I just sat reading 'River Diary', one of Ronald Blythe's delightful books. In it I read of the migration from the Stour Valley in the East of England to The New World - and in particular to New England.
Whole families went - how brave in 1630 when they really had little idea of what awaited them when they got there. Many children died en route on the sea journey, as did many of the livestock they took with them. And I love the way that they even took seed corn, but of course in those days the seed had not been dressed, so they also took many of our native wild flowers - scabious, corn cockle, poppies, thistles.
The leader of the group which sailed on the Arabella was one, Mr Winthrop. He went alone, arranging for his wife and family to follow on another ship. And it is his letter which survives - and which, as Ronald Blythe suggests, may well be the first love letter from America.
In it he writes:
Mine own, mine only, my best beloved. Methinks it is a very long time since I saw or heard of my beloved and I miss already
the sweet comfort of thy most desired presence, but the rich goodness and mercy of my God makes supply of all wants. He sweetens all conditions to us, he takes our cares and fears from us. He will guide us in our pilgrimage. My dear Wife, be of good courage: it shall go well with thee. Once again let us kiss and embrace. Your ever John Winthrop.
It would be so interesting to find out what happened when they got there.
Here on the farm the second load of straw has just arrived. We are mainly grass farms round here, with either milk or suckler herds. Any 'corn' which is grown usually goes for 'whole crop' and becomes part of the Winter feed. So most farmers have to buy in their Winter straw (mainly for bedding). We over-Winter mainly in-calf cows and heifers from our friend and neighbour - they will begin to come in around the end of October - so all the straw needs to be here well in advance - hence two loads today.
I wonder if there are still Winthrops in Massachusetts.