‘Tis the season for sneezin’

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

Farm news

As I found out to my cost, on our regular look at all our pastures, the hay fever season is well and truly with us. Stupid of me to imagine I had grown out of it, especially since all but one of the fields is covered in tall grasses, in flower, and moving gracefully in the breeze.   Overall, at least superficially, nearly every pasture looks good, but closer examination shows there has been little ‘tillering’. Hopefully as we are not cutting for hay or silage, seeds for next year will be trampled into the soil. On the other hand, the environmental aspects of the resowing are generally very much in evidence. From one field Alice picked 14 different flowers and grasses. This growth must owe much to the fact that although the majority of the ditches are dry, we have had quite an amount of rain.

Wild Flowers

The cattle have moved twice this week, all as part of the plan to meet the stewardship requirements, and to get the most from the pastures. After many years of discussion, we have now put into practice strip grazing in our largest fields. Anyone who claims moving electrical fencing is a doddle is telling you ‘porkies’. But it is good to see pastures that have not been overgrazed and will clearly be valuable to stock once again fairly soon. It is very noticeable from the height that grass has been nibbled down, to which pastures have recently had cattle on and which sheep.  The cattle remain in their two main herds, with the IRs in the barn. Winter coats are now largely gone, and all animals look sleek and in good shape. The health concerns have largely subsided, and in one case completely gone. I failed to share with you last week one rather charming story. Alice was out in the field holding the suckler herd, when one cow all but asked to be followed so it could show off its new-born calf – sadly we have no video of this but do have short one of a cow licking clean it’s very newborn calf.

Brand New

Despite all looking good in the sheep fields, and despite vaccination, another lamb was lost. In fairness the animal was born with physical disabilities, and probably did well to survive as long as it actually did. 

Overhead we currently have three buzzards, one possibly is a fledgling, and the red kite I referred to last week seems now rather a fixture. One small but exciting observation was of a house martin that is nesting in the business park.  

Changing tack entirely we face losing Alice all too soon but will obviously welcome Tim back on Monday after his two-week break.  

Political comment..or not?

I make no comment on this week in politics, though I thought our Prime Minister’s former mistress, Petronella Wyatt, summed him up beautifully describing him as an inveterate and compulsive liar – she may of course be prejudiced since the four-year relationship apparently included one abortion and one miscarriage.  

As for the Congressional hearing, I suppose it was inevitable that Fox News chose not to show it on their main channel. If you are bored you might explore recent articles from Vox news on the state of the Union, but only if you have a strong stomach.  

I confess that I have to date chosen to ignore George Monbiot and the book he wrote based on his ideas ‘Regenesis’. The decision was conscious, but the fact that the radio 4 programme at 9.00 this Monday chose to pit him against a fellow scientist, but from a different camp, leaves me feeling slightly derelict in my duty. Unbelievable, incidentally, was that the BBC did not make clear the man was a committed vegan, and all his ideas were driven by that. 

Frankly, in my mind, his thinking typifies the worst of scientific approaches – determine your answer and then twist the facts to justify your starting position. Sadly, but as is usually the case, despite all this, much of what he writes is both interesting and challenging. So do read his book but hold in mind what it is he seeks to prove.   

The events of the weekend reminded me that the Commonwealth includes two states that were not historically linked to Britain – Rwanda and Mozambique. Despite the absurdity of sending would be immigrants to the former country, I realised that aside from knowing of the genocide in 1994, I really knew nothing about the history of that country. On remedying that gap I was irresistibly drawn to what has become a familiar theme in these notes.  

We English just know we were the greatest offenders when it comes to slavery, colonisation, treatment of those who had been the original inhabitants, decolonisation, racism and any other sin you can think of. All par for the course with our intolerable sense of superiority, and in particular treatment of the other inhabitants of these islands.  

I suppose it lets others off the hook, including those who retain huge empires like the Russians and Americans; as it does the other European States, responsible for three quarters of those sent into slavery in the Atlantic slave trade.  

As it does also for those other European States whose record of behaviour in their colonies, during and post colonisation, is stomach churning. I pass over the past and current history of non-European societies.  

A read of the history of Rwanda ought to be very disturbing for both Germans and Belgians. The first colonisers were the Germans, and then post 1919, the Belgians who held the territory until 1962. As colonisers, the German record in Rwanda is reasonable in the light of their behaviour in what is now known as Namibia. Post the 1950’s they built up strong relations with the now independent Rwanda but, rather as with Ukraine, despite knowing that genocide was on the cards for many months, kept mum, and stayed well away from any attempt to either prevent it or assist after it. 

For unknown reasons, after the First World War, the mandate for Rwanda went to that country which almost certainly behaved the worst of all European colonisers in what was the Belgium Congo – slightly amusing to learn the Belgium King is currently on a six-day state visit there.  

Belgium’s approach in Rwanda ensured that the tensions between the two leading tribes in that country were exacerbated, and that ‘boil’ was what was lanced in 1994 in one of the worst examples of genocide of that century.  

Attempts to join the Commonwealth began in the 1990’s, and English was established, not only as one of the three national languages, but all education from primary to tertiary is delivered in English, which also is the required language of the civil service and military, and so in due course it was accepted into the Commonwealth. From all this it is possible to discern a possible explanation of our governments reasons for deciding to relocate immigrants there.  

We/I know so little which seems to bother so few.  

Another poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins, quite inappropriate because our meteorological summer was announced last week, but really too good to not use. 


Nothing is so beautiful as spring—           
  When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;    
  Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush         
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring    
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;          
  The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush     
  The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush       
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

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