Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

HAPPY NEW YEAR: To all readers. I hope that you all ha a happy and peaceful Christmas.

CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday at St Peter’s Church, Offham, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Family Communion followed by coffee in the hall.

BEAUTIFUL: Although my early daffodils have been in bud since the second week in December, they are now in full bloom and it is so lovely to see them as I sit here writing this column, and all of the winter jasmine that is in full bloom. It cheers up even the dullest of January days.

OART: Tales of the Riverbank from Jim. October 4, at Barcombe Mills, a very large branch ha broken off an oak tree across the Andrews Stream. Jim had seen several oak trees that had also lost branches and he wondered if it was the stress caused by the very dry weather. October 11, a walk up the Ouse and the woods were starting to show their autumn colour. A pair of kingfishers darted across in front of him; a good sign that they had started breeding. He met an angler fishing, who had caught some bream and perch on a worm. October 18, another case of dead sea trout in the mill pool at Barcombe Mills and no flow down the fish passes. He calls this in yet again and worries for the fish stock put in danger. Sunday October 21, yet again a report from a local resident of dead sea trout in the mill pool and its near dry flow again. Monday October 22, a warm and sunny day with lots of wasps and bees about. He counts five red admiral on the ivy flowers. Friday October 26, was bonfire night in Isfield with many visiting societies from towns and villages around Sussex. A splendid bonfire and a goo firework display with all spent torches picked up by the marshals. Wednesday October 31, the end of the sea trout season on the Ouse which has been a poor one with low and depressing river flows. Thursday November 1 at about 9.30am a large number of greylag geese, at least 300, flying very low over the village. He goes for a walk along the river and on some hawthorn bushes he disturbs eight early fieldfares. Some early arrivals, and he wonders if it was going to be a hard winter and will listen out for the redwings after dark. The bird is vulnerable to extreme cold and will move to find milder feeing areas. What an excellent job Oart and Jim do to protect our rivers.

BIRD COUNT: Nature lovers across the country are being urge to take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) which is back for the sixth successive year. The nationwide citizen science project calls on farmers, land managers and gamekeepers to spend 30 minutes spotting species on their patch of land between February 8 and 17.

SOIL QUALITY: Qualifications Enhance Soil Quality. The following in my South East Farmer. With the Agricultural Bill set to reward farmers for ‘public goods’, such as healthy soils, BASIS is preparing to launch two qualifications which will help with knowledge and sills to enhance soil quality, biodiversity and sustainability.

POTATO HARVEST HIT: Also from the South East Farmer. Potato production has hit its lowest level since 2012. The total potato harvest is 13 percent down on the five year average of 5.6 m tonnes, according to AHDB estimate. The relatively low production figure is a result of an estimated 4.4 percent drop in planted area, and a 12 percent drop in average yield. It must have been because of the long dry period as I have noticed that the quality of potatoes, especially ones that are use for jacket potatoes, are very poor. Recently a pack that I bought had a few in that were green.

YOUNG SUSSEX FAMERS: Sussex food and drink awards is calling for the best Sussex food and drink businesses, chefs and farmers to enter Young Sussex Farmer of the Year, sponsored by the South of England Agricultural Society (SEAS) is seeking an outstanding farmer who is 35 years or younger, working with food or drink production in agriculture, horticulture or viticulture in Sussex. Iain Nicol, CEO of SEAS says ‘we are absolutely delighted to be sponsoring this category in these prestigious and established awards. The food and farming sector employs 3.5 million people in the UK and the society is here to help promote and support innovation in food, growing an attract young people into considering a career in land-based industries.’ Vote online until midnight on January 17 for your favourite Sussex Food Producer of the year. To enter and vote visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz.

HAPPY NEWS: I read recently that having found homes for nearly 700,000 laying hens, the British Hen Welfare Trust was named Just Giving Charity of the Year.

DOGS: The Dangerous Dogs Act came under fire after figures emerged showing that in 1015/16 more than half of the dogs seized by police and put own hadn’t harmed anyone.

BOXING DAY MEET: Having read the letter from Chris Bird on the letter page, January 4, I felt that I had to applaud him. Although I don’t know the writer of the letter, it stirred up may happy memories of y childhood growing up in Buxted fairly near to where he lives I very much agree with all that he says about the protesters as I have had first hand experience of these people who call themselves animal lovers. Some year ago, when the hunt was meeting very near here, I heard a noise down near the farmyard and went to inspect. There were some unruly people trying to climb over the gate to get into the farmyard. I told them to leave, it was most unpleasant, but they left. As I went to close the main gates a vehicle approached from the Ditchling direction and pulled up in the entrance. Our lovely Arabian filly was in the adjoining paddock and was getting very distressed following the actions of the ones that ha just left. Having told them that they could not come in the driver of the converted van jumped out and then opened the back of the van where about 15 people, all with black masked and carrying huge sticks with what looked like knuckles on them, leapt out and started using one of the things that they use at football matches which was terrifying our horse. The leader of the gang came up to me and told me, ‘I know where you live now and will be back.’ I must admit I was terrified, but not before I was brave enough to say to them all, ‘You profess to be animal lovers but look how you are terrorising my horse, do you really think it is acceptable behaviour.’ There was a female in amongst the group who must have felt guilty and told them all to get back in the van. I was so relieved when they left and went towards Lewes. Unfortunately Derek had just had a hip operation and could not come out to help me. Derek and I always used to go to Lewes for the Boxing Day Meet. It has taken me years to be brave enough to mention what happened here as following that I did get hate letters about supporting the hunt, but now having seen the letter from Chris Bird, I can finally speak out too.