TB test results are in!

 “This blog is the unfolding story of Rush Farm and an exploration of life by its philosopher farmer.”

These last few weeks have been and continue to be astonishingly taxing emotionally for all of us, and I am no different. My heath remains a problem and writing these notes should be a pleasure, not a drain on my limited emotional resources. This week there will be more to say about the farm, and I will therefore limit my comments, and in particular strive to avoid ‘hot’ topics. I do intend to write a section on myth, but will start with few thoughts on morality,

I caught myself last week using the word morality, part of a large group of words in common use, yet whose meaning means so many different things to different peoples, and also has so many different meanings at different times. The United Nations, its various branches, and in particular the Security Council, have been a source of concern for as long as I can remember. Typically, nobody seems willing to face up to what the problem might be, and in this case the problem rises above those of any written, signed and sealed document.

The establishment of the UN followed the end of WWII, and represented a genuine desire to prevent future conflicts, but was doomed from the start, as was the League of Nations a decade before, by a lack of teeth, and governments seeing their first responsibility as being to their own state as having priority. Put that to one side, that at least one participant had no commitment from the start. Yet again we find the hand of British idealists allied in this case to a Eurocentric approach – one which the words used, and ideas expressed meant much the same to all.

If we accept morality and culture as being closely related, then the problem is, and always has been clear. Morality does not mean the same in every state, nor has it a meaning fixed by time. Moreover, in every grouping, disparity in size, power and history, allied to one vote per member, quickly reveals built in problems.

But the organisation wanted to include every nation, even if they were signing up to ideas that meant nothing to them. Add to that a security council which contains permanent members with a veto, and who fail to meet Charter standards, and we have a total farce and freeze on progress. It has been the fear of nuclear weapons actually being used, not the UN, that has given us peace these last seventy years. Mutually destroyed destruction was, I believe the official definition.

Look at us all TB free!!

The Farm

The farm week has ended on a real high. All 98 of our cattle sailed through Fridays TB test. All the animals were co-operative and this managed, aside from the vet, with only three from the farm end available to help – Tim, Alice and Brendan. Such a relief both emotionally and freeing up our position in terms of reducing the numbers. With the rented land now gone, and our pastures sown with a meadow mix, we just have to reduce the number of both sheep and cattle. However, with the TB label hanging over our heads moving cattle on was all but impossible.

The whole exercise also had to manage a newly born calf.

And after all that, on Friday and Saturday it was possible to concentrate on BD matters. For a start the whole farm was sprayed with horn silica (prep.501) and two compost heaps then had the appropriate other six preparations either inserted or sprayed. Filling the cow horns will be done on the 18th, which incidentally is planned to be very busy anyway. Apple picking and delivery, sorting out the lambs from the ewes, and treating their feet as needed. Finally, the barn has to be fully cleaned out, and all bedding placed in a new compost heap in a different field.

The lambs apparently, apart from their feet, look very good. We hope to have found a home for 30 elsewhere, and the remainder will then be available for direct sales. Only 80 ewes will go to the tup this year so the rams will have an easier workload when they are put to work.

Last week I referred to this year’s inadequate rainfall. This week, despite some heavy rain, the big scrape at the top of the farm remains waterless. Nonetheless, grass continues to grow, so the signs are positive for next season. The weekly check of feed confirmed, subject to the gods, we still should be well placed for the winter period.

The doings, and intents, of this new government towards farming and the environment are still impossible to predict, but the week has been so good no energy is to be given to worrying about that.

Myth or mythology

In intending to write about myth, I had not first thought through the relationship of the word ‘myth’ to the similar sounding word ‘mythology’. They do of course have different meanings, and in first thinking of mythology brought to mind an American named Joseph Campbell. A man who in his time was the leading thinker on the mythology, and whose ideas and thoughts deserve more than a passing reference – next time perhaps. For now, I shall concentrate on myth, and I am not thinking of characters like W.G.Grace, but rather more of national myths. What sparked this thought was reading Putin’s notion of Russian history; no mention of all of the nearly 250 years the Golden Horde ruled the roost, or that Moscow was of their creation.  

Casting the mind around, other examples leap out: Joan of Arc, that French national heroine, was held by her own people, and then turned over to the British to do their dirty work for them – shades of the death of Christ. The notion that Francis Drake was so nonchalant that he hesitated to interrupt his game of bowls when the Armada Hove into sight. A naval battle we all celebrate victory in, although the wind had far more to do with it than anything else. The involvement of French soldiers in the landings in 1944, though the numbers as I recall were actually 178.

Ideas such as these underpin national stories, right across the world. They have a particular importance to new states so, for example, the United States is a sitting duck in this area and understandably so – think of the problems of turning a group of various nationalities into a whole. The list of myths on which that nation is built is embarrassingly long and frequently added to. Hamilton of music theatre fame was actually a crook – they did have colonies, and yet believed they were opposed to that approach from day one. The Vikings – it was the French and Spanish who were the key and earliest Europeans to open up and establish settlements. And yes, Washington did defeat an army of 15 000 Hessian mercenaries, involved in the struggle for independence, but when the British pulled out of the struggle, and abandoned New York, it was rather more than to fight on so many fronts, and in any case, the French who were key players, would be knocked off the world map in only so many years’ time.

But in all fairness, I must end on this country, where masses of myths hit one in the face, and at different times in our history have, indeed may continue to be, vital in either holding the United Kingdom together or, quite the contrary, breaking it up. Every nation has its own store of myths. I think in self-defence of my own country and its foibles, debunking our own myths is a key feature of our intellectual culture, even when it hurts.

A little bit of Saint Saën

A real treat this week was to pluck off the shelves a double CD of Saint Saen’s piano music, to luxuriate in the music, and to ponder on two matters. Recently the death of a ‘rapper’ was given the full attention of the media. How does this barren culture free world in which we exist, regard the achievements of this individual, when compared to Andre Previn. I can’t believe that in my lifetime anyone will come close to the gifts of that man. On the CD’s referred to Previn conducts, and another is the pianist. I wonder that worked out. Previn of course was an incredible pianist, how did Jean-Philppe Collard cope with that added pressure?

Language matters greatly to me, and that is probably the reason for my choice of poem. How marvellous it is to have a language 800 years old but still understandable.

An anonymous verse from the very early 13th century, the earliest in our language still extant.  The title is the first line. For those who want to avoid the effort of translation, there are books and probably it can be found on the internet.

Miri it is while sumer i-last
With foulës song;
Oc now neghëth windës blast
And weder strong.
Ei, ei, what this night is long,
And Ich with wel michel wrong
Sorwe and murne and fast.

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