After yesterday’s hustle-&-bustle,
today was mercifully peaceful: though this gave us an ever-frustrating opportunity to ‘take stock’ reference the latest FMD crisis. Far from learning from the August outbreak it seems DEFRA have pathetically wilted still further under commercio-Governmental pressure; as the complete movement ban is already to be relaxed for the allowance of transporting livestock directly to slaughter. As the Protection & Surveillance Zones currently encompass some of the UK’s busiest traffic routes – including the M3/M4/M25 confluences – this extraordinarily premature move (especially considering FMD was clearly not eradicated as so confidently suggested, only one short week ago owing to ill-advised clamour to return things to ‘normal’) appears foolhardy in the extreme. The disease is notoriously tricky to eradicate & notoriously sticky when it comes to attaching itself to footwear, clothing, vehicles etc. Yet, here we go again: merrily bending to Industry pressure already & allowing movement of animals over considerable distances albeit they won’t survive their terminal destinations (regardless the latent spores of disease undoubtedly will). Of course, those who are ‘bumping their gums’ about losing so many £millions per day, are the same intensive, insensitive factory farmers who wouldn’t bat an eyelid if their herds had to be culled: after all, that’s part of the ‘game’ & they would be suitably compensated for the inconvenience. But for us – the ‘little people’, & others like us? This is not only our livelihood, it’s our life: so ‘thanks but no thanks’, DEFRA/State Veterinary Service: we’d rather put a very firm lid on it. Now. Immediately. Crikey; I can honestly appreciate why so many farmers were driven to suicide with the 2000-2001 fiasco…..let’s hope this is not the tip of the next agricultural iceberg. Mr ‘el presidente’ Brown, I’m afraid you have blood on your hands, if it is.
The sun shone benignly if with somewhat scant warmth, over the Allt Ddu (‘Black Wood’): the autumnal colours ever-more apparent. Curiously, the eastern edge of the wood is bedecked with far stronger shades of gold & orange, than is the gentle curve of the valley to the west; & the birch trees nestling towards the fall of the river down from Moelfre have already all but lost their fragile little arrowhead leaves, standing as dark skeletons amidst the brighter greens of hazel & ash. The deep, mysterious darkness of the oaks is touched with a tangerine-red hue; & the beeches are a mantle of magnificent crisp colour as they succumb to the increasingly cooler evening air & ever-shortening length of the days. It cannot be long, now, before the swallows bid us a final farewell; in fact I can scarce disguise my delight as they come hurtling back into the barn each evening, filling the air with homecoming clarion calls & lining up neatly on their chosen, broad-beamed roost before the sanctity of silence pervades the Ffarm for another tranquil night’s slumber.
Our day was marked with careful ease, as I continued to rest my wounded wrist & Tony tended to the animals’ needs on my behalf. I assisted where possible with the evening chores, Tony relaxed & chatty to his ladies in the milking parlour whilst I buzzed around with feeding & cleaning the other gaggles of rumbling, hungry tummies, as well as catching an escapee Harebell Hen, who had decided that the freedom to roam father afield than wisely allowed was much more fun than foraging with the flock – until dusk fell & the unfortunately ever-present threat of Mr Fox loomed large, red & voraciously greedy, that is. Having already successfully swooped around like a cream-faced lunatic after Harebell’s two other errant colleagues earlier in the day armed with what looks like an oversized butterfly net, I gently managed to retrieve her from an impromptu roost & relievedly returned her to the safety of the Ark in which she resides with her pals.
A simple supper of fresh green salad, crisp-crusted garlic bread & a dish of plump, juicy mussels steeped in tempting garlic & white wine sauce rounded off the day very neatly, before an early night in anticipation of Tony’s early start to Aleppo, on the morrow. And the shiver of a lonely owl’s voice echoed mournfully across the wooded valley as the lights went out, one by one, across the world….