This has been a productive week on the farm. An additional four fields were cut and baled as hay, meaning we now have in storage just under 200 bales. For comforts sake, and in particular against the possibility of another very wet winter, we hope to take another 50+ bales in the late summer.
Despite the heat the stock seem well and indeed we have a new calf! Next week we shall open up more fields to the suckler herd, and move the sheep in to join them. The lambs need their first weighing of the season, their second clostridial vaccination and anti-flystrike protection.
Our two new woofers, Faris and Clement arrived today, Sunday and so will find an early first experience is all about close encounters with sheep! They are to be us for six weeks and come from France and are very welcome.
Now we have our ‘prescriptions’ for taking on higher tier Stewardship and have confirmation that we have to carry out all the cultivations in one go in the autumn of 2019, and not graze or cut between May and July in 2020. Thereafter the restrictions become more manageable. Our concerns about the seed mix to be used have been largely addressed and we are going to enter fewer hedges into the scheme – we do have over 9 kilometres of them! This week sees the start of the required measuring and photographing of hedges, fences and the pastures themselves. A thankless task in this heat and hayfever still at its height. We had thought about using a drone but for what we need the cost would be prohibitive.
Aside from the call of the blackbirds and the incessant chatter of the house sparrows, the bird song at this time would be rather muted, even the collared doves restrict their cooing to early morning and late afternoon. Otherwise aside from the rather mournful sound of a cuckoo at those times, it is not until sunset that we hear other birds including the tawny owls out hunting for their supper. The bats are also very active at that time but are certainly not heard. Indeed, they are rarely seen closely, even at sunset, because of their apparently unprogrammed flight.
An area of study that seems to me to be ripe for development is how different societies or nations deal with the negative aspects of their history – both at a political and social media levels.
Is the UK alone in relishing the opportunities to identify past sins, explore them in depth and then indulge in sackcloth and ashes? The latest scandal happily worked over is the peripheral involvement of the security services in the American rendition programme. We virtuously pursue claims of misbehaviour by our soldiers in Iraq and Northern Ireland, we feel bad about killing Argentinians in the Falkland conflict, we highlight failures by politicians and the military in both world wars, we excoriate ourselves over actions in the Boer war, we grovel over the action at Amritsar – the list is endless. On reflection I wonder just how deep into our nation this guilt is felt!
All this comes to mind because this last week’s ‘In our time’ explored the American- Mexico war. A lifetime ago it seems, Dee Brown wrote his book ‘Bury my heart at Wounded Knee’ when for the first time the general American public could not ignore the reality that American expansionism was allied to a genocidal approach to native Americans.
Of course, expansionism of Europeans into the American hinterland began long ago. Here I have to tread carefully since I am no professional historian, but there must be significance in the fact that those involved in the break from Great Britain were those that opposed the American attack on Mexico in 1844 which resulted in 1846 in Mexico surrendering half its territory to the Americans, the deaths of huge numbers of native Americans and the Californian gold fields dropping into the hands of the new colonial power…
And what impelled all this action seems clearly to be nothing less than feelings of having a manifest destiny to democratise the whole of North America and to sweep aside others that stood in the way, particularly if they were catholic and ethnically inferior. So, the Mexicans were humiliated, lost their chance of economic growth, the Comanche people were reduced in numbers from some 100,000 to fewer than 2,000 while Californian native Americans were all but wiped out. The Canadians happily gave a bloody nose to those who tried again to take Canadian territory, this time in the west.
Shades of de Toqueville! Thus, it is no surprise to remember that American support in 1941 was at the cost to the UK of financial insolvency and the accelerated death of empire – all part of the American government’s strategic plan. It is even less of a surprise that a man such as Donald Trump should become president.
I write the above despite as, any in my family would confirm, not being anti-American.
I also am well aware that straightforward and unabashed American self-interest and materialism resulted in the Marshall plan which saved Europe after the Second World War.
On other matters, I gather there is some sporting activity in Russia – but why bother with that when the cricket season
is in full swing with both the women and men’s team providing great entertainment and for once the weather is ideal – though wearing a different hat we do need rain!!!
Having actually read the sleeve notes, I realise it should not have been a surprise that I found Louise Farrenc’s piano compositions so enticing, especially when played by Konstanze Eikhorst. But the music I have also been enjoying is from two CD’s of Alfredo Campoli and his salon music of the 1930’s, which despite some remastering problems have had me tapping my toes and beating time with hands – such great music to dance or smooch too.
I have recently re-read ‘The Culture of Defeat’ by Wolfgang Schivelbusch. The book was in translation from the German since the author who has lived in America since he was 32 seems more comfortable writing in his native language. The book concentrates on three events; the defeat by the Prussians of the French in 1870, the defeat of the Southern Confederacy in the American civil war and the defeat of Germany in WW1.
Personally, I found the first two sections particularly interesting as the section on German psychological responses has been exhaustively covered in a myriad of books.
The history of the Franco-Prussian war and the American civil war I knew in a general way, but this book certainly added to that knowledge, even if some of the author’s contentions may be a stretch of the imagination too far.
The basic question is of course interesting since, apart from public feeling after the loss of the American colonies, I have found little on this topic covering the English psyche, but then I heard part of a parliamentary debate and it struck me our parliamentarians seem to imagine we are still a significant power in the world – perhaps that’s how we cope with defeat – simple denial!
But one fact of life even we English cannot deny is set out below!
Hayfever – A poem written in 2012
Strong spring winds and summer breezes
Only add strength to my sneezes
I cannot breathe…I’m on my kneezes
I’m only good when outside freezes
I need a kleenex now
I cannot breathe with pollen flying
I swear to god that I’m not lying
My eyes run so…I feel like crying
My chest hurts bad…I think I’m dying
I need some meds and how
I wish I lived inside a bubble
Then I’d have no breathing trouble
Can someone build one on the double?
My throat is dry and full of rubble
I need cough mixture now
I dream of snow instead of summer
My hayfever makes life a bummer
I need something so I feel number
The problem is that I feel dumber
Please knock this out…kapow
Hayfever is my one affliction
My eyes and throat are full of friction
I take my meds, they’re my addiction
My throat is suffering from constriction
Somebody help me …now!!