NEW BLOG: our first frost arrives

I am happy to report on another pleasantly peaceful week – if you discount the excitement when a digger found the mains water pipe on Thursday afternoon!
Very positively, the weather allowed (in Northern Planting time) more spraying. Eight fields had a mix of 500,cpp, and either nettle or comfrey tea, at a rate of 60 litres per hectare.
No births, but no deaths either and all animals looking good. We sold a number of lambs and also arranged for our own freezers to have meat available for home sale.
As always there was a movement of stock – mainly deliberate, but horse riders on the bridle path do have a habit of letting stock out of the field where the bridle path is not double fenced, and not letting us know it’s happened – if indeed they notice.
We have had a great amount of rain in recent days, but while there is standing water on paths and tracks, the pastures thankfully remain fairly firm. The warmish temperatures have ensured that the grass continues to grow – as do the thistles and nettles, so yet more topping!
Autumn is certainly now with us. We have had our first frost – being in a frost pocket. In the greenhouse, the tomatoes and peppers are not yet over. The blackberries are nearly done and they have done us proud this year; the shorter days and the lower night temperatures means that the leaves are changing colour, and the range of colours in the hedgerows is very beautiful.
Preparation for our Demeter inspection seems to be well in hand – the farm is, as always, not as ‘pretty’ as we might wish but, most of the writing up is finished and all that is left to do is for me to pull out the files that might be needed.
Sadly, I saw no swallows on our power line this autumn – perhaps they failed to breed this year, or as an unkind member of the family said: ‘perhaps because you have only been mobile for the last two weeks!’
There was a very interesting programme on the value of sleep which is apparently the bedrock of good health and about to become the new ‘thing’. I think we all now know that in medieval times people did not get their eight hours of sleep in one go and that our present habit only came in with industrialisation. What I had not realised was that if one’s core temperature drops by one degree, sleep becomes easier – so a bath or shower before bedtime helps with getting to sleep more easily. I keep intending to try this theory! Enlightenment on this issue, if not suspicion, arose on Saturday when I discovered, in the book reviews, a newly published book by a “a top neuroscientist” who has apparently written “a hard-hitting new book”.  To be fair the author does seem to be an important player in the scientific world!
On other matters, whether it is because of the growing drumbeat of some for Scotland’s desire for independence, or the vote to leave the EU, the urge to attempt to define “Englishness” has suddenly caused a flurry of books and programmes on the radio and television. As one who enjoyed Jaquetta Hawkes book ‘The Land’, which I read in a paperback published by Penguin Books many years ago, I have never doubted that geography, geology and climate are crucial factors in determining culture.  Englishness has long been explored of course, though I have never read Lawrence Durrell’s essay ‘Spirit of Place’ – probably because I thought his novels pretentious though I did enjoy his short stories about Antrobus – and as you know, I have read George Orwell’s ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’. The book, I am currently almost racing through is entitled ‘The Last Wolf’ which appears to be the latest to attempt to get a grip on what “Englishness” is.  I will let you know…
On a lighter note, how can I not mention: “How to be an Alien” by George Mikes – still a funny read even if rather dated.
The last week of cricket in England suggests the game is far from dead even at the County level – excellent!

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