Late in the summers of my childhood, black specks would fall out of the sky, floating in through my open bedroom window, snagging on the net curtains. Though we lived a good half mile from the nearest field, the charred shreds from stubble-burning made no distinction between town and country. Sooty showers rained down on suburban sensibilities year after year. Though people complained, nothing changed, for this was an age when farming sat in the social and political ascendancy.

A quarter of a century after a nationwide ban on stubble-burning began, the cereal fields are left to simmer under a weakening sun. Many hot weeks ago, the combines came and the harvest was taken off. Gold expanses of spiky stalks were left in regimented lines with bleached debris beneath. But, even now, on warming afternoons, the dusty plenty of July wafts from the roasted aftermath of the crop. There is spilled wheat in the chaff, barley grains exuding malted odours beneath stiff-straight stems, and from every “bare” field, a toasty flavour on the nose.

And still the harvest keeps giving. Early in the morning, wood pigeons, the white-collared workers of the tractor tramlines, are gorging in conspiratorial huddles among the barley stubble, paying little attention to the bike soughing alongside on the dirt track.

Off the bridleway, a flock of greylag geese in a slow bustle, some heads up, some heads down, are paddling through the wheat sticks. Big birds, big appetites. Holding a bumpy line beside the hedge, I swivel my head to the right and count. Fifty-two, fifty-three geese. They are not plucking at straws; they are finding something to eat.

I have half an eye on the thick tussocks at the base of one hedge, where there are whipped whirlpools of grass with black holes at their core. A rat spurted out of one the other day in front of me, a blur of thrusting snout and spider-fast legs. It trailed a pale tail that appeared to have levitated to the horizontal. I find myself glancing down now, checking hole by hole, filled with a mixture of excited expectation and revulsion. Human antipathy towards this gleaner of the fields runs very deep indeed.


About Pigeon Patrol:

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products four years in a row.

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