Chris Slade :: Creative Writing Workshop

Apart from meeting people, writing my first poems for months and making new friends, I learned a lot about our local history and especially the agricultural changes that made such drastic changes to our landscape and people. I have a very dim recollection of the sheep revolution being mentioned at school, well over half a century ago, but nothing was made of it.

The same thing is going on today! I’m reminded of George Santayana’s famous words: “Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.”

This time we and nature (we’re natural too!) are suffering from agricultural monocultural once again. First, to increase milk production, rye grass was sown everywhere. This grows rapidly and is tall, thus swamping all the wild flowers that used to be everywhere in fields but now are rare. Of course insects fed on the flowers and birds on the insects and they are having troubles too.

The taste of the milk produced is uniform and bland. When I was a child, you could almost tell the season by the taste of the milk. Cheese was much tastier too. The cows must find it boring also as, as soon as they enter a field, they head for the perimeter and scrump from the weeds they can reach under the fence.

Another recently fashionable monocrop is maize, not only to give bulk winter sustenance to cattle but also to feed a bio-digester that helps the Duchy with its green credentials. The same crop is grown in the same fields year after year and there are virtually no other plants surviving there.

I don’t suppose we can do much about it as, doubtless, the farmers get EU grant money to behave as they do. Oh Brexit!