Garden blogs

Farming and Wildlife in April

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THE ESTATE FARM: As described in May 2018, the Botanic Garden covers about 568 acres of which farmland is 316 acres including 100 acres of woodland. There are 25 head of pedigree Welsh Black beef cows and 30 non-pedigree Balwen ewes and their 35 lambs, with the permanent and flower-rich grassland of the Waun Las National Nature Reserve being grazed and cut for hay.

EVEN AT END OF MARCH there were rumours of people who had been seen by their neighbours to be mowing the lawn in their front gardens! Yes, it is surprising isn’t it although – whether this unseasonal activity was because the grass growth warranted cutting or merely because the person cutting the grass wanted their neighbours to see how efficient and ‘ahead of the others’ they were! Do you remember the discussion in Farming & Wildlife Newsletter in March, when the soil temperature at 6 inches below ground level was discussed and how there was a computer link to 10 sites in Wales that recorded this temperature every day and made it available on-line? Well, the nearest site to the Botanic Garden is at Ty Castell, near Capel Dewi, and on 24 March the temperature at 6 inches below ground level was recorded there at 9.2o C – which is 490 F – and above the temperature needed for grass growth. By 25 April the soil temperature there was 11.40 C – that’s nearly 530 F, so maybe these lawns really are growing! The link is:

https://businesswales.gov.wales/farmingconnect/information-hub/soil-temperature/060_9128

Apparently, UK people have a reputation for being obsessed with the weather! Much of the reasoning for this of course is our status as an island with a maritime climate notorious for its variability – so there’s always something for us to talk about! Country people with weather concerns is understandable perhaps, but people in towns and cities as well? Perhaps it’s a cultural throwback to the times when all of us – except the higher echelons of society of course – were food producers and farmers?

Anyway, driving from Carmarthen to Builth Wells at the end of March and – as usual – couldn’t help but look over the hedge, at the fields on either side of the road, to see what was going on there and how it compared to back home! Few cattle out but plenty of Ewes, some with lambs and some still ‘barrel-shaped’ and just waiting – and eating – for the promised day of lambing. Not that there seemed to be much grass to eat – especially between Llandovery and Builth because of the height above sea level and later Spring growth perhaps. Mind you, the older shepherds always used to say:

“If the field has as much grass that you could mow with your lawnmower in the front garden, then there’s enough grass there for a sheep to eat!”

So it should all be alright shouldn’t it – unless of course there is a ‘delayed ‘beast from the east’ this year and if any grass that has grown is ‘scorched off’ by a freezing East Wind?

FAIR BIT OF WIND AND RAIN in March, wasn’t there – with some Flood Warnings and full streams as well. But you know, we tend to take the water that we use in the house completely for granted – just open the tap and out the water flows. We may not like paying Dwr Cymru for it but – unless there’s been some damage to the pipework somewhere along the line, the water comes every day and all day if we want it.

About 95% of water supplies in this region come from surface water either as lake storage or direct from rivers – unlike some places in England where almost all comes from groundwater sources[1]. According to Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water, the normal domestic use for a 3-person family would be about 120 cubic metres of water each year which is 120,000 litres or 2,661 gallons. And this is just piped to our taps and shower heads!

Have our households always used as much water as this? No – they haven’t, and it’s because we now have water so easily available that we tend to manage it rather less well now than we used to! In most rural areas, domestic houses often weren’t connected to the mains supply until the 1960s and relied upon water siphoned to the house from a stream or pond or – if lucky – then they lived on a soil-type in which a well was possible and so they could draw it out by bucket!

Watering a house is one thing, but a farm is much more difficult. A milking cow giving 20 litres of milk each day would need 110 litres of drinking water; another 25-30 litres would be needed per cow for cleaning milking machines, bulk milk tanks and other equipment – totalling about 140 litres per cow per day. More about farm water supplies – both in the ‘old days’ and then now – in a later month perhaps?

‘THEY BREED JUST LIKE RABBITS, YOU KNOW!’ Perhaps not too surprising because they are Rabbits and have a breeding season from January to August and – with a 29-30 day gestation period and 4-8 young at each birth – reproduce incredibly fast!

