This last week, the weather alternated between rain and dry – as evidenced by the state of the level of the ponds in field 8 – large every other day! Field 8 is that by the drive. The effects of this now annual cycle of winter flooding is that the rows of daffodils along the driveway show more and more gaps – the standing water does not suit the bulbs.
Though we continue to reduce the number of sheep on the farm, the weather has also meant that we shall have to buy in more organic hay. The regular rain means that we need also yet more bedding straw.
After the semi-euphoria of last week’s news that we could expect 20 new calves over the next eight months, shoulders slumped slightly when a still born calf arrived this week.
Different problems for us to contend with this week came as a result of “bureaucracy” when we discovered that the Rural Payments Agency decided to split two fields into four without our knowledge or agreement. Seemingly a ‘meaningless’ act, it actually turned out that the consequence of this action was the cause for non-payment of the autumn grant money!
Staying on the subject of grants, we have been alerted to the availability of the ‘package’ we have to complete in order to establish a new Country Stewardship contract – this is needed since our current contract expires in April of this year. Eventually after a testing conversation, I was told it would arrive by email in the next three to four weeks…
Spring happily seems not that far away. Aside from the catkins hanging from the hazel bushes, the cyclamen and early snowdrops are now in flower. Apparently, snowdrops used to be called Candlemas bells as they flowered at Candlemas -the 2nd of February – that time when plant decorations and wreaths would be taken down and burnt outside.
I need also to report that my statement about the absence of aural evidence of Tawny Owls is to be explained by the fact that I no longer walk along the brook on a regular basis!
After the rather sickening experience of reading so-called professional historians prostrate themselves on the altar of political correctness, I was encouraged by the revisionist approach to Charles I, a man normally reviled, in a recent biography. This tied in rather nicely with the approach of Andrew Graham-Dixon in his current television series on the art treasures held in the Royal Collection, in which he applauded the way in which the King introduced the English to continental art.
Pundits can be irritating, but also entertaining! I particularly enjoyed the claim that 98.8% of English art was destroyed in the reign of Edward VI rather than in the ‘Commonwealth’ period, where the cash-strapped Cromwell sold off art rather than burnt it. Incidentally the series merits a five-star rating.
Cromwell later came to mind after listening to American evangelical Christians on a coach tour of the Holy Land being interviewed about the Trump decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “It was a good decision” we were told, because of the words of the Old Testament.
It was Cromwell who, in part at least, also relied on the Bible, though in his case the New Testament, to formally welcome Jews back into England. The decision was not quite so dramatic as school text books like to make out of course. Though Jews had notionally been banned from England in 1290, the reality was in fact that within a fairly short period small numbers returned over the succeeding centuries. Indeed, at the start of the 17th century moves were already in place to formally lift the ban.
For those of you who might be expecting an update on my experience of Schubert’s string quartets the truth is I have failed to get further than the 9th quartet. This is partly because I am listening to each quartet at least three times, but also sadly because I often drift off to sleep before the end of a CD! The third movement from the 7th quartet is so far, the piece I am most attracted to.