Concerts for the cattle

“This blog is the unfolding story of Rush Farm and an exploration of life by its philosopher farmer.”

The Farm

The weather this week saw temperatures rising, and the forecast for next week, from the point of view of gardeners, is disturbing. The more so here because Severn Trent have contacted all farmers to say that with reservoirs well below full capacity, please provide a risk assessment. Ignoring cereal and vegetable growers, for stock farmers this is very disturbing. Cattle need large quantities of water daily to digest their grass intake.   The other additional issue for stock farmers is the need to ensure both the sheep and cattle have shelter from the sun, even if we can do little about the heat. Fortunately, the ewes have been shorn, but additionally they have been moved into field 4 where there is good shelter. And given both the weather and next week’s TB test, the cattle may best be kept in the barn. 

Great friends!

The pastures look so different compared to a week ago. Real growth in some fields, while others look very dry and need topping. The sooner we have rain, the better. One good piece of news is that six of the eight fields in the Stewardship Scheme have now had their six weeks of purdah, which eases decisions a great deal, despite needing though three fields set aside for the horse show. In fact, this weekend has seen preparations for next Saturday. 


Certainly, this week has seen much movement of the animals in order to ensure that no field is overgrazed, and as far as possible where there is some shelter.  A great positive was that fields 2 and 3 really picked up after how they were a week ago.  

Possibly tied to the coming events, the three fields closest to the drive, and the edge of the drive, have been topped or mown – all actions necessary anyway!  

I am happy to share the news that the lamb which on Sunday required drastic action because of fly strike, seems well. Now all lambs have had preventive action against this pest.   

The cattle continue to look good, though one calf and some cattle needed treatment against the wretched eye problem that from time-to-time flares up.  

Yannick, as did his brother Sam all those years ago, put on a concert for the cattle, but this was by saxophone. Whatever, the result was the same – an entranced audience.  

An evening lullaby

You may have wondered what happened to Millie’s puppy Dot. Well, she has been away for some time now, learning how to be a working sheepdog. A visit to see her on Sunday suggested she had not forgotten her loving Boots!  

During the week many more loads of hay have arrived, and the bales have been stacked away. This was a one-man job which fell to Tim. In the meantime, Yannick has already more than proved his worth and, as important, seems very happily settled in.   We were a little unhappy to see a pair of red kites circling the air above a nearby field that was being cut. Our resident buzzards were there as well, but they are a bonus not a likely nuisance. Following on from that word, we intend to make sure opportunities for Jackdaws and Magpies to nest near the farm complex are removed this winter. There is no doubt that swallows find them intimidating.  

There has been discussion on Pasture Fed as to the value of having Red Tractor Assurance. On balance the feeling was that it was of little value to those registered as being organic or biodynamic.  

Reverting to my words recently, I must share that a group of scientists are now confident that new DNA information will enable genetic modifications to wheat, with free promises to increase by a factor of twelve the return on grain grown. Some of us remember the promises of the ‘Green Revolution’ made in the last century and their failure.  

Christianity continued

In all that I have been writing about Christianity I hope I have never lost sight of the fact that in terms of human history, these beliefs are actually comparatively recent. Also, that Christianity has probably done no more and no less harm and good than other much older and younger beliefs.  

I do not see myself as a gnostic in any way, though I do have considerable sympathy with some of their ideas. Christianity began as a Jewish sect, and I understand politically why the Old Testament was seen as crucial, and so much of Judaism was carried forward into the new religion.   

So, I am at one with Maricon, who in the second century felt that since the gods of the two testaments are manifestly not the same, the Old Testament should be excluded from any Christian bible. Whether or not he was a gnostic is not clear.  

I thought that at this point I would at least be able to provide a timeline for the contents of the New Testament and add to that a dating for the gospel of St Thomas – now naïve I was. 

As I have already written, the oral tradition persisted until it became clear that matters had to be written down – not of course that guarantees very much. The first problem is that the scraps of written material that academics have to work with, date at the earliest to the start of the second century, while some only date to the fourth century. The material may exist only in one language or several.  

Secondly, it is rarely possible to identify the author, or indeed whether the document includes the work of several authors.  

Thirdly, documents are not dated, so dating documents is a very specialised and complex process. It is also a much-disputed business, and this is particularly an issue where the Gospel of St Thomas is concerned.   

Finally, some authors and their writings are only known by reference to them, usually in rebuttal of their views.  

Dating largely is done by reference to the few known hard facts and how these are or are not referred to.   

The only agreed certainty on dating is that Paul’s letters are the earliest, with an agreed date of AD 51 for the first of his letters, with the earliest gospel in the Canon possibly that of Mark in AD 68 to70.   

The issue of dating was of concern to Christians by the early years of the second century, with the listing made by Marcion of Sinope, in Asia Minor between AD 135 – 140. He was of course eventually excommunicated, and he it was who rejected all the gospels except Luke and the linking of the Old Testament to the New.  

I am aware that my fascination with this matter is probably not widely shared, so I will forgo details on the other so-called Gnostics and will finish on the debate about the Gospel of St Thomas which has generated much heat among academics.  

There are two distinct ‘camps’ on this. One, that espoused by Elaine Pagels reads the Gospel of St John as a direct rebuttal of the Gospel of St Thomas, which, after all, only became known to us properly through Dag Hammadi. If this reading is correct, then Thomas must have been written before John.  

This approach is rubbished by some, who see John as written, perhaps 30 years before Thomas. What Thomas suggests is that God is within us all, and that the sayings attributed to Jesus were not to be regarded as being written on tablets of stone, but as suggestions for discussion.  

Enough, on all this is to suggest that it was around this time that Eastern and Western religious strands went off in their different directions  

I owe Elaine Pagels for drawing this poem to my attention. Her reasons “William Blake noting the different portraits of Jesus in the New Testaments sided with the one the Gnostics preferred against ‘the vision of Christ that all men see”.   

William Blake – The everlasting gospel; the opening verse of three.  

The vision of Christ that thou dost see  
Is my vision’s greatest enemy.  
Thine has a great hook nose like thine;   
Mine has a snub nose like to mine.   
Thine is the Friend of all Mankind;   
Mine speaks in parables to the blind.   
Thine loves the same world that mine hates;   
Thy heaven doors are my hell gates.   
Socrates taught what Meletus Loath’d as a nation’s bitterest curse,   
And Caiaphas was in his own mind  
A benefactor to mankind.  
Both read the Bible day and night,  
But thou read’st black where I read white.

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