Challenging rain!

It feels a little strange writing these notes when my notes for last week have only just gone out! The explanation is straightforward. The farm office after 13 years had become a nightmare of mixed furniture, mixed items and general hubris. An opportunity to lay a piece of reclaimed carpet over a lifting artificial wood floor provided the excuse for action. All this work, of course, had to be fitted into full diaries – hence no computer for over two weeks! Few treasures were found but much that could go for recycling or be burnt.

After a joyous Sunday celebrating the 9th birthday of grandson ‘Boots,’ it has essentially been downhill all the way. Nothing totally catastrophic, and probably coloured by my health being affected by the fluctuations in air pressure, temperature and humidity.

We had a cow abort, and that while very sad in itself meant the animal health agency had to be involved to check whether any particular nasty had happened. The cow concerned gave us good twins in the past and so no trouble had been anticipated. However, once again we are under movement restrictions at least until the result of the tests is known. As a precaution we shall bring forward the mineral drenching programme to ensure the problem is not related to missing trace elements.

The sight of the sheep looking like semi-drowned rats because of the non-stop rain led us yet again to think on the need to provide some winter shelter for weather periods like this. Such a long wish list we have. 

A danger resulting from the waterlogged fields that is of grave concern, is the risk of parasite problems being much heightened. Almost certainly, the common-sense thing to do is to at least drench the lambs.

Decisions have now been taken as to which rams will run with which of the two groups of ewes and, though this may have to be revisited, which fields should be used for tupping. A further twenty lambs are sold and went on Sunday. 

Early in the week, despite the talk of the summer floods of 2007, we had few concerns. By Thursday morning it was a different story. All animals are safe of course, but not only are the fields that are prone to flooding covered, in the large courtyard the water started gushing out of the ground. The only appropriate music I could find to fit the mood was from Cesar Frank – suitably intense and mournful.

I hasten to say that I regard at least three works by Cesar Frank as being among my all-time favourites – his Symphony In D, his violin sonata for violin and piano and his Piano Quintet. Before that I had been drawing comfort nearly every night listening to the music of Charles Stanford’s Mass ‘Via Victrix’.

More positively, the rain has enabled time to be spent tidying the workshop, so meeting an ambition long held by Chris. Our chainsaw is now operational. and while the tractor is still stuck in 4-wheel drive, efforts to solve the problem are in hand while Clement is going to do the necessary welding on the topper.

There is also one other task that can be done without damage to the fields. The fencing along the bridle path can continue to be removed to enable the fencers to complete that section. It will also be an opportunity to eliminate the bramble problem in that section.

The groundworks have inevitably come to a halt, but it is still hoped to complete the work by the end of the year. It is just so wet.

The ‘Flood and Flow’ project based at Leicester university is exploring the link between town and village names originating in the period 700 to 1100 AD when apparently the weather conditions were very similar to todays. Of local interest is the village Broadwas, where ’was’ is a contraction of an old English word meaning land that floods easily but quickly drains.

The Pasture Fed site is largely occupied these days by complaints about its new Board. A further interesting issue raised has been new ways of composting, but my interest waned slightly when the scientific data came, apparently, from the scientists employed by the company manufacturing the product. Ah well ‘plus ca change’ and all that. It is in that spirit I share with you the discovery that while the carbon footprint of 100 grams of beef is higher than for 100 grams of chicken; if you compare the nutritional value of the two samples the position is reversed.

Our dispute with the Rural Payments Agency continues. Matters of course are the more difficult because we no longer have an MP and the Minister of State has even less time to take an interest than in the pre-election period. At least there are indications that our request for derogation will be acceded to.

We have begun taking the American monthly called the ‘Atlantic’. Its articles are interesting, and there seems a clear commitment to ‘proper’ news reporting. An approach sadly no longer easily found in this country – should you doubt me, consider how much space and time has been given to the alleged activities of Prince Andrew. We now know it was a myth that Nero fiddled while Rome burnt, but does not that story currently resonate?


A kindly reader has identified last week’s poem and poet for me. The piece is by Francis Duggan who says he has been writing published poetry since 1973. Born in Ireland but now domiciled in Australia. Obviously, a poet to be explored further.

For me, making sense of individuals, society or the world is problem enough even If the past is taken into account. Without doing so the chances are remote indeed. The past is of course also vital if one wants a sense of perspective. Looking back to a sonnet by Shelley reminds me that matters political have been worse.


An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,

Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow

Through public scorn, mud from a muddy spring,–

Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,

But leech-like to their fainting country cling,

Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,–

A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,–

An army which liberticide and prey

Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,–

Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;

Religion Christless, Godless, a book sealed,–

A Senate—Time’s worst statute unrepealed,–

Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may

Burst to illumine our tempestuous day.

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