It is official, the recent spell of dry weather has been declared a drought! It begs the question, who are the people behind such statistics, and on what planet they are living?
I wonder if the farmers on the Somerset Levels and other parts of the country where some fields remain flooded, and others are only now seeing fields re-emerge from beneath the flood water, revealing acres of rancid, foul smelling polluted slime, will be comforted by this revelation.
Although positive and looking optimistically to the future when they can at last achieve some form of normality on their farms; farmers whose land was worst hit by the floods are still at a loss to know just how they will manage to feed their livestock over the next 12 to 18 months. There is certainly no green pastures to turn their cattle onto this spring, and no hope of making hay or silage to take them through next winter.
In many cases farm buildings, and for that matter farm houses, are uninhabitable and will remain so for many months to come.
Some farmers will have to consider selling their cattle. Others will try to buy in fodder which will be costly if they can find it. The winter has been long; livestock came in early last autumn when the fields became saturated. Now surplus bedding and fodder is very scarce indeed.
Many farmers have already sent what reserves they had spare. The generosity and kindness has been over whelming but the need for further supplies will continue. It is important that even though the waters have mostly receded, we must not forget them or their livestock, and continue to send fodder if possible and financial aid.
The spring sunshine has brought out the walkers in vast numbers. As new homes spring up in every gap and open space on the farm boundaries the numbers increase. These developments are important and supply a housing need. There is a shortage of homes and local businesses will benefit from the increased population.
It is too easy to criticise those who make land available on the outskirts of towns and villages for developers to supply new homes for the growing population.
Invariably the loudest voices of complaint come from those who are themselves live in houses built on the periphery of farm land. They are angry and seem and believe it is their right to have a home, but are not prepared for others to have the same opportunity.
Most dog walkers are no trouble but increasingly the newcomers appear to have little understanding of the country code or etiquette for walking on farmland.
One would assume that it would be courteous to first establish where the footpaths run. Also, when walking on private property where there are livestock and crops growing, it should be clear that dogs should be kept on leads or at the very least under control. Sadly neither appear to be of interest or importance to some. Many walk on the crops, don’t keep to the footpaths, allow their dogs to run all over the place and make no attempt to clear up the dog mess.
The farming press is once again highlighting the curse of ‘irresponsible dog owners who are increasingly wrecking the countryside by allowing their pets to savage sheep and by failing to clear up their pets mess when walking on agricultural land’.
The Farmers Guardian highlights the increasing problem of parasites which lodge in dog faeces which can result in the abortion of cattle and death in sheep. Unfortunately many dog owners seem oblivious to the potential diseases their pets can bring onto farms. They also fail to appreciate that these fields are the primary source of food production.
At the age of seven my school report read “Carola is making good progress and tries hard. However, I believe she would do better if she minded her own business more and was a little less bossy”! My family and nearest and dearest tell me little has changed!
As far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with being bossy. Which is why I am bemused by the campaign led by Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook’s chief operating officer, and author of the alfa-females’s handbook ‘Lean In’, to ban the word bossy. The ‘Ban Bossy’ campaign argues that the offending word is used to ‘squash’ ambitious or assertive girls, and should therefore be erased from the dictionary.
A collaborative group of high-flying women including Condoleezza Rice, Victoria Beckham, and Beyonce who appears at the end of a promotional video declaring: “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss”, all declare that “bossy” is a sexist word and often used to chide girls and knock their confidence.
I am fully behind those who are supporting the ‘Being Bossy Brigade’. As Jemima Lewis said in the Daily Telegraph “unlike most words used to undermine women – nag, airhead, crazy, frigid – bossy has its etymological roots in something strong and positive.”
If we want more females to be strong and positive leaders we should encourage them to be both bossy and proud. Bossy is not an insult, it should be viewed as the highest accolade.
Carola Godman Irvine