There is an addition to the blog this week. The Rush Farm Team have been busy making a fabulous document to share with us details about the ‘No mow driveway’ challenge. Press the download button below this text to get your copy of the document. It is packed with beautiful photos and plant information. Of course don’t forget to come back to Farmer Adrian’s blog!!
“This blog is the unfolding story of Rush Farm and an exploration of life by its philosopher farmer.”
My apologies for not writing last week. I had underestimated the time I would stay in hospital, and not realised that what thoughts I might have, were entirely either how to escape, or just what was needed to bring the management of this institution out of whatever century it was stuck in, to at least 1990. Sleep was never an issue – as with my handwriting, normality was never learnt.
Home at the beginning of the week eventually came, and my poor dear family learnt the pleasure of my company meant a lot of work for them, but love and good humour prevailed.
Eventually my mind cleared itself of the obsession of the lack of management in the NHS, and of course the enforced use of my iPad, filled my mind with thoughts I wish to share.
I thought those, who covered for me before, did a brilliant job with only one correction I need to make – I do not “love” any institution. There are a number I periodically hate, such as this government.
For me to write intelligently about the farm this week would be absurd. Clearly Chris and Anne have kept me as briefed as my head would allow. So, I am going to again let them write that part of these notes. After those I would like to add a little more myself. Attached you will also find a review of our to-date progress making the driveway into a further area for wildflowers and wildlife.
Turning to the farm, the week has been a mix in terms of the weather. Heavy rain at the beginning of the week meant that any haylage plans were put on hold. The warmer, drier weather over the weekend was a relief as we were hosting Boot’s class for a camping weekend. The forecast looks good mid-week for haylage. We keep fingers crossed and thumbs held!
The cattle and sheep had a peaceful start to the week. Two new calves this week – a bull and a heifer. Both strong and sturdy, although the heifer, only 12 hours old when the herd were moved, needed a lift in the farm vehicle. The sheep were sheared on Friday, just in time for next week’s forecast warm spell. With lots of hands-on-deck, including of course Lesley, Brendan, Ollie and Tim, the work of folding up the wool was soon completed.
The grass across the farm is continuing to grow well. The pastures we seeded with the wildflower mixtures, after a delayed start due to the lack of rain early in the year, are now looking good. As are the verges of the driveway. The fields we topped last week are green over once again, and the grass is growing.
The farm’s focus this week was on preparing for the camping trip which we were completely responsible for, and for next week’s hosting of the Inkberrow Horse Show. We have topped where needed for these two events and moved animals in order to have the fields free.
21 ten-years-olds and 3 teachers camped with us this weekend. Chris and Tab with family support took on the tremendous effort entailed to prepare for, and then look after them all.
Being responsible for the preparation, building a sink unit, loo’s, getting water to the area, all meals and most of the activities – including shearing, moving sheep, moving cattle, scything and clearing pasture for their tent pitches, and work in the wood, turning and whittling was a massive commitment and effort. It was all worth it, and as much as Boots was pleased to be back in his own bed on Sunday night, two nights in a hammock was agreed to be a great adventure.
For those of us who were living in Northern Rhodesia in the weeks leading up to Independence Day, October 24th, for the transition to Zambia, as white British nationals, there was the need to cope with ‘hearing’ the inevitable horror stories circulating as to the future of white people, all of which turned out to be nonsense of course, but the emotions had to be managed.
I am writing this because of the death of Zambia’s first President, Kenneth Kaunda, and shall apply great self-disciple and not drift into personal stories about those days.
For the actual record, apart from resistance from the copper mining industry, the notion of independence being achieved by war is rubbish. British Government Policy did not allow settlement in Northern Rhodesia, so the problems of say Southern Rhodesia, did not exist.
It is true that some nationalists burnt down their own homes and churches, but that was the true basis of the very important myth for Zambia, that the colonial power had been defeated by war.
In person, yes, we did meet him and his great British friend Morris several times. If I actually ever described a man in those terms, he was ‘a lovely chap’, generous, charming and a true Christian without a hint of racism in him. He had the supreme advantage of belonging not to one tribe only and this utter sense of sincerity. Actually, it was later alleged that he was actually born in Malawi, the truth of this accusation I know not.
His real problem was almost certainly in believing that ‘freedom’ meant the promised land, and so was faced when in power with the reality that the idea was nonsense. Over promising is not simply a Johnson problem it is common all over the world. In richer countries we tend to assume it.
He and the British government also had this naïve belief that the liberal democracy which had taken us hundreds of years to imperfectly come into being, could simply be adopted in quite different societies as if by a wave of a magic wand.
