Better the day, better the deed! I sowed the last field of wheat on Sunday, 18 October and was rewarded with the sight of a kingfisher sitting on a wooden branch protruding from the bank of the river Swere (it is surprising what you can see from the seat of a tractor cab). We used to have a few more kingfishers around, especially at the Papermill Mill pond. Fortunately for the residents of Deddington, Thames Water decided to renew part of the nearby pumped sewage transfer pipe between Deddington and Adderbury. This involved driving piles into the ground to protect the pipe and inspection chamber. As it was nesting time when they were piling, and you could feel the ground moving, the kingfishers disappeared, but let us hope they may return in time. We have a field adjoining and to the south of St Mary’s Road with a footpath running roughly north/south in it. It is, I think, Adderbury’s most westerly field to have had the ironstone removal treatment with the opencast mining finishing in the 1930s, and the rock face is quite high in places. The field has always been named as “The back of Badby’s” in recognition of a previous New College tenant. We have had a few comments on our hedge cutting efforts recently. Some people liked the more open view, while others thought the hedge was being removed. All I can say is that the hedge in question looked in about the same condition two months ago as it did some thirty years previously. Both times we gave it a short back and sides (then and now) and are confident that it will grow back well again. The back of Badby’s field has mostly been in an arable rotation, and I believe that flax was grown for one year during the Second World War for linen production to be used for parachutes. The field has also been used to grow potatoes on at least three occasions that I can remember. One particular time we asked a contractor to spray the potatoes with a copper sulphate type of solution to give protection against potato blight. The contractor was a very experienced ex-forces helicopter pilot, but it did worry the residents of St Mary’s Road to start with! When flying, he would fly extremely close to the crop when spraying, the theory being that the downdraft of the blades produced a swirling effect and therefore a better coverage of the spray on the lower and underside of the leaves to prevent the phytophthora infestans doing its worst (as in the Irish potato famine). Does anybody remember seeing the helicopter in those days? In the event that we have a lockdown extension, and time is moving slowly, try reading the work of James Rebanks. To start with try The Shepherd’s Life which is all about making the best of education even if you are slightly older. If you don’t mind the Cumbrian dialect, then also try English Pastoral – an Inheritance which I think is an interesting insight into the Cumbrian Lake District hills. Best wishes to you all for Christmas.
Robert Stilgoe

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Comments (2)

  • Su Lutter

    Thank you for this very interesting article. It’s lovely to hear about what’s going on in our local farm and will help me explain to my young grandsons that farming isn’t just about tractors. More of the same please!

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  • Chris Wardley

    Well done Robert fascinating stuff.

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