Biodynamics and bonfires

Biodynamics and bonfires

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

Well, I said we needed rain and we have certainly had plenty.  

No farm looks at its best after days of rain as tracks and equipment parking areas become very muddy, but at least we have green pastures and, as yet no standing water on anywhere other than the bridle path.  

To add to this pretty foul weather, we have all had to cope with the changing of the clocks. Something reasonably easy with a timepiece but the human clocks find it rather disturbing and unsettling.  

Probably because of the weather, it has been a quieter week than expected. In particular, no start has yet been made on erecting the new barn. As it is usually this month that sees the cattle being taken off the fields, and at present the existing barn is largely occupied by straw and hay that wait to be moved into the new housing, there is some urgency.  

Two more calves were born this week and are doing well. Unusually one of the cows needed some help. This was an opportunity for Boots to really get involved and so he did. The other, after having her first calf struggled to accept motherhood. Both mothers and calves will stay in the barn for a period, for one to recuperate, and the other to adapt to her new role. These calves together with those that were far too light to have the boluses should get all the iodine and copper they need from their mother’s milk.  

Subject to TB testing next week six young animals will be on their way as store cattle. Obviously, the selling price for ‘stores’ is less than for finished cattle, but there are real advantages for us in that there will be fewer to feed and more space in the barn over winter.  

I fear our biodynamic growing season is over. Aside from the soft state of the pastures, we still await new nozzles and filter for our sprayer. Different sized nozzles are needed as the preparation 500 is much coarser than preparation 501.  

Before the rain set in, a bonfire of old fence posts, started at the end of last week reduced the pile of trimmings and useless material substantially. Though it seems wasteful to burn the posts, the fact is that removing staples and nails would take time we do not have. In any case the treated wood does not burn well. We have to be very careful with the remains of such bonfires because of the metal left behind which can be a real hazard to tyres. Punctures on farm vehicles are not just irritating they are also expensive to repair.  

Hopes still remain that the government will accept an amendment to the Agricultural Bill which would ensure issues such as animal welfare are not allowed to drop.  

Given the apparent ‘tin ear’ of our current governing party I am not optimistic.  

It does seem odd that fishing rights seem to be deemed worth so much more than animal rights.  

Should you have access to Netflix you may find it interesting and instructive to watch a film called “Kiss the ground” which underlines the role in which the soil may influence climate change. A concept you may recall I have referred to more than once.  

Life!

As to the future, we remain in limbo. Will there be a trade deal or not, whichever way it goes what will it mean. What will be the outcome of the American presidential election and whichever way it goes, what will the consequences be. And then coronavirus! Perhaps the ostrich actually had the right idea.  

After a rather testing morning earlier in the week as regards our health, tensions were released for both of us when Anne wryly said, we started our life together in a spirit of adventure and so it continues but not perhaps in a way anticipated! What can one do but laugh and make the best of what still actually works.  

I admit my benign hand tremors, which come and go to a rhythm all their own, can make my working both with postage stamps and on a computer frustrating.  As regards our breathing, late onset asthma for Anne is quite uncalled for and testing for her; for myself having been told that I was unlikely to live past the age of sixty, it is easier to bear. Far more important is that we are still ourselves in all the really important ways.  

Political thinking

Who could want to be a politician given that, unless you are a total conviction politician (and both parties suffer from a number of these), at so many times you will find yourself struggling with your conscience.  A problem of course we all frequently face since so often moral imperatives clash and choices have to be made. And then, if you reach the top, since you almost invariably overpromised, (as truth is not part of getting there), where do you go?   

Mathew D’Acona wrote recently “populists are often good at winning, but generally lousy at getting stuff done. It is in their nature, their political DNA to over promise and under-deliver.” Shades of 1984, modern popularism is about power not progress and if things go wrong, clearly it is somebody else’s fault and if that excuse needs strengthening, conspiracy theory is always at hand as a useful weapon.  

The safeguard, if there is one, is that public opinion is not quite as impotent as people imagine, and things that directly impinge on health and welfare can ignite it spectacularly.  

If the parallels between our two countries are upsetting it makes these points no less true.  

Where perhaps political thinking there and here could not be wilder, lies in the recent American judicial philosophy adopted by some important legal figures. American legal conservatives came up in the 1980’s with the notion of originalism. Bizarrely this suggests if the text of the constitution is unclear, the Supreme Court should then consider what the 57 original writers of the text would think of the question! Jefferson who was after all one of the 57, himself recognised in later years that interpretation of the text in the future should reflect changes in society and its thinking.  

My father-in-law and I, within a cordial but cautious relationship, disagreed about many things.  Nothing strange or unusual about that. We came from different generations at a time when such gaps were perhaps wider than today, our cultural backgrounds were different and of course our personalities were dissimilar. An area where we really struggled to find common ground was our differing views about politics and politicians.  

Perhaps the closest we got to agreement was in accepting that politicians were a necessary evil. All this came to mind when I was thinking about the behaviour of Republican senators and congressmen in recent months, and in particular the behaviour of Republican senators on the nomination committee for the appointment of a new judge to the Supreme court.  

Fortunately, I realised I was in danger of being sanctimonious and needed reminding of the old adage of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’.  

In theory, on both sides of the Atlantic, politicians are elected to represent the interests of all their constituents. A splendid but impossible ideal not least because entering politics requires money. Even if the total amount that may be spent by all would be members of Parliament in this nation at around £40,000,000 is trivial, it still means ‘would be’ politicians have to either find substantial sums of money themselves, or tie themselves to a particular party. If elected, that party has expectations of how they will vote and the power to pull the rug out from under any who ignore this. That is the stick. The carrot of course is the chance of becoming a postholder and perhaps in due course something more.  

Is it not a tad hypercritical to express outrage at how Republican senators vote, while our politicians vote down a measure to continue to provide free school meals during school holidays?  

Music

Oddly, given my love of music, few instances of music triggering memories spring to mind. Listening sometimes to Desert Island Discs I realise that this is perhaps unusual.  

By the way, if I have not referred to music recently it is because my amplifier after 30 odd years gave up on me and I was exposed to the horrendous range of choice of replacements now available.  

Whatever, a choice was made and one of the first discs I played was Dussek’s Messe Solmenelle. What an amazing number of great composers and virtuosic performers the 18th and 19th centuries produced and how for many, fame did not last. Dussel’s mass must stand as an equal with other now more famous and frequently played compositions.  

A verse from a poem by a favourite poet of mine.

November 

There is wind where the rose was,  
Cold rain where sweet grass was,  
And clouds like sheep  
Stream o’er the steep  
Grey skies where the lark was

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