Looking at rabbits rushing around a field the other day stimulated a memory of a bygone era, a particular song and a book. The song came to mind and was remembered first of course; ‘Bright Eyes’ sung by Art Garfunkel for the film of the same name:

Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes

This song was top of the UK Hit Parade for more than 10 weeks, and in the days when songs were sold to the public on vinyl records, sold more than 1 million of them; meaning that it was rather well liked by the public! Well the book about the rabbits was written by Richard Adams, printed in 1972 and called ‘Watership Down’ and apparently the author didn’t like the song at all!

The story is about a group of rabbits, the relationships between members within the group and the competition both within and outside the group for access to the ‘females of the species’. About Rabbits we will come back on another occasion perhaps, but this competition described in Watership Down does seem to reflect that competition between most species over the globe. Most noticeably of course, we see and hear about the competition between groups of humans in our BBC News Bulletins each and every day!

COMPETITION AND FUN AND GAMES: When in normal everyday language we hear or use the word competition, we tend to think of sporting events, don’t we? Yes, football, rugby, cricket, hockey, darts and snooker and then there are all these TV competitions pitting ordinary people and/or so-called celebrities against each other and/or the environment in performing a game or tasks that would appear to be totally non-sensical!

These competitions would appear to be increasingly numerous – possibly because the TV channels have to fill their programmes with something that is deemed to be watchable. There do seem to be so many World, Olympic, European, Masters and Regional/National Championships for serious professional sports including horse-racing, plus of course all the competitions that offer ‘something for nothing’ to the potential players – Lotteries of various sorts for example. Then there’s the TV competitions for singing, dancing, loving, being ‘a celebrity and getting out of here’, and ‘reality TV’ competitions like Big Brother. All absolutely fascinating of course and having to be accompanied by the ‘compulsory audience participation hysteria’ of shouting and crying and jumping about when a contestant is successful. Professional footballers all seem to become totally ‘euphoric’ as well of course with when a goal has been scored, by much jumping upon the goal-scorer to ‘kiss and cuddle’ – a habit that seems to have transferred into rugby and most other team games as well.

Having worked for many years in a building in Rome that overlooked the Coliseum – where 2,000 years ago, people were brought together to fight and kill or be killed for the amusement of the Roman populace – it is easy to view modern day entertainments as merely the evolution of those original Coliseum ‘sporting events’ into today’s more sensitive environment in which the deliberate damage to human protagonists is no longer permitted[2].

But what on earth has all this got to do with Farming & Wildlife, anyway? Perhaps it’s because entertainment by and for humans has always had that competitive element – evolving and changing over time with new sports and entertainments being devised. Who would have thought that Snooker would have changed from being a small-time game played by the aristocracy in their Gentlemen’s Clubs’ to being a professional sport with huge prize money, or that Darts has similarly moved from being a game played ‘over a pint’ in the village pub – to having a wide circuit of events involving players from many countries.

In recent times, the involvement of animals in so-called ‘human sports’ has changed also: fox-hunting, badger-baiting, otter hunting and cock-fighting are no longer allowed and other ‘countryside sports’ such as fishing and shooting have fairly tight seasonal and time limits.   Wales has 308,000 ha of woodland and this amounts to about 15% of the total land area. One can only guess how much less woodland there would be in Wales now if the landlords and estate owners hadn’t stopped their tenants from deforesting more land for food production on the rented farms, as they wanted to keep large areas of woodland in various places for their hunting and shooting?

THE LAMBING SEASON is beginning to slow down now and it’s mostly only the hill farms that still have ewes that haven’t lambed yet. But, as you know from your own observations, some farmers must still spend a substantial amount of their time leaning on the gate, intensively scrutinising ewe and lamb activity in the field in front of them. What are they looking for do you think? Well all the usual things like ewes or lambs limping or lying by themselves away from the rest of the flock, of course.

Often the ewe lying by herself will just be a sign of her either lambing already or getting ready to start lambing and so the farmer may want to keep an eye on her and make sure that next time he, his wife or staff are in the field, she is checked over to see if there is a problem that needs some help.

