A Field’s Eye View by Judy McDowell

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Hi. I’m a field. Green and muddy. I’m quite down-trodden actually, because this year a herd of cows lives here. So, the lovely grass that covered me in early spring has become a bit flattened and in places blended into the mire.

Sometimes my grass grows quite well, and I get left in peace. That’s when I’m being fallow. It’s peaceful then. It’s often peaceful in the winter, but I must admit I’m half asleep. I can’t function properly with the lack of sunlight, and it’s too cold for me. My grass can’t grow, and I don’t get many visitors.

Some years I grow a vegetable crop. I quite like that. I get visited by quite a few birds and insects. I love those sorts of visitors. In fact, what I like best is the hedgerow around the edge of me. My edge hedge. I would love to have that all over me. All year round there are little animals and insects and other crawling, slithering and flying creature in that part of me. And I grow different things in it. Mostly new leaves come in the spring, some of my leaves change colour in the autumn, some stay all year round. I have flowers and berries and I feel so pretty, and useful.

I’ve got some quite nice neighbours: all fields. They tell me that further over, part of another farm, some fields are all hedgerow-like; and some even grow trees, enough so they don’t look like fields at all. Apparently, when we grow lots of plants, we give off oxygen, and that’s good for all animals, even those humans who decide our fate. But if we’re just full of animals, they breathe in the oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. That’s good for our plants; but when there aren’t many plants it just goes to waste and floats up into the air and causes problems.

I know this is embarrassing, but seeing as I’m being honest here, when we have loads of cows stomping all over us, they do a lot of farting too, and that’s stinky. It gives off methane, and that just gets stuck in the air with the unused carbon dioxide.

Apparently, the farmer who owns the fields where they’ve covered them in hedgerow and trees and things, says as well as being nice, and socially so much better for us fields, it’s better for the weather to be like that. All this using carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen, as well as fewer cow farts, helps stop it raining ridiculously hard sometimes, then being too dry at other times. If more fields were allowed to do it, we could have less of that really hot sunshine that bakes a clay field like me, so that when it does rain, I can’t soak up the water, and it lies about on me and is ever so uncomfortable. Some of it flows off past other fields and gets on the road. I’ve heard people’s houses even get the water inside them. Well, seems like it serves them right for not growing better stuff in us fields!

Don’t get me wrong, I like cows. Some of them are really sweet, and it’s kind of tickling and soothing when they eat my grass. But sometimes when the grass hasn’t managed to grow very long, it pulls a bit and feels uncomfortable. Then, of course, when I’m allowed to grow vegetables, it’s usually for the cows to eat during the winter, so I’m quite a cow-giver.

Yes, I’m sure now. What I’d really like to be is a hedgerow field. Oh, maybe there could be a patch for pretty wildflowers to grow, even another patch for some vegetables. And some fruit trees. The field next to me said that the bigger the variety of plants, the more different types of creatures visit or live on us. I’d quite like some more rabbits to come and nibble on me. They are gentle and don’t squash me at all. Hedgehogs would be good too. They like my, well, hedge! And birds like berries and seeds and insects, so if I were covered in all sorts of stuff, lots of birds would come and nest in me and eat the things I grow. Oh, it would be so lovely. They sing so sweetly.

But I suppose it’s not likely to happen. Apparently, the cows come here so that either the farmer can take the milk out of them for people to drink, or make into yoghurt or cheese and stuff, or they eat the cows themselves. Oh, yuk, fancy being a cow. You just live a bit then get eaten. Not just the grass on your surface, your whole self. Anyway, it’s because people keep wanting to eat cows that I have to be rotated: fallow, grow veg, get trampled on by a whole herd of cows.

Sigh. I wish there was a way I could change people’s minds, so they didn’t want to eat cows.

Judy McDowell, on Twitter as @jcm247. ” Into politics, environment, wildlife, psychology, early learning, coffee, archaeology, evolution, family + other pets, soaps, sarcasm”.

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