The drought is over in the pastures

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 everything had been cleared away, the rain came!  Adrenaline levels at the start of the week were low. Events, even if successful, are draining experiences both physically and emotionally. However, life on a farm is a seven day a week occupation, so however you feel, you keep going.

Growth on the pastures is rapid

Not long ago I described the cracks that had developed in our pastures as a result of the drought and the lack of growth on them. This week I am happy to be able to say after rain last Saturday evening and again Thursday morning, though the ground remains rock hard, growth on the pastures is rapid, and the need to provide feed is easing. We are staying calm over the fact that no more rain is forecast in the coming week and the return to typical summer weather – greyish, warmish, windyish and generally cheerless is almost a relief.

The regrowth has allowed for all the animals to be moved onto new grass, and all seem well and in good condition. Despite the very hard ground, lameness has not, to date, been a problem. Indeed, rashly perhaps to say, to date, stock health has been good – no orf, only a few cases of flystike, no difficult calving’s and little in the way of lameness. TB testing does of course rather loom over us but…….

Lambs look ready for sale

Our wool has been delivered to Bromyard. The total weight was 366kg so if we are lucky we may get £300 for it!  Next week the lambs will be weighed and it’s just possible that as a result we may see some real income since many of the lambs look ready for sale.

New Wwoofer, Joan

Our new Wwoofer Joan, or John in English, has had a varied first week, including rather a lot of physical labour, and his first close experiences with cattle. He is very interested in Biodynamic’s and, though there will be no spraying this month, next week Anne and he will placing preparations into the muck heaps that came out of the barn. His interests are wide, and his English is good, so conversations are, I hope, a mutual pleasure.

The tractor has been busy with four fields chain harrowed, one topped and one spread with compost prior to Thursday’s rain. To put the activities into context, topping a 15-acre field takes about 4 hours, spreading takes longer since the spreader has to uncoupled when empty, then filled, then coupled up again before the next outing. Having only the one tractor is time consuming and wearing on the pto or ‘power take off’ piece of machinery – no wonder we are on our third.

This week I have managed with my youngest grandson to visit all the pastures to better equip myself for decisions on stock movements. Perhaps the most striking sight was the large scrape which now contains no more than a saucepan full of water. Still it was designed as a scrape not as a pond so it’s fulfilling its purpose.

Orchestral music

I haven this week revisited Schubert’s string quartets and come to the conclusion, probably obvious to those more knowledgeable, that they are actually leaning more towards orchestral music than chamber music, so the experience is of a quite different sound than that of Haydn, and if they are listened to with different expectations, for me, are more enjoyable than I had previously felt.

Sir V.S.Naipaul, who has died aged 85, has been the subject of many obituaries and I do not intend to add to them. His writings were important to me personally for two reasons: the first was that he introduced me to writers in English from both the Caribbean and Africa, and in particular Nigeria, while the second was his struggle against former colonial states seeing the way forward as one of victimhood. His key message being ‘take responsibility for yourself and your actions’.  His life also confirmed that being a great writer, artist, poet, sportsman or whatever, rarely bears any relation to the nature of the individual and how she/he actually lived their lives.

I have spoken positively about the quality of women’s cricket so share the quote below because it sums the matter up so well – I would perhaps go further and say it also such a pleasure to see sportspeople so obviously enjoying themselves and though the desire to win is as strong as in men’s cricket, smiles rather than sledging being the order of the day:  “Unlike in the men’s game, a game of women’s cricket doesn’t usually involve a slew of big, muscular cricketers whose members wield the willow like a bazooka to blitzkrieg opposition ranks. As women’s cricket still retains the subtleties and innocent charms of a vintage bygone era, it can captivate the imagination of a connoisseur, and makes for some alluring viewing.” – Bharath Ramaraj

A read in one sitting book

The rise and fall of the British nation by David Edgerton is a must ‘dip into’, if not read in one sitting book, in that it debunks so many ‘truths’ that have been promulgated through much of my lifetime, and confirms just how blinkered, ignorant and ideologically driven were the ‘big names’ in the academic world that I was exposed to in the 1960’s. Historians, philosophers and economists of that decade and sadly many later decades, ignored facts by looking through distorting glasses. (Pages 143 and 246 illustrate this point clearly). In fairness, these characters had their thinking moulded in the 1930’s which was ‘the key decade for intellectual Marxism’.

Egerton writes a history of the period between 1900 and the year 2000 from a very different way to the histories we are familiar with, as he writes, his starting point is that “…we can study the history of the United Kingdom in the same way as we might study that of Germany or the Soviet Union”.

With hindsight I now far better understand the contempt I felt as an undergraduate entering a world where intellectual challenge was only acceptable within certain preordained parameters. So much for universities being about challenge and new thinking. Mind you, despite my antagonism towards the notion that science has all the answers, budding scientists and engineers at that time were not fed false fodder in the way that those of us who read the humanities were.

The second part of the book should be required reading for both leavers and remainers in this country since it pours cold water on many of the fundamental beliefs of both sides of the Brexit argument.

I have caveats; I am not sure that I understand or accept his definition of the word ‘nation’ and some of his conclusions seem a jump to far, but inevitable perhaps in a work which has polemic quality. What it does do is to deliver what the author set out to achieve: “History, like politics and policy….is a contended matter…the time is long overdue for a good rattling of the cage of clichés which imprison our historical and political imaginations”.

The book is not cheap, but if you can still access a public library, do so, though you may have to extend your period of borrowing because it is not a light read!

The poem this week may appear inappropriate but, having spent time leaning on a gate (at the hinge end of course) watching the sucker herd I hope you will understand why I chose it.

Cows by James Reeves

Half the time they munched the grass, and all the time they lay
Down in the water-meadows, the lazy month of May,
A-chewing,
A-mooing,
To pass the hours away.

“Nice weather,” said the brown cow.
“Ah,” said the white.
“Grass is very tasty.”
“Grass is all right.”

Half the time they munched the grass, and all the time they lay
Down in the water-meadows, the lazy month of May,
A-chewing,
A-mooing,
To pass the hours away.

“Rain coming,” said the brown cow.
“Ah,” said the white.
“Flies is very tiresome.”
“Flies bite.”

Half the time they munched the grass, and all the time they lay
Down in the water-meadows, the lazy month of May,
A-chewing,
A-mooing,
To pass the hours away.

“Time to go,” said the brown cow.
“Ah,” said the white.
“Nice chat.” “Very pleasant.”
“Night.” “Night.”

Half the time they munched the grass, and all the time they lay
Down in the water-meadows, the lazy month of May,
A-chewing,
A-mooing,
To pass the hours away

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