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

Come Sunday morning, and for the first morning in several days, there was neither frost or sunshine. Our resident grandchildren had gained approval to ‘camp’ in our ‘snug’ on the understanding that they would help Chris feed the cattle in the morning, and so off they went, rather bleary eyed, which suggests they had actually slept very little! No trouble for us, Anne enjoyed having breakfast with them, and as an extra bonus they kept the big wood burning stove going all night. That stove when alight stabilises the minimum temperature for the house at around 10 degrees centigrade.  

The Farm

This kind of weather stayed with us all week. On the farm, part of the daily animal check involved ice breaking in water troughs, though I doubt whether temperatures fell below minus seven, and no days stayed at temperatures below freezing once the sunshine came. Otherwise, the week in the farm has been tranquil. We do now have dates fixed for scanning the ewes and for the whole herd, TB testing.  

Chris has rustled up support while Tim is away, and that seems to be an effective solution to the labour problem. If they were not at school the grandchildren could help but, and I mention this quietly, however competent they are, an adult needs to be on hand.  

There has been much further discussion on methane on the Pasture Fed site, and in particular to methanotrophic bacteria – the bacteria which digest methane and hydroxyzine’s – A process by which nutrients are made available to plant life. Reference was made to a Walter Jehne and a research group called agro insight by a Stuart Meikle, I was attracted to aspects of his thinking, until I remembered that methane is lighter than air, and that omitted by cattle in the field is likely to go up rather than down into the soil. I think the reference point is an article presented to the Oxford Real Farming conference which you might want to explore. As one who failed his ‘O’ level Chemistry examination I am hardly in a position to go further.  

The garden

Bird life in the garden continues to be a joy to watch; seeing a woodpecker moving up and down a wooden pole facing upwards the whole time is impressive. I have also noticed how indifferent the different kinds of bird are to each other, though this is not true between birds of the same species.  

Sadly, we have a pair of fat squirrels who, despite the claims of the makers of the bird feeders are clever enough to find a way to get to the seed.  

On a recent short outing we saw a poplar tree heavily invaded by mistletoe and felt that perhaps our apple tree needed some action to avoid that situation. Generally, although there are catkins to be seen, most leafless trees look rather orange in the sunlight. A good sign in terms of the cleanliness of our air since it is lichen which provides the orange tint.  

Links

I am well aware of the built-in demand of our minds to see causal links between events that are in reality not related at all, but in what follows I am going to try to link a long list of events that, on the surface, evidence no causal link at all. All this is triggered by the calamitous year the world has experienced physically, the ghastly behaviour of religious groups and tyrants to other human beings, the willingness of a handful of rogue states to consider war, which might or might not involve the use of nuclear weapons, the launch of 5G communications, and the precipitous demand for electricity.  

Nuclear weapons and electricity are easily related in that the use of the first, and the failure of the second, could potentially mean the end of homo sapiens.  

The dangers of the first were realised very quickly. I doubt whether the dangers of total dependency on electricity even figure on any risk analysis, though even very little thought forces the realisation of the implications of there being even a short-term global break to electrical supplies. No tapped water, no sewage systems, no vehicular transport, no communication other than by voice, flags or perhaps smoke signals, a sudden shut down of all manufacturing, no heating unless you have a fireplace and chimney and an old handsaw to cut up wood; in fact, a hunter- gatherer society no different from the that of wildlife, or our ancestors 6000 years ago. The world population of today would rapidly reduce in numbers and that would not be a pleasant experience.  

So, what links nuclear energy and electrify? One thing in particular, the curiosity and intelligence of homo sapiens tied to that common human failing – as evidenced by the political situation in the country at the moment – a combination of, it will be all right on the day, and fractional capacity in most to think of consequences, and the forgetting of the old ‘saying curiosity kills the cat’. 

The last 15 months have seen in various parts of the world, massive floods, droughts, horrific wild fires, tornados, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and frighteningly powerful wind events. For much of which no doubt, homo sapiens are to blame through global warming.    

