Tuesday 17 April 2012

Making a Killing

I cannot tell you how sad I am to be showing you this photo. The scene is the haymeadows in front of our orchard. Recently they appeared for sale on LeBonCoin (an online small advertisement site). Very soon after, the hedges were attacked with a flail, and left sparse and splintered. Our orchard neighbour tells me it is to render the site propre. After a couple of weeks the whole area was sprayed with a herbicide, no doubt with the same aim in mind.

This was a natural, flower rich, calcareous grassland, kept free of scrub by being mowed for hay once or twice a year. Amongst the native grasses grew wild oregano, eryngo, bedstraws, scabious, umbellifers and Lizard Orchids. Their foliage fed Lesser Bloody Nosed Beetles and Field Crickets, sheltered Large Blue butterfly eggs and Wasp Spiders waiting for young grasshopper prey. The flowers were visited by Burnet Companion moths and Glanville Fritillary butterflies. I've taken many, many photos in these fields, but there won't be any more. This habitat has now been destroyed and has gone forever. People think natural grassland is everywhere, but in fact it is probably the most at risk habitat in Europe.

Yesterday the fields were ploughed.
The tractor driver waved cheerily as I passed.
I never thought these fields would last forever. Their position made them vulnerable to being sold off for housing subdivision, just as has happened. That would have been sad enough for me, but I don't understand why the proprietor is determined to turn them into a desert. In France it is common to leave all manner of junk openly displayed in houses for sale. Why would selling a piece of land be any different? Why do all those 'weeds' need to go just yet?



Lady Justine said...

That's so sad. A meadow is the most wonderful thing. Today, Steve passed a dead bullock in the field near our polluted river and I just wonder whether it has died because of the pollution. I don't know why people feel compelled to destroy the world around them, especially when it's such a wonderful thing

Sheila said...

Yes, it's tragic. Thought the
same thing when I read Ken's
post this morning with the
photo of the vinyard that had
been sprayed while the one next
to it was still green. So ugly.

Leon Sims said...

A heart felt post Susan.
Just to brighten your day, Sue and I will bring gifts in May.

Tim said...

I was depressed this morning when the new battery failed to re-juvenate the laptop... now I feel like jumping from our bridge... but it would only make me feel even worse... I hate wet feet.

I cannot see why they are being ploughed, either, unless Satesse over-rode the sale and it has gone to a farmer at a lower price?
The power is with them to do that... we had to wait three months to see if a local farmer wanted our place and were told that he could undercut our offer substantially and still buy it out from under our feet... the thing that probably made it unattractive was the difficulty of access and the fact that the buildings would have to be bought at the going rate.

Our thoughts are with you!

The WV is something you can call the owner... "fecrit obinest"!

Carolyn said...

That's too sad, not only for the loss of the meadow itself. That's bad enough, but then to spray herbicide that probably drifted onto your garden and orchard makes it even worse. You had the feeling of being out in the country on your garden plot, and if the land goes to houses, you'll have lost that too.

Susan said...

JL: the situation down your way with the river sounds very unpleasant. Fortunately, dead animals usually stirs the general populace into action, but there is always an element of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Sheila: yes. Fortunately the Loire has one of the highest percentages of organic growers.

L&S: not long now!

Tim: We had the same wait with the orchard. I doubt that the land has been sold yet - the ad is still up on leboncoin. I think there are two likely possibilities - 1. the farmer wants to make a quick buck before he sells and a cereal or oilseed crop will be more profitable than the hay. He clearly doesn't want the hay if he is prepared to sell the fields. 2. the perception is that any developer will want a blank slate, so that is what they are being given.

Carolyn: actually we are relatively safe from both possibilities. The prevaling wind blows away from the orchard, and the site would be impossible to get services to because of the ruisseau. Even though it is now dry, while it remains a designated watercourse it protects us from development to its west.

Pollygarter said...

How sad. Some of our neighbours are desperate for hay, too, because it's been so dry.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Just very very sad to see.

Jean said...

It makes me feel quite angry. Thoughtless destrucion of natural habitats is everywhere.

My father was telling me yesterday how the farmer who owned the fields near to his old village always waited until the birds had nested before chopping down the hedges. Unforgiveable.

Post a Comment