Opportunities to learn by experience are part of the lot of being human. Every so often having the privilige of experiencing anothers way of life adds a little to the insight of one's own. Living in SW20 provides virtually no experience of a rural way of life although Wimbledon Common itself acts as green oasis-like refuge from the surrounding suburbs.
This last week brought me into contact for the first time for years, with farms and farmers. I was amazed to learn that despite living only about 60 miles from SW1 a farmer had only travelled to Town once in the past 40 years. He and his wife made plain that their attachments to their land (about 2000 acres I'd guess) were very real so much so that holidays of the kind that all the members of the maytrees' family are accustomed to take most years, to secure a change to the rituals of everyday life, are not on the farmers' pages at all. That and the wish for their faimily to carry on farming where they leave off are not part of normal urban life's rich tapestry. Their sensitivity to the human condition though was clear - she insisted that I'd catch my death of cold stompimg over the land in shirtsleeves and went to the trouble of finding a lightweight jacket to shield off the strong winds blowing that morning. Are we town dwellers instnictively as thoughtful?
Driving round the agricultural landscape was however familiar enough as such landscapes abound in England and abroad; in that context I well recall French gite-type holidays with our then young children but trudging around the fields with farmers for day job purposes is somewhat different.
The fields were really well tended with wheat etc growing well despite the strange British weather so far this year; hardly a weed to be seen. Real dedication akin to love seems to be the principal motive as by all accounts wheat farmers are hardly currently making much money.
I am agin the EU and going through some of the myid financial EU schemes for farmers tended to support my negative views. Nonetheless one kind of EU financial support encouraging the maintenance of hedgrows and fallow strips of land between crop growing areas where spraying takes place and neigbours' tree saplings which would be harmed by the crop sprays, seems excelllent. The fact that such spraying takes place at all may worryingly have been the reason for local lack of enthusiasm for tap water drinking but that's another issue.
The experience left me to appreciate that working on the land becomes much more part of the farmer's life and that of his/her family than usually does an urban dweller's work in an office. And it's not just the land but also the associated works required to make a living from the land . For examle the huge barns for the storage of grain seemed almost biblical -they must be expensive enough to build/maintain - and the huge grain trucks required as part of the process to enable us to buy our daily loaf at Sainsbury's, require sweat and hard work to load , clean and drive. In many English cities there is a tendency perhaps encouraged by political parties, to regard country folk as comprising either the lazy landed gentry with hunting shooting and fishing pursuits or local yokals. Such stereotyping mindset is obviously ill founded and risks breeding intolerance. Intolerance is then doubtless increased by outlawing such country pursuits as fox hunting without first taking into account farmers' viewpoints.
A farmer spending nearly all his waking hours working on or concerned with land and its produce, might well need to let rip even if with a shotgun at a fox occasionally. The importance to the rest of us of receiving our daily loaf of bread is such that the farmer's need to recharge his batteries near the crop is somehat different to the needs of the mass of town dwellers for time out. Passing laws based on the latters needs without regard to the formers or should I say farmers', is bound to create resentment.
The more experiences there are of each others ways of life, the more in my view, the opportunities for tolerance between us all to flourish.