It is official, the past ten days of dry weather have been declared a drought! One does have to question who the people behind such statistics are and on what planet they are living.
I wonder if the farmers on the Somerset Levels and other parts of the country who are only now seeing their fields re-emerge from beneath the flood water, revealing acres of rancid, foul smelly, polluted slime will be comforted by this revelation.
Although positive and looking ahead to the future when they can achieve some form of normality on their farms, the 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 the farm buildings and for that matter the farm houses, are uninhabitable and will remain so for many months to come.
Some will certainly have to consider selling their cattle. Others will try to buy in fodder which will be costly. The winter has been long; livestock came in early last autumn when the fields became saturated, so surplus bedding and fodder is now scares.
Many farmers have already sent all they had spare. As we have seen the generosity and kindness of farmers across the country has been over whelming, but the need will continue. It is important that even though the waters have now 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. The new houses are important and supply a pressing need, 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 fill the government’s demand for more housing.
The loudest voices of complaint come from those who are already living in fairly new build houses. 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 across 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, dogs should be kept on leads or at the very least under control. Sadly neither appear to be of interest or importance to some newcomers. 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 are oblivious to the risk their pets can bring onto farms and they 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 over the intervening years!
As far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with being bossy. I am therefore 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 work bossy. The ‘Ban Bossy’ campaigners 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