Seven ewes are yet to lamb

Normally it is hay fever which keeps me indoor on fine sunny days, but this week I have missed out on the beautiful weather outside because of my back. That said, it is clear that this has been a rather nice week on the farm, and the wood is looking at its best – so I am told!

I had expected by now to be saying that lambing was over and done with but there are always laggards – not a single lamb was born during the week, but two lambed this weekend. Seven ewes are still holding out. Poor Amy who was with us for a week to gain her Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award thus missed out on the birthing process, but was a great help with all other aspects of their care. Katja left us on Wednesday having had a rather more interesting time. While it is too early to go through the full analysis of this year’s lambing, the early signs are positive.

A busy week for the cattle

Though it may have been a quiet week for the sheep, the opposite is true for the cattle, aside from routine movements following grass growth. One unforeseen movement was forced on us by work actually started on the installation of fibreglass by BT. The other came by some individual leaving a gate open at the back of the wood, through which a number of the cows happily wandered!

Chris having come off an exhausting three weeks of lambing was this week then immediately forced into the office to deal with paperwork – financial and basic requirements from DEFRA. All made the more difficult because I was unable to support him in any way.

Apple blossom scent fills the air

The view from one of my bedroom window would tempt any watercolourist – not simply because of the clouds – but instead for the range of greens. The willow is currently a light yellow-green, the horse chestnuts a fine deep green while the spruce is mainly a greyish blue- green. The copper beech stands out against the white blossom of the blackthorn, and for those with sensitive noses, the scent from blossom of the ancient apple tree close to our window fills our bedroom.

Research in recent years yet again confirms something we all knew. Women are able to differentiate mores colour shades than men. That is why when attempting to identify from stamp colours the date of printing, I so often had to turn to Anne

Which composer do you turn to most frequently?

While I have always felt questions like who is your favourite author/book/composer/work etc rather silly, I am now wondering whether, for example, questions such as “Which composer do you turn to most frequently?” do have some validity as I have become very conscious of the fact that while I do  enjoy and flirt with other composers and genres, it is Haydn that I listen to the most.  Indeed, his neglected violin concertos I’m very much enjoying at the moment. I know I have had phases when I might have hesitated to say that, but, though at times others have been almost ‘go to’ music, since my taste is fairly catholic and there are only a few genres to which I cannot relate – such as serial composition, gringe, grunge and variations on them and rap – Haydn and his brother have always been there in the background.

As to answering a similar question for authors I am less certain. Once I would have said Jane Austin or even Georgette Heyer. Now I am not able to give an answer, perhaps because few authors can cover the full range of emotional needs. So, though I can think of a vast number of authors whose books I have reread at least twice, I can’t think of one I would go to whatever my mood.

A strain of English romanticism

Last week I recommended a radio programme which discussed the Aristotelian notion of happiness. Since then I have read two quotes from leading continental philosophers which seem to have relevance to today’s world.

Nietzsche wrote “People don’t strive for happiness, only the English do”. Not a comment I picked up on when, many years ago, I actually read the book from which the line came.

A recent quote from a continental philosopher writing about the tradition of successful Anglo-American capitalists using their fortunes to give to charity and good works is that: ‘On the European mainland it could not so establish itself – largely because of blind trust in the state, subventions and traditions of celebrating misery”.

Both quotes are worth reflection I would suggest, not just in terms of Brexit, but also as evidence of a strain of romanticism deeply embedded in English culture which we are reluctant to admit to, and not to be confused with continental Romanticism which seems to ignore human frailty – we here all know the statement “the spirit is willing but the flesh is often weak”!

Finally, it is not often that I stray into the world of religion, even though I do actually listen to the Sunday morning church service most Sundays. This Sunday the service came from a Catholic Church. The theme was very much found in the Acts of the Apostles. A good and interesting discussion, but inevitably my mind drifted into familiar concerns. The first is how sad it is that for most of the younger generations, knowledge of the Bible is totally non-existent – a basic heritage they have missed out on.

The second was to be reminded how many versions of both the Bible and Christianity there actually are, and to realise I actually know even less about the history and thinking of Roman Catholicism than I do of either Greek Orthodox Church or Lutheranism.

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