Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Getting ready for lambing, Food Security, Old Ecclesiastical Buildings

The ewes have been brought into the large polytunnel prior to the start of lambing which is any time in the next few days. The polytunnel is an ideal lambing shed, light and airy and big enough to have pens erected in one half leaving the rest of the tunnel for the sheep to roam loose. It also opens at one end out into the orchard so once the lambs are big enough they and their mothers can go out onto fresh grass. This is such good time of the year with the arrival of lambs and we are only lambing about 50 yewes nowaday so it is not to onerous though there will no doubt be the usual struggles to keep lambs alive whose mothers reject them or don't have any milk and will have to be bottle fed but hopefully they will be the exception. March is proving to be an interesting month, we have had torrential rain storms and yet the last three or four days have bright, dry, very cold and beautiful though I think more rain is on its way. Still, what is bit of rain and mud compared with what is going on in the outside world! The ongoing tragedy of Ukraine is constantly in our thoughts and that situation, though so far away in terms of miles is affecting us here on the farm as the price of diesel and oil shoots up. Feedstuffs are becoming more expensive almost daily and there is no guarantee of a continued supply. The Ukrainian farmers are unable to get seed to sow for the harvest in what is the breadbasket of Europe, even if they can get to their fields safely. There will almost certainly be shortages of wheat, sunflower seeds and other crops that are needed to feed both people and livestock. It is interesting that the Irish government already is urging its farmers to increase production while the UK government is saying very little, if anything about food security and the need to start growing more. As farmers we will all step up to the mark when required, we just need the word. The cost of farm diesel to run the tractors is going up and domestically I think we are all going to have to turn our heating down a couple of degrees to conserve oil and justify the use of the car as the price at the garage pumps increases. This is all rather a severe approach to the problem at present but needs to be considered. On a more cheerful note the Farmer and I had to journey to Brecon at the weekend, about 60 miles from here for a family celebration and our route took us over the mountains of southern mid-Wales, The day was clear and bright and the scenery in that part of the country is spectcular with vast views across a huge reservoir and empty landscapes with very little habitation until one drops down into the more fertile areas where there are old farms tucked into hillsides sheltering from the elements as they have done for centuries. As well as old farmsteads occasionally one comes across remote chapels built in the 18th century by non-conformist groups who needed places of worship. One of these is a place called Soar-y-Mynydd which is a beautiful, plain whitewashed building set about with beech trees in the middle of nowhere. There are no houses nearby or even many farms though there are signs of old abandoned steadings from long ago. But even so, when it was built ther local population could not have numbered many. Remarkably, services are still held there from time to time. Many of the old chapels in Wales are no longer in use and those that are have dwindling congregations as do many of the churches. Sometimes these old building are sold off and converted into remarkable and quirky homes which seems to me to be a good use for these redundant buildings.

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