ongoing target for sad Remainers? Perhaps he feels that his manner gets him coverage, although it’s likely responsible for many of his subsequent troubles.

Yet that any Bank, like Coutts/NatWest, could attempt to control an individual’s views in such a draconian manner is truly frightening. Where is it all going to end if the law doesn’t stamp on such selective abuse? Are we all to be monitored and suppressed like Russians or Chinese? If you have no interest in this I’m sorry, but if, like many farmers, you support free speech and independent thinking I’m certain you can see the dangers to society.

It is increasingly apparent that banks seem to be becoming obsessed with turning all their clients ‘woke’. We were sent a typical example recently. I spoke to my ‘manager’ next day and he immediately apologised for it but basically implied it was company policy. To cover their backsides in any eventuality? Certainly, more for their own benefit than their customers. Perhaps after the Summer’s exposures, they may realise they are bankers, not guardians of their client’s lives and morals.

Recently I purchased a new flail mower, specifically to keep on top of the land we are preparing for next year’s woodland planting. The initial plan is to sow grass seed immediately prior to planting, then flailing between the rows of trees every six to eight weeks during summer to maintain a strong grassy carpet, allowing tree establishment at the same time as providing a green home for moths, insects, voles, mice and the like, sustaining a good feed source for our bats and various local hawks and owls. 

I have long had an image in my head of myself as a very old man (in some ten years’ time!) quietly watching across the, by then, strong young trees as a couple of barn owls silently quarter these two fields on a quiet summer’s evening, with the sky full of clattering pipistrelle bats and late feeding swallows, house martins and even swifts. 

It would be like the meadows were when the dairy herd grazed, or were settling down for the night. A memory which, very sadly, is gone for good because cattle, meadows and bird life has been lost to our area due to the seemingly uncontrolled encroachment of new-build houses. Homes, but no longer for country folk.

Images perhaps based more on the past, but surely worth trying for. When the proposed woodland scheme is established then an important element for these hopes is there; yet it is for future generations to sustain and nurture the idea.

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