A week of samples

“This blog is the unfolding story of Rush Farm and an exploration of life by its philosopher farmer.”

My nearest and dearest have, in a very gentle way, drawn my attention to what they see as an increasing urge on my part to self-indulge in the length of my notes, and the time it now takes to read one of them. This week I hope you see a change!  

First to share one amusement that you may not have registered. The metric system is no longer to reign supreme. I wonder how young people of today will cope with anything that is not base 10 – it was after all some fifty years ago that our old systems of measurement were made illegal! Perhaps we should go back to even older systems.  

The Hare!

Farm News 

Again, this week I have been able to get out about and see the stock and pastures for myself. Aside from nearly running over a hare which had failed to follow the example of another a few minutes before, I was very pleased to see that the yellow clover had taken from the re-seeding, and that the white clover was growing strongly.  

Yellow Clover

We also looked at the cattle, and it was clear that a number of the young stock had not shed their winter coats; looking at the sheep too many were potbellied for us to feel other than worried, but we now have more information from the blood samples which has led our vet to write a report to send to our certifying bodies.  

Two obvious inferences from this collection of data stand out. The first is that the data from soil and hay analysis may point one way, but the blood samples quite another. The second is that issues like limited cobalt, copper, iodine and selenium can vary from year to year. This year, the problem is cobalt. We were expecting copper to be an issue from the soil and hay samples, but that was not any kind of issue according to the blood samples. The ewes, like the lambs, had low cobalt issues, but also an issue with low selenium which can affect fertility.  

A new issue was raised, and that was ‘rumen fluke’. Apparently, until very recently this was not considered as a matter of concern either for sheep or cattle, though it is unclear whether this was because it is hard to identify, no easy cure available, or because it was not thought to be a health problem. Whatever, this is now considered as being potentially as damaging as ‘liver fluke’ which I have mentioned often enough in the past, and now has to be seen as a possible answer to our concerns.  

All this data has been shared with our organic certification bodies and derogation sought for appropriate treatment.  

Fly strike in the lambs was spreading, so on Friday all lambs were ‘cliczined’ and afterwards went through a footbath.  

Apart from the concerns expressed above, at least it seems that New Forest Eye has at last moved on, or put another way, there have been no recent cases.  

Otherwise, necessity has forced us to buy a new topper, though it has not as yet been delivered. The need is very much to do with the creeping thistle in the field by the drive, which needs to be cut before it flowers – this reminds me I should share with you how trim the Business Park now looks following from the efforts of Tim, the gardener, who has also strimmed the verges of the drive.  

Birdlife 

The late burst of warm weather, though sunny only towards the end of the week, possibly explains why the swallows have not yet left us, and why the air around the house seems at times to be filled with fledglings from the various boxes for small birds around the house. The pyracantha covering two of the house walls seems to be home or refuge for any number of birds – sparrows, wrens and at least one pair of blackbirds and robins. The wisteria still houses a pair of wood pigeons and, here at least, the morning ‘chorus’ is the cooing of the pigeons. Finally, we have already had our first bat incursion of the autumn.  

Though personally I find Pa Larkin, as portrayed in the ancient series of ‘The darling buds of May’, slightly irritating, it is only too simple to feel that Mr Charlton made the right decision – at least when the weather is kind!  

Tennis & borders

As a teenager I played a great deal of tennis, and while we lived in Zambia, at least five afternoons a week. My greatest triumph was beating a man who had been runner up in one of the Canadian open championships.  It was very upsetting for him because he was by far the better player, and he thought my tactics were most unsporting. He was correct in a way, though I had a ferocious serve which I had no control over, and was as likely, if playing doubles, to knock my partner out as to win the point. But I did enjoy first rate hand-eye co-ordination, and since I treated any serious match rather like a bridge hand, relied on guile and the unexpected.  

