Writing this column in diary form serves two purposes. Firstly, that, as a diary it is personal, allowing me to relate factual events, personal preferences and dislikes while, at the same time, working them into topical issues which, when talking with other country people, appear to feature quite high in their concerns too.
This I believe/hope makes it readable because, to readers, the matters raised are things to which most can relate. To have this voice, monthly, also has its attractions and works off frustrations.
Sadly, as one grows older, the world makes one increasingly cynical, which is something in my case I am not particularly proud of. Yet we live in a world where very few people are quite what they appear. We live in a time where standards have dropped to a level my parents’ generation would not believe possible. My father did business on the back of an envelope and with a handshake, with people whose word he trusted. Not quite so easy these days.
They seldom locked the farmhouse door unless they were off north on the annual holiday. No one ever broke in, neighbours would drop round and leave things in the kitchen for mother, even maybe feed the chicken and always do these things as friends. No question of payment, because we were all living in a tight rural community, wanting to help our neighbours.
But its not so true today. People don’t drop round so much and if they are asked to undertake a favour they don’t always come free. And how many folk do you know who, apart from family perhaps, you are quite comfortable to be left with a key to come into your house, check it round, or just pick up the mail from inside the front door? Not many I guess.
And is it because there isn’t so much trust around these days, or one simply doesn’t know them well enough to trust them, wondering perhaps if they will have a good look round the property and learn of things everyone chooses to keep private. Old supporters of standards wouldn’t countenance such behaviour, and rightly so. Now Facebook and its ilk rule.
I sometimes feel guilty of my increasingly ingrained doubt over the motives of many others simply because – well, what is it? Is it perhaps the stuff we read in the papers that passes for news today? The trash the radio and TV feels it has to use to attract listeners/viewers? Exaggeration, lies, exposés of superstars who are little more than nobodys. The press chases the lifestyles of here today and gone tomorrow nonentities, seeking to turn them into celebrities with revelations of lifestyles which most born in the thirties, forties and early fifties, or earlier, would cringe at.
So that’s one aspect of the attraction. Then, on the other side, I try to relate topical happenings, to perhaps compare with your own experiences for you to smile at maybe and sometimes even agree with. The point is your reaction is immaterial, because if you have read it, taken a view and thought about it then that’s all I think most writers aim at.
I would say, despite Christmas looming, I still look forward much more to the new year and the prospect that brings, rather than the too often false bonhomie the Christmas season itself engenders.
Many of my most enjoyable times over the holiday period ever since childhood have been spent on early Christmas mornings with the cattle milking years ago, feeding, calving and caring for them. They are gentle, honest creatures, to whom everything is as they see it. If they are cared for well they respond well. They have no side to them, much I suppose as all us humans were when young but sadly not so much as we grow older, often becoming, well, cynical!
Now we have effectively come to the end of our farming year, ready to start again after Christmas, so it’s time to take stock. On the farm we have now concluded the improvements and changes that have caused us some big problems through the second half of 2016. The biggest, the change back to the milking parlour from the robots was brought on for several reasons, not least the loss of reliable local dairy engineers. This is now largely resolved but has not been straightforward and Emma has spent most of the autumn with her ‘phone stuck to her ear solving it.
Most memorable perhaps was the surprise at the time it took the cows to accept the parlour milking, after spending nearly seven years in robots, as their own bosses, coming and going for milking as they wished. So returning them to a twice a day routine didn’t go down too well and it took a good week to retrain them. The few old girls were valuable, keen to return to their old ways and acting as guides for the newer ones.
The new straw barn is finished and the straw all stored away from cattle and fertiliser etc and the farm buildings significantly more secure.
For the medium future the TB situation has eased although I was concerned recently when, speaking to James Osman of the NFU, I related our recent position and told him the culture tests on the animals killed as reactors came back negative. He said: “Well they don’t look too closely at those cases” implying that what the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve over. “They simply don’t have the staff or time to follow up, just storing up trouble for the future” Not very reassuring is it? But that’s for tomorrow.
So we should all have a more restful and peaceful break. As indeed I hope you do.