No smoke without fire


A friend of mine sent me an article about a farm fire and asked if such experiences are common. This set me to thinking about such things. I remember a fire at a neighbour’s when I was still at school, but in the livestock areas now, with more silage than hay being made, fires are far less common. Across in the arable areas they’re both more professional with their grain storage, and keep straw outside, so there’s less fires there as well. Indeed I did wonder what proportion of farm fires are arson?

I remember reading of one farmer on the urban fringe. They had one big field next to a housing estate. Basically they went in with a combine fitted with a metal detector in the morning and followed it with the baler, aiming to clear the field by dark. Anything left in the field overnight, be it grain, straw or even machinery, was just burned by the locals. One day as they were working they discovered a child sitting surrounded by straw and boxes of matches trying to set fire to it. After long experience they just hand them over to the police, if you give them to their parents they’ve just back twenty minutes later with more matches.

A few years ago there was another article in the farming press. A chap had won a scholarship to study urban fringe vandalism and its effects on agriculture. He discovered to his shock that it was an entirely UK phenomena. On the continent they didn’t even have the concept.

Since then I’ve talked to people who’ve worked in the urban fringe. One rep from a agricultural supply company had taken a demotion to move to Cumbria and he talked of his time in his previous patch. To survive farms had virtually become fortresses. You phoned ahead to tell the farmer you were coming. The farmer would phone your boss to make sure you were a legitimate rep sent by the company. He parked his car at one farm (outside the yard, in a lay by.) The yard gate was locked but there was a narrow gate for pedestrian access. You walked through the gate and walked along the white dotted line. If you stuck to the line the chained guard dogs couldn’t get you.

As far as he could tell the problem really arises where sink estates have been built on the edge of cities and have then been used as dumping grounds by the local authorities. It’s very localised, but where it happens it’s a nightmare for anybody trying to make a living.

I was talking to somebody who worked for the environment agency on river work. He had worked in these areas. He told me about one farmer who had been working in his yard and had looked across a field to see his cattle running in panic. A group of youths in a boat on the canal were shooting at them with air rifles.

He drove his vehicle, similar to the one in the picture, down to the canal, extended the boom and dropped the entire load of thick shit onto the boat, sinking it.

Obviously there were inevitable repercussions. The environment agency turned up. As it was the farmer had managed to pull the boat out of the water without causing any real pollution, so they sympathised with him and suggested that next time he just use a big concrete block or a couple of anvils welded together, so they’d sink the boat but not cause problems to the river.


For more on the pleasures of the rural life you could always treat yourself to

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12 thoughts on “No smoke without fire

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 12, 2016 at 6:42 pm Reply

    Somebody trying to make a buck, putting people in conflict when anyone not involved financially would have seen the problem.

    • jwebster2 December 12, 2016 at 7:05 pm Reply

      Some people wonder if because we were first to have the industrial revolution, we’ve got so many people further from the land. Others talk about politicians who’ve made a career out of the politics of envy. Then we’ve had single issue lobby groups who’ve cheerfully gone in for shroud waving and blaming. Who knows 😦

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 13, 2016 at 1:12 am

        Envy and greed – prime drivers of the despoiling of the land – the income disparity in the world today is unbelievable. The politicians and businessmen want to be on top of the heap. It has gotten way out of hand.

        It isn’t socialist to want the poorest to at least have food, shelter, clothing, and access to education before the riches take on another yacht, is it?

      • jwebster2 December 13, 2016 at 7:12 am

        but you have to draw the lines wide when discussing politicians and businessmen. when you look at the salaries paid to senior executives of charities and lobby groups, the greed, the sense of entitlement, spreads wide indeed.
        There has been a sense of bitter amusement watching those whose mouths are still dripping from what they’ve been gorging on from the common trough looking up briefly to castigate others as poorly educated and incapable of voting correctly

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 13, 2016 at 8:57 pm

        Yup. People have legitimate concerns that are not being listened to by those who were elected or appointed to do so.

        Entitlement is ugly, even in otherwise ‘nice’ people.

        There is a tendency to think that anything one has was earned – when it was, but on good luck or original good fortune (being born white-looking is quite a boost).

        On the other hand, many people I went to school with had the same opportunities I had – and wasted their student years. They didn’t go to class, never turned in work, and played politics instead of studying. I went to prep in Mexico in the 1960s; if your grades were good enough, and you were in the UNAM system, your entry to the university was guaranteed in the profession of your choice. I, as a foreigner, had to pay ten times the tuition, but it was worth it. People who had it almost free didn’t appreciate it. Some of them. Because they were entitled to it.

      • jwebster2 December 13, 2016 at 10:13 pm

        One reason for our problem with MPs and expenses is the sense of entitlement. Same with senior people in NHS etc. The sense of entitlement has crept in to the ‘higher’ echelons of public service and somehow it’s got to be driven out

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 14, 2016 at 1:05 am

        Supposedly the security of a job as a PUBLIC SERVANT should compensate for a lower salary – businesspeople take bigger risks, and should be compensated for that.

        Now the PSs think they have to have the same salaries – minus the risk – or they can’t hobnob with their counterparts in industry as ‘equals.’

        The ‘public servant’ part has gotten completely lost.

      • jwebster2 December 14, 2016 at 7:23 am

        even worse in the UK, they are on at least the same money, but get far superior salaries

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 14, 2016 at 3:26 pm

        That’s just wrong.

      • jwebster2 December 14, 2016 at 10:40 pm

        I wouldn’t disagree with that 😦

  2. M T McGuire December 12, 2018 at 10:51 pm Reply

    Mwahahahaaaaargh! Two big anvils welded together! Excellent. Why are people such little shites?

    • jwebster2 December 12, 2018 at 11:07 pm Reply

      still nothing a couple of anvils cannot fix 🙂

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