What gets overlooked is that any brief acquaintance with the history of the world’s climate over the last short period of 2000 years ought to have alerted colonists, in particular, that climate is not stable. Some questions never seemed to be have been considered. For example, why was the permanent population of Australia so low until the colonists came; why were the great plains of North America so thinly peopled; why do people build houses close to the sea when records clearly show coastal erosion has already destroyed towns and villages; why do people everywhere build houses on flood planes; why did Californians for example, ignore history and replace the existing vegetation with highly flammable unsuitable trees. The list is endless, but basic to so much of it is modern humans’, either inability to understand that what we have today is not fixed for all time, or unwillingness to learn from pre-existing populations.  

It seems to me that greed, stupidity, and arrogance lie behind all of this. My low church background did not make much of what I believe are called the seven cardinal sins. As I understand it, these basically identify what I am tempted to describe as ‘design faults’ in the creation or evolution of humankind. All that I have listed are thus linked by this. Where we are today is the result of our species ‘built in’ characteristics.  

Montesquieu

I wrote last week of Montesquieu’s seminal work “The Spirit of the Laws”, and avoided serious comment on part three – the truth being that, having idly accepted other’s judgements as to its absurdities, I had never seriously read it. 

Additionally, since I rather incline towards the belief that geography and climate do have a relationship with human behaviour, I was disinclined to read a work which had apparently discredited that proposition.  

Having now read it, there are sections I hardly know whether to laugh or cry over. How the book remains in university and public libraries without that part being cut out, amazed me almost as much as finding no evidence that the Nazi party had not leapt on it in the same way as they adopted Nietzsche.  

The racial stereotyping and justification of slavery, among other matters, is remarkable. I dare not quote too liberally, so my only quote is restricted to comments on the English, for whom he had little love, let alone affection, though there was much he admired the system which had evolved over time.  

“This is the people in the world who have best known how to take advantage of each of these great things at the same time: religion, commerce, and liberty.”   

I feel I owe it to this remarkable man and his work, to express my admiration and amazement at the breadth of reading and thought behind it. Sometimes he obviously relies on one source only, but rarely does he make a statement based on nothing. Though the parts are of unequal length, books 4 to 6 are also worth looking at. And one last parting thought, if say the writings of John Locke were to be translated into modern English, the strengths and flaws of his arguments would, I suspect, be more accessible to the general public. As to modern philosophers I have little doubt they use language to hide the paucity of their propositions, though I would exclude John Grey from that group.  

Music & poetry

Before sharing a poem, I would like to draw your attention to recordings of music composed by Captain von Beeke (he rose to Captain in the Seven Year War) who somehow got forgotten in the later 19th century. He was not only a composer of first-rate music, but as a pianist and player of the clavier, in a competition with Mozart in the mid 1750’s, was seen as clearly superior. His piano compositions I feel, stand with the best and are really worth listening to. All of which rather sadly confirms my musical taste rather obviously is drawn to the music of the 18th century.  

We were talking about Thomas Hardy’s book Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ which some of us had suffered as a set book for examinations. Personally, I hated it, as ‘his take on life’ was very different from my own. Hardy wrote novels because they were a greater source of income than poetry, which was in fact his first and great love. My ‘complete’ collection of his poetry is made up of over 900 items written over a great length of time. In my judgement you don’t generally turn to Hardy to find good cheer, but his contribution to the art cannot be underplayed.   The poem I have chosen, which may ring bells in the minds of those who read ‘Tess’, for me, once read, just had to be shared.

“We field-women”  

How it rained  
When we worked at Flintcomb-Ash,  
And could not stand upon the hill
Trimming swedes for the slicing-mill.  

The wet washed through us — plash, plash, plash:  
How it rained!  

How it snowed  
When we crossed from Flintcomb-Ash
.

To the Great Barn for drawing reed,  
Since we could nowise chop a swede. —  
Flakes in each doorway and casement-sash:  
How it snowed!  

 
How it shone  
When we went from Flintcomb-Ash  
To start at dairywork once more  
In the laughing meads, with cows three-score,  
And pails, and songs, and love — too rash:  
How it shone! 

 
What a life!  
 

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