Posted 20 hours ago

The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland

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I learnt a lot and loved the way JLS weaves in poetry and history alongside his nature writing, but I enjoyed it mainly because I was transported back to the Hereford countryside at a time when I wasn’t able to be there because of the lockdown. Herbicides and agricultural policy saw to it that cereal yields rocketed in the following forty years, and those practises were tweaked and perfected in the decades that followed.

However, what comes across most in this book though is his passion for this single field, farmed in the traditional way; a way that seems just right given modern farming methods. If I found it mildly depressing, it isn't his fault - it's simply a fact that our natural habitats are declining everywhere, not just in England.Readers who enjoyed the author's last book, Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field, will find much in the same vein here: a mix of agricultural history, rural lore, topographical description and childhood memories.

Each has pamment or brick floors throughout the ground floor with a secure outside space at each, making them ideal for dogs who are very welcome at no extra cost. Also a wariness of concentrating our attention too heavily on "charismatic species" - although it has to be said the hares Lewis-Stempel loves so much are certainly charismatic.As environmentalist books about an experiment with land-owning go, Dave Goulson’s A Buzz in the Meadow is better overall, but this one does a good job of bringing attention to the particular problems faced by the British countryside. As we read The Wood through the eyes of a Master Woodsman so we read The Running Hare through the eyes of a skilled Farmer and Landsman bringing forth a wealth of sacred knowledge that will serve us well into the future. I love this gentle story of the English countryside, of the life in the pastures - the story of how farming once used to be.

I feel I leave it a little wiser and a little more awake to the beauty and life that surrounds me and my own impact upon it. The parcel included an arable field, and the author sets about, over the course of a year, sowing wheat and wildflowers.He believes that Monbiot's re-wilding is an idea which should "get in the fucking sea with the red herrings. He thinks George Monbiot’s “ rewilding” mission is an idea that should “get into the fucking sea with the red herrings”; it is “at best, fiddling at the edges of Britain’s environmental problems”. For example, in an aside on the joys of ploughing by hand, we learn that the ploughman’s lunch was an invention by the British Cheese Bureau in the 1950s to increase the sales of cheese!

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