However, we should not assume that the countryside is shutting down for the winter; Mother Nature has ensured our store cupboards, and those of our wildlife cousins are well supplied with provisions for the long winter months ahead.
There is still an urgency to get the harvest completed and everything ship shape. The last of the fledglings need to be airborne, and those all-important stores filled.
The fields and hedgerows are abundantly supplied with cartloads of mushrooms, blackberries, sloes, hawthorn, rosehip, elder, rowan and bilberries. The trees are heavy with hazelnuts, sweet chestnuts and beech nuts. And the great oaks are shedding an enormous amount of very large acorns, as they so often do following challenging weather conditions. There is, if you are prepared to harvest it, so much ‘free food’ on offer for processing into jams, jellies and pies.
Some of my friends across the borders into Scotland have yet to get started on much of their grain harvest. The weather has been relentless since July with no two days without rain. It takes a brave man to grow crops in those conditions.
Most English farmer’s grain is safely tucked up in stores or already sold. That is those whose crops survived the wet winter and drought through the spring.
Yet again the Sunday papers have articles demanding the Government does not give in to US requirements for a compromising trade deal, allowing their dodgy produce into the UK, undermining British farmers whose practises are of a higher welfare and production standard.
James Rebanks writing in The Mail on Sunday, clearly has not been listening to Secretary for Trade Liz Truss, DEFRA Minister George Eustice, or the Prime Minister, all of whom have made it perfectly clear they will only agree a deal that is fair to UK farmers. They have pledged repeatedly to continue to uphold our high domestic and import standards in animal welfare, food safety and environmental standards.
Why Mr Rebanks and others who continue to take cheap shots at those trying to broker deals which will ensure British farmers, manufacturers and others wanting to export their wares, and have an open expanding market, is beyond comprehension. I suppose it is political mudslinging dressed up as concern for the agricultural industry.
The South Eastern Vintage Agricultural Club held their ‘Working Weekend’ at Stocks Farm, Ditchling, Friday-Sunday. There were tractors and tractor drivers of a variety of vintages! It was particularly encouraging to see such a strong turnout of very enthusiastic young people taking part.
Stocks Farm was a typical small family run farm of 90 acres. The Taylor family ran a few livestock and grew a limited acreage of cereals. The business was struggling and unsustainable, so five years ago they decided to either sell up or change things radically.
Today this beautiful farm nestled beneath the Downs has changed dramatically. The farm runs a beef rearing enterprise housing up to 500 cattle at any one time.
The enormous specially built cattle sheds are light and airy and have been landscaped thoughtfully and at great cost, including effluent tanks installed to catch run off from the cattle and silage clamps.
This ‘intensive’ beef rearing unit blends environmentally into the countryside, and flies in the face of the alarmists who revel in portraying such sustainable farming methods, which are efficient and ensure the public have the opportunity to buy affordable beef, as a scorched earth revolution!
These cattle are finished at 16 months, ours closer to 30 months. I know which I prefer to eat but surely both methods are acceptable and offer a healthy choice.