Sadly also, although it has to be admitted the British understood and used the fact that tribalism was an enormously powerful force, and a clear block to anti-colonialism, they exploited it rather than tried to reduce its power.
The only explanation I can come up with is that the British because tribalism (except perhaps towards a football team), has been a dead issue in England for centuries, which meant the authorities misread the emotional power it held, and still holds in so many parts of the world.
Sadly, Kaunda, inevitably perhaps, failed due to a combination of events. Some were outside his control, some because of the impossibility to deliver promises of the glories of freedom he had held out, but additionally the task was beyond him, and later on caught up in the adulation of other leaders of newly independent ex-colonies, his humility, once a strength, eluded him.
But at least he went, after too many years in power, as a result of a democratic vote of the people and was never a viscous dictator in the way his colleagues were in other countries. He is entitled to be remembered with respect for his first and final days as politician and human being.
In recent weeks I have attempted both not to think too much about America or write about events there. Recent developments however cannot be ignored.
You will recall that I wrote about the relationship between the franchise, or the right to vote adopted and its relationship to democracy. A basic requirement for a democratic country is that as far as is possible every individual has the vote.
Probably in no nation is it 100%, and that for understandable reasons. America is now going down a path which will deny it the right to claim that status. In recent weeks and months Republican held States are fast disenfranchising individuals and groups of people who are likely to vote democrat.
So, what ought to be the response; such actions must be illegal, and a normal expectation would be that the Supreme Court will throw such state laws out. Sadly, not a bit of it. Membership of that court is political, and thanks to Trump it is packed with Republican nominees. Neo-fascism has won.
The uproar in this country if a judge were to make decisions on a political basis would mean only one thing, the sack and disgrace. A judge exists to enforce the law as laid down by the elected representatives of the people. No doubt judges have their own personal political feelings, but to express them is not acceptable.
My final thoughts concern my fear for the future of what is known as liberal democracy – the use of the word liberal should of course not be necessary but has become so because the word ‘democracy’ has been so abused all round the world.
Anne Applebaum, a widely admired or feared intellectual, who teaches on both sides of the Atlantic, is married to an ex Polish Foreign minister and ‘sadly’ was adopted by the Americans rather than the British, recently wrote a stinging article in The Atlantic magazine, on the way in which in so many aspects of life in America, unless you tow the ‘woke’ line you are seen as the enemy.
The whole article, in the defence of free speech, should be widely read.
(Critical race theory – the cause of so much angst, concerns accepting that the famous Constitution was actually ridden with racism, its authors were slave owners etc and that a form of apartheid continues to exist. All incontestable but in contrast to the American myth.
The back cloth to this rubbish is whether or not school children in America should be taught both the good and bad aspects of their history, paramount in all this being the issue of slavery. Republicans, holding the view, as Putin would, allowing a warts and all approach to history is dangerous.
Let us not delude ourselves that this is not an issue here also, though perhaps the difference is that here a certain minority group feel all the past of this country should be seen as dire and racist and so dismissed. Remember the excitement when in Bristol the statue of a figure from the past was thrown into the water because, despite all he did for the city, was completely to be forgotten because he made his money in the sugar trade.
A recent article in the Evening Standard on the “The woke war” is worth digging up and reading – it appeared on Thursday and its author is Sarfraz Mansoor).
Of course, here I can do no more than draw your attention to Apelbawm’s article and share a representative quote.
In his congressional testimony last week, General Mark Milley endorsed the underlying philosophy of the key course for undergraduates Lit 130, (a course number) which also happens to state the underlying philosophy of a liberal education: Read widely; listen to everybody; make your own judgment about what’s important. Here is how he put it:
“I do think it’s important actually for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read.”
The phrase widely read means that you can and should read things you disagree with. You can definitely read Marx without becoming a Marxist. You can read critical race theory without becoming a “critical race theorist,” however you define that. Doing both will help you become an educated person—or, as in Milley’s case, an educated soldier’.
The response by Republicans and the right included ‘pig’, ‘idiot’ and, ‘totally unfitted for his post’. Heaven help America!
Apelbawm goes on to write: if we are to continue to live in a liberal-democratic society, what is absolutely required is that its citizens experience a liberal education, one that teaches students, scholars, readers, and voters to keep looking at books, history, society, and politics from different points of view. If one of our two great political parties no longer believes in this principle—and if some of our scholars don’t either—’then how much longer can we expect our democracy to last?’
And all this nonsense is coming here. Politicians, or at least too many, consistently show their ignorance and inability to accept challenge. I have shared examples before of actions by tutors and students demonstrating this neo-fascist / Marxist attitude. The latest absurdity I have heard is of a school in Scotland banning the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from their literary curriculum.
