Autumn Preparations

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

Though most trees retain their leaves, and there remains colour in the garden and elsewhere, it essentially now comes from berries and fruit. The bird population has changed as well, as we are in the period between the departure of summer migrants and the usual influx of birds joining us to overwinter. None the less, there is a large resident population of birds small and large. Though it seems many bats are still active, some are already making their presence felt in the house. Both outside and inside spiders are very present, and though outside one rarely sees them, it is now the cobwebs season. Aside from the omnipresent slug population, one species has been noisily absent. The wasp, which I both admire and fear, seems to have given us a miss this year. No frosts as yet, but we have had some parky nights and the odd day when thoughts of lighting a fire have been expressed.  

Another way in which the season identifies itself is in the wave of new publications, and the increased number of charity appeals. As far as the book world is concerned, in terms at least of what interests me, this year revisionism seems important, books on Spinoza and George III would have us rethinking our views on both.  

Of all the statements I heard last week, and shared with you, was the one that has stuck in my mind – Gordan Brown apologising for failing to both notice, and then act, on the then accelerating gap between the very rich and the rest of us. Yet today this is one of the very worst features of our society, perhaps Brown’s mistake arose from his apparent admiration for all things American. A state which suffers from this problem even more than we do.  

One last fact hard to grasp or believe – a ‘fact’ which was claimed early in the week was that the UK has more tornados per unit (of land?) than anywhere else. This came up as some individual chanced upon reports of the ‘whirlwind’ of 1091 which hit London with winds estimated at 240 miles an hour. It seems two sources refer to this. Leaving aside the veracity of the story, I suppose if the waters of the North Atlantic warm up sufficiently, bad tornados could be part of our grandchildren’s’ lives. Also, worth reminding ourselves we have a fair number of earthquakes, estimated to be 200 plus every year despite being nowhere close to two tectonic plates meeting.  

Removing fencing along the drive

Farm News 

Autumn is coming as regards the farm, which will mean a change in activities. Feeding, though that has been going on for some weeks in a limited way, once all the cattle are in the barn, will take up much more time. Work on the land will be much reduced to protect the pastures and minimise the degree of poaching, but the sheep will need their feeders kept full, and of course tupping time will soon be upon us. Water to fields that will not be used must be turned off and, if possible, water troughs in those fields emptied and cleaned.  

This week has been a mix of finishing off work started, and readiness for next spring, not to forget staying as calm as possible until the government makes its position clearer on farming in the future, and in particular its role, if it has one. I write that because it would seem that, driven by a Ms Truss, we might be moving into a world where as much food as possible is imported, and all notions that such food meet home grown standards, flies out of the window.  

The weeks thoughts

I have no great thoughts on which to end these notes. The budget needs absorbing before comment, but I do have a rag bag of matters to share, some of which certainly relate to the coming Climate Conference, though I have no real idea on the order in which to present them, but some humour to start is probably the most sensible path to follow. 

Like any human being, I like coming across articles which express views that coincide with my own. I have never been a fan of overthinking, nor do I have a great deal of enthusiasm for literary criticism. The obvious reason being that such work often tells you more about the critic than anything else or is no more than pretentious claptrap. An article by Johnny Grimond in The Oldie will illustrate this nicely.  

A lost limerick by Edward Lear has come to light and it seems critics feel a need to explore its meaning: 

There was an old man on a Bicycle,  
Whose nose was adorned with an Icicle.  
        ‘But they said – ‘If you stop,  
        It will certainly drop.’  
And abolish both you and your Bicycle  

The question must surely be why. A nonsense verse is just that and all that is needed is to enjoy it.  

Staying for a few sentences longer, I was delighted to read that, that excellent small company ‘Slightly Foxed’ has published a collection of essays by Adrian Bell whose trilogy of books describing his farming experiences I have always felt should be in the category ‘must read’. 

I referred earlier to two new books which certainly also will go on my ‘to read’ list. Since I have no fixed views on either topic considered I can approach them without significant preconceptions. Of the two, I am sure that Spinoza will sell fewer copies, but in the light of what I have written about the thoughts of John Locke and the issue of self-consciousness, the suggestion that Spinoza played a role in Locke’s thinking is fascinating.  

Edging towards politics statements from the Blair Brown TV series I thought worth sharing. 

