I’ve got a lovely little snippet of minutiae for you this week. It places me quite neatly, and if you ‘get it’, it’ll place you as well. I slipped off with my lorry last week to pick up a bit of timber a pal had cut for me- we didn’t have the right logs for this order, so I phoned a friend. He’s got a very capable son who does a lot of the work in the mill now, and twas the son who received me, and helped rope my load on. And here’s the thing. Although he’d be very much of the ratchet strap generation, he was quite at home roping down one side of my truck as I did the other, throwing a coil between us as we went. To be completely candid, I wouldn’t say his hitches were the neatest I’ve seen –and it is a matter of lore that no 2 men will tie a wagoner’s hitch the same, or even give it the same name- but they were functional. If you’re all adrift already, I should explain that while my rope craft is very poor, and I know very few knots –I live too far from the sea, so don’t do the nautical thing- this particular knot is the universal one to use when tying a load onto a lorry, bale trailer, or horse drawn cart. It can be tightened down murder tight, especially when doubled up, but can simply be flicked apart when you want to unload. Or at least, it was universal until the dawn of the ratchet strap era, when suddenly it became obsolete. It’s now mostly a knack amongst us oldies, dating from carting little bales and the like decades ago, which we can still fasten with eyes...
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I’ve found out that I’m being manipulated. See, if you start digging, there seem to be thousands of folk who earnestly believe that the media is being controlled by dark oppressive forces…man. ‘They’ are keeping you in fear, so you go on buying consumer goods, and don’t rise up in revolt. There are supposedly loads of stories which the so called ‘Mainstream media’- or MSM- won’t touch, due to pressure from Rupert Murdoch, David Cameron, The Bush family, and very likely Uncle Tom Cobley and all. It’s a conspiracy to keep us down, comrades.
Now we all know these people have been around for ever, and I’ve always regarded them as rather sorry victims, believing their own b*llsh*t. The difference is that now they’re all in touch with each other on the social media, and can infinitely feed off one another. To prove the Paris terrorist attacks were the covert work of Western governments – and I promise you, there are people convinced this is the case- they pick away at the reported story, sharing links to dodgy made-up websites reinforcing their theory. They can take an ounce of coincidence or ignorant incompetence –such as various acts of Western interference in the Middle East- and turn it into a wholesale mountain of conspiracy to promote bloodshed and misery in the interests of commerce. Hardly any aspect of domestic or international affairs is happening because…well, because stuff happens. It’s ALL a mesh of intrigue and skulduggery.
Donald Trump isn’t rising up...Comments: 1 Views: 467Continue reading»
Like everyone else, I’m so very sad to hear of the passing of both National treasure Terry Wogan, and local icon, Tony Beard. I’d seen the ‘Wag’, as the latter was known, quite recently at a social, where we’d had a good chat. I knew he’d been unwell, but found him chipper, on the ball, and as good a company as ever. Our chat ranged across a smorgasbord of unlikely topics, and I assure you he had a keen eye, and was a more acute observer than his easy ambivalence might imply. His knowledge of the countryside around him, and everything in it, was encyclopaedic, and rightly legendary. Dartmoor is poorer for his leaving us.
And as for Terry Wogan, who seemed to have been whiffling away on the radio all my life, it was only comparatively late in the day that I’d ‘tuned in’ to the fuller extent of his humour. I suppose I just hadn’t been paying attention, as he rabbited away about fighting the fat, and pulling the Eurovision leg. Then one day I happened to hear one of those nonsense stories about ‘Janet and John’……and the penny dropped. And oh my goodness, once you’d picked up the thread, you were left alternatively wandering how on earth he got away with it….and guffawing out loud. To be fair, poor Terry couldn’t always get to the end of those innocent little tales without losing it himself. Bless him.
I shall miss both of them, each for his own special intrinsic value.
Onwards then. I see that twit Donald Trump has suffered a bit of a setback, so there might be...Views: 486Continue reading»
Because it’s a vulgar subject, it’s best to avoid talking about money. Funnily enough though, I find when it’s a bit scarce, it tends to be on your mind more. And as you may have heard, the EU subsidies with which us feather bedded farmers are showered are running somewhat behind schedule. And however vulgar it might be, it’s become something of a talking point. The nitty gritty is that the UKs method of organising these payments crash landed last spring amidst the smoking ruins of another attempt by Government to computerise everything, and DEFRA have been playing catch up ever since.
