“This blog is the unfolding story of Rush Farm and an exploration of life by its philosopher farmer.”
After a rather testing start to the week as doctors wondered about the self-inflicted damage to my leg, I saw rather more of the surgery than normal. Like all surgeries it has a large notice board advising you of all the health hazards waiting for one out there in the world. Given my sad tendency to assume the worst I try to look elsewhere, however there is one notice that for years I found non-threating, and that was about the dangers of falls. I have always fallen a lot, usually because my brain and body were not synchronised, and I have always bounced. Age, and the last two years and unsteady balance have made me realise that the truth is, one no longer bounces, injuries take longer to heal, and suddenly, familiar territory becomes threatening. If you are approaching my age, be warned, you may once have been indefatigable, but that time is past! Force your brain to realise your real age is no longer 55 and act accordingly.
After the farm update this week, which will include an update on government initiatives, as well as your favourite topic – the gases associated with climate change, I had intended to then follow with a link to the visit from Alice’s parents from the United States. This would be followed by ideas contained in my last notes (as I want to follow on from the basic myth of the American revolution – to ideas in Hacket’s fascinating book on ‘Albion Seeds’ in which he spelt out the nature of the early British Settlements, and which has now been followed by two books on the nations of North America. The latest of these now talks about the eleven nations.) Now all that is for another day.
For the farm this week, rain has dominated, and initially, at first, too hard for the ground to absorb, but eventually soaked into the top couple of inches. The transformation from autumn to late summer was almost immediate.
In truth this a not an active period on the farm, but that does not mean complete inactivity. Despite now being September, fly strike is still an issue, and our expectation to sell on the bulk of our lambs foundered a lack of buyers having grass.
After a long spell in the barn, the suckler herd have been released onto the long grass on the field by the road. The idea is that what seed heads the cattle don’t eat will be crushed into the ground and ensure good growth next year. Eventually topping will be necessary, as it has been this week elsewhere. Perhaps for the first time our cattle cannot be accused of being fat!
The airwaves continue to be dominated by discussions about the gases carbon dioxide and methane. For a change, attention is now being turned, not to the damage they do, but why they actually exist – something too often overlooked.
Carbon dioxide and plant growth are inseparable, without carbon dioxide, photosynthesis does not take place. So where does the carbon dioxide come from. Obviously, it is part of the carbon cycle, and its sources are multiplicious – from the natural, including breath and volcanoes, while the vast remainder come from human industrial action. The past shows clearly that in aeons ago, there were period when the level of the gas was so high earth was covered in vegetation.
So, without carbon dioxide we have no vegetable life. How to control its level is of course politically difficult, because the obvious and sensible solutions require big business to operate in a different and less profitable way.
Methane, like carbon dioxide, is a vital part of the plant nutritional cycle. It is the product of swamp and stagnant water, it is a product of compost heaps, it is the product of ruminant’s breath, but above it all, it is the waste gas from the petroleum chemical industry.
Naturally the decomposition of plant nutrients will be cycled back into soil, in a mobile manner, with the benefit of the extra ruminate microbial life added to the soil biome. Without a healthy soil biome, all is lost, and this requires extra inputs to maintain this state. The methane once absorbed into the soil, then provides a meal for special microbes known as methanotrophs – though not all varieties are involved. None of this of course has any relevance to that gas produced by industry!
Writing this on Thursday afternoon, I was very surprised to find myself completely disconcerted by the news coming from Balmoral. I was not aware that I had this set of feelings buried somewhere inside me – I would never have described myself as an ardent monarchist. Whatever flow I was riding, had now subsided, and those thoughts will have to wait.
This is the end of an era for our country. Quite what it is the monarchy provides may sometimes seem slightly hazy, but at times like this, one realises it is the crown and monarch that, as one writer put it, are the ‘glue’ that holds the whole act together. A figure that stands above the fray of day-to-day politics, and has in this strange way, an ability to make it all mean something for the rest of us.
There are alternate approaches to constitutional monarchy, just as there are to systems of voting.
However, when it comes to the choice between an elected President, and all but inevitable tensions between Presidents and their Houses of elected representatives, there can be no choice. Whatever one thinks about our Prime Minister, we know that he or she cannot behave in the same way as ex-President Trump.
The monarch’s role is by tradition, and is, in its own right, a role of a sheet anchor, firmly established, and allows for knowledge gained over decades not to be lost.
Still groping for an explanation of how our unwritten constitution works, after watching the Proclamation, it suddenly came to me.
A great uncle of mine was flying a Wellington Bomber when he was shot down in flames in 1940. The Wellington was designed by Wallace Barnes, and used a geodetic design, immensely strong, and above all flexible, and able to absorb severe punishment. The only weakness, aside from the aircrafts’ slow speed, which fortunately does not apply to a constitution, was that the framework was extremely flammable – also not a likely threat to our constitution since the 17th century. No elections, a simple “God Save the Queen – long live the King”, and the state and nation rolls forward under its new monarch. How lucky we are!
A question that has always hovered at the back of mind has been the question of ‘whether the longevity of the monarchy has had anything to do with the great difficulty we all have with difficulty in naming the last Anglo-Saxon monarch! Or perhaps it has something to do with some inexplicable power in our society to include and absorb.
I am tempted to end with the National Anthem but, after the rains of Thursday and Friday, and then having seen the reported rainbows over Balmoral, instead will attempt a nod to the week of weather we have witnessed.
A Thunderstorm By Emily DickinsonThe wind begun to rock the grass
With threatening tunes and low, –
He flung a menace at the earth,
A menace at the sky.
The leaves unhooked themselves from trees
And started all abroad;
The dust did scoop itself like hands
And throw away the road.
The wagons quickened on the streets,
The thunder hurried slow;
The lightning showed a yellow beak,
And then a livid claw.
The birds put up the bars to nests,
The cattle fled to barns;
There came one drop of giant rain,
And then, as if the hands
That held the dams had parted hold,
The waters wrecked the sky,
But overlooked my father’s house,
Just quartering a tree.