Mud, mud, glorious mud!

If any of you ever saw or heard Flanders and Swan you may well remember ‘The song of the Hippopotamus’ and its chorus in particular: which, for now, resonates so well with our situation

Mud, Mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it at cooling the blood
So follow me, follow
down to the hollow 
And there let us wallow in glorious mud

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

I think it fair to say winter has arrived. The first bug of the season has ‘run’ through the family and area, most trees are leafless, and as you drive along the lanes, the hedge cutting means both slow passage and the smell of freshly cut wood and the absence of ‘the old man’s beard’ which was such a feature in recent weeks.

As far as the weather is concerned, the week has included the heaviest frost of the year so far, quite a lot of sunshine and thankfully, not a great deal of rain. While the worst of the lying water has gone, we still have a fair-sized lake in one field, and the level of the water in the brook is very high. A natural point at which to share with you the Rural Payments Agency has agreed that our autumn sowing programme could not be followed. Whether we shall be penalised for this we know not.

Water levels raised in the brook
Our new lake

The weekly routine on the farm is now dominated by feeding the animals. Feeding the sheep is a less time-consuming task than feeding the cattle since, aside from getting into the field past the animals, the bales of hay or haylage can just be emptied into the feed trailers. With the cattle, the business is more complicated as the animals have to be moved from the section of the barn where the trailers are, before the tractor can go in and the trailers be restocked with new fodder. On top of that the barn needs to have new straw laid on a regular basis.

We are still waiting for the results of the blood tests on the cow and her aborted calf. The tests, as we understand it, include checking for anthrax. We also understand that there is no serious expectation of finding anything nasty. I had hoped to report that all the cattle had been given a mineral drench, but illness meant a number of planned activities did not take place.

Sadly, another lamb died early in the week, but for the ewes the excitement has come from the introduction of the rams. As I have said before, we have an excess of rams and the unlucky pair exist forlornly on their own small patch of grass.

We hope next week the contractors will be able to re-fence the length of the bridle path past the barn. Ryan and Clement did a good job clearing that stretch of damaged fence. On Saturday Clement used the digger to ensure all was ready for the fencing contractors.

They have also been helping Sebastian in his excavation of a ditch across the parking area at the side of the business park. Not a simple task since aside from the trench needing to be regularly cleared of water, care has been needed to avoid damaging the various existing pipes and cables, known and unknown that lie under the surface. While the most dangerous part was first locating and then clearing over and under the main electrical power cable, they are still left needing to fathom whether the various pipes they come across are significant.

This weekend Clement has shown his skills as a welder, and the topper is now finally fit to use again. The tractor continues to stick in 4-wheel drive, but we have been advised this is causing no damage though perhaps over Christmas the necessary work can be done ‘in house’.

In the meantime, much thought has been going into the third phase of barn extension. All are agreed on what should be done, and we are now seeking quotes. How to find the capital is another matter. The barn and its extensions are, at the end of the day, owned by the Society.

Books, books, glorious books

I am not a ‘hoarder’, except perhaps as regards books. In my defence I would say this does enable one to see how change so often creeps up on one. Given my recent reading on the early Christian church, I dipped into two books of the 1920’s listing, describing and finally explaining why certain documents did not make their way into the canon of the New Testament. Very interesting to compare how and why these (reputable) authors wrote, compared to modern authors. No blame can attach to them; their times were not ours and knowledge then was more limited – but still interesting to see the movement in thinking.

Thoughts on climate change and the future

The climate ‘hoax’ of 2009/2010 was brilliantly dealt with in a recent BBC2 programme. A situation for once where big corporations failed in their quest to deny climate warning. Corporations which are solely responsible to their shareholders can be, and are, totally ruthless in protecting their business’s – remember the tobacco companies or the chemical industries that forced on farmers a sheep dip which had dire long term effects on the ordinary farmer workers who used the product on a regular basis.

And what do we get offered in this election – unbridled capitalism or state control. Both are approaches that any thinking person knows have failed and failed again. Religious fervour replaced by equally dangerous ideological frenzy – no wonder the use of ‘happy pills’ rises steadily.

Technology has allowed immigrants to live where local populations could not survive in such numbers. But technology has its limits; rising sea water levels and increased rainfall together with drought, allied to over exploitation of aquifers are almost certainly beyond its powers. Venice may have had these terrible floods because corruption slowed the creation of flood gates but in any case, these can only be a short-term solution since, as sea level rises the water will just flow round the sides.

It may be true that failure to dredge rivers causes flooding, and/or better protection upstream worsens the position downstream but getting the water off the land into the sea presumably just raises the levels of seawater, which together with temperature rises just increases rainfall. The predictions of Malthus, as regards the size of the human population the world could support, may yet be proved closer to the truth than has been thought to be the case. It was industrialisation which falsified his predictions, but it was this industrialisation which threatens the planet today.

We have deluded ourselves into believing that ultimate power lies with humans. The future can only worsen if nothing changes. Establishing colonies on the Moon or Mars is no more than wishful thinking. We shy away from thinking about the reality that not only we, but the sun and hence the earth have finite lives.

But in an attempt to give some balance I finish with the words below from an American politician of the last century:

It is from numberless diverse acts
Of courage and belief that
human history is shaped.

Each time a person stands up for an ideal or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, these ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance

John Francis Kennedy

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