Though we had rain last Sunday night, the week has been dry and, except on the odd occasions when the sun penetrated the cloud cover, chill with a drying wind which means we are now very much in need of rain; While the weather has been warm enough for grass to grow, the lack of rain means growth remains slow.
On Saturday, we checked all the pastures and it was a very mixed picture we were left with. Part of our concern is that we still have over a hundred and forty lambs from last year plus up to thirty unplanned lambs together with a breeding flock of one hundred and sixty, while the field that was used for the ground earth energy project has now been partly cultivated will not be ready for drilling until late May, and even then, lack of rain will delay planting. So, with all the stock we did not expect to have, and losing twelve acres, the reason for concern is obvious.
On one front at least we are ahead of ourselves compared to previous years. Not only have we been able to spray with preparation 500 but also 501. Not all fields as yet but a good start has been made, plus, the preparations have been put into the compost heaps.
The pregnancy scan of the cattle suggested we can hope for sixteen calves and that five might come sooner than later – the first appeared – a male calf with the mother requiring no human support – always a good thing! This Saturday evening the second calf appeared. The mother, one of our original seven was rather protective so the calf’s sex is not yet determined. For the legalistically minded I perhaps need to say the first calf has been tagged and reported as required by law!
The barn is now laid out as a nursery for the main lambing which started this Saturday. This morning the breeding flock were brought into the field surrounding the barn, while the lambs or should I call them hoggetts, moved onto the field just vacated. The lambing caravan has been set up and all the necessary items bought and ready for use so it is all go now for several weeks.
The farm is looking rather beautiful at the moment as one set of blossom trees are replaced by the next. Cowslips, mustard garlic and bluebells can be found in hedgerows as well as in the wood – the bluebells are tremendous! The wood, incidentally, is still pretty wet! And as for dandelions, never have we seen so many on this farm.
This week we have heard the cuckoo calling and woodpeckers knocking as well as the songs of myriads of little birds. While I have not yet seen moorhen chicks or ducklings, the geese pair which return every year have four goslings. We watched yesterday as the two adult geese chivvied the goslings away from us humans. Although part of the large pond at the back of the farm has dried out, there is still plenty of water in the main part. The bulrushes are looking particularly splendid at the moment.
There has been considerable noise and activity in the business park as a large section of the concrete in front of the biggest unit has been cut out so that a new stronger mix can be laid.
In the field 11 garden the currant and gooseberry bushes are in flower while the rhubarb this year is particularly good!
I have never been a great fan of T.S.Eliot, whether it was because he figured on the English literature curriculum, or whether it was because my dislike of his personal stance on so many matters coloured my thinking I really do not know. However, the other day, when tested with the need to identify a few lines of poetry and given the clue that the poet was American but lived much of his life in England, two names only came to mind, and the way language was used led to my being able to guess the lines came from something written by Eliot. The next day I dug out my copy of his collected poems and plays and in due course found the lines came from a poem called Little Gidding. A poem I admit freely I had never properly read. Having reread, I now think I might have to revise my original attitude towards his work.
Yesterday a new book came in the post from Italy which I am looking forward to reading. Last year Michaelangelo was quite horrified at my ignorance of Frederick the Second of Hohenstaufen, once King of Italy, Germany, Sicily and Jerusalem, born of a German father and Sicilian mother and who died in December 1290 and was buried in the cathedral in Palmero. Michaelangelo left us with the promise he would find something in English which would tell me all about the great man who obviously was an exceptional character, so it is easy to understand his significance in the minds of southern Italians and Sicilians in particular as well as Germans. Our country’s mythical characters are few and often fictitious; Frederick was the real thing.
I have not yet read the Clash of Spheres I referred to last month as I got deflected first by the Zookeepers Wife and then by learning a new Tracey Grant book is to come out next month which meant that I had to re-read her last book. The Zookeepers Wife is factual, the Tracey Grant book fictional. If there is a common thread it has to be what can be overcome by love and passion and something the world is still very much in need of – ‘goodheartedness’.
Finally, for the grandchildren the holidays finished on Friday. They really have made the most of the dry weather – spending the majority of their waking hours outside, running, biking, climbing trees and not to be forgotten building a den!
So, on the family front, next week will be quieter, even if the opposite is true for the farm!