Scanning success, hardworking bees and a great Demeter inspection… A good week!

A good week on the farm. Milder, drier weather makes all the difference. There are even some signs of grass growth though the ground is still very wet. The three photos show some of the differences between the state of the pastures.



Scanning went well and though at this stage we have rather more ’empties’ than expected, a figure that suggests we should have 269 lambs is good. Even better is the judgement that the ewes are in good condition. Though they don’t need molly-coddling they are now on Field 6 with access to half the barn extension. The lambs sadly had to be drenched so we have no more ‘organic’ lambs for now. They have been moved to new pastures, which together with the movement of the ewes minimises the need for the tractor to actually go onto pastures. In the absence of Chris and Brendan, Tim received very competent support from Leslie and a colleague.

The cattle seem well though we feel the need to feed them entirely haylage from now on and had to dust them with organically approved anti-lice powder. All the recent calves have now had their first clostridial vaccination and are registered as pedigree animals with the Hereford Cattle Society. We will try to raise the youngster, a male calf, as a future stock bull. Oddly enough it seems easier to manage a situation where you have a number of bulls rather than just two. No doubt animal psychologists can explain this.


Regarding the all-important matters of stocks of haylage and straw, we feel pretty confident that even if we decide not to let the cattle out early, we have plenty of supplies. With lambing due to start later this year and the much larger barn area, the need to push the cattle out early is taken away.

I won’t prose on about Spring being on the way since Winter still has a sting in its tail, but I will say what a treat it was to hear and see the large number of bees hard at work in the snowdrops.

Our Demeter inspection report has just arrived and makes excellent reading. Let’s hope our Soil Association inspection goes as well.

Saturday here was rather hectic with a family birthday to be celebrated and eleven people to sit down to lunch. Then in the afternoon we had visits from Rita, granddaughter of the Hillmans who were here from 1907 to 1984 when people such as Pat Moss had her favourite horse buried here, and Jill, contemporary of Rita whose father was the stock haulier the family used. Just back from Germany were Chris and Brendan who had been in Nuremberg for Ulula and Liv. They stayed with a German family who until quite recently lived in Stourbridge where Michael was a GP. They all speak English fluently – indeed the ‘children’ probably have better English than German, but since they spend most of their time in the English speaking world……

My knowledge of the Napoleonic wars has tended to rest heavily on Arthur Bryant’s trilogy. He has for a long period been out of favour as a both a popularist historian and one with a strong bias. But he did write well. Reading Roger Knights recent more authoritative history called ‘Britain Against Napoleon’ is heavier going but full of interesting snippets of information and different views.

The book which essentially regards this period as the real First World War concentrates on the reality that at times Napoleon could have won but that in the end strong leadership, thorough planning, learning from the failures against the American movement for Independence, the rooting out of corruption, building alliances and establishing a first rate behind the scenes supply chain was the key to final success. For example, many if not most of the guns used in America burst because of poor manufacture and inadequate quality checks. By the time of Trafalgar, the fleet had ten times the guns used at Waterloo and all were of solid metal with the bore drilled out which made them much stronger.

The real test for me is can I stick with the full 600 pages!


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