A visit to the sheep market

Where to start? Fairly obviously with the weather; if it carries on like this for many more days expect a starting sentence complaining about us having too much rain! For the moment, we are delighted with the rain we have had in the latter part of the week.

The main operational activity on the farm has been compost spreading and topping. Even though the barn hasn’t yet been fully cleared out, we have happily realised we have enough compost to spread over all the hay fields as well as the newly sown field. The first year this has been possible.

On the stock front, the news concerning the calf is much brighter. This week the vet, after changing the plaster cast and replacing it, felt three weeks could pass before the break was looked at again. The calf’s mother is not appreciating being kept in the barn. Indeed, one morning she was found with both front legs in the water trough, which sits between gated areas. Fortunately, she was unhurt but it was further evidence that she really wants out.

The suckler herd was moved early in the week, thereafter it was only the sheep that got shuffled around several times – activity that was appreciated by Flash. We still await the calves supposedly due rather earlier in the year. No doubt they will all come with a rush – a key problem with our cattle is that they rarely give advance warning that a calf is about to appear.

We have been fortunate to have Tieren give us a fair amount of his time now that his examinations are over. Hopefully it is a mutually beneficial relationship. We certainly appreciate it. He and John, together with our two new woofers, will be part of the Summer Fair which I remind you takes place on the 12th August. Aside from trailer rides behind the tractor and Shire horses, the paths in the wood will be more cleared so they will be easier to walk.

After some difficulty Chris has managed to both find somebody to turn our pile of intended hard core into more usable pieces, and also to find somebody to come and cut up the wood in the compound into lengths burnable in the log burner. Another positive is that the Power Company who are in the area to cut back tree growth that threatens power lines, have been leaving us the wood chip that results from their tree lopping.

I feel that I have not given due recognition to the most interesting discussions carried out between members of the Pasture Fed organisation on their website. The range of issues discussed is very varied and often leads us to review our own thinking. For those of you who cannot access organic meat, meat labelled as Pasture Fed guarantees for you that the animals have only ever been fed on their natural food – grass!

Sadly, we have been forced to accept that the late, very hard frost, means we shall have no fruit on our Perry trees and far fewer than usual on the other hard fruit trees. Another example of what a strange year we are experiencing with the weather.


The Woofers spent their week on a mixture of tasks, a visit to the market and some stock moving, both of which were perhaps more fun and less testing physically than their introduction to ‘stone masonry’ where they have been accompanied by both Flash and Milly, just in case a stick might be thrown! I think the worst task of all was turning the compost heap – as two said, it smelt worse than the pigs they worked with last year. I think the chance to drive the tractor when the 501 was sprayed was enjoyed and started the week off on a bright note.

stone masonry

Each week they have had an afternoon to bake. This week the treat we got was very good crepes and brownies which were much enjoyed by all of us. This Saturday having explored Stratford, Birmingham and Worcester already, they split into two groups with one pair going to Oxford and the other a return visit to Birmingham’s shops.

Cricket this week has been dominated by the women’s World Cup. After their narrow victory in the semi-final my confidence in their likelihood of beating India in the final was pretty low – and by the 48th over my pessimism seemed justified, but somehow, they managed to turn things round and eventually won by nine runs. I had the company of Oceane and Anne-Celine for the Indian innings and the tension in the room was palpable. For two who had never seen cricket before that in itself was quite extraordinary.

There was too much Shostakovich for my taste but much to be enjoyed from this week’s Proms concerts. Indeed, the concert on Saturday night was especially good. Strauss is not a composer I greatly warm to, but ‘Metamorphosen’ as played by the Aurora Ochestra really spoke to me. This week I properly realised that radio is so much better than television for the Proms, essentially because the time scheduling on the radio allows encores and speeches, and despite having a good sound bar for the television my hi-fi does provide better sound. Obviously, my dedication to the radio during this period is only possible because of Anne’s good nature!

You may not be surprised to hear that I take the BBC Music and Gramophone magazines. I also, despite frequently finding myself out of charity with its contributors, take Prospect. I mention this solely because reading their Summer fiction insert I was reminded just how ‘low-brow’ my taste is since not a single book they spoke highly of appealed to me in the slightest. In truth, I guess I had assumed the ‘high-brow’ low-brow’ divide no longer existed, but obviously like the class system it is still a fixture in British life. Since I am in confessional mode I admit we also take the Oldie and usually find more entertainment/ interest in that.

Finally, one of the more entertaining sights of the week has been the courtship rituals and nest building of the wood pigeons – not I hasten to add that this is a species we encourage! While the collared doves seem to have moved on the wood pigeons have now replaced them. The pair of green woodpeckers were far more circumspect!


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