A slightly unusual week on both the farm and home fronts but, I hasten to say not a bad one. Indeed, a week that ended on a definite high. The Summer Fair was a success and after everyone had gone home happy, and we had cleared everything away, then the rain came!
During the week many of the showers had irritatingly passed us by, though we had two which were worthwhile. The effect of this rain is already obvious with pastures ‘greening up’ nicely and only the cattle needing to be fed.
No calves this week but the cattle seem contented and generally in fine fettle. They clearly are finding some grass in addition to the tree trimmings the boys have been cutting for them since the hay consumption of the suckler herd is only about half a bale a day. Hopefully with their move onto a new field they may not need feed for a day or so.
Something that perhaps is not obvious is that cattle, if they feel they are not getting enough feed, are quite capable of taking things into their own hands by either breaking through fences or jumping over them. Managing cattle is rather like managing schoolchildren – treat them badly and you can expect trouble. Cattle may be domesticated, but that only goes so far, we need their co-operation and in fact ‘permission’. Our bull, Bacchus had to date never given us any concern, however, the news on Saturday evening of a farmer losing his life as a result of taking a bull too incautiously should remind everyone that ‘domesticated’ whether talking about people, dogs, cattle or any animal only goes so far!
The young stock continue to be rotated around the three fields designated for their use, and with hedge and tree trimming to augment the grass are not needing to be fed. One thing is clear with some nearly 30 months old we must find buyers.
The sheep are very content where they are. Their field was one we hoped to take a cut from, but necessity meant that after topping to stop thistles from flowering, it had to be used for grazing. Mid-week they all went through the race – both to check condition and give preventative treatment against fly strike. Their field is adjacent to the stream so is a bad field for flies. Overall the animals looked in good condition with only three showing signs of scald. Probably we should be thinking of weaning the lambs – but where to put them!!
With the annual fair and third share issue launched at the same time, the farm team had plenty of jobs to carry out to ensure that the farm was ready. These jobs involved mowing, trimming the hedges for the trailer tours, setting up marquees, and trying to reduce the litter that some tenants invariably trouble us with. Determining the route to be followed for the trailer tours is never straight forward. Visitors obviously want to see sheep and cattle, but where a tractor on its own can go is not necessarily where the tractor and trailer can go. Tour times have to be both long enough to be worthwhile, but not so long people get bored with waiting for their turn!
But as I have already written, it was all worthwhile. The rain held off, and the numbers were even better than last year. As usual there were many parents and grandparents with their youngsters. Satisfaction levels were on a par with what the leadership in North Korea would demand, far more ‘really local’ people attended than in past years, trailer rides either behind the tractor or from the pair of Shire horses struggled to meet demand, and large numbers of people showed an active interest in the new share offer. And as always, it was a pleasure to meet and talk to those who have supported our events since we first offered them.
Of course, this success depended on the input of many people in addition to the contribution of the extended family. Much of the support was entirely voluntary or for a very small amount of money and their positive attitude played an important part in making the event such a family affair.
Last Wednesday the Times carried a three-quarter page interview with Sebastian about the Benefit Society which could not have been more positive or supportive – the reporter remembered well the disgraceful way HSBC behaved some four years ago and probably like all other banks still treats its customers as the golden goose to be exploited to the full.
For the family, except on Friday and Saturday, the week was surprisingly quiet as two of the grandchildren spent the week at Worcestershire Cricket Club learning how to play cricket. The highlight for us all was on Thursday late afternoon when they provided the guard of honour for the players as they went onto the pitch at the start of play. Because of this honour a family party went to watch the 20/20 match that followed, and the rainclouds that gathered around us made the grounds, and Cathedral look all the more splendid.
Twenty-five years or so ago, watching cricket at Worcester was very much part of weekend life for my daughters and myself. We enjoyed ourselves as much this week as we did then but could not fail to notice the enormous changes in the ground and in the levels of skill and athleticism of the players, and we all felt a twinge of sorry at the changes. Apart from the format, the players are now so professional, and I have to admit I could no longer see much resemblance between what I was watching and the game I used to play – that of course is partly because my eyes are not what they used to be!
Clement and Faris left us late on Friday evening and we said goodbye to them with regret. They leave with totally false ideas about British summers, in six weeks they only experienced rain four times and for five weeks enjoyed temperatures in the very high twenties. One of their last actions was rather special. A deer had got stuck in one of the fences. The boys with Chris set off to try to help it. However, when they got close to the animal, it wriggled free and uninjured raced away – a happy ending for all!
Last Sunday, England won a most exciting test match against India, and this week there has been a 20/20 county match most days. On Friday the Second Test Match eventually started after the first day had been ‘washed out’. In between the showers, the Indian team was ‘skittled out’ for only 107 runs. Saturday the sun shone and the English batsman, until bad light ended play, had garnered a lead of nearly 250 runs. Continuing to bat for a while this morning before declaring, the Indians did little better than in their first innings and so England go 2:0 up in the five-match series.
As previously written about, watching the cricket on Sky television gives me masses of rant opportunity regards the puerile advertising which we are forced to endure every two overs and when a wicket falls. All on a par I suppose with a society which has lost interest in reasonable debate and respect, and where swaying opinion seems to have become just saying the same lie enough times.
And since I am on this tack let me say I feel we now have a language which demands less and less of its listeners and speakers both in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure. Nuance, subtly and irony seem beyond many people’s cognisance. Abuse and insult are now the preferred option when somebody offers an opinion disagreed with.
On Saturday night I watched on television the prom I had listened to earlier in the week. The second half of the programme was Brahms ‘German Requiem’ unusually not for the dead but more for the living – not as good sound on the television as on my hi-if equipment but still the most marvellous music.
The poem I have chosen this week has always appealed to me even though my life worked out quite differently from how I once imagined it would. By instinct a rebel and against authority it was one of life’s little jokes to ensure I lived much of my life as such a figure.
Lone Dog by Irene Rutherford Mcleod. 1891–1968
I’m a lean dog, a keen dog, a wild dog, and lone;
I’m a rough dog, a tough dog, hunting on my own;
I’m a bad dog, a mad dog, teasing silly sheep;
I love to sit and bay the moon, to keep fat souls from sleep.
I’ll never be a lap dog, licking dirty feet,
A sleek dog, a meek dog, cringing for my meat,
Not for me the fireside, the well-filled plate,
But shut door, and sharp stone, and cuff and kick, and hate.
Not for me the other dogs, running by my side,
Some have run a short while, but none of them would bide.
O mine is still the lone trail, the hard trail, the best,
Wide wind, and wild stars, and hunger of the quest!