Sometimes though, a single ewe – and especially a ewe of 4-5 years – not feeding, standing or lying alone or generally looking ‘out of sorts’ especially in the last 3-4 weeks of the 5-month gestation period – can be a sign that she is having troubles with her ‘nutritional intake’. But what’s that you ask, and why is it important? Well, those ewes of 4-5 years old – just like with female humans, perhaps – if carrying twins, triplets or other multiples then have energy and mineral/vitamin requirements that much greater than if only carrying a single lamb[3]. It makes sense, doesn’t it? So the farmer has to give extra energy, protein and mineral feed to ewes in later pregnancy. But if the Ewe has only a single lamb, then it is very easy to over-feed her and the lamb will grow sometimes too large and prolapses become common.

So, many farmers bring in a ‘scanning contractor’, usually when most of the flock is 10-12 weeks into their pregnancy – this is about half-way through. If they try to scan much earlier than this – then the embryo is too small to see easily, and if much later – then any embryos are too large and difficult to decide whether two, three or more are pictured on the scanning screen! These scanning contractors are skilful and fast usually scanning 50-60 ewes each hour at a cost of about £0.60 per ewe scanned. As the ewe goes through the scanning and past the scanning contractor, it is colour marked on its neck depending on being empty, or with single, twins, triplets and other multiples. The farmer then separates these into different groups and feeds according to the number of scanned lambs: so ewes with singles may get little extra cereal in the form of cake and mainly just grass; ewes with twins are given perhaps a daily cupful of cereals and; those ewes with triplets would get rather more.

The idea is that the single lamb ewe should get just enough energy, proteins, minerals and vitamins in the diet to nourish the lamb but not too much so that the growing lamb becomes over fat and causes difficulties at lambing time. It’s exactly the same for ewes that are carrying twins – but feeding more than a ewe with singles – and the rare ewe with triplets a little bit more.

In any commercial flock, these ewes with triplets are always a bit of a nuisance. But why is that? Well, the ewe only has two teats and there are three lambs that all want to suckle at the same time! The problem is that unless one triplet can be adopted by a ewe that has plenty of milk, but only a single lamb, then the weakest triplet usually gets ‘the short straw’ and manages to drink less milk as it gets ‘shouldered out of the way’, when trying to reach one of the only two teats, and grows at a slower rate than do the two strongest lambs.  OK, so there are ways of persuading one of the triplets to suck on a teat from a bottle of prepared milk but – if you have an average size flock in Wales of 650 ewes[4] – then there’s probably plenty of other things to worry about than unwanted multiple births! Mind you, if read that superb book[5] about sheep farming during the early 1940s in Snowdonia National Park; it’ll tell you about lamb losses and adoptions when there was much more labour on the farm than there is now! More of that another time, perhaps?

But you ask, what happens if the ewe – whether she’s carrying a single, twins, triplets or more – is underfed or jut not eating because of being bullied, lame or just not active when being fed? Well, without enough energy to maintain herself and the lambs being carried, the ewe has to break down her store of body fat to create energy, but this also produces toxins. And the effect of these toxins is to leave the ewe standing on her own, being unsteady on her feet, tending to blindness and lying down in a disease known as ‘Twin Lamb Disease’. This is one of those ‘really nasty’ complaints because if one ewe is identified with this metabolic condition, then she is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg with several or more ewes being affected as well. Nearly always seen 3-4 weeks before lambing, farmers have to act fast to provide a rapidly available energy source – often as a drench such as ‘propylene glycol’ or one of the several available ‘glucose and calcium’ injections readily available. But perhaps it’s better to scan the ewes early in pregnancy – to separate the ewes into groups of similar body condition – and then to feed enough energy to enable each ewe to be able to lamb down without having to use her own body fat as an energy source.

It’s really one of those Diseases that every sheep farmer knows about – despairs about – and tries to feed the ewes to prevent it happening. It’s that ‘thing’ that tends to be on the mind after that nightmare and when waking up at 2.30 am on a wet and windy night in early February before lambing starts!

OK, SO WHAT SORT OF LAMBING SEASON HAS IT BEEN SO FAR? Well, if you ask a sheep farmer now then probably they’ll prevaricate –

“Well you know, it’s better than last year with the ‘Beast from the East’ -but there’s still a long way to go, isn’t there!”

Ask for more details like how many lambs per ewe – aka ‘lambing percent’[6] – and the sheep farmer will get even quieter than before. Why’s this, do you think? Well no one likes to ‘jump to conclusions’ and to tell their friends and neighbours how good the lambing season has been, only then for some unexpected event or disease outbreak before you sell the lambs to make you look a complete fool.

