click photo to enlargeThe Guardian tells me that in a public poll to mark the start of British Food Fortnight the county of Lincolnshire was "revealed" (see my earlier post about the use of this word) to be "the UK's favourite food spot." The article went on to quote Rachel Green, farmer and chef, as saying that "the heritage food of this county really is the pig." To that I say, well, yes, up to a point.
Whilst pigs have long been a food animal of this eastern county, and are prominent today, other foodstuffs have also played a significant part in its agriculture. The importance of sheep in the medieval agriculture of Lincolnshire remains written across its villages and towns in the form of the county's magnificent medieval churches. And, though it was their wool that provided the source of most of the income that funded these buildings, the economy then, as now, used every part of an animal and mutton was a food that figured large in Lincolnshire. Today cereals and vegetables are undoubtedly the main agricultural produce of the county, especially on the fertile Fenlands, and are what it is best known for.
Let's not forget that cattle too were once more widespread in Lincolnshire than they are today, being raised for beef, milk and by-products such as hide. The many roads called "droves" remind us of this, as do some of the derelict farms. I photographed the abandoned buildings above on one recent sunlit evening, and what caught my eye was the raised platform by the barn doors on the left of the picture. It was surely the place where churns full of milk from the farm's herd were placed for daily collection. Today, in the milk producing areas of the country a tanker carries out this task, but when I was a child in the Yorkshire Dales such platforms were commonplace and in regular use. There are few - if any - milk herds on the Fens today, but on the Wolds and in other parts of Lincolnshire they are still to be found.
photograph and text (c) T. Boughen
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