Time to move the cattle

An interesting week on the farm, though more about visitors and finance. The move of the young cattle to the back of the farm, together with a targeted homeopathic remedy seems to have dried up the flow of eye infections. The suckler herd is also on a field at the back of the farm but two fields away so hopefully the bull will stay where he is meant to be! We are a little worried about the cattle being on that field as there is some ragwort in one part of it, but normally the dangers comes when dried material gets into the food chain.

The rainfall in the latter half of the week again severely hampered activities such as topping, rolling and grass harrowing, but a certain amount could be done at the start of the week. There is a lot still to do include taking a cutting from our field on the other side of the brook. As importantly, the seeds drilled some weeks ago appear to have successfully germinated! As importantly, the pastures and hedgerows look so much better. Around the scrape butterflies and dragonflies fill the air while in the hedge two varieties of roses are in full flower.

As for the sheep, all seems well for the moment though they will all have to be brought in and put through the race as soon as may be, in order that the lambs can be checked and have their final clostridial vaccination. We still await a date for the ewes to be sheared. Let’s hope when we get a date it doesn’t clash with any other excitement such as next week’s TB retesting. 

Talking of which, next week will be dominated by the 60-day TB test. With the total number of cattle we currently have, together with the need to keep the two herds well apart, and holding them between the Tuesday and Friday, events require good planning! Our new woofers arrive on Sunday afternoon so their first week here should be quite exciting for them!

This week bills have been coming in for work done under the higher level scheme. As with all such schemes, the farm has to pay upfront and then wait anxiously for the RPA to refund it. To give you a sense of scale, this week we had the bill for just under 2,000 metres of fencing – which leaves us with 9,000 more metres to do. The bill was over £14,000 – admittedly this includes VAT at 20% but that is repaid quarterly and each metre of fencing, leaving aside the costs of our own labour, will cost the farm 90p. Long term it makes very good sense indeed since the revenue implications for the future represent a real saving but…….in the short term it is challenging even if all is prepared.

A year ago, we considered very seriously attempting to crowd fund a new tractor. We took the idea no further at that time because it would have clashed with the 3rd stock issue of shares in the Benefit Society. As a thought it is now back on our agenda as, even second hand, at least £25,000 is needed and we cannot consider finding that sum of money alone.

The temptation to have another swipe at the RPA I will continue to resist, even though at lunchtime on Friday we had a message to say that our local MP was unable to come as planned, to hear of our many concerns. I declined a telephone call, and, in the meantime, she has the briefing paper I sent her. I had hoped she would rebook, but that turned out to be wishful thinking, we are not quite important enough. On Thursday the visitor to the farm was our new Soil Association certification officer. We talked and he then toured the entire farm. A very interesting and pleasurable afternoon and as far as we were concerned – well worthwhile. You will be pleased to know, after seeing the whole farm, he was very impressed.

Reith lectures

The final programme in the Reith lectures was as interesting as those that went before. Three comments rang very true for my mindset. The first is the notion that we are all prisoners of the past. Hardly a new proposition but even more true today when there is so little knowledge of the past. The second was that we still had an aristocracy but now of knowledge not birth, meaning the divide in society may even be wider than the past. The politician who says ‘I am one of you’ may even believe what is said, but it is patently false. Finally, the notion that democracy can only survive, especially when the economy is struggling, if compromise is valued higher than those supporting single issues with fanaticism. The situation which appears to be currently dragging the country down.

On the home front, this has been a rather disrupted week with work being done in the house for two days. That has not prevented me catching up on the BBC series presented by Susie Klein on “This classical century” which was poorly treated by the Corporation given how good it was..

Is ignorance bliss?!

Bill Bryson, I have to thank for causing me to explore what has been named as the Dunning-Kruger effect. In the 19th century Darwin wrote “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” A coarser statement is more commonly used – “the more stupid you are, the less you understand just how stupid you are”

I better like the interpretation “the less you know, the more confident you feel in what you say/believe, while the more you know the more you know how little you know.” Two medical examples should suffice. George III we now know was suffering from a particular medical condition, not dementia. Lord Randolph Churchill we now know was not suffering from syphillis – a condition used to cover almost every neurological problem in the 19th century and used routinely, especially for the early death of composers. History and science throw up as many examples. Those of you who are interested in science should read “Lost paradigms” by John L Costi – a real eye opener.

Changing landscape and G.K. Chesterton

Moving from the serious to a lighter issue yet another local pub has shut. What saddens me about that, is not really the loss of a pub since pubs have never figured in my social life, but the loss of yet another charming name. A name like “The gate hangs well” had a charm that far exceeds “The Red Lion”.

G.K. Chesterton held many obnoxious views, but he did leave us with novels – the Farther Brown stories, and a poem that comes to mind every time we drive from Bromsgrove to the farm by the ‘country’ route.

The Rolling English Road By G. K. Chesterton

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode, 
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road. 
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire, 
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire; 
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread 
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head. 

I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire, 
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire; 
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed 
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made, 
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands, 
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands. 

His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run 
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun? 
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which, 
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch. 
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear 
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier. 

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage, 
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age, 
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth, 
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death; 
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, 
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

Often forgotten is the fact that this poem was first published in a 1913 publication dedicated to resisting the temperance movement!

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