It’s not just farmers who take this attitude either, as Kenny Rogers – the well-known American Country music singer – describes in the song called ‘The Gambler’ in which the sensible gambler doesn’t predict his future luck whilst still playing – but plays on until it’s over:

You never count your money
When you’re sitting at the table
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealing’s done

USING WILD ANIMALS has always been one of those activities in which – if there is money to be made – then there is a danger of the animal in question being exploited by us humans. Although you personally may not want any Rhinoceros Horn for the handle of your own ‘ceremonial knife’ or ‘medical idiosyncrasy, or even any Elephant Tusk to carve ‘netsuke’ fasteners for your kimono, these are just the modern day examples of materials from animals that are worth ‘big money’ and are therefore ‘harvested’ by people to sell to make a ‘living’;

In Farming and Wildlife Newsletter in March, we talked of the demise of the Passenger Pigeon in North America during the 1700s and 1800s, when this bird that reputedly numbered more than 30 billion, was made extinct after years of relentless hunting for processing and sales for human food.

But that was just a bird you say and surely that wouldn’t happen to anything larger, would it? Well the same end result of extinction almost happened in North America with the American Bison[7] which numbered less than 100 in the wild in the early 1900s – down from an estimated 30-60 million when Europeans started migrating to the US in the early 1600s. Mindless slaughter – mainly for skins for ‘buffalo hide’ – exported to Europe, and tongues for meat. Interestingly, once skinned, the buffalo carcases were just left to rot on the ground, although the skulls and bones were gathered and sent to Eastern US for making fertiliser and fine bone china, as well as being the source of carbon needed for sugar extraction from the sugar cane grown in southern US states.

As with so much of our human activity, this fervent desire to harvest the ‘fruits of the earth’ for our own personal benefit, led to the buffalo’s demise and only when the numbers had reduced to ‘next to nothing’ were any restrictions put on commercial buffalo hunting. Do you think that we have learned any lessons from these examples? Mind you, if you’re penniless, jobless and with no prospects, and living in a country in Central Africa like Zambia with borders to 8 countries[8] – most of them having had armed coups or insurrections in recent years and in which AK47 rifles are easy to find – then poaching Elephant and Rhino for tusks and horns to sell, might seem a way to earn a living, mightn’t it?

OUR FOOD seems to be increasingly in the News media in recent times: how much should we be eating; what food constituents should make up our meals; the benefits and otherwise of sugar and salt in our food, and many more different discussion points as well. Recently met a group of young people in Nott Square, Carmarthen with slogans, posters and leaflets describing the benefits of Veganism. All pleasant people asking about one’s feelings about Veganism, whether one had tried it or might try it in the future and what were the feelings about cruelty to farm animals – including their deaths for human consumption. They managed the discussion well, although the fact that none of them had ever been on a commercial farm rather reduced the impact about their views about ‘on-farm animal cruelty’. Although they realised that a ‘Vegan Revolution’ was unlikely in the short-term – a Welsh Vegan future would be a desirable one!

The wildflower meadows and grassland in both the lowlands and uplands of Wales and how they would survive without grazing or hay making for domesticated livestock hadn’t been considered much. “No, we’ll grow our own food.”

Strangely, none of these Vegans were particularly keen on eating grass – which of course is what the high rainfall and mainly not very fertile land of Wales is most suited to!. And what about our slopes and hills! Well, having worked in the Uplands of Java, where the population does cultivate crops in hills like ours in a topography similar to many places in Wales and as steep and steeper still than The Botanic Garden Farm. But first they had to terrace these slopes to make flat areas that they could cultivate – with ‘bunds’ about 8-12 feet wide on the contours. So the hills have these bunds – just like the tiers on a tiered Wedding or birthday cake but not wide enough for use with either tractor or ox-plough; just using hand ploughs – a bit like the mattocks that we use for digging holes in hard ground, but with a wider blade. The planting is mainly food crops – just as it would be in Vegan Wales – but maize, sorghum and beans of various types. The labour requirement for such cultivation might be a problem for such a farming system in Wales, as at certain times of the season, such hand cultivation systems often need about 2-3 people per acre for land cultivation, planting, weeding, harvesting and cutting the terrace risers to minimise the problems of rainwater runoff causing soil erosion down these slopes.

