It was TB testing last week, and on Friday we faced the depressing news that three of our bought-in heifers were IR’s or to be more direct, inconclusive reactors, so it seemed only right and proper that Saturday morning should appear to herald the return of winter – cold and driving rain for the whole of the morning!
What this result means is that the three animals have to be kept in quarantine – all three are likely to calve in the two-month period before the re-test. Jupiter, who it is we are now certain is damaged beyond repair naturally tested clear! I say this because the price for cow’s is so low at the moment, that if a cow were to test positive for TB the farm would receive a sum nearly twice the amount received at market.
After a long chat with our vet who had at last received forage analysis of fresh grass from three of our fields we are going to call an agronomist in since it seems the high level of molybdium (a known antagonist) may be causing weakened immune systems in both the cattle and sheep.
The week had started well on the stock front – our first of hopefully 16 calves appeared on Thursday and there have been no sheep losses for a while though we do have two ewes penned for foot rot treatment. Moreover, the recent rain and warmth has meant a real greening of the fields.
Work is also proceeding relatively well on the Earth Energy project with more than half the solar panels now fitted and the contractors appear confident that they will meet the timetable set for their work.
It has also been a good week on the communication front with a number of our previous WWOOF-ers updating us on progress in their lives. We were delighted to hear that Elisa is to become a mother though sorry to have to accept she will not be joining us for lambing next year! Sam has written a short piece entitled ‘A day in the life of a WWOOF-er‘ (which we’ll share with you next week), Marisa has concluded her placement in Papua New Guinea and by the sound of things enjoyed the experience very much – and I need to share with her and Janine that their hanging baskets have been glorious all summer long! And, happily Sophie’s new venture as a freelance speech therapist is giving her great job satisfaction.
We have had very nice emails from Marion and Michelangelo. He made us a gift of his very fine yellow wellies on the grounds that they would not be needed when he got home only to discover tomato picking was delayed on the first day by heavy rain and his wellies would have been useful!
Sebastien is now on his own in the mobile home but seems well. He certainly got closer to cows on Friday than ever before in his life and demonstrated great competence – managing 50 odd animals, as they have to go through a crush, needs a lot of bodies so apart from Tim and Sebastien we had Tiernan, Brendan, Sebastian, Sophie and Rosie all playing their part.
A further venture to Moseley Market to sell the Rush Farm produce demonstrated that the economics just do not add up. Even when all our produce is all sold the money taken does not cover the outgoings. The future of the market garden is therefore in doubt. For the moment however it is just about winding things down for the winter.
I believe in an earlier note I expressed concern at only hearing one cuckoo this spring. Until Wednesday I was in some dismay over the absence of swallows having only seen two over the farm. So you can imagine how delighted I was when we had somewhere between 20 and 30 sitting on the power cable which runs above the ditch bordering the farmhouse gardens.
As always before WWOOF-ers leave I offer them the opportunity to advise on the wording of our listing, to ask them what we could have done better and finally what had surprised them about their experience here. Both Marion, Sebastien and Michelangelo offered two issues. The first how much better our weather was than they had expected and the second was how polite and friendly they found English people.
Thank goodness then that they were not alongside Paul and Chris here on Wednesday… Two trees had come down and fallen across the bridle path so Chis and Paul went out in the Land Rover to clear them away. While so doing, two women on horseback upbraided them for not moving out of the way immediately – even though the work they were doing was clearly to clear their path! Thus they displayed an arrogance and lack of manners, let alone horse control which rather gave the lie to the idea we are in general polite people – or perhaps people on horses rather like drivers in vast SUV’s see themselves as having no need to show respect for others or any concern for how they are seen!