NEW BLOG: Cattle given the all clear in annual TB test

Bank Holiday Monday, against all tradition, was almost unbearably hot, and the forecasters were suggesting we might have that kind of weather for several days – what a joke! By Tuesday we were into autumn and that has essentially been the story of the week.

The major event of the week, the annual TB test, dominated thinking and also took up a fair amount of time as cattle had to be moved into the barn on Tuesday, back out, then into the barn again on Friday and then out again.

When we were given the all clear there were sighs of relief all round! Another 12 months before we have to go through all this agony again.

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Further cattle news is that now is the time to move some of the heifers into the main herd, and another two calves were born this week meaning that so far in this rather late spring calving, we have had seven live births and one still born.

While Phil the vet was with us, he cut off a horn that was threatening to grow into its owner’s eye. He also confirmed that one of our fattest cows is likely to give birth soon. The calf that had a broken back leg is now out of plaster and though obviously it can’t be kept for future breeding purposes, should grow into a fine steer. Both herds will be moved onto new pastures next week.

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Now that we have arranged for bought in organic hay, the issues around grazing have largely gone away. Ironically perhaps, the need for the topping programme going remains insistent – this largely to keep on top of thistles – it does work, and promotes new growth for the sheep, but takes time and diesel.

Sadly, we lost a ewe to cancer, but had good news on the flocks’ level of parasite load. Dirty bottoms always cause concern but samples sent to the vets showed that most animals had low levels of worm eggs. That means we shall only need to treat the individuals which have problems rather than the entire flock.

Francesco and Marco have returned to Italy, needing to be ready for their studies to start again. They experienced a wide range of activities, got closer to cows than they might have expected and used every weekend to explore urban England. They spent the long Bank Holiday weekend in London and clearly enjoyed that very much. As has almost become a tradition, the day before they left they cooked lunch for all of us, and those at the table ate very well!

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Asked if I had heard of ‘Newcastle Town Common’ by a friendly reader, I had to confess total ignorance of not only that but also of the existence still of common land.  So, as one does in this age, I went onto the internet and a search of the appropriate government web site revealed that 3% (3.9 million hectares) of England’s land mass is still common land – surprising and interesting. Looking up a neighbouring parish, which I knew experienced enclosure much later than most parishes, I found it has still got two patches of common land.

But I digress; Newcastle Town common is one of the larger patches of common land left in the U.K. at over 1000 acres. Attempts to enclosure it resulted in a significant court case in the late 18th century which confirmed its status as common land and, similarly to those in the New Forest, recognised that the area should continue to be administered by Its graziers or Freemen. All very interesting.

A birthday present included the recordings from 1941-1945 of Isobel Bailie and Kathleen Ferrier singing duets and solos including ‘Where the Bee Sucks’ and ‘Comin Through the Rye’, and it was very nostalgic to hear their voices again. I did once listen and see Isobel Baillie in a live performance, and Kathleen Ferrier’s singing was much loved by my mother who, like Kathleen, also died young.

The Proms are nearly at an end – following an excellent programme of homage to Charlie Mingus a week or so ago, we had ‘Swing no end’ and ‘the sound of soul’ to set against Bruckner’s 9th, Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Sympathy, and Mahler’s 4th.

The Composer of the week has been Brahms.  I still treasure a boxed set of LPs played by Julius Katchen, made up of six LP’s of his solo music for piano.

Brahms never married, though came close many times – was it because as a young man he played piano in brothels and low dives to keep body and soul together? Or should we go with modern experts and regard the rather lurid stories as mere anecdotal myths? Perhaps it was unrequited love for Clara Schuman… Oh dear! When I go to the doctors I rather turn my nose up at OK and Hello magazines, and here I am sounding like a writer for one of them!

I enjoyed the review of the new biography of Freud by Bryan Appleyard. I won’t be buying the book itself because, the book, which is very critical of Freud, apparently revisits matters that are mostly ‘old hat’, and Appleyard clearly felt that the attacks almost verged on the personal, and firmly rejected the author’s final conclusion that Freud left us nothing.

The link that came up in my mind was Marx. I remember going to the local library and looking for a copy of Das Capital. I started in the religious section and then progressed to philosophy and finally economics. In truth, I cannot remember in which of the last two sections I found the book, but my point is that, though only a very select and odd few clings to Marxist theory, his thinking like that of Freud, despite being deeply flawed, has influenced and continues to influence thinking today.

Freud was a nasty piece of work, but I have a softer spot for Marx who in his middle and later years realised the significance of cricket as a key feature of culture!

Although it does now feel like autumn, Saturday, though chilly in the shade, was gloriously sunny. The semi-finals of the county 20 over championship played at Edgbaston experienced no rain and, the final which started in bright sunshine was not marred by the heavy dew which fell after darkness came.

I only caught the latter part of the day on television but it was a cracker. The crowd were well lubricated and in fine voice. Before the final, two of the presenters for Sky, dressed up respectively as Johnny Cash and Ellis Presley and entertained us with some pretty dire singing, and then we saw some great cricket. With the sound on the television turned off, I was able to listen to Haydn’s 98th symphony and Mahler’s 4th before turning the radio off and the television sound back on. To be honest, the Mahler was more in tune to the drama taking place on the ‘box’, but what a treat to have both!

Unlike football, how the game of cricket is played still matters and, whichever side you support, good play from any individual will be recognised and applauded. For the record, Nottinghamshire won and their players were ecstatic while the crowd lustily sang ‘Sweet Caroline’.

A family party spent a part of the afternoon blackberry picking and a small part of the bucket they filled was used to make a very delicious blackberry crumble – brilliant and so English somehow. Today is of course grey and chilly but after yesterday and a good week overall, so what!

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