Buried in their deep valleys, in undated cob-walled farms hidden not only from the rest of England but even from each other, connected only by the inexplicable, Devonshire, high-banked, deep-cut lanes that are more like a maze of defensive burrows, these old Devonians lived in a time of their own… The breed was so distinct, so individualised and so all of a piece that they seemed to me also a separate race.
How rapidly that changed within the next decade, how completely that ancient world and its spirit vanished, as the older generation died off and gave way to sons who were plunged into the finance nightmares, the technological revolutions and international market madness that have since devastated farmers, farms, and farming ever since, intensifying right up to this moment…..
That seismic upheaval which has been, probably, one of the biggest extinctions so far in the evolution of the English countryside and farming tradition. … this deeply satisfying self-reliant if occasionally gruelling way of life had mutated – into a jittery, demoralised, industrial servitude, in effect farming not stock and land but grants and subsidies, at the mercy of foreign politicians, big business conglomerates, banks managers and accountants.
Ted Hughes Moortown Diaries