Sunday, 13 September 2009

Peaceful - yes. Quiet - no.


The countryside, that is. Last week's ongoing debate on Radio 4's Farming Today programme was about noise in the countryside. To me the countryside is a peaceful place, but is sure as hell is not quiet - and neither should it be. It is a place of livelihood and work, living and people, noise and mess associated with it, and that's the way it should be. It must never be seen as static in any way shape or form. People live and work here, and there is constant change, movement, and all the noises associated with it. The one bit that really wound me up on the programme was one man who was complaining about the noise of the gas guns - the automated bird scarers the farmers use in their crops to keep avian pests at bay. He was complaining that they were disturbing the peacd and quiet of those who wanted to walk about the countryside for leisure purposes, and were fed up being disturbed by the noise of them. I think they would be more disturbed if there was no wheat left for the farmer to harvest and provide them with the food they expect to see on the shop shelves, no? Where is their sense of priorty? All the usual suspects were wheeled out - cockerels, wild animal noises,chain saws, church bells, plus the current bete noir - wind turbines. The chap from the energy association (sorry, I can't recall which one it was) made a very good, concise and eloquent case for the turbines, which got it in a nutshell.
Very little noise is constant, and it tends to come in fits and starts. We live opposite a pub. The pub has been there for hundreds of years, so we certainly knew it was there when we moved in; yes, it can get a bit noisy, and on still evenings, even the sound of normal conversation carries - but this is a local amenity, it provides employment, entertainment, a hub for the village, a meeting place, all sorts of things. The noise , such as it is, is short-lived, but proves that the pub is being *used* - vitally imnportant for a very small village like mine. I recall a few years back that someone actually complained about the church bells on a Sunday morning when he was out in his garden, shortly after moving here. If you don't like church bells, then don't move near a church - it really is that easy. Again, the church is a vital part of small and large communities, and a church without ringing bells, is like, well..................you know........
The countryside is *not* a playground, to be walked through at will, among livestock, through hedges, across private property without permission, and silence cannot and should not be expected. People live and work here - it is not a museum piece where there is no change or evolution, nature is in constant turmoil and change, and part of that is the associated noise, both natural and mandmade. People keep livestock, have noisy children , power tools, music; there are vixens, owls, crows, deer, seagulls in the countryside - none of them quiet and why should they be? - it's all part of life - there is noise wherever you live, the countryside is no exception.
If it was quiet it would be dead - then where would be be?

5 comments:

Leanne said...

a very eloquent post and I agree with you. Leanne x

pattypan.2 said...

Well said Sarah - even though I currently live in a City to be precise, I have lived the best part of my life in villages or small market towns. I think people get a perception in their heads about what the countryside is about, sometimes this is down to the way properties in the country and village life are sold to people. My brother would be shot at dawn if the chap who complained about the bell ringing on a Sunday morning was around - he is one of the ringers and dead proud of him we are too. Its the same about cocks crowing - we have one up the street and I love it. I wish people would be more realistic about what living in a country village entails. It sounds as though your village has a great sense of community and place and a proper identity of itself. Instead of coming in trying to change things because they don't suit, perhaps these people should try taking part - they might learn an awful lot.

Jacqui said...

Fabulous post Mrs L. I agree with every word. The road going past our house is closed to traffic right now, and it is so good to hear the other noises for a change.

Quilting Cat said...

Well said Sarah, there has been alot of letters recently in our local paper (BVM) which I am sure you are aware off, can hardly believe the way some people think. It is very quiet where I live so love the sound of the combine and baler charging round the field, and the gas gun.

MrsL said...

Ah yes, the Londoner and the cockerels! Has provided much amusement at the Deanery and much rolling of the eyes LOL.
I was thinking about this post yesterday morning when I was outside with the animals; the filed opposite was being ploughed - a *hug* machine, extremely noisy; the goats were a bit worried, but I calmed them down, and they settled. Yes the noise could be seen as intrusive and annoying, or you could look on the bright and more realistic side that it's the next turn of the wheel to get the next crop in to feed people. After all, it only lasted a couple of hours.