The skylark’s Latin name is Alauda arvensis. Roughly translated, it means exaltation from the field, an observation about its song and activity in asserting its territory. The lapwing, too, has a thrilling flight display when it first puts its stamp on its chosen breeding ground. Naturally driven euphoria can also grip the farmer, most powerfully when they expand their domain.
A farm that we rent has recently become available to purchase. At about 145 acres, it is more than a fifth of our farmed area, sits next to the main holding and is divided from it only by a country lane. Horse Eye Farm was available to purchase 18 years ago, but we persuaded the then owner, a brilliant ex-accountant, to rent it to us. We could not have afforded a mortgage at that time. He became as interested as we were (after some subtle persuasion) in the use of the land for the government-backed Countryside Stewardship scheme, here utilised to flood ex-arable fields to encourage nesting lapwing and recreate wetlands, so he agreed terms. We thus took on the farm at an economic rent which, with the subsidy and allied return from our cattle and sheep, was profitable for us too.