Narrow winding lanes with hedges towering above which disappear into dark tunnels of overhanging ancient trees, and emerge onto the crest of gentle hills. Breath taking views include patch works of green fields ringed by hedges and woodland, undisturbed for centuries. Amongst this mainly green panorama, broken only by clouds of white blossom of Hawthorne and wild cherry, are traditional red brick homesteads and farmyards.
Last week I found my way to just such a charming yet ramshackle farmyard, not dissimilar to that used in the filming of Cold Comfort Farm.
Those unfamiliar with Stella Gibbons’ novel, made into a TV movie, set primarily in 1930s East Sussex, I thoroughly recommend this gentle, feel good charming story of a dysfunctional farming family, (whose isn’t!) set in the depths of East Sussex.
As the world around us is becoming increasingly mad, Cold Comfort Farm offers an escape from the world of Brexit and the antics of our dysfunctional government. It takes you back to a gentler world devoid of social media, and 24 Hour News. One where families and individuals mattered.
A host of powerful characters emerge, in this case amongst the cattle, a seriously handsome Hereford bull, assortment of pigs and chickens, and several fairly innocent ‘romps in the hay loft’!
The purpose for my trip to deepest East Sussex was to buy Sussex steers. The journey was successful, a deal was struck and late on Friday nine very handsome beasts duly arrived at Ote Hall.
As we career giddily towards the European elections on Thursday, it has become increasingly clear that Mrs May and the current parliament have become irrelevant. MPs no longer bother to attend Prime Minister’s question time, notable by the empty benches. Who can blame them when two of the worst ever leaders of either main parties are to all purposes lost causes?
The public have already moved on to the upcoming ‘people’s vote’ this Thursday, when they will remind HM’s Government and Opposition that the country voted to Leave the EU.
It is hard to know where to go for sensible leadership and directive when the senior occupant of DEFRA, Michael Gove, is under the thumb of environmentalists. Having been told last week at a meeting at which farmers were asked to voice their opinions, but told food production should not be part of the discussion, I am in despair.
A handful of farmers were invited to give our views regarding the implementation of ‘public money for public good’. From the start we were told to stick to environmental matters, food production being off the table! However, if those running the meeting under the South Downs National Park banner, report the meeting accurately, that is not the message we have sent back to DEFRA!
As a child I had a small plot where my parents encouraged me to grow things. They hoped my little flower bed which was close to the house, would be colourful. I spent many hours keeping it weeded and tidy.
Much to my parents disappointment few flowers grew with the exception of a few nasturtiums. What I did produce were copious amounts of worms! There were fat ones, thin ones, long and short. I was fascinated by them and spent many happy hours in their company.
Today farmers are reminded just how important earth worms are in indicating the health of our soil. They can mobilise locked-up minerals, help with drainage and spread organic matter to improve the soil structure.
Farmers love worms, we value hugely our silent co-workers. ‘Min till’ crop production has resulted in an explosion of worm numbers, and our soil quality and drainage has vastly improved.
This week our priorities are to love worms more, watch Cold Comfort Farm and get out and vote!
‘To read Carola’s articles in full log on to www.carolagodmanirvine.co.uk’