New life – Three bull calves are born!

As I write this, despite the April showers and rainbows we have enjoyed late this afternoon, the ‘nip’ in the air would make it easy to imagine autumn had already arrived, but at least the grass has both rain and growing temperatures again, so we are looking out onto green pastures.
calf and mother 2017-07
The week has been a busy one, but nothing momentous happened. On Tuesday, we were starting to believe calving was in full swing with three bull calves in two days but since then all has been quiet!

We continue to operate on the principle that stock should be moved onto fresh pastures before they start eating the second growth of leaves, so moving the herd and flock takes place every few days. The injured bull calf continues to improve and his mother now seems resigned to her stay in the barn. The sheep are on the whole well, but we have had our first case of bad flystrike. Next week the lambs will have their second weighing and ‘enjoy’ a second mineral drench.
Compost spreading is not yet complete as we realised thistles in the field by the drive required topping again. That means there are still two fields to be treated and of course there is still the small matter of emptying the bedding from the left-hand side of the barn!
Fencing is always on the list of to-do jobs. As yet, apart from the repair of particularly bad sections carried out by Tim, no time has been found to erect new fencing let alone sort other weak sections. We also are still in the position of not having gated all fields.
Our current musketeer woofers continue to impress and have tackled a wide range of tasks. Their weekly bake continues to be a highlight for us all. This week the ‘cookies’ were particularly delicious. Our afternoon ‘conversation’ sessions continue and as the time for Chérine and Soukaïna to depart comes closer the farming questions thrown at me become ever more demanding. For Oceane and Anne-Celine this will be their last full week. How time flies. Contact with our woofer friends from previous years remains strong as do friendships developed while they were with us.
Although the garden has been a low priority this year we have been enjoying French and broad beans, salad crops and cucumbers. The garlic has been lifted, the runner beans and tomatoes are not far off the edible stage and hopefully the peppers in pots in the greenhouse will give us fruit. Heavy use of compost and comfrey tea makes a great deal of difference to productivity.

On Tuesday a (free) lunch was laid on for all tenants as a ‘thank you’ for their patience and tolerance while the ground source energy was being installed (it truly was a nightmare at times). Having said that, getting BT to do their bit to get optic fibre onto the park is an even greater challenge! The lunch was the first occasion that the porta cabin could be used in its new role and it proved its worth. All but one or two units either sent all or some of their teams, the sun shone and the atmosphere by the pond was very friendly and happy.
The next big event is of course the Summer Fair on the 12th so in a small way Tuesday was a ‘dummy run’ for the organising team.
On the bureaucratic front, I guess the next big decision we have to explore is whether we seek to enter a new stewardship contract when our present one end in April of next year. Al this against a backcloth of total uncertainty as to what happens when the UK leaves the European Community and the Common Agricultural Policy…
A very disappointing performance of Fidelio at the Proms led me to the tentative view that Beethoven just could not write opera. Press reviews suggest perhaps it was just a very poor performance and since I have heard it many times without feeling so negative will back off that negative view.
The Proms performance marking the death of Sir Malcolm Sergeant 50 years ago led me to explore the recordings of his I have and to remember his appearances at the last night of the Proms. He may have been less than a perfect gentleman but he certainly was inspirational and had real charisma. I seriously doubt the Proms would still be with us without his years in charge. Astonishing that remarks about musicians made in 1936 could still influence musicians attitude and acceptance of him into the 1960’s!
I have just read “The missing heart of Europe” by Thomas Kremer. Written in 2004 and no doubt inspired by fears that the UK might join the euro it could be read as a treatise in support of Brexit. All here voted Remain and our position has not changed but many of the points made in the book I have expressed myself in various quarters. I recommend it to everyone as a stimulating read even if the statements made are over simple in some respects.
In this world of instability, I am happy to share with you that on the 29th July 1964 in the registry office above MacFisheries in Kidderminster, Anne and I were married. What changes we have seen – cultural, technological, risk aversion, consumerism and in the worlds power balance to name but a selection!
happy 53rd anniversary!

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