The week has been rather dominated by national events! Nonetheless like all ordinary mortals’ daily life went on and indeed it was rather a good week.
Perhaps the most important news is that the field most damaged by the introduction of earth heating for the business park (field 2) has now been reseeded and with a heavy seed mix basically made up of traditional grasses and clovers with only a small amount of perennial rye grass. Moreover, the weather pattern should ensure good germination.
Regarding our other main concern at the present, thistles and nettles, the tractor and topper have been running non-stop – apart from a brief period when a welder was needed to ensure the topper could carry on running. Even more excitingly, the pastures have shown new growth immediately after being topped.
No losses on the stock front during the week, although one cow has been causing us some concern, for what it’s worth the vet is “fairly” confident that we should not be too worried. On the horizon are a variety of activities to do with the sheep – shearing the ewes, the first weighing of the lambs and the second vaccination of the lambs against clostridial diseases. For the cattle, we still await more calves while shortly we need to wean last autumn’s calves.
The downside of the present weather pattern is that we were not able to spray the farm with preparation 500 since it rained on the afternoons we had pencilled in for that purpose. It was possible however to make this year’s cpp – for those who struggle to remember what cpp is may I point them to Peter Proctor’s book ‘Grasp the thistle.’ For Humphrey, our current invaluable Woofer support, this was a real ‘hands on’ experience of biodynamics!
With the topping out of the way, for a week or so at least, work can start on fencing. Aside from the constant need to replace and repair, there are still fields needing new fencing put in, and the ground is damp enough to make this a good time to do the work. Aside from fencing, later in the season we are going to have to carry out some hedge cutting. Blackthorn in particular pushes out into the fields at an amazing speed unless checked, and while I love our hedges, even I have to acknowledge that we cannot afford to lose too much field to them. Cutting back the blackthorn does at least please the followers of the rare Brown Streaked butterfly which lays its eggs on fresh shoots!
While my personal life this past week and into next week has been dominated by the ICC world cricket cup, other things have been possible! Two of us attended a performance of Graham Harvey’s play written round the life of a farming family, The Hendersons’, in the Cotswolds, and in particular, it is a lament for the demise of traditional farming while the chemical giants have taken over modern farming.
It was an epic performance in that it was essentially a one woman show. The actress, Roberta Bellekom (daughter of the Archer’s Director), has many leading roles behind her. Given that it was performed in Inkberrow, and that the actor who plays Eddie Grundy joined Graham Harvey (38 years as agricultural adviser and scriptwriter for the Archers) on the stage, the questions that followed the performance were very much about the Archers radio programme. Graham has visited us several times, once indeed with the editor of the programme from which we had hopes of a useful outcome. Sadly, that particular individual moved on but we think that Graham will bring the new producer to visit us in due course.
The election led me to revisit Hannah Arendt’s book “The origins of Totalitarianism” which I last read at least 50 years ago. Reassuring to be reminded of her positive views on the English-speaking worlds general adherence to the ‘first past the post system’ given the noises coming out of Europe about our political processes.
Since cricket can be watched while engaged in other activities I have explored not only the music of Karlowicz, but listened to the amazing voice of Elizabeth Watts – have to admit my love of listening to ‘warbling ladies’ dismays the rest of the family – and, on advice, listened for the first time to Mendelssohn’s settings of psalms. Progress with ‘The Tower’ is not rapid but in fairness to the author and myself this is largely because, as I come across matters I was unaware of, time has to be taken to follow new lines of enquiry and research.
Though being well aware I am no Richard Jeffries, it would be sad if I did not in ending this week’s notes record that a hedgehog has actually been seen on the farm, the green woodpeckers have been very active as the ants attempt to multiply, the guinea fowl have been very raucous most nights as they roost in the trees by the pond and, there is still a cuckoo in the vicinity – and that is both exciting and sad, cuckoo numbers are said to be down by 60% and certainly we have heard the decline for ourselves.