With the upturn in the weather heralding the arrival of Spring and slowly getting my cycling legs back I have been exploring some of the Byways and tracks around the Fens and in many cases re-visiting tracks I already know. Each day sees the leaf cover on the trees increasing with Horse Chestnut trees pretty much fully out and most other trees starting to catch up. We have some Beech trees in the garden and it is quite noticeable how the leaves start on the south facing side of the tree. One of the last trees in the garden to come out is an old walnut tree.
As a result there is activity in many of the fields, either farmers at work planting/sowing or crops and weeds busy growing. Here are some pictures taken around and about.Starting with a field of Dandelions, I am not sure that I have ever seen anything much grown in this field, I must remember to look out later in the year to see what they do with the grass. Small numbers of farms do have cattle and sheep but the agriculture is mainly crop growing.
Here is a field freshly ploughed and sowed with potatoes. The earth is banked to allow the potatoes to grow away from the sun otherwise they go green and poisonous, but usually you earth up potatoes after they have started growing. The UK advice is to avoid the green bits and any shoots and not to eat green potato crisps (chips) - the compounds to avoid are glycoalkaloids. Depending upon the type of potato they will be ready for lifting from June onwards.
The are not many hills around the Fens but here is a picture taken from one of 20m height.
One of the more unusual animals to see in the fields are Alpacas, normally the sort of sight you might expect in somewhere such as Peru. I have eaten Alpaca with my family - which gave rise to the term "alpacalicious".
You can't ignore the Oil Seed Rape, I personally like the colour it brings to the countryside, especially with a blue sky as a backdrop.
There is quite a lot of concern in the area for some species of tree. Horse Chestnut trees are being affected by some sort of problem, although they look OK at the moment in this picture. I am not sure what the tree without leaves in the middle is, or whether it is dead or the leaves are slow to appear. After a closer look at the original picture it is a dread tree - the bark is in a bad way and my guess would be that it is a Horse Chestnut since the rest of the hedgerow seems to have them planted along it.
Elsewhere in the Fens onions are being harvested. This seems to be a labour intensive activity. With a truck housing the workers slowly making its way down the field leaving it stripped bare.
Here is a different view of the same field, quite a lot of machinery is present along with people.
Turf is another Fen crop. I saw this field when exploring a by-way up by White Fen Lode.
The polythene soil warmers seem to be working. In this case the crops grow through the covering, in other cases the covering is removed.
For fans of the TV program Dr Who on the BBC here is an indication of where UNIT may be found. The sign you can just about see is Upware to the pub "Five Miles from Anywhere No Hurry Inn" - more information here
The last picture in this post is taken on a different day from the "hill" referred to earlier; looking over the fields towards Swaffham Prior with pylons marching by and a Windmill on the skyline.
The sign has seen better days.