I have been reading The Running Hare with some enjoyment (despite, perhaps, rather than because of its prose style). It’s an interesting excursion into what wildlife-friendly farming might look like and it has reinforced my recognition that much of what we think of as natural countryside is in fact a green desert. In particular, the dairy farm that borders our garden; much as we enjoy the annual visitation from Moo-I-5, for the rest of the year the field next to us is being put to work growing silage and it is much sprayed, cut, slurried and the like, making me wonder just how chemical free our own vegetables really are.

Fenced-off field margin

However, after the coos all but put paid to the garden fence last year, we’ve gained a bit of a breathing space. For reasons best known to himself, instead of replacing the tottering fence, the farmer just strung a new one at an angle to the old, creating a triangle of land which is now out of reach of cows and tractors (albeit not the sheep who usually spend a few weeks there in the winter). It gives us a little more distance from whatever is being sprayed and it has also created an uncut corner which is going a little wild. I’m watching with interest to see what comes up, assuming it’s allowed to remain – if you believe some rewilding gurus this will turn itself into scrubland, and then forest, unassisted, given enough time.

So far, we’re seeing nothing more exciting than nettles, dock, cow parsley and buttercups among the grasses (none of which are in short supply in our garden either), but rest assured you will be regaled with updates should things become more interesting.

I know, you can barely wait.

6 Responses to Rewilding

  1. Viviane says:

    There is a lot to say and to study about not not cultivated land, the vegetation there is a heaven for insects and other small animals, and it says a lot about the ground and what has been added to it. I look forward to your news !

  2. disgruntled says:

    I need someone who is more knowledgeable than me to come and take a look and see what’s there

  3. charles says:

    I estimate that at least three quarters of the fields around us are used for silage. Fortunately you still see happy herds of cows with large and terrifying bulls down on the Somerset levels. Apparently its due to the fact that if a herd of cows live in a field 30% of the grass is wasted as it gets covered in in cow pats. if you keep the cows in a barn all the time you get 100% of the grass, as sileage, and your cows are close to home when you need to milk them. of course it does not do much for the cows state of mind, produces huge heaps of slurry and further industrialises the rural landscape. In passing when this slurry is sprayed onto the fields the levels of ammonia in the air become dangerously high, many people with weak chests are forced to remain indoors. You might think in Somerset you would get lovely clean air, wat you get is overdoses of ammonia as opposed to car fumes but quite frankly its not great.

  4. disgruntled says:

    The more I see of the dairy industry up close, the less I like it. We do have a dairy near here where the calves are left with the cows which feels a little bit more humane but it’s still a very intensive business, much more so than beef

  5. ballsofwool says:

    I feel sorry for all the poor flies who must miss the cowpats terribly.

  6. disgruntled says:

    There is no shortage of flies, or cowpats in the rest of the fields!

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