What a lovely time of year this can be

What a lovely time of year this can be. Aside from the birdsong of early morning and at sunset, the spruce tree in our side garden acts like a magnet to a wide range of birds. The exotic such as the goldfinches, the even smaller varieties such as blue tits, great and long tailed tits and the wren, the robin, the garden’s pair of mistle thrushes, pigeons, doves, less welcome, the Jackdaws which breed in another part of the garden but, sadly, no tree sparrows or lesser spotted woodpeckers.

A real puzzle is the attraction of the, as yet, unopened peony buds to wasps. I commented last year how few wasps were seen, for this year the signs are they will be back with a vengeance!

What the rain has ensured is that we have grass, and so been enabled to move all stock but last year’s lambs onto new pastures. The two flocks of ewes and their lambs have been amalgamated into one huge group and are now on the 15 acre field on the other side of the Bow Brook. I mentioned last time that mastitis had so far been less of a problem than in past years. We do have two ewes suffering from this complaint which means sadly their ability to produce milk is now gone. Fly strike is certainly something we must watch out for since the torrential rain at the end of the week may well have washed off the preventative spray.

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The cattle remain in two herds, but at the start of the week were on fresh grass. This morning the suckler herd demonstrated they wanted to move by gathering round the gate and verbalising their displeasure. On release, they galloped joyfully if rather inelegantly onto a new pasture! The young stock who are sharing, slightly uncomfortably, a field with the Rams, appear to be very content with their lot. The calves in the sucker herd will need to be weaned very soon. Their mothers are already pushing them away. The calves will then join the herd of young stock.

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We had hoped the weather would allow more cultivation on the field that was disrupted by the earth source energy project, but the torrential rain over Friday and Saturday made that impossible. What we have managed to do is to firm up our ideas on the seed mix to be used choosing to turn away from a rye grass dominated mix towards one made up of Timothy, Fescues, cocksfoot, clover and a variety of herbs.

Hard work has ensured that the flowform and spraying equipment is all ready for use to spray prep 501 at 5am tomorrow morning. As importantly, the rain we have had has filled the 2000 litre rainwater butt which supplies the flowform. The horns filled with 500, having been lifted, have now been emptied of their contents for use either later this year or possibly in 2018.

Thibaut has had to cope both with some foul weather and quite new experiences such as bottle feeding some three or so lambs morning and evening, moving cattle and learning to check for flystrike. To his credit, he has risen to every challenge calmly and with good humour, and Tim and Chris appreciate his extra pair of hands – especially as he seems to be able to read the animals so well.

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The business park is looking trimmer as more time has been found for cutting back the bushes, weeding beds and picking litter. Our portacabin will be on the move fairly soon to take up a new position by the pond with a view to it being more widely used when the views from its windows are so improved. Liza who, with her father, has taken over the field 11 garden, is now grappling with the eternal garden problem here – the slug! Some of you may remember we had Indian runner ducks to keep down the slugs but sadly that cuddly creature Reynard the Fox had them all one early evening because our guard was very briefly dropped. The pond has once again ducklings on it. Ducks, like amphibians, spend quite a lot of their time off the water. This morning a group of them were to be found in the barn!

As I hope most of you know we do attempt to work alongside predators on the farm but have to impose a degree of balance. Fortunately, the natural rabbit population keeps both foxes and buzzards happy, and, so long as they do minimal damage to the hares, partridge and lapwing, co-existence is no problem.

A recent programme introduced me to Wendell Perry. With his voice, reminiscent to me of the writer of the Lake Woebegone stories, on the programme he made some trenchant noises about those who see protest as an excuse for not actively attempting to live the lives they say to which we should all aspire. With suitable acknowledgement, here is one of his most moving poems:

The Peace of the Wild Things

“When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

His poem “The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” is worth dipping into even if the poet goes further than most of us might be comfortable with.

Earlier in the week there was a half hour programme aimed at ‘persuading us to be more sympathetic to Americanisation’ in the language. Since it coincided with another activity, I was driven to using the BBC iPlayer to listen to it properly. The obvious points were made such as: Why do we complain about this when English picks up words from all around the globe? Why do we not recognise that many words, expression and accents owe much to the English taken across by the early settlers? Why do we not accept that Webster’s simplified spelling, perhaps inadvertently, followed ideas that had been current in England for many years such as dropping the silent ‘u’ in words like colour? But, further, the programme made the point that, by dropping some words, such as ‘gotten’, we were left with only the one word ‘got’ in English having to carry two meanings; we made no fuss about accepting words like ‘double decker’, and would be lost without words such as ‘wow’! If you have the facility try listening to it – Radio4, last week at 9.30 am.

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