It is, all things being equal, rather nice to find ourselves in an Atlantic weather pattern once again!
This meant that on Thursday the cricket in Birmingham – eleven miles away – was rained off, while we had a lovely dry day; The mix of cloud, sunshine and showers together with pleasantly warm temperatures does lift the spirits even if the hay fever season is hard upon us.
A rather good week on the farm. The major event was the vaccination of just under 300 lambs – really hard work and requiring three to do it. No sign of flystrike yet but we have lost an ewe and a hogget. Not unexpected but nonetheless unwelcome. Another batch of hoggets were sold and we expect the last group to go next week. We already have interest being shown in our batch of new lambs but they are not ready for sale yet.
All remains quiet on the cattle front – still no more calves, but a market already found for two bullocks. The two herds have had to be moved onto new grass as have the three groups of sheep. But at least there is fresh grass! Indeed, looking at the fields we hope to take haylage from, there is now a feeling there actually will be a reasonable crop.
We have had good inputs from contractors this week. The compost heaps on the windrows have been turned and the area tidied. The heaps of earth from ditch improvement eighteen months ago have now been spread, and, the field to be put down to new grass disced for a second time.
While some nettle topping was done a week or so ago there are now several fields that need topping to ensure thistles are not allowed to flower. In other fields the problem is less severe so hand cutting of the spear thistles will suffice. Indeed, next week will require the tractor to work many hours each day since aside from the topping programme we also hope to spray the whole farm with 500 for a second time.
There is also much to do not requiring the tractor. We need to make more cpp, feed a handful of lambs, keep a close eye on the stock and hand cut thistles. Luckily, we now have Humphrey as part of the team for a couple of weeks while sadly Thibaut left us this morning. For somebody who has never before had close encounters with sheep and cattle Thibaut proved himself a natural. We are very grateful for his contribution to life here and wish him very well in his next placement north of the border.
The positive news in the business park is that it has new tenants either in, or scheduled to come, leaving no vacancies to be filled. We have a crane coming in next week to move a container and the portacabin to new places. The portacabin will be placed close to the pond with a view to it having a different use in the future.
On a different note but perhaps particularly appropriate for our times is a book I recently read called “This Orient Isle” which highlights a relationship between Elizabethan England and the Islamic world that I, for one, was barely aware of. On reflection it was inevitable that, given the excommunication and tensions between England and the catholic states, English merchants and diplomats sought markets and alliances outside that world, but for whatever reason historians seem to have paid little attention to this. At that period in history, the Ottoman and other Islamic states were of course vastly richer and more powerful than Elizabethan England, but it suited both parties to not allow theology stand in the way of trade and military alliances. Perhaps neither society had any real understanding of the other’s world but, there was a connection and, for a significant period it was an important one. Worth noting perhaps, that the feelings about the Crusades, interfered with this process not at all – real politics rather than theology, and a slanted interpretation of history ruled the day.
The gardens are a real joy now with the roses, peonies and pyracantha in full bloom. The pyracantha which covers two walls of the house homes a horde of sparrows and at this time of year attracts vast numbers of bees. Indeed, listening and gazing at this busyness yesterday I was taken back to my studies in English literature and in particular the set poems. That universally known – or it was at one time – phrase “the buzzing of innumerable bees in the immemorial elms” from ‘In Memorian’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson perhaps inevitably came to mind.
The poet loved the use of that phrase, and so did examiners! Passing over “water water everywhere and not a drop to drink” from the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, a mug of drinking chocolate took me back even further into the past. Like many families, I imagine, of the postwar years, the periodic parcels from relations in the (then) Dominions, were looked forward to with eager anticipation. At that time, so many things were just not available and rationing was still with us – as it was indeed until 1954 for sweets – that the parcels from Canada containing Ontario cheddar, tins of cocoa and other ‘goodies’ were a real boost to morale. For us children episodes of ‘Toy town’ on card, predated the advent of Uncle Mac and children’s programmes on the radio. Perhaps that’s where my own interest in farming started – I can still bring out of my memory bank the voice of Larry the Lamb.
Cricket has rather dominated my thoughts and emotions as it likely will for another week or so. The effects of this are that the pile of books I aim to read and the cd’s yet to listen to grows faster than I am comfortable with. I have a new author to read, a German author called Uwe Tellkamp whose book was translated into English a few years ago and runs to just over 1000 pages and which explores life in the GDR through the experiences of one family in the years before the wall fell.
Plus, I have a new composer’s music to explore. A reader of these notes has pointed me in the direction of a Polish composer – Karlowicz – whose name I had heard but whose music I now look forward to exploring.