NEW BLOG: the suckler herd move into the barn

A rather quiet week on most fronts, although a power cut on Wednesday revealed my lamentable ignorance of electricity. After several attempts at other helping me with their explanations, still I do now ‘know’ what three phase electricity means!

On the farm this week we have benefitted from having Thibaut and Anthony, both qualified engineers, both practical by nature, and both good with the stock. Further to that, however, they have also, with Chris’s support,  been good at the long put off task of tidying up or throwing away the accretions of the last eleven years in the workshop. And now, even though the job is not nearly completed, we can start to see just what a big space we have, and how very useful it will be when we build the mezzanine floor Sebastien designed for us last summer.


On the stock front we still have too many sheep, even though the numbers reduce each week as some are sold. The concern is twofold; for tupping, to have fields with sufficient grass in them, and our desire not to over graze said fields. To that end, we decided to put the suckler herd in the barn some four weeks earlier than usual. This took the two ‘boys’ the best part of a day to spread straw across the 400 square metres. The up side of this early move is that the calf that broke its leg can now join the herd of young stock, while his mother re-joins the suckler herd.


The ewes went into the other side of the barn on Saturday so that on Monday Tim can check them over, mark those that are not to be kept and with help from Thibaut and Anthony give them a booster mineral drench to help them be in prime condition for their time with the Rams.

The rams are now on fresh grass while the ewes will move onto new grass next week after their long weekend in the barn. It is now just over four weeks before they have to be split into two flocks and decisions made as to which rams join which flock.

the boys

At some point in one’s life it is impossible not to reflect on the changes over time – I did this to a degree last week. Listening to a discussion on The Treaty of Versailles led me to reflect how we tend to concentrate on the most obvious changes and ignore the subtler ones.

It is impossible not to register changes in communication, the growth of secularism, attitudes to sexuality, cars that rarely break down, the ending of colonisation by most nations, local amenities – pubs and garages closing and so on. It is perhaps less obvious how our knowledge of the past and its presentation has forced new understandings.

I guess there can be few who have not only heard of the battle of Waterloo but also have an idea about why it happened and who was involved, though this knowledge will have been acquired through eyes which see it primarily from a British perspective. In passing, there may have been mention of the battle of Leipzig, yet this was the battle that sent Napoleon to exile on Elba and was won by Russian troops – shades of the Second World War!

How many of us who are not of Polish descent realise that in the discussions leading to the treaties of 1814 and 1815, a central feature was the carving up of Poland by Prussia and Russia; how many of us realise that if it had not been for an alliance between Austria, France and Britain, the Prussians and Germans would have restarted the war to gain control of Europe – shades of Russia in 1945 –  how many of us were aware that in 1815 it was the British that prevented the imposition of heavy penalties against France, while in 1919, it was the French who wanted punitive reparations from the Germans and again had to be restrained by the British. How many of us realise that it was at an offshoot of these meetings where Spain, France and Portugal committed to ending slavery – sadly feudalism in Russia was not understood to be a form of slavery.

But of course, as I was reminded by this week’s guest on Desert Island’s Discs, one huge shift has been in how the media presents the world. The films that older generations were brought up on had a quality sadly missing today – they were positive, often joyous and you left the cinema on a high. Of course, it might be argued that they showed an unreal world, but it did at least represent a glass half full rather than that we are constantly faced with today, a glass all but empty.

Enough, for though it rather saddens me to stop, my central point has hopefully been made, that today, in parts of the ‘Western’ world at least, we now have a much better and more nuanced understanding of the past and can see that perhaps if our politicians and citizens were better educated, wiser decisions might be made.

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