Rising from the debris


My amaryllis fell off the kitchen dresser today. I have watched it for about two months as it developed eight huge trumpet-like, bright red flowers. It has been a wonderful display but, as if on cue, it toppled onto the kitchen floor, spilling compost, cracking the pot, and marking the end of an era. The celebrations are over, and we are well and truly into January 2021 and a new lockdown.

January is named after Janus the Roman god with two faces – one looking back and one looking forward. But I am not keen on looking back to last year and I don’t expect you are either.

It was interesting, though, when Radio 4 told us about early editions of The Archers. I have followed this programme for 70 years, on and off. I was five years old when it started, and I listened every evening along with my father who was a farmer.

We heard Dan deciding to get rid of the horses and replace them with tractors, which is what we did on our farm. The horses went to the knacker’s yard and we bought a new little red tractor which we called ‘Red Herring’ as a bit of a joke. It would hardly be recognisable to farmers today with their massive vehicles and cabins.

Early on, we also heard Doris, in The Archers, talking about buying a machine for washing eggs. We never got round to buying one and the women in my family were condemned to hand washing about 100 eggs every night in our freezing wash house.

My friend was luckier, her parents afforded the brand-new machine. It looked like a tumble drier on legs. It swished backwards and forwards as the eggs moved gently and were sprayed with water. All my friend had to do was stand and watch, then pack the clean eggs into trays in big wooden crates which were taken by steam train to Hull.

There has been such a lot of change in farming and re-wilding seems to be the latest up-date. We need to look urgently at what is happening to our wildlife in the countryside before it is too late. Perhaps in 2021 we will see some more conservation ideas in practice.

Our own fields here, have not been ploughed or sprayed in living memory and they abound with wildlife. But they do not give us a profit and, as a farmer’s daughter, I know that you cannot just do what we are doing. Farmers need an income; it is their livelihood.

Some things are beyond price though. My aconites are flowering under the hedge. You do not find many these days but, when you do, they lift the spirit. They are like little yellow suns beaming out from the darkness of the undergrowth.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star - 'With Vicky Turrell)


  1. How beautiful: a winter aconite. My father loved them. I shall keep an eye out on my walks to see if I can spot any.


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