Some of the cover is to be welcomed, other less so. One outcome of having to watch the world go by is a much sharper awareness of the plant cycle. A few days ago, garlic mustard looked as if it were to dominate the hedgerows, but now it seems that the cow parsley has seized the initiative – though depending on which areas are in shade, the sequencing is more untidy. But what is so striking is how green the world has come both in towns and the countryside.
I hinted at the prospect last week that we might have a new calf. I am happy to say we do have a fine new bull calf. Less positively, the letter about the annual TB test did plop though the letter box. Still we have nearly three months before we face that ordeal.
As only some of you may be aware, I will share with you the turmoil in the Hereford Cattle Society as to whether that society is doing all it should to ensure that breeding bulls are genetically true to type. Apparently the 11,000 breeding bulls in the USA are in many cases not genetically pure because of lax control by the Society. It now seems that only the traditional English Hereford’s, such as we have, can be accurately called Hereford’s – a fact of deadly importance to breeders in the US.
The EU inspection took place mid-week, and though a lot of time and effort was wasted attempting to reconcile the inspector’s parcel numbers with those we had, good humour prevailed, and the outcome was entirely positive and appropriately nice comments were made. Fields by the way are known in the world of DEFRA as parcels!
The continued absence of rain has allowed muck spreading to continue, and active thought to be given to agreeing a spraying programme for the BD preps. It has also raised the likelihood that I shall shortly be writing about our desperate need for rain!
Thinking back to the quote from Nietzsche about happiness, I confess I have no intention to thoroughly re-read ‘Anti-Christ’ to work out whether he meant it positively or negatively! Nietzsche, as with all philosophers, present their truths, their hypotheses and evidence, and expect thereafter for a debate. These days it seems the debate no longer exists, and writings are now accepted as ‘truth’ without question.
It doesn’t interest me to explore the counter statement – that people want unhappiness. Obviously, accepting that happiness is not a word easily defined, isn’t that what parents actually want for their children, what friends want for each other. We don’t need experts to tell us that moments of happiness are all we are likely to achieve, nor to tell us that what is happiness for one can be punishment for another, nor that happiness at 16 may not be the same as at 86.
The ‘truths’ around happiness and unhappiness are perhaps realities we ought to share and challenge in our family groups at an early stage in life, especially since the levels of unreality in so many youthful minds – resulting from the ‘truths’ pumped out up by glossy magazines and the media – seem to have reached new lows/heights.
Is it possible, I asked myself, that in a typically human way, we burn up our indignation of the behaviour of the young, while missing the central point that their behaviour is but a manifestation of how society presents to them currently.
Perhaps too, us elders, in the roles of educators, need to encourage more thought and debate in our next generations in order to give them the skills to be able to think about what they are presented with, not only as a ‘truth’ or an issue as black and white, but be prepared to think outside the box – to challenge the images and words the media and social media present us with. These are skills which, I would argue, are the foundations to best ready them for the ‘real world’ and best support our future in a liberal democracy.
To return to farming, it is possible that there are those amongst you who are puzzled by my failure to ever comment on the regular morning programme of Farming Today which is broadcast at 6.30am. The key reason for this is that so rarely does it address the farming world as we, here at Rush Farm, know it.
Last Saturday’s programme was entirely about animal feed. It is true we do buy in a small weight of nuts to ensure protein levels in the ewes about to give birth, but otherwise we aim to provide grass in various forms for our stock and only if the science shows the animals are suffering from trace element deficiencies do we drench or if, like last year grass growth was poor do we buy in hay.
So, while it was interesting to hear how formulations are used, and to learn of the various additives – from whiskey mash to beet pulp and soya, and how a modern feed mill operates most efficiently, it was no more than that. There must be some relevance to our own operations to give time to listening to the enthusiastic young presenters rather than enjoying the bird life in the spruce tree, whilst in the background the music provided by radio 3 instead.
I am aware that poems in dialect can be hard work and that this is the second from this poet writing in the ‘Darset’ dialect. What attracts me to them is that they reflect a closeness with nature most of us can never have.
May, by William Barnes (1801-1886)
Come out o’ door, ’tis Spring! ’tis Maÿ!
The trees be green, the vields be gaÿ;
The weather’s warm, the winter blast,
Wi’ all his traïn o’ clouds, is past;
The zun do rise while vo’k do sleep,
To teäke a higher daily zweep,
Wi’ cloudless feäce a-flingèn down
His sparklèn light upon the groun’.
The aïr’s a-streamèn soft, – come drow
The windor open; let it blow
In drough the house, where vire, an’ door
A-shut, kept out the cwold avore.
Come, let the vew dull embers die,
An’ come below the open sky;
An’ wear your best, vor fear the groun’
In colours gaÿ mid sheäme your gown:
An’ goo an’ rig wi’ me a mile
Or two up over geäte an’ stile,
Drough zunny parrocks that do leäd,
Wi’ crooked hedges, to the meäd,
Where elems high, in steätely ranks,
Do rise vrom yollow cowslip-banks,
An’ birds do twitter vrom the spraÿ
O’ bushes deck’d wi’ snow-white maÿ;
An’ gil’cups, wi’ the deäisy bed,
Be under ev’ry step you tread.
We’ll wind up roun’ the hill, an’ look
All down the thickly-timber’d nook,
Out where the squier’s house do show
His grey-wall’d peaks up drough the row
O’ sheädy elems, where the rook
Do build her nest; an’ where the brook
Do creep along the meäds, an’ lie
To catch the brightness o’ the sky;
An’ cows, in water to theïr knees,
Do stan’ a-whiskèn off the vlees.
Mother o’ blossoms, and ov all
That’s feäir a-vield vrom Spring till Fall,
The gookoo over white-weäv’d seas
Do come to zing in thy green trees,
An’ buttervlees, in giddy flight,
Do gleäm the mwost by thy gaÿ light.
Oh! when, at last, my fleshly eyes
Shall shut upon the vields an’ skies,
Mid zummer’s zunny days be gone,
An’ winter’s clouds be comèn on:
Nor mid I draw upon the e’th,
O’ thy sweet aïr my leätest breath;
Alassen I mid want to staÿ
Behine’ for thee, O flow’ry Maÿ!