Robert Frost certainly knew all about walls. He knew that they could come down at the drop of a hat. If sheep find the slightest weakness they will work away at it until they can scramble to the top and jump down the other side. Cattle will lean up against the wall if it is windy, sheltering but also pushing the wall out into a bulge which eventually gives way. Rabbits rear whole families in walls, as do stoats and weasels (pantry full of baby rabbits near at hand!). Walls were built for several reasons:
To separate fields which may belong to different folk.
To give a modicum of protection against the winds that blow in these parts.
To utilise the indigenous material - no spare money in those days to erect fences, collect all the stone around and build a wall with it.
As regular readers of my blog will know, the farmer bought a new field in the Autumn, a field which sits among our fields, so that the farm is 'neatened off' as it were. The grass was grossly neglected. Already, after these few months, the grass is improving due to careful management by the farmer. And it will improve still further as it undergoes fertilising, harrowing, rolling, sensible grazing.
What will not improve is the stone wall which separates the field from the Lane. There had been racehorses in the field before (our farm is quite near to the racing town of Middleham) and they were friendly and would come to the wall when people passed by, nudging it over.
Yesterday I pointed out to the farmer what a mess the wall was, how it failed to live up to the standard I expect of his land. This morning, looking out of the kitchen window, I see he is mending it.
Golly, is that a coincidence or does my chivvying count for something?*** Whatever the answer to that question, we now have a smart wall along the side of the lane. And I can misquote the rest of the Frost line - Something there is that does love a wall!
*** Alas! Scoff ye male readers!! The farmer was not mending the wall at all. When I got closer, I found that what he was doing was digging a channel to let off an enormous puddle of water in the gateway. I should know by now that with almost sixty years of farming experience he is not going to alter his priority list for someone like me who has been around for a mere twenty years.