Waterlogged

Pleading self-indulgence, for those of you who missed it, the latest Trumpism was a justification for abandoning the Kurds – to quote his words as best I can – “anyway where were they in WWII, not helping us in Normandy!” Less damaging but equally absurd was the headline: ‘Robbie Williams and his wife: Their ‘baby’ has died. The justification lies in the inverted commas…

What a crazy world we live in. Over and above the politics, the weather could not be more unhelpful. We may not yet have had floods, but our pastures are in many places waterlogged. Indeed, the fields are too wet to carry any vehicle, and the mud in the windrow area is horrendous.

Farm News

At this stage it looks as though not only can we not finish the reseeding program let alone can we finish the last spraying of the year. Hardly helpful when we have a Demeter inspection on the 23rd of the month. Whatever the weather, the horns will be filled and buried. It is not only Demeter that will be disappointed. With regards the reseeding – I am in negotiation with the Rural Payments Agency seeking a derogation to allow us to complete the reseeding programme in the spring.

So basically, the week was another ‘wash out’, although it was possible to take out seven calves from the suckler herd and add them to the group of young stock. At 41 animals, this group is over large, but hopefully seven will leave us in two weeks. Now it seems that TB restrictions have been lifted, we are actively searching for a new home for Baachus and for his replacement. The two cows with hoof problems are looking better but will need careful watching.

Surprisingly given it is mid-October, this week we had three cases of fly strike among the lambs. We had expected to wean this week but that proved impossible. It will take place next week and we will at the same time check out lameness in the flock. One of Ryan’s first tasks was to replace the floor of the sheep crush so that is one more job done.

Sadly, we don’t know as yet whether the tractor can be repaired. The head gasket has certainly gone, and the inter cooler has a leak. Whether that is all that is wrong is not yet determined. We have also been hit by a number of punctures!

Sebastian, assisted first by Theo and now Ryan, has smoothed out the bridle path as far as the barn, but there are still some soft spots to be sorted out when more hardcore and planeings arrive. This work has required three vehicles on hire, and he obviously cannot drive all at once!

First thing Thursday morning we waved off Sarah and Theo and, as it usually is, this was a rather emotional moment. They both will be missed, and we look forward to staying in touch. For Theo his key ambition was to improve his English and he made good progress. Sarah who was with us earlier for the whole of March was on this visit able to enjoy the fruits of her planting program and once again bring order to the vegetable garden.

Ryan with his degree in Environmental Science, and set of practical skills, is yet another asset to come to join us. He came with his Australian cattle dog called Tomato. Tomato is slowly coming to terms with life with our three dogs. Among other things Ryan is hoping to turn Milly into a more useful sheep dog but he has many useful skills and we look forward to using these first!

Rousseau memories

I enjoyed listening to this week’s ‘In our time’ on ‘catch up’ radio. The topic was the life and works of Rousseau. It took me back to my Postgraduate Teacher Qualification course – which I took at the University College in Southern Rhodesia, where not only was the Head of Department named J-J Rousseau (he was an Afrikaner in fact) but we had a philosophy of education tutor who appeared to worship both Plato and the Swiss Rousseau. Rousseau, the man, was an odd individual who came up with a mishmash of ideas, some of great import others rather horrific. He is associated in many people’s mind with the idea ‘of the noble savage’ and his autobiographical novel ‘Emile’ he wrote with passion and elegance and, like marmite, was either loathed or loved. Perhaps his lasting legacy for English schooling was his belief in the value of playing games.

Piano nocturnes for a peaceful mind

Otherwise I confess my mind has remained in something of a turmoil given being faced with so many uncertainties, and to top it all foul weather. I again recommend John Field for his piano nocturnes as a help when a peaceful mind is needed. 

In terms of my reading of ‘Dominion’, I am at the time of Origen and yet again having to reconsider my understanding of a particular man’s individual contribution to Christianity as we know it today. Origen is usually considered noteworthy because he is said to have castrated himself!   

I think a calm peaceful poem this week is called for and I offer you this:

Joshua Sylvester, 1563 – 1618 -English poet.

When the leaves in Autumn wither
With a tawny faded face,
Warped and wrinkles up together,
The year’s late beauty to disgrace;
There thy life’s glass thou find thee:
Green now, grey now, gone anon,
Leaving, worldling, of thine own
Neither fruit nor leaf behind thee.

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