Lambs, moorhens and horse chestnut trees

With Tim out for the first four days of the week it was just as well there were no major excitements. For the start of May the weather was unseasonably cold, but on the plus side we did get substantial rainfall in the middle of the week. With warmer weather promised, the newly sown fields should look green all over very soon. 

There is little to report on lambing other than that one lamb seems to have got injured and needs plenty of tender loving care which Fleurine is providing. There are still several ewes supposedly to lamb of which only one gave birth. Next week when the lambs are brought together for their clostridial vaccination we will have a better idea as to how things are working out. Otherwise as the photos show the flock is behaving much as it always does at this stage of the season.

Until Friday, the cattle had had a very peaceful week. On Friday however, all calves had to go through the crush to receive their first clostridial vaccination. At the same time the four calves that needed weaning were sent to join the young stock. The calves will need a second jab in some six weeks’ time. We now have the time window for the next short interval full herd TB test, and so need to reach a decision as to what dates best suit us and then book the vet in. It’s called a short interval test because we shall be on 60-day tests until we go clear in two consecutive tests.

For Jack and Fleurine the week was pretty busy as with Tim away they were checking the animals every day. In addition to this, with the fencer due to come next week, they were carrying out the tedious task of removing the staples holding the sheep netting and barbed wire to the fence and straining posts. With that done, time has been spent in the garden. We are already eating the butter crunch lettuce that Sarah sowed when she was with us. In fact, all she sowed or planted is looking very good.

Yet again it was necessary to check things out with Natural England. Yet again I spent long periods listening to Vivaldi while ‘agents’ moved me on through the system to find the right person to talk to. I had thought Natural England, aside from each county office, had only three ‘hubs’, but on Friday I discovered a fourth. and the wait to speak to someone at their Worksop office exposed me to a different composer! Though I eventually reached the correct office, the ‘agent’, sadly struggled to answer my question and in the end, I had to help him understand the system he was supposed to be advising on. Utter madness and leaving everything else to one side, assuming the farmer has nothing better to do than waste time being shunted from pillar to post.

As you can see, we have geese again this year on the scrape. Catching a photo of the moorhen chicks is not easy and the photo shown is the only one we have so far. I don’t ever remember seeing a jackdaw until recently. I knew the bird solely from a poem that my Grandma would recite ‘The jackdaw of Rheims ‘. Now, frankly, there are just too many of them on the farm – too many jackdaws, magpies, wood pigeons and crows. Rooks I can live with quite happily, but I do not love the birds I have listed!

You may remember some years ago that we discovered that the horse chestnut trees lining the drive were infected with ‘bleeding canker’. In the subsequent years we have had to fell several, but most still remain, though it is easy to see from the colour of the leaves which are likely to have to eventually be cut down. Whatever, those that remain are now both in full leaf and bloom. Last night I decided to take the dogs for their nightly walk as the sunset and hence the attached photograph.

Busy times

For the family as a whole it has been a very busy week. Ulula busy, chimneys swept, and inevitably, Chris in particular, was run off his feet since, aside from all that, including a business park management meeting, there were necessary sessions with our accountant given it was the end of the VAT quarter.

Speaking entirely for myself it’s been a very good week. Invigorated by a most enjoyable visit from friends we don’t see often enough, at the start of the week, I had plenty of distractions to enable me to cope with the inevitable adrenaline ‘dump’. While there were a number of farm or business park related matters, I had time, unlike others, to indulge myself in listening to music, watching cricket on the television, researching, and reading.

I’m still learning

And still, I am delighted to say, not a week passes without learning something new – whether it be through conversation, radio or books. Nor for that matter does a week pass without a memory being triggered. 

I long ago realised how restricted was my knowledge of philosophers. So, in recent weeks I have not been surprised at names popping up that were new to me. In the course of the last week I have learnt of one French and several German philosophers I previously had never heard of.

The most recent was Henri Bergson whose notions were discussed on Thursday in the radio programme “In our time”. His theorising about time were, perhaps still are, highly regarded both on the continent and North America but almost entirely rejected by English philosophers – who, speaking personally I would regard as basically sterile in their approach.

Of the German philosophers committed to the Volkist idea, it was an Englishman who renounced his birth nationality to adopt German nationality, that really surprised me.  Houston Stewart Chamberlain – not related to the Chamberlains – can best be described as a rabid racist but he was highly esteemed at the time. I also discovered the significance of Meister Eckhardt, of the 14th century, to many philosophers of the 19th and early 20th century.

Radio, music & cricket

Still, moving on to the topic of radio, I wonder how those of you who might listen to “Record Review” on a Saturday morning respond when the critic dismisses your cherished version as not worth having. The right approach I am certain is merely to shrug your shoulders and move on. Sadly, when last Saturday’s review of the Beethoven Trios resulted in the recommendation of a version I do have, I felt rather pleased.

Just as cheese and marmite go together, music and cricket go together perfectly. So, the return of cricket to the television screens has meant I have listened to quite a lot of music ranging from the choral to the piano works of Chopin via an obscure German baroque composer. Obviously, the appropriate music has to bear some relation to the drama, or otherwise, of the cricket. Indeed, in many circumstances both the sound and slow action allow one to fit in some reading.

So many books!

Despite all these distractions, I finished two part-read books of fiction and, in one sitting, the last in the series of the Shetland stories by Anne Cleeves. Rather like the television dramas Morse and Grantchester, the Shetland series on television bears very little relation to the books whose titles they share. So, I recommend Alan Judd, Laurie King and Anne Cleeves as authors worth trying.

A key problem I have currently is that just too many interesting books are being produced and given my inability to stop buying, the coffee table in the sitting room currently has twelve books on it. Some are part-read, others have still to be opened. A reason they tend to stack up is that if I come across something that interests me, I feel it necessary to delve into other books I might have that relate to the same topic. So it was, having read Professor Mosse’s book “The crisis of German ideology” I felt an urgent need to see if I could discover why the ‘Romantic Movement’ in Germany had such different consequences from those this country experienced. My reading of various books on English history ranging from publications of the 1960’s to those of last year gave me vast pleasure but, fear not I shall not impose my conclusions on you.

‘The crisis of German ideology’ is both a fascinating and horrific read.  While there is no doubt ideas about racial purity were not confined to Germany, they never achieved main stream status elsewhere in Northern Europe. That is not to deny that there were factions on the left and right in this country that supported aspects of the Volkist movement. But there is nothing I have ever read before, more absurd than these beliefs which were adopted by a majority of that population. Beliefs I believe, as abhorrent to the vast majority of Germans today as they are to most of the peoples of the West.

Now rather feeling I needed to cleanse my mind I turned to the poem below written by the 18th century Scottish poet James Thomson:

On May by James Thomson

“Among the changing months, May stands confest

The sweetest, and in fairest colours Dre’st.

Soft as the breeze that fans the smiling field;

Sweet as the breath that opening roses yield;

Fair as the colour lavish Nature paints

On virgin flowers free from unodorous taints!

To rural scenes thou tempt’st the busy crowd,

Who, in each grove, thy praises sing aloud!

The blooming belles and shallow beaux, strange sight,

Turn nymphs and swains, and in their sports delight.”

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