Our grass fields are mostly well established leys and permanent pasture which grow best as temperatures begin to rise. Italian Rye Grasses are hardier and grow at lower temperatures, and can now be seen tall and billowing in the wind like waves across a lake.
The Lupins are growing steadily and seem to be finding just enough moisture. They are now almost beyond the stage where they attract the pigeons, and I am really grateful to the team of crack shots who have kept vigil this past week. They have done an excellent job of keeping these ravenous birds away.
Hay making could be quite a spectacle and perhaps somewhat slow this summer. It seems that the BBC series Poldark has set tongues wagging, and some hearts beating; apparently not just amongst the women. It has been reported that BBC Radio 4’s Today presenter James Naughtie has been spotted mowing his lawn while topless, in tribute to this classic production!
Personally I fail to see the attraction of the subject of so much attention. Mr Aidan Turner, now better known as Ross Poldark, is not exactly my cup of tea. He is quite obviously not very experienced with a scythe, and looks as if he could do with a jolly good wash and a haircut!
It will be interesting to see how many enthusiastic young farmers, and perhaps even some not so young, wishing to attract the attention of the opposite sex, will take to the hay fields with scythes and their tops off! Time will tell.
Apparently scything is undergoing something of a renaissance, according to Maureen Paton in The Sunday Telegraph. She says that it has for some while, been promoted as the perfect workout and is becoming increasingly popular.
Not only is scything advocated as being more environmentally friendly than the noisy strimmer or lawnmower, there is also a growing social scene developing as crowds are being drawn to competitions to find ‘the fastest scythe’ in the country. The UK ladies champion for the last five years is Andi Richard, a scything tutor.
She said, “You feel much closer to nature when you scythe. Strimmers can kill frogs and field mice and destroy bird’s eggs hidden in the grass.”
Enthusiasts claim the practise offers a fabulous non-impact outdoor workout, with benefits similar to yoga and Pilates. It seems that this old fashioned method of mowing the grass is catching on. However I shall be sticking firmly to my true and trusty yellow peril The Stig.
The latest deterrent to ward off unwelcome trespassers from farmland and through woodland across the whole of Southern England is a creature which can charge at 35 miles an hour, weighs 25 stone and will viciously attack dogs and humans. Wild boar are roaming freely from Cornwall to East Anglia in rapidly increasing numbers.
After a couple were recently attacked in Gloucestershire and their dog savaged, the local police have warned walkers to take extra care and stick to marked official footpaths.
A local, German-born Felix Bihlmeier, who is a boar hunter, believes Britain should adopt his homeland’s no nonsense approach to the boar or face rural chaos. He says that in Germany they shoot 350,000 each year, which hardly keeps their numbers down.
Since the first wild boar arrived in the Forest of Dean, apparently let loose by a local farmer a decade ago, the population has grown to at least 1,000. Last year 350 were culled, but with the average litter of six piglets, the boar which has no predators is winning the demographic battle.
They scare the locals, dig up gardens, golf courses, parks and sports grounds. They have also been responsible for several serious car crashes, one of which resulted in the tragic death of a 47 year old man.
“A boar’s tusks are beautifully designed and razor sharp”, said Mr Bihlmeier. “What he does, when he gets close, is to jut forward and thrust up which can slice open the upper thigh, most likely severing an artery, which can prove fatal.”
The Forest of Dean depends largely upon tourism. Now what was originally considered an attraction for visitors, is today thought of as a serious potential hazard. The Forestry Commission is trying to increase the number it culls each year but is currently in dispute with animal rights lobbyists and others who claim boars pose no danger to the public.
Fortunately the animal is not a protected species so rangers and farmers are entitled to shoot them. Mr Bihlmeier who shoots up to three or four a month, says the problem will get worse until there is a proper culling policy.
The one benefit in all this is indicated by the sign outside Cameron’s butchers in Newnham Severn. The manager Mike Leighton said, “The meat has a lovely, earthy, gamey taste and makes terrific sausages, the boar is very good for business.”
These creatures would have a field day if they were to venture into our local territory. The number of walkers with dogs trampling through the woods and fields off official footpaths is staggering.
Carola Godman Irvine