Hunkered down for the winter

Hunkered down for the winter

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

I apologise at once for the shortness of these notes but in truth my normal ‘half full glass’ approach to life is currently struggling. There is no need to share worries that we all have at the present time exacerbated by mendacious, incompetent and wanting to have their cake and eat it, politicians.   

Putting all that to one side, the news from the farm is genuinely positive for the present at least. With all the cattle in, and the number of sheep on the farm no more than 200, the farm is hunkered down for the winter.  

Work on the barn has not ended, but the additional feeding tombstones are now in place and with more of the concreting booked for next week, they  will be in use soon.  

We have had a dead calf born to a mother who gave us a dead calf last year; fortunately for our moods not to dip too low, we also have a healthy calf safely arrive. 

The next break in the daily routine of feeding the animals will come when the ewes are scanned, but since the rams only went in on the 23rd of November, that is weeks ahead.  

Aside from the mud around the barn and where the tractor goes to feed the sheep, the farm basically looks good. The lambing field for the spring is in a better state at this stage than it has been for years. Additionally, though it may not be good news for the Business Park, the New Year will see the departure of the company that happens to do least for the aesthetics of the site and the state of the drive. 

In the best tradition, we celebrated Christopher’s birthday, outside, sat around a ‘fire bowl’, wearing as many clothes as we could get into, with rain spitting down upon us, to eat excellent chocolate cake after exercising our lungs singing Happy Birthday, and then the opening of presents – by this time the rain had become heavier and so two umbrellas were needed. A very good time was had by all until cold and damp broke the party up.  

As we followed this tradition long established in our family of celebrating whatever the weather, sadly, Sebastian and his horde could not be with us because of coronavirus. For Anne and I, Sophie and Tabitha, it felt like a continuation of a tradition we established as a family years ago. Sausages cooked on a wood fire on the beach at Aberdaron in a snowstorm, birthdays outside in the rain in the garden. We certainly knew how to live in those days!  

This week on the Pasture – Fed site we were alerted to a questionnaire put out by the government which required answering by the 14th December. Given the language and terms used, and not really understanding its purpose, I found it hard to complete but did my best for the sake of organic farming. 

Many years ago, we applied for a 40% capital grant for an up-to-date sheep race. When it came to it finding the necessary 60% of cash needed, it proved to be beyond our resources. This week, again supported by a 40% grant, our 15-year-old race, second hand when we bought it, has been replaced by a new and significantly more useable system.  

News!

Despite my genuine attempts not to think about American politics, my efforts have been thwarted by some pro-Trump outlet getting hold of my email address. The result is something called the Epoch Times needing to be deleted several times a day. What I think I have identified is a commonality between the Republican and Momentum movements. Both seem to have only one aim, destroy democracy as we know it.  

Thankfully Momentum had only some 500,000 members – Westward Hothe, extreme Republicans, number millions.  

Music and words

The word Baroque is a term commonly used to describe a period when the architecture and music bore similarities.  

This week since, it is that time of year, I dug out a CD of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Since I had been playing music by Geminiari I was inevitably struck by the vastly different styles of two composers, both regarded as baroque, and both born and died at much the same time.  Bach was of course firmly part of the Lutheran world, while Geminiani like Vivaldi and Corelli, came from the Roman catholic sphere. Is the difference as simple as that?  

Charles Kingsley is probably best known for his children’s book “The Water Babies”; the story made me feel queasy when as a child it was read to me and even the thought of it disturbs me. None the less there, was another aspect of the man. His novels and his poetry. ‘Hereward the Wake’ and ‘Westward Ho’ were of a different nature and were and are exciting reads, though his racism, which reflected thinking at that time, was apparent.  

Given we actually had winds from the North East at the start of the week I chose the poem below. It is of course, made up of numerous verses, I have chosen only the first.  

WELCOME, wild Northeaster! By Charles Kingsley  

WELCOME, wild Northeaster! 
Shame it is to see 
Odes to every zephyr; 
Ne’er a verse to thee. 
Welcome, black Northeaster! 
O’er the German foam; 
O’er the Danish moorlands, 
From thy frozen home. 
Tired are we of summer, 
Tired of gaudy glare, 
Showers soft and steaming, 
Hot and breathless air. 
Tired of listless dreaming, 
Through the lazy day– 
Jovial wind of winter 
Turn us out to play! 
Sweep the golden reed-beds; 
Crisp the lazy dyke; 
Hunger into madness 
Every plunging pike. 
Fill the lake with wild fowl; 
Fill the marsh with snipe; 
While on dreary moorlands 
Lonely curlew pipe. 
Through the black fir-forest 
Thunder harsh and dry, 
Shattering down the snowflakes 
Off the curdled sky. 
Hark! The brave Northeaster! 
Breast-high lies the scent, 
On by holt and headland, 
Over heath and bent. 

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