  • I think this reflects the shallowness of New Labour. Blair pressed by the presenter on Iraq thought that the key failings in policy were, in the first instance, not enough American troops on the ground post occupation, but secondly a failure both to realise the explosion in society that would follow the downfall of a dictator, and the depth of hatred between the two main Islamic sects. These failures really are inexcusable. Did no one have a knowledge of history? think of the breakdown in Yugoslavia. Or the situation post-independence in India. And then Cameron learns nothing so removes the dictatorial cap which had been holding Libya together.  
  • Watching the cricket match between India and Pakistan, after those comments from Blair, no one could miss the atmosphere which emanated from the crowd – quite overwhelming, and no doubt the result of the break-up of British India. That event led not just to violence but to the vast movement of people responding to religious fears. It is estimated that around 10 million people moved east or west.  

Wondering how this movement compared with the movements of people between countries I soon found from an American source that after the war, ‘The Great Migration’ of Black Americans moving north took place. Great seems to be a word beloved of Americans. That migration was of the order of 5 million. The biggest migration of all actually took place also after the end of the Second World War in Europe but involved over 20 million individuals.  

As to what might have been the scale of movements within a country one can only assume as both Stalin and Mao top the list of mass murderers it could well be figures of movements in their countries might have been even greater. Sadly, humanities inhumanity continues in some many parts of the world.  

A few last paragraphs and then a poem by a refugee from the Nazi’s who never felt really at home in any other language than German or Yiddish.  

Anne shared with me Clarkson’s article in last Sunday’s Sunday Times. It struck me that he is much more in touch with the thinking of a large section of the population than either MP’s, Government Ministers or the Prime Minister.  

Conservative members forcing through financial decisions or voting to all Water Companies to continue to discharge raw sewage into the sea or rivers, both seem prime examples of that general ‘tone deaf’ approach as does the situation where a 100 MP’s push for the tax on draught beer to be relaxed.  

Typical of the efficiency of this government, the MP’s vote one way and their DEFRA department writes to tell us they are requiring farmers to ensure they do not release phosphates into the river system.  

As a matter of interest, I wonder how many MP’s who voted against the Lord’s amendment in the first instance hold shares in the water company? 

It would be unfair not to record that the Government did pull back from this original position. But learning 84% of our rivers are polluted by sewage reflects badly indeed on this and past governments.  

As a minor digression, this habit by authorities of refusing to spend money on infrastructure is infinitely worse in America, but surely, we don’t have to copy them that closely. 

The opposition seems little better. A Labour MP calling Conservative’s ‘scum’, even if she has now apologised, or a leader kowtowing to minority groups to brighten his woke credentials hardly inspires confidence.  

At ministerial level we are seeing, on at least a weekly level, contempt for parliament itself. Leaks of matters by advisers has always been a problem, but when Ministers routinely brief the media before a matter comes before the house, as the Speaker recently said, was once a matter of resignation.  

As to the Prime Minister, a man who says recycling is a waste of time, who tells a group of women our police are wonderful, a man who encourages international agreements that go against everything the government claims it stands for, and finally makes limp jokes like his recent offering to children concerned about climate was ‘perhaps we should reduce the world population by feeding humans to animals’. 

The temptation to refer to Nero fiddling while Rome burnt, is all but irresistible even though we now know that was a canard.  

But of course, we, the electorate need to recognise our role.  

Heavily advertised at the moment are cruises to Antarctica. Just how is that justifiable if there really is concern for the environment and the selfie that will be affected! The simple truth of course is that built into the human psyche is the urge to have our cake and also eat it, and the instinct to put off action until the very last moment. In the case of climate that last moment may have passed. 

Finally, a piece of news which stuck in my gullet was to learn the telephone landline was to go by December 2025. Does nobody in power today ever carry out risk analyses? 

I have chosen a poem which may feel rather downbeat but has an attraction all its own.  

The poet was a German Jew who escaped the Nazis and the gas Chambers but for whom German language and culture was still close to heart – I suspect she was once a Berliner.  

‘Cloudy with light precipitation’ by Marsh Kalcko

This summer will just whiff away as well’   
So soft and still, as if it was not here.   
A sweeper with his broom again this year   
Will cross the park through crackling leaves that fell  
This autumn will  be just the same  
That’s how so many years have rolled t’ward end  
Soon staring at strange, walls is how time’s spent  
And one is rained in day by day again  
Already life is slumb’ring winterward.  
How sluggish slanting rain strings seem to run  
They join, and soon melancholy is spun.  
Shy like the child is hiding out heart.  
Do leaves not die, despite their coloured flare?  
Do boats not moan, abandoned ln the billow?  
The last reaming roses now stand bare.  
The summer leaves. This one deceiving also.

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