Tuesday 30 June 2009

A world apart

Shep's been away out of the area. Yep, that's right the North Tyne was left behind as a wedding needed attending. Friday morning saw shep and the better half heading south towards Peterborough arriving in time for a tea time wedding and evening reception.

Interesting to note that once past Scotch Corner I never spotted a sheep, not to say they weren't there, just I never saw one, and very few cattle either. A great deal of arable ground though, every crop imaginable and many I could only guess at. A few grass fields had been cleared but again a pointer that maybe there wasn't alot of stock if silage and hay hadn't been grown.

Now up here in Tarset the fields are full of grass, or so it seems, however, the crops in many places are still light and silage/hay activity remains a week or two off. Down south the corn is almost ripe, potato crops are flowering, strawberries are being picked, maize is standing waist high........ there is no doubt about the North /South divide. Us and them are weeks apart in the growing season. A fact I learnt years ago when I went to lamb in the self same area. It was February, I travelled down with snow tyres on the van due to the poor road conditions up here, on arrival in a place called Exton,nr Oakham I was greeted with daffodils in full flower, I'd left snowdrops frantically trying to peer up out of the snow - a world apart!

A WORLD APART brings me to the radio report I heard at lambing time regarding a new eu directive. Farmers have had to pay to have dead stock removed from the farm for a few years now - yet another expense. At about £17 per sheep it sharp adds up, it's not so long ago that a dead sheep would be buried on site, where she'd fallen, those that you didn't come across were carrion fodder, helping the balance of nature, feeding foxes, badgers, crows and numerous other birds let alone all the creepy crawlies which we all like to overlook.

Now I do believe that I'd heard on the radio that due to the lack of deadstock on farms in europe the vultures were beginning to spread their wings and their territories, being seen in countries where vultures were unheard of, in their quest to find food - carrion - dead animals. So, the eu had concluded that farmers in certain member states ought to be allowed 'on farm disposal'.

'On farm disposal' - sounds like we have gone full circle, except in the good old days it didn't have a fancy name, it was pretty much taken for granted. Where there's live ones there's dead ones and the carcases help the balance of nature, however, farmers generally like to keep things tidy and so did go around with a spade and bury the remains, which after a day or two took a smaller hole than a fresh dead carcase would.

This brings me to my point in question, we don't have vultures in Britain, yet, but we do have other carrion eaters. The Red Kite, reintroduced a few years back, and first seen by myself on my jaunt to the wedding, they are carrion eaters to the point that a farmer in wales feeds them as a tourist attraction, getting scraps from butchers and throwing it all out at set times of the day allowing the general public to come along and enjoy the sight. Buzzards too, of which there are now vast numbers, we are also told eat carrion.......... this being the case should the eu directive not also include our own member state and allow us 'on farm disposal'?