Whichever side of the fence one sits I imagine almost everyone felt a certain degree of relief when the result of the recent elections became clear? Especially that we no longer had to avoid the news channels on TV. Particularly the BBC who, having seemingly learned nothing from the result of the ‘project fear’ broadcasting three years earlier, when they and other similar siren voices sought to influence us simple voters, telling us we didn’t know what we were talking about and simply galvanising the general public to do the opposite to what they were telling us. Now lets hope the same sense seeps into the thinking north of the border where that Ms Sturgeon is hoping to get her electorate a second bite at independence. I sense they will be no keener now than the last time she tried?
We finished up last year with a fraction over 30 inches of rain, mostly at times we didn’t want it. The only casualties here were a colony of bees, in their quiet hives near the River Arun. I had a phone call on the Friday evening to say there was no sign of any flooding, then received one at 8.30 the following day, to say 180 acres was under water. The hives were knocked off their stands in the ‘tidal wave’. Emma went up and spread the word, and a neighbour kindly took his kayak out across a couple of deeply flooded fields managing to salvage a dozen of the floating hives. He reported there was some sign of life but I imagine not too many survived.
We traced the problem there, once again, to the EA who, as reported often before is well known, to those involved with river drainage and persistent flooding, to have neglected river drainage and the river banks for almost a quarter of a century. Now we are all paying for it and the best thing Boris could do for the Country, and particularly its floodplains, is to dismantle the Agency, return responsibility for drainage to the people who know their areas best, (countrymen, landowners and farmers) and reform and fund the old Internal Drainage Boards, rather than paying the EA for something they are clearly incapable of carrying out.
Now we are through the ‘dead’ period of Christmas we are getting ready for the upcoming task of felling our condemned Ash trees.
The plan is pretty straightforward and although it will doubtless cause plenty of aggravation to drivers on the A29 for a few days the result will surely be better than trees or limbs falling on cars.
To speed the work Emma has trimmed the vegetation back tight to the fence line, all that remains is to unstaple the barbed wire off the fence posts so their machines can access and grapple the trunks as they are felled. We are all prepared, the licence is approved, and we just await the felling gang.
The farm without its Ash trees and without any cattle, is going to look a pretty strange and quiet place for a while, lacking in most of its interest although that will start to change within a few weeks as the ground preparation and then the planting of the vines begins.
I was listening to some of the rubbish being spouted on the radio (Yes, you have guessed it, the BBC) at the copycat anti farming conference run in January to take the spotlight away from the long established ‘Oxford Farming Conference’. It is beyond all logic and common sense to attempt to destroy farmers confidence by their general drift, which seems to be to get all farm livestock off the land and rewild it with all the exotic species they seem to wish on the Country.
On top of that do they have any idea where proper food is going to be produced? Moulds and algae might produce something to appear like meat but, frankly, most people would surely rather see England with its grasslands, with cattle and sheep grazing, and then sit down to eat real food? As I have said often before real food is not produced in supermarkets, only sold there. When the shelves start emptying the ‘vegan hoard’ will be wise to keep a lower profile.
The main alternative production areas are the Southern Hemisphere, although with the recent regular bushfires in Australia the most likely area for expanding production is South America. I presume the exponents of an animal free Europe are quite happy to see the Amazon Rain Forest stripped of its trees and its capacity as the planets most important ‘green lung’ to instead become the world’s major food source? Just anything so long as they don’t have to see traditional agriculture in Britain?
I have listened quite a lot to the spokesperson for Farming from DEFRA, Theresa Villiers. I presume she knows her subject but she, or her rather wavering voice, doesn’t exactly fill one with confidence. I hope she proves me wrong but I wonder if she is forceful enough to project our industry’s best interests in the coming storm of negotiations.
Back on the hill farm we have much local interest in our now redundant storage facilities, particularly the barns, silage clamp and slurry store. We let the 2000 ton clamp out for maize silage storage for a local AD plant in the Autumn and more recently have let the slurry pit out for storing some of their endless supply of digestate prior to it being spread on local farmland as an alternative to compound fertiliser. It is good to have the facility continuing to be used profitably.