There is plenty of grass about as the growing conditions are quite perfect. Let us hope that the farmers on the Somerset Levels are finding fields are recovering for grazing, and hopefully they continue to receive supplies of fodder from across the country.
As we see our crops growing and have plentiful supplies of grass, we must not forget that their fields were rendered useless having been flooded for months on end, and it is fairly unlikely that they have much, if any, spare to make hay or silage to fill their barns for the winter ahead.
The winter barley is already turning which promises an early harvest. The crops do however need more sunshine to help swell the grain and keep it growing. These muggy grey days are unhelpful for the cereals and tend to encourage pests and disease which need constant monitoring.
The grain prices continue to tumble, and it is reported that potato farmers are facing shocking prices this year. They too have had near perfect growing conditions and anticipate a bumper harvest. The public are reportedly buying fewer potatoes which is strange considering we still need to watch our pennies. Surely the trusty potato, a good wholesome staple diet which is cheap, nutritious and very versatile should be top of the shopping list.
It is surprising that potato sales have not shot through the roof instead of declining. Perhaps the industry should increase its marketing efforts and remind Jo public, who seem to be on permanent diets, that the potato can help, and should be at the heart of every meal. Promote the trusty baked potato and delicious new potatoes which are now freely available, and by doing so support British potato farmers. I have yet to see this happening.
The roads are increasingly cluttered with cyclists and the volume surges at the weekends. One has to wonder where they all come from and how they find the time as there are increasing numbers about on week days too.
The annual London to Brighton British Heart Foundation cycle race passes the end of our lane which makes it almost impossible for us to venture to the north of the farm without going on a diversion of several miles.
Fortunately there was little need to head off in that direction as we had anticipated the road closures and cut the hay closest to home.
There are reports of escalating cases of road rage as motorists and cyclists clash over who is the ‘King of the Road’! I suspect the cause is the lack of respect from either party and as there is little provision of cycle tracks, it is unsurprising that problems arise
We are far behind other European countries particularly the Netherlands where just about every road has an excellent cycle path which results in relative peace and harmony. To be fair our roads, especially country lanes which are narrow, are not appropriate for cycle paths. It is hard enough to persuade the council to make provision for even a cinder track footpath to stop walkers being mown down along our lane. However the subject of cyclists does need to be addressed as there are far too many accidents in the towns and cities as well as out in the sticks.
The world is becoming increasingly dangerous by the day. The reported atrocities in the Middle East are chilling, as the blood bath spills across borders. The Ukraine is a tinder box, and from Nigeria and other African nations the reports of extreme cruelty and blood shed is breath taking.
These conflicts are caused by religion and tribal differences which cannot and never will be altered by western military intervention. Trying to introduce democracy into these explosive cultures will take decades and can only happen through education not confrontation.
History shows that the best these countries have ever known is a benevolent dictator, and the worst cruel sadistic dictators like Saddam Hussain, and Assad of Syria. Mediation appears to fall on deaf ears, and as we have witnessed first-hand, interference scatters the problem globally.
OFSTED and media attention on sectarian ‘Trojan Horses’, within schools has mainly concentrated on Birmingham. Reports of similar cases closer to home in the South East have so far, not hit the headlines. The scatter effect is real and should be taken very seriously, the government and local authorities ignore this very real problem at our peril.
Carola Godman Irvine