The fertiliser was due to arrive and the Lupins depart on the same day which required nimble negotiations to ensure the two operations did not coincide. To safeguard this we found ourselves shovelling Lupins at 6am which was quite a shock to the system but got the job done.
Six of the over wintered polo ponies departed for Midhurst and true to form on the morning of the move one was hopping lame and looked miserable. The vet confirmed an abysses in her hoof which although very painful, is the diagnosis you want to hear. Once lanced the pain is greatly reduced and the healing process can begin. Fortunately the pony made the journey safely and is now off my hands until they all return in the autumn.
The rest of the move went relatively smoothly although one stubborn pony decide he would rather stay behind and refused to load into the horse box. Much time, effort and frustration was wasted trying to persuade him he should travel with his mates but he had other ideas. In the end he was left behind and spent a lonely night in the field.
A second attempt began the following morning but he was still determined to enjoy the good life and stay put. That is until we ran out of patience, dropped the charm offensive and got angry. He soon changed his mind and hopped on board much to everyone’s relief.
The cereal crops were top dressed and the grass fields have been harrowed, and rolling is under way. Soon when we have caught up, we can begin to clear up the many fallen trees across the farm that came down during the winter storms.
John mentioned last autumn that we were getting low on supplies for the wood burner. His prayers have been answered, not only are there enough fallen trees to provide logs for several years to come, we also hardly made a dent in the wood shed this winter as the weather was so mild. The wood burner which heats the house and hot water was never used, it is so efficient that the house would have been steaming.
I mentioned the South Downs National Park Partnership Management Plan last week, a document of 100 pages setting out the future plans of the SDNP for the next five years.
This document gives some interesting statistics which make this National Park quite unique compared to any other in the country. It has the largest population of 112,000 and there are 2 million people within 5km. It has been suggested that these are some of the reasons why the South Downs should never have been given National Park status.
Another noteworthy statistic is that 85% of the South Downs is farmland which is actively farmed by arable and livestock farmers, and more recently hundreds of acres of vineyards have been planted.
These and similar farming activities have remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years and are what has created the beauty of the landscape so greatly admired. It is note-worthy that there is very little acknowledgement that it is farming which has created this living landscape, within the pages of this ‘plan’.
There are only two pages dedicating to farming policies which resulted from a few meetings with farmers. At one they were asked to consider different aspects of the SDNPA’s plans for the future and every time we strayed from the agenda in a vain attempt to broaden the discussion into topics felt to be more appropriate for agriculture and future development of farm businesses within the park, we were hastily reined back and told to stick to the agenda which was mostly confined to conservation, public access, new incentive schemes and encouraging farmers to diversify.
To be fair policy No 5 out of the six farming policies says: Increase understanding of farming and of farmers as the custodians of many of the special qualities of the National Park. This is indeed a grand statement but most of the farming community consider there is precious little understanding by the SDNPA of either farmers or farming, and the need to secure their businesses and not be held back by red tape and bureaucracy.
The document is full of worthy platitudes, policies and outcomes. It is written in civil service speak which has probably been heavily influenced by Brussels. It could under the supervision of a good editor be reduced to around ten pages and then should be placed in a bottom draw and forgotten.
Sadly so many of our legislators are today distant from the reality of country life. They appear to have little understanding about the business of farming and how farmers must be free to adapt their businesses and take advantage of every opportunity to support their farm.
Quangos and civil servants should stick to the towns and cities and the countryside should be left to the farming and country community, the two just don’t mix.
Carola Godman Irvine