March, A New Neighbour’s Presence is Rudely Felt
Sadly, early in January, a near neighbour became a next-door-neighbour. He’s a big farmer, that is, he has a big farm. Now that he’s bought the land next to this wild place, he has an even bigger farm. He is a farmer with a fervour. It almost religious. Heroin chic is his preferred style of land management. Flat, windswept prairies of wheat, thin straggling hedge (best, if recently planted and still in plastic tubes) a long way in the distance. No trees. No plant that he hasn’t personally sanctioned has ever got through the winter with it’s seed head attached. You get the jist.
He is setting about the dear tangled edges of this place with a ferocity that takes my breath away. Alder, willow, sallow, birch, thorn, ash, oak, all disdainfully ripped out of the ground. And fed to the ravenous flames of a mighty bonfire. Every over wintering insect incinerated in their hibernation. Three weeks breaking the will of countless old hedge, grinding them into timorous submission. Draining and filling ponds. Whole worlds extinguished. And finally filling in the stream! Yes, I did say, filling in the stream. He has undoubtedly made the world a little bit nastier.
And so a strange new form of daydreaming has come into my life. Daydreams of vile torture. And all too good for him. Drowning in pesticide, drinking pesticide, Setting about him with a flail. Oh dear, was that a finger? And an arm as well? Don’t worry you’ve got another one. Oh, whoops, spoke too soon.
There’s nothing remarkable about this man. Every village has got one. He’s just at the zealous end of industrial farming. He plays by the rules. He works the system. He claims huge sums of government money for everything. For pulling out hedges, for replanting hedges. For ploughing up ancient grassland and for reinstating grassland. For felling venerable old trees and for replanting trees. If he contravenes any law, he pays the fine, it’s factored into his business plan. It’s a system designed for fat cats. But dressed up as environmental enrichment. An imbecilic game of smoke and mirrors. We wonder where the birds have gone. What’s happened to the bees? It seems to me that which ever way you look at it, both his and my children and everyone’s grandchildren are the undoubted losers.