Clean sheep, but not for long!

I suppose it is typical of our climate that after a week of drying winds, cold nights but warmish days, all was undone at the weekend by Storm Ciara. But there again, would we truly want a climate system such as they have in Australia and central and Southern Africa.

Our cattle seem well, though there are a couple of cows showing slight lameness, as was Dwaine, who thankfully seems restored and back into action which eased our concerns. Mating in cattle, as distinct from Ai (or artificial Insemination), poses physical risks for both cow and bull. That of course is one of the reasons heifers are kept back until they are fully grown physically. Our numbers are down by two, and potentially by another three. There had to be a change of date for our animal health and TB testing which means both will now take place in the first week in March. A month that is already looking busy.

Our sheep by Saturday morning were once again looking clean, but then came the rain… The flock is reduced by nineteen animals, so numbers are down. The breeding flock at 110 is well down in numbers from our heyday. They look good, but scanning will shortly confirm or otherwise the success of tupping. The reduction in the number of ewes has obviously reduced the number of lambs available for sale, and this year we have had to tell a number of would be buyers they are out of luck. The  remaining lambs are already committed to our main buyer.

Aside from the daily feeding routine there has been little done on the farm apart from a small section of hedge cutting and a slightly longer stretch of fence removal. The young stock were given the mineral drench that has been on the list for weeks, and those not going to be sold in the near future were treated in an attempt to ease the animals discomfort. Reluctantly we had to buy in more bedding straw. We still have enough haylage, but now is the time to buy organic protein nuts as a supplement for the ewes.

On a very positive note, I can share with you that our Demeter inspection report has now arrived and is entirely positive. We have also learnt from the Rural Payments Agency that they are now satisfied with the information we have supplied, and we should, but who knows when, receive our annual payment for 2019! It seems that they sample 5% of all claims each year and we happened to be chosen. Slightly hard to believe the choice was random but paranoia gets one nowhere.

On the business park the great civil engineering project has continued apace. None of us really realised just what was entailed but the work had to done. The amount of concrete that has had to be used is frightening in terms of cost. We are also only too well aware that cement production provides 5% of the earth’s pollution.

Talking of climate change, I hope you all were able to watch the calving of icebergs in Antarctica – a stupendous site. No doubt related to the ‘fact’ that the maximum temperature down there this year exceeded 18 degrees centigrade. And to think that at the end of the fifties, we geography A level students were led to believe we were moving into the next ice age! Mind you some scientists are even now predicting a mini ice age as the sun enters a period of hibernation.

Science, our new religion, continues to bury us in fascinating research. The latest excitement appears to be that earthworms are polluters. Leaving aside that scientists are as susceptible as all humans are to prejudice and preconceived ideas, what really seems to be missing is a holistic approach – perhaps the truth is, as with so much information available these days, the task is beyond the human brain.

This week has seen Clement’s departure and Furkan’s arrival. We celebrated Furkan’s arrival and honoured the time Clement has stayed with us by taking them both out to dinner on Friday night. As a group of ten we made a great deal of noise but had a super evening with much laughter.

Despite spending time on farm business, I managed to fit in time for working with my stamps, reading and thinking. Much of the reading was no more than historical fiction, but I was driven to explore again a book by Nicholas Zernov on eastern Christianity. The book contains a chapter on the similarities and differences between the two branches of Christianity. Zernov sees the differences as stemming from the fact that the west looked to Latin and the east looked to Greek. You may remember that last September I drew attention to the book by Karen Armstrong entitled ‘The lost Art of scripture’. I confess this makes a lot of sense to me, though there are those who argue language does not affect thought processes. The reason however for referring to that book is that it perhaps explains the gap between attitudes to democracy. While western Christianity places the individual at the centre, eastern Christianity reverses this, placing the individual as subordinate to the group.

I end with two short verses from different poets. The first refers to the weather before the storm, the other to the storm. The first ancient, the second in free verse modern.

Zunsheen in the winter

The winter clouds, that long did hide
The zun, be all a-blown azide,
An’ in the light, no longer dim.
Do sheen the ivy that do clim’
The tower’s side an’ elem’s stim;
An’ holmen bushes in between
The leafless thorns, be bright an’ green
To zunsheen o’ the winter’

Natural Work Of Art

Cloud across the sky 
Is like a moving painting 
At the wide canvas, 
Rhyming with the blowing wind, 
As it shows fine images. 

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