Oooh dearie me,
it would seem like that fine 80’s anthem – ‘Happy Hour’ by the Housemartins – is about to be confined to the annals of history by our increasingly dour (if that’s possible) Prime Minister: the stricter-than-strict Scottish preacher’s son, Mr Gordon “even-smiling-makes-my-face-ache¹” Brown. Preaching against the evils of drink the Labour Party is seeking to ban the time-old institution of Happy Hour. Mind you, despite fond teenage memories associated with said Housemartins song I must say that if people can’t cope with tempering their, err, intemperance then perhaps steps should be taken to make ours a more sober society; especially as it seems that the levels of violence in cities & homes has increased owing to excessive imbibing. But will it work…?
And with so very many more pubs closing per week owing to the failing economy, this might prove the nail in the coffin for other failing businesses: it’s not just the pubs themselves, nor the brewers who suffer; but the food producers, the cleaning products companies, the hardware companies, the accoutants, the locally employed & so on & so forth…..food (& drink) for thought.
Meanwhile the majority of the threatened gales & rain have thankfully held off, here; although the sodden fields & our (ahem) “rescalped” driveway, bear witness to the sheer volume of rainfall which has saturated the land over the past uncomfortable couple of days: which have witnessed winds; & rain; & winds; & hail; & winds; & thunder & lightning; & winds; & even heavier rain….yuk.
We’d got to the point where Something Had To Be Done. Having only collectively moved the horses, ponies & sheep to the sanctuary of Parc Dyffryn just over a week ago to cushion the blows (& bangs) of the most enthusiastic fireworks up on the hill in the little village which crests the valley ridge to the North, I’d been confident that there’d be sufficient grazing for everyone, at least up until the beginning of December.
But only a week later, whilst the sturdy hedgeline to the West & windbreak of trees to the southerly edge of the wood in comforting lee of the valley’s slope thereunder were providing ample shelter for all creatures great & small, the grazing was already trodden & sodden: with the very fabric of our grazing, again threatened for another year.
As Tony was again away busy studying for his Induction Course I decided to take matters into my own hands & move the stock onto higher, free-draining land. But whilst superficially an easy task, for a single shepherdess with only an overenthusiastic puppy for help it proved more of a Herculean effort than it might at first appear…..
When I first opened the gate to Parc Tu ol Tÿ (the field behind the house) things initially seemed easy, if somewhat messy: the sheep skittered obligingly exactly where I wanted them to go, with the ponies & horses hot-footing it after them.
All was well until little skewbald Shetland Sabe decided to come back for me, careering towards me at a flat-out gallop. Only just missing me with a sliding stop which would put a Western roping horse to shame, he was all-too-swiftly joined by the ‘big galoots’ Darwin & Roly; whilst a high-stepping tiny Toto trotted round the field with nostrils flared & tail flagged obviously under the misapprehension that he’d metamorphosised into an Arabian stallion. And whilst I managed to persuade Sabe & Roly to return to the slightly ‘greener grass’ on the other side of the gate, the elegant ‘Black Beauty’ lookalike Darwin stubbornly refused to oblige.
With little other choice in the matter, I left Brynn in the orchard whilst quietly persuading the sheep to move into the verdant pasture of Caravan Corner – managing to close the gate in the literal nick of time before the nosy ponies came thundering up the hill behind them, the wethers having proved their typically awkward selves by stalling stubbornly in the gateway at the very last moment before an irate ewe – the wooly blonde, Camilla who was heading up the rearguard – thankfully took the initiative & whalloped them through the swiftly-closing gap.
I then had to sprint back down a few treacherous fields to reunite the now increasingly anxious & noisy Darwin with his cheeky chums – before he attemped to jump the gate unaided, with a slippery quagmire on either side to hinder his progress. Thankfully he proved much more obliging now he had to rely on me to realise his pastoral idyll; so this chapter had a happy ending at least.
Another sprint was on the cards as I switched off the electric fence in order to rustle up some hasty rearrangement without electrocuting either me or Brynn, up on the better-drained pasture of Parc Carreg Gwen; after which I persuaded our erstwhile equines to join me on the higher ground.
But the fun wasn’t over, yet; walking back across the fields to the Ffarmyard I found that the highly excited horses had badly poached the already fragile pasture to a muddy pulp. Thus I spent a ‘happy hour’, following in the literally well-heeled footsteps of far wealthier & elegantly suited-&-booted ladies, than I, “treading the divots” as is time-honoured tradition at polo matches.
My attire was a little more modest: a padded shirt; jeans; & wellies with more holes than a lace doily. I was of course aided by Brynn; who thought it was a great game to run behind me & ‘retrieve’ each piece of turf after I’d firmed it down, extending the duration of the task until I literally just made it back to the cottage as the forecast rains set in once more.
Relaxing with a quick cuppa before ploughing on with Yet More Paperwork, I found no solace in the news on Radio Four: once again, our dearly beloved PM, Mr Brown, has been sending placatory messages to the nation regarding the state of the economy, promising that food prices will soon drop & should certainly be at a more ‘realistic & affordable level’, by Christmas. This statement has left me not only angry, but also somewhat perplexed.
How on earth can producers bring down the price of food, when it still costs so very much to produce? We certainly haven’t witnessed a reduction in the cost of concentrate feed; hay & straw both cost far more than in previous years owing to the inflated price of fuel over the summer; & the bad weather having caused so many crops to fail has meant that our raw material costs have also increased significantly. If we were to reduce the retail price of our gelato, for example, I suspect it would end up costing us more to produce than to sell, a clearly ridiculous scenario.
What Mr Brown should be doing, is persuading consumers to buy less but buy better quality, more healthy foods – to actually value what they buy, & eat it; rather than taking its cheapness for granted; overpurchasing; & throwing much of it away where it ends up in landfill sites belching out greenhouse gases. That way not only will we have a more prudent nation but a healthier one, too; along with the environmental benefits such education would bring. And that’s what it needs – education. Sadly, it would appear that our leaders are all-too-often woefully lacking in that department…..
¹Quote from the ‘Rocky Horror Show’ – not sure we’d ever catch our PM sporting suspenders & a basque, mind you! Ahh, you’ve got to laugh; or you’d cry…..