Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Weaver of Grass

The Farm: Although the farm house was built only eighty years ago, the land upon which it stands is ancient land. It lies on the Eastern edge of The Yorkshire Dales. A beck runs through the pastures, a water course which has been a thoroughfare for hundreds of years before the roads were built. The monks of nearby Jervaulx Abbey would walk the path by the beckside in The Middle Ages to see to their sheep, for most of this land belonged to the Cistercian Abbeys. Evidence of this is still reflected in the farm names. The meadow land is ploughed every few years and re-sewn to keep up a high standard of grass for silage. But the pasture land, with its stone walls and barns, has not been ploughed up within living memory. Violets and primroses hide in the hedge bottom in Spring. Buttercups and Ladies Smocks dot the fields in early Summer and where there is a bit of hedgerow amongst the stone walls, hazel catkins shine like lanterns in the very early Spring. This is ancient and much-worked land. Lynchets and rig and furrow farming methods show up when the sun is low in the sky and whenever a field is ploughed it gives up more of its ancient secrets. A neolithic stone axe, sharpened flints, small silver objects from the nineteenth century, lead spinning whorls, Victoria horse bells, crotal bells, broken clay pipes, early coins - all have been turned up in the last twenty years.
In Spring the blackthorn blooms across the landscape, often accompanied by a spell of "Blackthorn Winter" weather. Then in late May, long after it finishes blooming in the South of England, the samne fields are thick with May blossom. The seasons come and go. The farming year follows its routine. We are only keepers of the land and when we have gone others will follow and we shall have left behind clues to our existence, to remind them that give or take a few fancy bits of machinery, nothing much changes.

No comments: