Without fear of contradiction we can say that WyeWeb has been supportive of agriculture and the farmers who tend their cattle and till the soil. But, from time to time we have voiced criticism and today is such an occasion. We are fortunate to have examples of all kinds of farming practice – large scale industrial farming, conservative organic farming, specialist growers of flowers, fruit and vegetables. But farmers should be on their guard of falling prey to practice that would generally attract not only their own anger but the community at large.
In the accompanying image, fortunately not accompanied by the awful acrid, chemical smell, we see pollution of the worst kind perpetrated in set-aside. Is it possible to remedy the damage done? We do not know, perhaps the area of contamination is small, perhaps the sub-soil has been irretrievably damaged, perhaps insects and birds have already had their breeding cycle destroyed, at least for this year. Whoever carelessly did this damage should immediately rectify it.
The other day, crossing Wye Bridge, I saw a father and son fishing. The boy had that bright inquiring look so familiar to those who live along Olanteigh Road and, between casts, I heard him ask his father the following questions.
“Dad, what is it that makes that kayak float?”
Dad replied, “Good question, son, but I really don’t know.”
A few minutes later came the second question. “Dad, how is it possible for fish to breathe under water?”
Dad answered, “I don’t know the answer to that question.”
A short time later the boy asked, “Dad, why is the sky blue?”
Dad answered, “I don’t know, son.”
Then the boy commented “Dad, I hope you don’t mind me asking all those questions.”
The Dad, looked seriously at his son and said, “Not at all, son. If you don’t ask questions, how on earth are you going to learn anything.”
As this winter moves inexorably towards spring we are all on the lookout for the symbolic revival of our favourite plants and the return of migrating birds. Here, in our own churchyard, a lonely snowdrop makes a late winter afternoon bright again!