“This blog is the unfolding story of Rush Farm and an exploration of life by its philosopher farmer.”
It is Wednesday today, and I have yet ‘to put pen to paper’ – figuratively you understand, since it is many years since I have been able to read my own writing. The simple truth is that with part of the family sleeping on the pavement adjacent to the Cenotaph, some effort on our part was called for. As a result, by the time Tuesday arrived, Annie and I were all but walking zombies having watched more television in a day than our systems could manage.
I had of course, at an earlier stage, mapped out what I intended to say, aside from the farm report, which is usually the last piece I write. Wednesday would be my day for redrafting, but this week I find myself writing it all rather later than planned. My ill health continues to weigh on me, and of course, on Annie too, hence there being no ‘Farming Biodynamically’ section for a week or two. For such a busy person, my world is so much smaller than it was, so do feel free to email me with thoughts or news. I enjoy my correspondence very much still.
As far as the farm is concerned it has been a very quiet week. I suspect we have now seen the end of chilly but sunny weather, and are heading into colder nights, including frost to the roof tops on Sunday morning.
While Tim still has the pleasure of preparing the barn for winter use, aside from some topping, a concern has been the health of a not well calf. Still the problem has been identified, and treatment has started. It is so easy to forget that because of their restricted diet, supplementary trace elements can be vital. We do of course love the Soil Association dearly but every now and then we run into practical needs which they feel unable to approve us actioning, but too frequently having no workable alternative approach.
Though we have completed staying prep. 500 twice, we still have to carry out a spraying of prep. 501 this autumn and have the coming inspection to look forward to. It is also once again that time of year for filling horns ready for use next year.
Dates for the coming months are starting to build up. The next full herd TB test, our annual Demeter inspection, and then of course tupping. The lambs may have weaned themselves but will still need to be separated from the main flock before that event. Current thinking is to tup a couple of weeks earlier this autumn, but with the climate changing so significantly that decision gets more difficult each year.
Thinking back to Monday, I now feel that little of what I was going to write about the Queen’s funeral is appropriate or is just plain redundant. So many words from professional and knowledgeable wordsmiths are not to be bettered.
An irrelevant thought that keeps coming into my head is the poem by Lewis Carroll that begins ‘You are old Father William the young man said…’ and concludes ‘Be off or I will kick you downstairs’. Such a favourite, and the joke now is that I would tumble down the stairs too!
Somehow in a world in which a deranged dictator seems willing to end civilisation as we know it, Lewis Carroll has much to offer us.
We will never see a Monday like that again – it was overwhelming in just about every respect imaginable. We may now be, as size would suggest is appropriate, a fifth-rate power, but could any other nation, not only put on such a show, but demonstrate such affection and respect for its monarch.
Three things learnt, and not so far shared.
The first explains a certain amount. The Queen on both her mothers and fathers’ side was descended from the reigning family in Scotland before the Stuarts. From Robert First’s grandson Robert – Norman of course in origin.
The second is the level of ignorance monarchy haters have. Constitutional monarchy did not appear overnight but came about over a very long time. A key problem that the Stuarts had was finance, because it was Parliament that voted monies that might be needed by the monarch should warfare be on his mind. What monarchs could do was issue Royal Charters, on which basis investors could develop large parts of the world. But that was long after the Normans, who partly colonised Ireland and Scotland. Be anti-monarchy by all means but make some attempt to get your facts right.
The third irritation comes from Caribbean nations wanting restitution. Just to remind ourselves of the long view, this country has been re-colonised many times, both before and after the Romans. Every inhabitant, almost without exception, carries at least in part an Anglo-Saxon ancestry – even our proudly Irish Joe Biden has a lot more English ancestors than he might wish to boast about – and of course, that means we are the descendants of colonists – but the Normans ruled us for several centuries. Our country, now genuinely, is inhabited by people from just about all parts of the world – white, pink, brown, yellow, black and all shades between – but all British. This country owes its success and history to all these people of whom the English are but one component.
To return to that last point, enjoyed by the media interviewers so keenly last week; obviously through a modern lens, what an irony it is that slave owners did better out of the end of slavery than many slaves, but just who do you imagine should pay you and your ancestors for being taken into slavery. It wasn’t Europeans who went out and captured your ancestor, but fellow Africans – should they pay you? And what about East and Central Africa where slaving has never ceased, who should pay Arabs, or again Africans, but from different tribes. Where do you draw a line; should we still hate those who enslaved us? Or quite reasonably, to widen it, what about those who ‘worked in dark satanic mills’ – free technically, but certainly not genuinely free.
Or is it simply because of colour, amplified by looking at the past through the eyes of a ‘civilised’ person of today. If that is so, nothing can be done. Think of the Irish problem, think of the situation in India, think of the trouble between Sunni and Shia. Hatred comes to the human mind so easily and naturally.
I began in a rather vitriolic mood, but reflection on how fortunate we are here in our little world has eased that tension, if not my own physical problems. That being so, I shall do no more than list what is probably on my agenda for the coming weeks. Sadly, I have got badly distracted from my earlier ambitions. In between I have revisited my thoughts on the role of mythology in nation building, read a new book called ‘the eleven nations of North America’ and have the anticipated pleasure of reading David Hackett’s definitive biography of the Frenchman who actually opened up what is now Canada to Europeans.
No idea where to fit this in, but it must be shared. A minority have accused the BBC of lack of impartiality in reporting the death of the Queen – equal time should have been given to the views of republicans – does one laugh or cry. So even ‘balance’ is not a word with an agreed meaning.
And finally, a sad moment as we finished the last bottle of damson juice to be made by Anne. A ritual in our family life was the making of fruit juices and jams and marmalade. For the juices Anne used the Swedish method of steaming the juice out of the fruit – fruit which as a family we had collected. Age has brought all that to an end, but they were good days to look back on – the damson juice was an all-time favourite! And to finish, three verses from a poem of today that is already enormously popular. Written by the children’s poet Juli Frances Taylor, it is dedicated to HM Queen Elizabeth:
Riding On A Rainbow by Juli Frances Taylor[Grandma] said “The colours of a rainbow
Show what’s inside of you;
Red, orange and yellow
For happiness, and for love too
Green for our own precious Earth
Blue for the sky and for the oceans
And indigo and violet
For feelings and emotions
She said “Some people only ever
Try to find the pot of gold
They never see the rainbow
Or know the magic that it holds
Because the secret about rainbows
Is when you climb up to the top
Then slide down the other side
You never want to stop!”
“So ALWAYS ride a rainbow
Look for adventure, not for gold!
Live all your life in COLOUR
Be brave! Be bright! Be bold!
And, when I’m not here with you
Then just ride it on your own
You can keep me in your heart
So you’ll never be alone”