So it was that in the bad old days I enjoyed watching or listening to Wimbledon, but then it lost its charm, and my interest as it became a professional circuit became zilch. Thus, it was, I was only really aware of the triumph of a British women winning the US title. Good for her, but it stirred up all my dismay at this countries immigration policy and ‘our’ Home Secretary – she who gets away with breaking the rules and has utter contempt for morality. I am very happy that our British winner should have been born in Toronto of a Rumanian father and Chinese mother but, like the Home Secretary admitted about her own position, would Emily’s parents have been allowed into this country under the present policies?  

Why cannot all understand, if this country has ever been great, it is because our borders were open. If you consider the matter dispassionately, just how many of our greatest citizens do not have immigrant roots? And remember that I write as one whose roots for hundreds of years were entirely English, though obviously if it were possible to go back further to the seventh or eighth century, I am obviously of immigrant stock.  

Thinking of all this then brought me to the present and so-called travellers. Ask any rural person against which group are they most prejudiced, and top of the list are these people, who often have good homes, but come here for ‘easy pickings’, knowing that the police see their camps as ‘no go areas’, and ordinary citizens are frightened to lay information against them.  

Fools or wise men

I try never to quote Shakespeare but, on this occasion, I will mangle a quotation from him: The foolish know they are wise, the wise know their own foolishness. Sums up so much of the current situation.  

So often these days it is very hard to know whether to laugh or cry. How does one reconcile the evidence that the Siberian tundra is rapidly thawing out, with characters willing to spend millions to try to genetical produce, not just one Woolly Mammoth, but a herd of them? Could they think it would be in order to restore the tundra to how it was 4,000 years ago? 

One of my biggest complaints about our news outlets is that they are so parochial and popularist. I exempt the World Service, which thrives despite successive governments assaults. If, in terms of foreign policy, one nation figures most prominently in the threat column, it is China, but how much have we heard about what is happening there at the moment? A recent interview with Liam Fox on Newsnight revealed China are producing over 400 submarines and war ships a year. When is this made widely known to the public? 

A recent report in the Los Angeles Times described the current crackdown in China on celebrities and that culture, Tech monopolies, private tutoring, ‘sissy’ men, and the very rich. All problems we know only too well in the west, in our decadent uncontrolled so-called capitalist systems. All this is apparently a new focus on ‘common prosperity’. In itself, a popular response to what is, apparently, a growing fear that the period when each generation could expect to have a better life than the one before is over – more or less the situation we are in here.  

Whether these strategies actually address built in problems in China is irrelevant, and obviously false; they certainly give Xi even more power and remember Xi rejects utterly any concept of leadership which is associated with Western democracy.   

It almost feels as though China may be going through a second ‘cultural revolution’, and the thought that the curriculum in schools should include increased time studying the thoughts of Chairman Xi reminds one so much of Mao – the man who probably killed even more people than Stalin. What a curious peoples they are, supremely racist and believing they can rule the world, though to what end other than it is their destiny, who knows.  

But we cannot afford to be ignorant, and our leaders cannot delude themselves into imagining that ‘reasonable behaviour’ is seen as anything other than weakness. Xi rejects the kind of thinking that we see as sensible. Trump alike in a way, but compared to Xi, Trump was a total nothing. Could the people of China ever rise up? Almost certainly not if what we see in nations which were once in the USSR, is anything to go by. So long as the ‘comfortable’ classes ‘lives’ are protected to the greater extent, why should they demand change for those less fortunate than themselves? 

But I want to put all that to one side.  Last week I promised a poem by John Arlott, all the more appropriate as on Thursday we had the first of a series of women’s cricket matches against New Zealand. I suspect he would have had no difficulty in celebrating this development and would have been happy to commentate.  

In a Poem by John Arlott  

John Arlott

‘Closer, the bowler’s arm swept down, 

The ball swung, swerved and darted, 

Stump and bail flashed and flew; 

The batsman pensively departed.  

Little rattle of dry seeds in pods, 

The warm crowd faintly clapped, 

The boys who came to watch their gods, 

The tired old men who napped,  

The members sat in their strong deckchairs, 

And sometimes glanced at the play, 

They smoked, and talked of stocks and shares, 

And the bar stayed open all day.’  

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