Up in the hills where many of us share common grazing, a row over how DEFRA share out the cookies has led to a further delay. A court case in Gloucester went the way of the commoners, and the decision is relevant to the whole country, which has got dozens of RPA staff trying to resolve the legal and financial fallout.
Such farmers, whose payments are known to be some way off, have had so called ‘letters of doom’, warning them not to expect payment anytime soon. I’ve had 2 such letters, and calculations within the industry suggest it could take until mid-May to process everyone. And where I’m sitting, mid-May is a long long way off.
Now I’m not proud that my farming relies on the payments- I would much prefer the value of my outputs covered the cost of my inputs and left me a profit. As you know, I’ve other strings to my bow –thank goodness- and I’m quite at ease living off the...Comments: 12 Views: 973Continue reading»
I think we’d better have a little talk about what happened in the snow last weekend. Living and working on Dartmoor, we all know that a bit of snow on the moors will out bring droves of ‘townies’ at the first chance. For us, it’s an occupational hazard. The media will delight in starting it off by showing some shivering child building a snowman beside the main road. There’ll soon be the weekend warriors, in their souped up 4x4s, wanting to show how macho they are with knobbly great wide tyres and ‘Paris/Dakar Rally’ stickers in the window. The fact that they’re mostly accountants and kindergarten teachers by day, and that the jeeps are just toys, doesn’t stop them blocking the lanes and generally getting in my way. Happily, they usually slide into a protruding granite boulder soon enough, bashing in their SuperButchMacMudPlugger 500, and have to limp home. Then, once ordinary cars are travelling, there’s motorists crowding the arteries. They too get stuck, astonished that snow and ice are slippery.
Lots of them stop to feed the ponies beside the roads, although curiously they seldom stick around to see what happens when the ponies hang around the roadsides as the sun dips. For then, on foggy winter nights, the same poor creatures get smashed into messy pieces. It’s a shame the idiots who encourage the mares to come to cars don’t then have to scrape up the intestines, or shoot those in agony with flailing broken legs. Hey-ho.
And if there’s been no snow on lower...Comments: 2 Views: 803Continue reading»
As soon as I heard about the ugly scenes in Cologne over New Year, my heart sank. As you’ve been hearing, a group of over 1000 - apparently- ‘North African or Arab’ young men went on the town, behaving….er…unacceptably, as police stood by. It sounded pretty ugly, given that the perpetrators seemed overwhelmingly to be recent guests. Several hundred complaints have been made, many of them of sexual assault, along with bag snatching and rape. Straight away, the assumption was that this might’ve been the work of feckless refugees, which would in turn inflame German indignation, and create further fallout. And while it was probably coincidental, as investigations started, those icons of liberal modernity, Sweden and Denmark were wrangling over closing borders to migrants without documents, and assorted firebrands were jumping on the bandwagon. Inside Germany, the self-same welcoming liberal ideology which has embraced over a million refugees inside 12 months was outraged. Protests –and counter protests- have been held, with the German people struggling to confront their feelings. Modern Germany has always got the spectre of its past looking over its shoulder, which must shape their reactions.
Presumably in political fear of her job, Chancellor Merkel quickly responded that she’ll change the law so anyone who’s turned up pleading asylum, and then committed such offences, will be thrown out of the country. To which the UN and just about everyone else has said ‘fair do’s’....Comments: 1 Views: 792Continue reading»
FSOOTY is back again for 2016, with a slightly different format, but with the same ethos. To find the best Farm Sprayer Operator in the the UK. As always the Award will be presented at the Cereals show in June and there will be an Awards dinner the night before.
This year TFF are helping Syngenta organise and promote the awards and the Farmers themselves who take part in the competition. Last year our very own @Rob Holmes made it to the finals and it was great to see him with his trophy at Cereals 2015. I'm sure many of you saw our coverage on Twitter and TFF.
