This has felt to be a short week. While, of course, the daily checking of stock, water supplies, and pasture growth has gone on as normal; apart from moving the suckler herd, and selling fifteen lambs, the farm has been relatively quiet.
After a very wet weekend last weekend, it feels like we are experiencing a minor Indian summer. The rain and warmth has had a very positive effect on grass growth, but looking at the two fields we hoped might give us a second cut, I was left feeling very doubtful. Still let’s not give up hope.
In an earlier note, I anticipated we would get £300 for our wool – in the event it was £315. In addition to this sum, I remembered that we got a prepayment of just under £70 which helps, but still, these figures are a very very long way from earlier times when the amounts earned meant there were fortunes to be made from wool sales and great churches to be built in counties like Suffolk. In the same spirit of transparency, for the moment, there is actually a premium being paid for organic lamb.
Joan is nearing the end of his time with us. This week he very bravely dealt with a wasp nest in one of our compost bins by picking up the nest and moving it to a more convenient site. Another less perilous task has been collecting ‘windfalls’ and feeding them to the cattle – who are very grateful! It is possible that he may not be our last woofer of the year but there is some uncertainty about that. Asked by the SCBS how many wwoofers we had had in total since we joined the scheme, we came up with the staggering figure of 40 – many of whom remain in touch with the family.
Our oldest apple tree (at least 150 years) is a biennial cropper. Last year we got nothing but this year we should be able to get hundreds of bottles of juice from it. Those bushes in the hedgerows that fruit, such as hawthorn, blackthorn and bramble are laden with fruit. Historically the thinking would be that given this, we were going to have a hard winter – these days I am doubtful it means anything!
At the risk of sounding biased, I have to say after reading Adam Toose’s book ‘Crashed’, which explores how central banks around the world responded, there appears no doubt that the role of the European Central Bank, under the leadership of Jean-Claude Trichet, must take the major responsibility for the sluggish economic recovery of Europe after the crash, and the consequential rise in nationalism. The view of Toose is that this resulted from a mixture of hunger for power and an aim to force regime change. The book, it has to be admitted, is heavy going, and I felt slightly put out when the monthly magazine Prospect ran a long précis of the book! If you are interested, the article is to be found on pages 44 to 48 in the September issue. All in all, it adds up to a damming inditement of the ECB and the EU – and bear in mind I voted to stay in that organisation.
I assume it is normal to find certain matters beyond one’s comprehension. I love music, sight read without difficulty, can be disturbed by out of tune singing or playing, but despite having read more than once a variety of books on harmony and composition, though I understand the individual words, I remain none the wiser. Therefore, the new book by Roger Scruton leaves me leaves me liking the idea, but with no idea how to handle that thought: Roger Scruton, the noted right-wing philosopher and music lover, has just had published a new book on classical music. As a philosopher he can be defined as an anti-realist, and as such believes all art is rooted in the subjective experience of the onlooker or listener: ‘…music exists in the ear of the listener, not on the page of the score, nor even in the world of sound.’ It is our act of listening that endows mere vibrations with meaning and purpose.
I am in general no fan of Jeremy Clarkson, but a recent article did resonate with me. In an article writing about the under 25’s he was led to the conclusion that older people are seen as ‘guests who have outstayed their welcome’. All this he based on his experience of members of that younger age group knowing they were right and feeling that disagreeing with them entitles either attack or tears. Well, one may wonder about the young people he comes across, but as I wrote last week, the current attitude in all age groups appears to be, ‘if you are not for me you are my enemy or an idiot’.
Though I am not a historicist – indeed Karl Popper is a philosopher I hold in the highest regard – there does seem to be a cyclical nature to life. During my 35 years in the educational world I eventually all but gave up reading the Times Educational Supplement because some ideas were coming around for the third time. So, I have to confess to some amusement in the current idea that a key problem for the future being forecast – according to a senior officials from the Bank of England – be that we are heading for a world in which the number of jobs available sharply falls – and asking what should we do to manage this situation. All very serious and worrying, except in the nineteen seventies this same issue was considered the major problem society would face in the very near future!
Staying with serious matters, the fourth test match against India ended in victory for England which means they win the five-match series having won three of the first four games. All matches were played very competitively but in an excellent spirit – just as cricket should be played.
On a lighter note, just in case I have not referred to him before, Christopher Fowler’s series about Bryant and May is more than just entertaining. The author’s love for a lost London and its history shines through. The heroes could not be less prepossessing and cases less odd, but once you get into the rhythm of his books you find you can’t or won’t be able to put the book down!
Housman was a great classical scholar, and his intimacy with Latin in particular, seems to dictate the shape of his poetry. “He makes our cumbersome language seem graceful, flexible and swift. His enduring popular reputation over the years is partly because of his ability to express emotions of a certain universally appealing kind (The Shropshire Lad has been in print continuously since 1896) but also testifies to a remarkable style, both epigrammatic and musical, which produces lyric poems that are simple to remember – and simply memorable.”
The extract below feels appropriate with the coming of autumn and my reaching the age of 77:
XXXIX from Last Poems by A. E. Housman
“When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.
The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.
From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.
And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.
The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.
They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.
So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies”
Lastly, we have produced this short film about the Summer Fete and SCBS 3rd share offer which is now open!