What beautiful weather, but we need rain!

I am exhorted every week to be upbeat rather than pessimistic, but with the weather we have been having, while it might be fine for those on the beach and farmers making silage, for us it could be wetter – we need rain! Of course, as I write that I am aware how well our pastures are growing at the moment! Moreover, the seed sown a couple of weeks ago has successfully germinated which is very good news.

Humphrey left us on Thursday evening, having seen something of Biodynamic’s in practice and had a chance to explore the ideas, while for us he did an amazing amount of strimming – vital if we are to keep weeds under any sort of control! He also played his part in ensuring that no more topping needs doing for a week or so. We are very grateful for his time, and will miss his cheerful presence on the farm.

We had an audit of our animal husbandry and two steers leave us on Monday due eventually to be sold in Marks and Spencer’s as home grown, grass fed, organic beef.

Animal news is that both cattle and sheep have been moved onto new grass in order that no field gets overgrazed. Next week, last autumns’ calves get moved into the ‘young stock’ herd. There is some lameness in the flock and a couple of ewes are a cause of some concern. The major issue with the cattle arises from flies. Conversations with the Soil Association have ensured we know what we might use, we now await comments from our vet before action is taken.

Not only have we already ordered in organic feed straw for the winter we have decided on a new site for this year’s haylage harvest which will enable us to group all farm equipment together on one site.

Though we have had no sightings of deer lately it seems clear that we now have a good population of brown hares on the farm and that they are becoming almost relaxed about contact with humans.

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While populations of many wild birds have declined in recent years that is not true of a fairly recent immigrant – the collared dove. Currently every day we see an adult feeding its pair of offspring. The little owls on the farm are also, it seems, content to live in close proximity to humans.

Recently I read an interesting book by Juergen Tamphe. The main thrust of the book related to the causes and responsibility for the First World War and the part the Treaty of Versailles played in causing the Second World War. Since these are issues still the subject of live debate among historians from all nations and much driven by emotion and nationalism I shall put that issue to one side! What I would like to comment on is the subtext of the book which was very much about the nature of individual greatness.

John Maynard Keynes was without doubt a great man, even I, who loathed having his economic ideas thrust down my throat as an undergraduate, accept that. However, perhaps inevitably, he was a deeply flawed individual and these flaws had both positive and negative effects. Though Keynesian economics is still seen to have validity, and his efforts to persuade the American Government to treat the U.K. generously in their financial treatment after the Second world war were critical, his writings after the First World War on the ‘Economic consequences of the peace’ played an extensive part in setting the thinking in both England and Germany, and, not for the best. His views as expressed in that book were without any question distorted greatly by his antisemitism, sexual orientation and love life. Sadly, while he may have accepted some twenty years later that his analysis had proved to be entirely inaccurate, the damage had been and continues to be done!

The conclusion I draw is perhaps that, while we rightly admire great men and women, we should never lose sight of the fact that they are, or were, human beings and hence fallible!

This thought tied in rather well with this year’s Reith Lectures given by Hilary Mantel and her central argument was for ‘parity of esteem’ for historical fiction with that history found in text books. Later in the week, the radio programme ‘In our time’ considered the American popularist movement of the late 19th century. Amusingly, in light of what Hilary Mantel, had been saying, the three professional historians disagreed on a number of interpretations of ‘facts’!

For myself I was ashamed, having studied economic history, not to have known that the United States suffered two depressions before the famous one of 1929 and that one of these – that of 1890, and the actions then taken by the Federal Government – may well have triggered the story of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ beloved of children and film makers.

Even before the England cricketers disappointed, as so often happens, a great pleasure this week has been listening to the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Though at one level it seems ridiculous to compare singers whose voices range from bass to soprano, somehow it works. I missed one programme but for the others it seemed clear to me the one singer who stood out – and happily, this view was shared with the judges as they came to the same conclusion! For the ‘wildcard’ I thought they would go for the Turkish mezzo rather than the Scottish singer but that I did get wrong. However, on Saturday night for the song final, I think they definitely got it badly wrong!

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Finally, in many ways the highlight of the week was enjoying the professionalism of the individual who transported the portacabin from one part of the business park onto a site by the farm pond. The intention is to enable food and drink to be consumed while enjoying the view of the willows and pond. It’s the perfect location!

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