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Posts from the ‘Happiness’ Category

I Declare an International Day of Inefficiency

Swallow 2

pic CHOG

Today we call M and tell him the first Swallow has arrived. It’s a moment of joy, admiration and awe for its arduous cross continental journey. Now it is perched on the telephone wire which stretches across part of the front yard, preening each wing in turn. Not long before, it was whooping and swooping above the pond and flying low, in and out of the shippen. Its song is peppered with dolphin like clicks. I am sitting on the top step, the slate warm, feeling the sun on my face, my body slowly unwinding, finally released from being huddled, bundled and wrapped. There is a delightful din of a world waking up. Ten years ago there were almost thirty Swallows lined up on the wire by the end of the summer; each subsequent year there have been less and less.

I abandon the ‘to do’ list. I think, today will be a day of inefficiency

I experience anxiety as I hope and wonder about a mate for the Swallow arriving. And if they breed successfully will there be enough insects for them to feed their young?

The massive decline in bee populations catches the public imagination, but all insects are being put under similar pressure by loss of habitat and pesticides. In a farmland setting, loss of habitat means less wild flowers, the planting of monocultures of rye grass or other crops without provision for invertebrates. And why does this matter? Well, in a nutshell…

Biodiversity means the variety of life, in all its forms. It includes the variety of species and ecosystems (communities and interrelations of species) in the world, and also genetic variation. Human beings are dependent for their sustenance, health and well-being on fundamental biological systems and processes. This includes all of our food, many medicines and industrial products, as well as the air we breathe. Without insects and other invertebrates, human life on this planet would be impossible. The enormous diversity of life is of crucial value, providing resilience to organisms and ecosystems.

Why thank you for that, the Amateur Entomologists’ Society!

I go over to the cow field. I can hear sheep and lambs from across the valley, plaintively calling to one another. Standing there, the sky a bowl of blue, I count fourteen Buzzards above, wheeling on the thermals and crying their eerie cries. I don’t know, but I would hazard a guess that they are simply, like me, having a good time. Rabbits run in and out of the gorse bushes down the centre of the field, flashes of white and brown amongst the acid yellow and though their numbers are too plentiful (breeding like…! and no serious predators, apart from a ginger cat) who could begrudge their hoppity heaven today?

The cows are looking pretty, their ruddy coats shining in the sun. After a while they approach and both Lucy and Mary-Rose ask to be scratched. They stand happily either side of me, while Belita tentatively sniffs my face with her gentle pink nose. To think they were so terrified when they arrived and now this. Happy.

Traditional Hereford Heifers www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Coming back I meet Mr. Pheasant who has made regular visits this winter. A little Wren dips in and out of a thicket, and a Wagtail, the first I’ve seen this year, sits atop the shippen roof surveying the scene.

Male Pheasant www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Violets, Stitchwort and Celandine are beginning to peep out from the hedgebanks. Dandelions are waiting for the bees. Where are the bees?

Dandelion www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

I’m waiting for you bees…

I nibble on a disc of Navelwort.

Navelwort www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

I could be salad material

A bout of spontaneous seed sowing comes on…

Orlaya grandiflora

Nicotiana sylvestris

Nicotiana Lime Green

Seed sowing www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Ammi majus

Cosmos sulphureus Cosmic Orange

Rudbeckia hirta Prairie Sun

Seed Sowing www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Then I admire B’s artwork…

Barbed Wire Ball Artwork www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Later, I lie on the grass under the big sycamore. The still bare branches reach toward a pale moon, bursting with shimmering buds. I can feel the earth is still damp and cold but the warmed grass is an eiderdown beneath me. I am lost. My eyes close.

Sycamore Buds www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Sycamore Buds & Moon www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comLooking Up through a Sycamore www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

What about an International Day of Inefficiency? Come on, we can do it!

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I did a job the other day…

In amongst moments like…

Our friend M welding the gate hinge which has been broken for years. Thank you. Hurrah.

Farm Gate Hinge www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Through the Farm Gate www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comOur friend R bringing round some cucumbers from his polytunnel. Thank you. Yum, raita, tzatziki.

Cucumbers on Board www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Seeing for the first time the cows using their shelter. Happy.

Traditional Herefords in Shed www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Admiring the recycled rubber tyre feeders I bought from the farm shop. Threes, I love them.

Recycled Rubber Tyre Feeders  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Traditional English Herefords Feeding  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comWondering when we’ll ever get that chestnut fencing done. One day.

Chestnut Fencing Stakes  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Feeling sorry for a grasshopper who was desperate to get warm on the front step. Life and death.

Grasshopper on Slate  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

And just revelling in this shaft of sunlight that fell on the hay. Beautiful.

Shaft of Sunlight on Hay  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

…I did actually mend the blockhouse roof. It’s called the blockhouse because it’s built from concrete blocks. There are quite a few farm buildings and a clear naming delineation is crucial – otherwise you can find yourself run ragged looking for that piece of wire mesh, remember? (no)

It’s attached to the shippen (Cornish name for a cow barn) and is really very ugly. I had plans for its demise until we realised that any dry space is essential. You’ve got to remember that we live in a place where you get a fine coating of mould on a leather bag if you leave it in the corner of a room for longer than a month or two – and that’s in the house.

Anyway, time to introduce you to Farmers Friend – tar paint. We discovered a while back that painting strips of newspaper with it and layering it like papier mache created a totally waterproof skin. This was when we were living in the bale house during renovations – a straw bale box, clad in plywood, attached to a caravan. To link the two B used this method and it was brilliant. It allowed for a bit of movement between the two structures and we only had to replenish it in one place in eight years.

The blockhouse has had some holes in the corrugated iron roof for a while but now we want to make it more watertight as we are clearing out the shippen for the cows and some of the accumulated stuff will live in here. Very excited that the shippen will be used for its traditional purpose once again.

Mending Roof with Tar Paint

All set

Mending Roof with Tar Paint

Paint area, cover with newspaper strip.

Mending Roof with Tar Paint  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Paint over with Tar Paint

Roof mended with Tar Paint and Newspaper  www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

Voila!

Thought Number 7 Cows don’t suffer from Status Anxiety

Life seems a process of replacing one anxiety with another and substituting one desire for another – which is not to say that we should never strive to overcome any anxieties or fulfil any desires, but that we should perhaps build into our strivings an awareness of the way our goals promise us levels of rest and resolution that they cannot, by definition, deliver.

Well, this is the kind of thing I and many of my friends have been musing on and grappling with for years, put here so eloquently by Alain de Botton in his book Status Anxiety. During a recent conversation with my friends E and G, we agreed that the pursuit of happiness was a non project that needed to be abandoned.

One of the many great things about cows is they don’t seem to suffer from this very human affliction. They may have a pecking order but once that’s established they just get on with life. Their meditation is eating grass and ruminating. I shall take note.

Introducing the cows…

Hello I’m Belita. I’m small and perfectly formed though I’m rather timid. Lucy is my big sister and she really bosses me around. 

 

Hello I’m Lucy. I’ve got big horns and I’m quite a beauty with a strong character.

Hello I’m Mary-Rose. To be honest you won’t find me in the show ring but all this pedigree nonsense is eugenics by another name isn’t it?

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