A mixed week… TB free but the loss of a calf

All pretty positive this week… until this Sunday morning when Chris and Tim had to extract a dead calf from its mother. On the stock front this has been a bad year for losses and losing 3 calves out of ten births this Autumn is a totally new and unwelcome experience for us. It certainly put a damper on the relief and good spirits engendered by good prices for our sheep at market and being declared TB free on Friday.

Still, life must go on and the rain free days at the end of this week, together with a good (i.e. dry) forecast for the next few days means the main herd can stay on the pastures until work on fitting out the barn is completed. Last Sunday (storm Angus) and Monday were very wet and we feared the brook might flood – it didn’t but the puddles on bridle path were very large indeed.

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We had a vet out twice last week – essentially for the TB re-testing but in passing to look again at our cow which had bloat a few weeks ago, and to put down a ten-year-old ewe who had given us lambs year after year and had been with us since the flock was formed, was still in pretty good shape but, and it’s a big but, had no teeth. Without teeth life cannot go on for long for any animal. So, she had a dignified end to a good life.

We expect to send off nearly one hundred lambs this week should Meadow Quality not let us down again. 30 more lambs are destined for Fordhall Farm. We will be putting the Rams in with the breeding Ewe’s at the end of this week.

Chris, Paul and Tim spent a lot of time working in the barn this week though progress, perhaps inevitably, was slower than hoped. We still wait for ‘slamming posts’ but they are promised for next week. On Friday, the mobile welder fitted eight of the twenty-two hinges needed for the gates – he comes back again this coming Friday and hopefully the generator will be less temperamental.

Though we could, by using electric fencing, house the cattle in the barn before this work is finished, there are still eight of the ten sockets to be set in the ground – and set in means 24 inches down, so all agree it is better to get the work done first, and the dry weather is on our side at the moment.

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There were plenty of welcome visitors this week and even a visit to friends by ourselves! Rita and Stan, part of the family that owned this farm from 1904 to 1984 came to bring us a copy of this year’s Bromsgrove Rousler which contains a long article on the Hillmans who had the farm for that period – the Rousler being entirely about local history. We unnerving discovered distant relatives had lived in the same village way back when. Not a great believer in fate, this did feel rather spooky!

Then, later in the week, Nancy, a local homeopathic vet who is involved in HAWL a program of courses for farmers on homoeopathy came to explore with us how we are finding homeopathy five years after Tim first attended the course. A very interesting and stimulating session marred only by Tim not being able to be with us.

Though Earth Energy have not yet completed their task, some units are now being heated and hand over talks should take place this week. Discussions are now well on track to ensure tenants on the business park have high speed broadband by Christmas. Quite righty, they, now, are no longer satisfied with speeds of less than 2 mb.

On the personal front, I have watched rather more television than usual. This is partly because as the weather gets colder the room with the log burner becomes more and more attractive. Sadly, the viewing included a travesty of a programme entitled ‘Low tide’ which claimed it was setting out to explore Britain’s coastal archaeology, and to reveal stories from our extraordinary maritime, industrial and natural history. Sadly, it appeared to assume a mental age of less than seven and a minimal attention span – heaven help us!

A correspondent wondered if I had a prejudice against English composers – far from it – my over large CD collection spans the whole period from Purcell to Simpson and I also very much enjoy listening to English light music. But I will confess after the horrors of that television programme I had to rush off and listen to some Bach. For those of you who have not come across the Lyrita and Dutton labels they are well worth exploring.

Having given up listening to the Today programme I rarely use radio 4 but after the Advent Service I switched from radio 3 and enjoyed a programme on the Welsh word ‘Hiraeth’. A word which is, it seems, untranslatable into English since it apparently refers to feelings not experienced by the English! Challenging, but a well-presented thesis, which held up for me at least.

So, we are ready for next week which is very much about continuing work on the barn and moving and feeding stock.

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