I am a relic but am not ashamed to admit my reading has included the Koran, the Bible and Mao’s ‘little red book’, the only literary genre, good or poor, I have failed to try is fantasy. I am as happy reading Georgette Heyer or Donald Harrington, books, so long as they are in English, from anywhere in the world. I don’t deny that I do expect certain standards, and if that makes me a cultural snob, so be it.
Currently I think the best novelists have migrated to the crime genre and have yet to read a Booker Prize winning book without dismay at the standards of judging.
A challenging, thought provoking book or article on new or old knowledge and thinking, in any area, is still a joy to find and read. The omission of authors of children’s books is a lack of space – not a lack of interest or concern.
We are now in the early hours of Saturday morning, and I have just a little more I want to share before the poem. I thought the choice of John Keats last week absolutely spot on and I hope you relished it as well.
In the very early hours I stumbled across a fierce diatribe against an interviewer on Thursday night 10.40, ‘The World To Night’, for careless inaccurate use of something picked up on Google. The victim a poor Spanish farmer.
The interviewer, apparently a vegan, wanted to know how he could carry on raising cattle, when to produce one ton of animal used 15,000 tonnes of water. Unsurprisingly the poor chap had no answer since the question was so absurd.
Irritated scientists rushed onto the air waves to denounce the item. Apparently in 2006 an individual named Arjen Y Hoekstra, a Dutch hydrologist, invented the term ‘waterprint’. This idea, which was based on the amount of rainwater falling on the ground on which cereals or animals are grown or raised has led both to scorn and misinterpretation.
This concept of waterprint became translated into the amount of water actually used in the growth of an animal. It should be hard to believe that anyone could fail to see the absurdity in this misinterpretation, but what have I written of the dangers of failing to use one’s brain and lose the habit of reporters to check their facts – a classic example of such failing.
In my stay in hospital there was one author and poet I kept returning to and that was Lewis Carroll. I felt very much as if I had strayed down the rabbit hole Alice had gone done.
Harold Bloom, North American literary giant in his splendid collection of what he feels are the best poems in the English language, chooses to set out all Carroll’s Nonsense Poems, regarding them as true gems.
Space forces me to choose a few verses from one of his poems as they were written at a time when reading was valued.
I dislike this need to use extracts, but these notes are already far too long. The poem I have chosen to take extracts from is ‘The hunting of the Snark’. The poem is made up of eight long sections. Bloom sees this particular poem as being as significant as the ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.
Although it is great to just be amused, reflection adds significance to the messages within the poem. And understand that my selection is entirely personal, and your own reading of the entire poem may not match the choices I have made.
The Hunting of the Snark – by Lewis Carroll
Fit The First
“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.
“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.”
The crew was complete: it included a Boots—
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods—
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes—
And a Broker, to value their goods.
A Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share—
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
Had the whole of their cash in his care.
There was also a Beaver, that paced on the deck,
Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
Though none of the sailors knew how.
Fit the Second
The Bellman’s Speech
The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies—
Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
The moment one looked in his face!
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.
He served out some grog with a liberal hand,
And bade them sit down on the beach:
And they could not but own that their Captain looked grand,
As he stood and delivered his speech.
“Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!”
(They were all of them fond of quotations:
So they drank to his health, and they gave him three cheers,
While he served out additional rations).
Fit the Third
The Baker’s Tale
“‘But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!’
“But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away—
And the notion I cannot endure!”
Fit the Fourth
“For England expects—I forbear to proceed:
‘Tis a maxim tremendous, but trite:
And you’d best be unpacking the things that you need
To rig yourselves out for the fight.”
Fit the Fifth
The Beaver’s Lesson
While the Beaver confessed, with affectionate looks
More eloquent even than tears,
It had learned in ten minutes far more than all books
Would have taught it in seventy years.
Fit the Sixth
The Barrister’s Dream
The Jury had each formed a different view
(Long before the indictment was read),
And they all spoke at once, so that none of them knew
One word that the others had said.
Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed
To grow every moment more clear:
Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,
Which the Bellman rang close at his ear.
Fit the Seventh
The Banker’s Fate
But while he was seeking with thimbles and care,
A Bandersnatch swiftly drew nigh
And grabbed at the Banker, who shrieked in despair,
For he knew it was useless to fly.
He offered large discount—he offered a cheque
(Drawn “to bearer”) for seven-pounds-ten:
But the Bandersnatch merely extended its neck
And grabbed at the Banker again.
Fit the Eighth
They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.
They hunted till darkness came on, but they found
Not a button, or feather, or mark,
By which they could tell that they stood on the ground
Where the Baker had met with the Snark.
In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.