Friday, 22 August 2008

The Field Adjacent To Barleycorn

From the back garden at Barleycorn, we look across to the large expanse of the adjacent farmer's field. At one end there is an evergreen wood which borders the busy B road running past our house.
On atmospheric, misty mornings in Spring, eerie sounds echo across the field from the heronry in the wood. Herons are by far the largest birds ever to appear in any garden...especially those which have our frogs know to their cost.
After harvest last year, the farmer sowed a crop of Winter barley, as opposed to the strain of barley normally sown in Spring. It survived under the blanket of snow we had in March.
In the month of May the stalks were lush and green and wonderful to look at through the tracery of our three silver birch trees. We leave this area free of planting to observe the progress of the crop, from first sowing to harvest.

In June, the heads of barley were clearly showing...and so were a few poppy heads from our garden. Nettle, creeping thistle, couch grass and goose grass seeds find their way into our garden each year.They are blown across the windswept landscape..and, this year, the opposite happened. Poppy seeds had been blown across from our garden onto the margin of the field.
I must say, I thought it added to the overall beauty of the field, with its maturing crop, and took me down Memory Lane to the days, when, as a child, it was a common sight to find poppies, cornflowers and marigolds growing along the margins of the fields.
When the crop was golden, just prior to harvesting, flocks of sparrows gorged themselves on the seedheads each day.
Every night flocks of sparrows fly in to roost in the eaves of our barn, which is adjacent to the barley field. The sparrows must have felt it was manna from heaven having food and shelter in abundance.
For me, it was another photo opportunity, as I love everything in Nature, from the humble sparrow to the colourful 'weeds of the field', which first whetted my interest in plants.
I am not sure how the farmer regarded the border of Shirley and peony poppies along his field. But, as I have tolerated his ' field weeds' with patience, I hope he didn't mind a few of my poppies.
Although we have had a great deal of rain this month causing many floods, and our local river to burst its banks on several occasions, there was one day dry enough, early in the month, for harvesting the barley.
Before nightfall, however, when the farmer had just begun to make his 'roly polies', the rain came down yet again..and, so the straw is still waiting to be rolled into circular bales.
Wind through the barley,
The song of the breeze,
Ephemeral poppies,
The tracery of trees,
Barleycorn - Magic!
A feast for the eyes.
Our little corner of paradise