If you are interested in entering this year please have a read of the below and feel free to ask any questions. You don't need to be a TFF member to enter so we would really appreciate it if everyone would spread the competition on Social Media and to all their friends by email.
The application of crop protection products is one of the most complex challenges faced on farm. From filling the sprayer, through applying the spray to disposing of the empty containers, the operator is faced with many possible ways of doing the job.
The use of plant protection products is under constant scrutiny, so it is important to use them safely and efficiently in a way that meets crop needs, as well as public, operator and environmental safety.
It’s a tricky balance, but for many...Comments: 61 Views: 9084Continue reading»
Another passing year reminds me that the fluttering noise at my shoulder is the calendar pages aturning, flapping past like you might flick the pages of a book past your thumb. Well, it’s beginning to feel like it. Various minutiae focus my attention, some painful, others annoying, a few poignant.
One of the more frustrating signs that the bloke with the scythe will eventually find me is the writing on the penicillin bottle. See, in this brave new world, jabbing a wheezy weaned calf, or a poorly ewe before she gets whiffy, is only half the job. The more important bit is entering the details in the medicine record, in case I forget I’ve jabbed one of them, and present them for slaughter. Quite which butcher would wish to purchase this wheezy calf isn’t clear, but rules is rules guv. And here’s the problem, retention times, dosage details and batch numbers are written in writing so tiny I’m beginning to think I’d better get a magnifying glass, al la Sherlock Holmes.
In my defence, I don’t think it’s just my failing eyesight –which was in fact tested backalong as ‘better than mine Mr Coaker’. I suspect that there’s so much detail required these days that the writing has to be tiny to fit in on the bottle. For good measure, the vet also attaches a handwritten sticky label reminding me which wheezy calf to jab, and his label covers up half of the printed detail. It’s all a bother, really it is. And before we move on, I should tell you about a very expensive pour-on...Views: 493Continue reading»
The Chairman of the Environment Agency Sir Philip Dilley has today resigned from his position.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
Today I have accepted Sir Philip Dilley’s resignation and I would like to thank him for his work as Chairman of the Environment Agency.
He has ably led the Environment Agency through some challenging times and leaves it a much better organisation, as shown in its excellent response to the recent flooding which saw staff working around the clock to protect and help thousands of people across the country.
It is important that the Environment Agency continues to have a strong leadership team and its Chief Executive Sir James Bevan will continue his excellent work heading up the operational and day-to-day running of the organisation. The current Deputy Chairman, Emma Howard Boyd, has agreed to become Acting Chairman with immediate effect and will lead the board in holding the agency to account. We will begin the task of recruiting a permanent replacement in due course.
In a statement issued today, Sir Philip said:
I have today told the Secretary of State of my decision to step down as Chairman of the Environment Agency, and she has accepted my resignation.
I am well qualified to carry out this role, and had much to contribute. I fully support the Secretary of State’s reform agenda to deliver efficiency as well as a better, more joined-up service to our stakeholders and the public, and so I am disappointed that I will not now see...Comments: 43 Views: 3313Continue reading»
The comment is brilliant as well
Anton Coaker: End the blame game and give hill farmers credit for flood alleviation
By Western Morning News | Posted: January 06, 2016
OK then, extreme rainfall events, floods, and how it’s all supposedly my fault because I’ve got too many sheep.
Let’s start with ‘all this rain’. Global weather systems naturally oscillate, and one phase of this gigantic shuffling– a huge swell of warmer water flowing across the Pacific- is known as ‘El Nino’. And we’re in one right now, which NASA says is as significant as the previous most extreme one in 1997. They’re known to upset weather patterns worldwide, and it’s very likely a contributory factor.
And we absolutely have had rain like this before. The 13 inches in 24 hours in Northern England last month might’ve been a record, but there are plenty of extremes recorded over the decades. The Lynmouth disaster in 1952 was caused by nine inches of rain falling high on Exmoor in 12 hours, while the 2004 Boscastle flood followed three inches in a single hour, both occurring in August.
Our nation sticks out into the north Atlantic, in the path of an immense ocean current....Comments: 7 Views: 835Continue reading»
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