Ridiculous weather, on Wednesday for example, we had driving rain and sleet followed in the afternoon by warm sunshine. So, we remain between a rock and a hard place when it comes to deciding when to turn the cattle out. They may of course make the decision for us as they are starting to ‘feel their oats’ and indicating clearly that they have had enough of imprisonment. At least with our reduced numbers of ewes we can probably manage lambing in the barn if the cattle are still in, but it will be a tight squeeze.
I seem to recall a poem by AA Milne entitled ‘Now I am seven’. I could have used this as an opening to these notes as we have now seven unplanned lambs in the barn, so far all doing very well. Fingers crossed that that is the outcome for the remainder of lambing!
We worry rather as to how Beatriz and her boyfriend will enjoy their week in the Lake District. So far, she has experienced quite a lot of the worst our climate can offer, and the weather forecast for their holiday is hardly encouraging!
We had our meeting on Higher Tier Stewardship and are clear not only that it would fit our practice and beliefs, but as importantly, know how to apply. It turns out that in addition to the 368 pages I had worked on there were 20 or so more I had failed to print out and which were vital! So now we have a lot to do to make the deadline of the 13th of April.
Listening to the laughing call of the green woodpecker on Friday morning I realise I have not commented on our bird life for a while. In truth the noise of small birds chattering in the pyracantha covering the walls of the house can often be quite overpowering. The larch tree in our front garden is hosting a mass of small birds, mainly blue and great tits, but also collared doves indulging in courtship displays. The Wood pigeons are feasting on the flower buds of the Mirabelle Plum trees and, sadly the jackdaws are still with us but at least they respect the moorhens.
The other day somebody on the radio was getting very excited about the return of ravens. I confess that Anne and I have, in the past, enjoyed the sight of ravens doing aerial acrobatics over Welsh hills. Now as a sheep farmer I am much less excited with the ravens re-establishing themselves in our wood. The difference in perspective of the suburbanite is very different from those who live and work the land!
A fascinating piece of history was revealed on the radio on Thursday – totally new to me. It seems that there was an area of the world called New England in the Crimea long before the term was adopted for the east coast of America.
A group of Anglo-Saxons after the establishment of Norman power decided to take ship and find a new home. Many settled in Constantinople, but others went on to take land on the north coast of the Black Sea. Place names there today still reflect this settlement which seems to have lasted into the 13th century.
Now why were we not told that at school!? We heard stories about Hereward the Wake and may have taken on board the fact that 1066 was followed by serious rebellions in many parts of the country one of which was led by that particular Saxon earl – but that was all.
For a number of years, I have been buying books from a small company called Murder One, who fairly obviously specialise particularly in that literary genre, but in fact will obtain any book you want.
Even after the ending of retail price maintenance, but before the advent of on-line buying, they had a shop in central London which offered a fascinating selection of new and second-hand detective and thriller fiction. That closed some years ago unable to compete against the prices offered by the big online sellers. I stick with them because they are experts in their field, which I appreciate, and because I really can’t equate buying a book with buying socks.
Anyway ‘to cut to the chase’ (if only to confirm senility has not got me yet), I have been fascinated to see in recent years, author’s whose books I remember reading in Green Penguins’ some 60 years ago now back in print; that is to say traditional detective stories from the 1930’s and post war years by authors I had assumed had long been forgotten. Though I naturally applaud this, I wonder what happened to make these reprints emerge? They are to be enjoyed at the very least for not offending modern sensibilities in quite the same way that ‘westerns’ might!
For the first time, this week I tuned in to Michael Sandel in the Radio 4 programme, ‘The public philosopher’. It was what was labelled “Moral Philosophy in my time”. So much more challenging than the acrid linguistic philosophy so beloved by now dead English philosophers of the 20th century or Kant and Hegel let alone the tortured thinking of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein or the nihilist and hedonistic beliefs of 20th century French writers like Sartre.
The topic was ‘what does citizenship mean today’ and hence to whom should priority be given in a crisis, family member or stranger. Many years ago, it was to whom does your loyalty belong, friend or nation or indeed belief. A truly eternal question in that it reminds one of how often we struggle between equally valid but contradictory beliefs and to which there can be no universally ‘right’ answer.
I have now listened to the Beatitudes four times, twice the recording on Lyrita of the piece recorded at a Prom and conducted by Sir Arthur himself, and twice the new recording made with Sir Andrew Davis conducting, and for the present have to admit I am as uninvolved as I am by works by Walton and Britain. I accept that this is sacrilege but those composers, like Debussy, Messaian and Maxwell Davies do nothing for me. I have therefore been cleansing my ears by listening to Satie and Schubert – all piano music and so much more to my taste.
I decided not to finish Jon Sopel’s book since I think I have ‘got the message’ and needed to switch to something lighter. I am not sure H.B Lyle’s recent book ‘The irregular’ quite fitted the bill but was an enjoyable blend of history and fiction set in a period not often visited by authors. In fact, the only other name that springs to mind is Michael Pearce whose books are set in Egypt in the years before the First World War.
We managed to miss the snow predicted for Monday but not the rain. Either way, the end effect is even wetter fields. For those of you who were involved in seeking the fruits of the Easter Bunny on Sunday it was both sunny and dry here in the West Midlands – I hope it was for you in other parts of the UK!
Puddles Are Made For Children – Poem by Don Dickenson
Puddles are made for children,
Who wearing their wellie boots,
May splish, and splash, fuddle and muddle,
Without ever caring two hoots.
Run through, step over, jump in, or stand,
The fun never ceases to be.
Puddles are made for Children,
Children are made to be free.