Another calf is on the way!

Being immobile for another week means my news is somewhat second hand, but that is not quite as bad as it sounds because alongside the Friday morning meeting, Chris and I ‘chew the cud’ every evening, and every afternoon I have a 90minute session with our woofers when they share their daily notes and I attempt to answer questions. The sessions are very lively and good-humoured and most enjoyable.

We had rain on Tuesday and welcome though that was, we still do need lots more; The drizzle of the weekend was not sufficient! It was an indication of the lack of rain that the suckler herd spent a week in the barn to allow their next field to have enough grass on.

The vet has been busy with us this week as our prospective bull replacement, 7 months old, was found with a broken foot. A plaster cast has been applied and the prospects are at least 50:50 of a full recovery. As you might imagine holding the calf still while the cast was applied required a lot of bodies! This close contact was rather apparent at lunchtime when exhausted but triumphant bodies turned up for lunch.

calf with cast

We are grateful that once again we have been blessed with great volunteers who have cheerfully attacked a variety of tasks from close working with sheep and cattle, shovelling coal and pulling amazing quantities of ragwort and thistles from our fields including the farm’s ‘wild flower meadow’. This last task was ‘enhanced’ by the keen interest shown in their activities by the young stock housed in that field. The ATV and trailer provided a temporary fence between them and the curious animals, but it did still take much determination, effort and yes, courage to complete the task.

Friday was mainly taken up with working with the sheep. The lambs had their first weighing and given their ages ranged from seven to ten weeks the average weight was more than satisfactory. Lameness in the lambs and some ewes meant that there was a need to put them through the footbath. We still rue the day we bought in ewes carrying this problem. This year we will have to buy in a new Lleyn ram in order to maintain the bloodlines. We also had the good news on Wednesday that a cow we had all but given hope of ever calving was shown at scanning to be due to calve very soon.

weighing the lambs

The week has also seen a mixture of compost spreading, topping and mowing. We are hopeful of taking a second cut from two particular fields so these have been well composted. Mowing is often the best way to take off creeping thistles close to the surface so both that and topping are part of our armoury.

This morning the conditions were right to carry out 501 spraying; Anne was up before 4.30 to start the stirring process in the flow form while Chris set up the sprayer. After this they managed to fortify themselves with a cup of tea before the actual spraying began shortly after six with Oceane ready for the first tractor run. As arranged, the remaining musketeers came in sequence so everybody took part.  By 8.30 the six fields identified as needing the 501 had all been treated and there was a great sense of achievement. The early start inevitably meant naps later for everybody!

the flow form for 501

This seems to have been a very good year for butterflies and the rain brought a wave of swallows to the field by the house. Sadly, I have not seen for myself the kingfishers which seem to have taken up residence by the pond though I do from time to time see the heron slowly wing its way past the sitting room window.

Having listened to Kindertotenlieder for the ‘nth’ time I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that song/lieder is just not for me. Strauss, Mahler, Schumann, Vaughan Williams, Quilter et al, despite my best efforts, fail to move me.  Having said that I admit ‘Songs of the Auvergne’ ‘ and ‘Springtime in Funen’ are ‘go to’ recordings. This reality firmed up in my mind while and after listening to a concert by the Sixteen – they I can never hear too often. Finally, I did deliberately not add Schubert to the list above.

The first night of the ‘Proms’ was dominated by a masterful and embracing account of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. The Saturday included Elgar’s First Symphony as did the evening programme on Sunday. Not, I am sure coincidentally, the copy of the Gramophone magazine which arrived yesterday contained a long and interesting article about the apparently continuing argument as to Elgar’s place in the pantheon of great composers. Clearly his cello concerto is seen as a standard part of any great cellist repertoire. His symphonies as well as his choral works are not universally admired. One thing that really puzzles me is that his lighter works are so rarely heard. As a violinist of real class, his writing of salon pieces is such that I find them irresistible.

This has been a good week for cricket enthusiasts and on Saturday I had to choose between watching the women’s one-day game against the West Indies or the second day of the second test match with South Africa. Now that was a real challenge but in choosing the women’s match I got it ‘spot on’. While I watched I enjoyed listening to Chopin played by Myra Lympany playing the Preludes and Nocturnes and after that Joanna MacGregor playing the Mazurkas.

For the record, with my awareness that I am drawn to different books or pieces of music depending on my mood, I always think the interviewers-go-to-question of asking ‘who is your favourite author or composer’ is such a waste of a question – but I realise that is probably a very simplistic or perhaps old-fashioned view!

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