Most Welsh farms manage with a single worker for every 75 acres [30ha] or so of agricultural land[9] – admittedly with tractors and labour-saving equipment. So, assuming that the world was all to become Vegan and all of Wales’s agricultural land was to grow its own Vegan food, then the workers on the land would have to be mainly hand workers. If labour productivity in Wales was to be the same as in the Javanese Uplands, then the total farm labour force would have to increase by a factor of 150. In other words, the current Welsh farm labour force of 60,000 would have to increase to about 9 million. Hmm, so a Vegan Revolution would have to be a Back to the Land Movement as well to account for the huge amount of hand labour needed! Needs some thinking about doesn’t it! It would certainly take care of future unemployment issues! Mind you, perhaps they would want to increase the area of woodland as well!

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY was one of the first ‘Spaghetti Western films’ of the mid-1960s, with Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach. Not sure which one of them was which in the title, but the girlfriends of that time all seemed to like Clint, so can only assume that he wasn’t the Bad or the Ugly one!

Those of us who are lucky enough to work, pass through or just visit the countryside will know of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly out there, because it isn’t all just roses, is it? Take the Plants for a start – so many of them seem to want to poison, scratch [Bramble, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Gorse] or cause us to develop Septicaemia [Blackthorn] and others just cause hay fever or asthma [grasses in particular]. OK so the Insects are far more lovable aren’t they with the colourful Butterflies, Dragonflies and Beetles. Then when you think about it a bit more, there are the biting flies, stinging bees and wasps, disease carrying mosquitos and the ordinary midges. They do us humans a lot of good as well as harm but – if we are careful – then we can live with them fairly peaceably, can’t we?

If we are looking for the serious zoonoses[10] – and some of these diseases shared by people and vertebrate animals are very common – then look no further than the Leptospira bacteria that cause Leptospirosis – considered the most widespread zoonotic disease in the world, most commonly found in tropical or temperate climates. The disease is spread through the urine of infected wild and domestic animals, including dogs, cattle, pigs, horses, and rodents – they’re rats and mice! Perhaps there’ll be more about zoonoses in future?

LAST MONTH OR THE ONE BEFORE we talked about farming and the relation between farm incomes and those from other professions. Do you remember that the farm income for a typical Lowland beef and sheep farmer in Wales was near the bottom of the list and it only became a liveable income because of the Basic Payments Scheme supporting his income?   Several people have asked:

Why does farming deserve this sort of favourable support – simply for doing the job of producing food? Why should it be treated differently to any other industry?

Hmm, it’s not that easy to answer this question, other than that UK currently produces about one-half of the food supplies bought by its population of 60 plus million. If the farmers that produced this food weren’t given this Basic Payments Scheme income, then many and perhaps most would go out of business. OK, so if farmers do go out of business, then what would happen to the countryside?

Some of it would be bought by the successful big-time farmers to run on ‘an industrial scale’ and some by the ‘builders’ to provide housing for UK’s growing population. Then some would be acquired by people wanting to have a bit of land and to do what they want with it: a pony paddock perhaps; a few goats in a small orchard; put in a pond; plant some trees; keep the grassland and turn it into a track for quad bikes and old ‘bangers’ to race around with their friends and neighbours. Whatever, if farmer numbers reduce – and especially ‘family farms’ owned or rented but managed by a single family – then the Welsh countryside that we see out of the car window as we move from place to place, would change. Will those changes be ones that we will approve of, do you think?

SO, YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO MAY, ARE YOU? That’s fair enough, as May is sometimes a rather special month as the old nursery rhyme or song first recorded by Alice Gomme in The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland (1894-8) tells us. It’s a variant of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush“, with which it shares a tune and closing line.

Here we go gathering nuts in May,

Nuts in May, nuts in May,

Here we go gathering nuts in May,

On a cold and frosty morning.

But surely you say, in May there’s no nuts to be gathered in UK, are they’re? You’re right, but the lyrics are probably a corruption of “knots of May“, referring to the blossom of the Common Hawthorn also known as the May Tree, because it flowers in May. Another possible “nut” that the rhyme might refer to is the corm or tuber of the Umbellifer known as Pignut [Conopodium majus] that is usually flowering in May. Also known as Earthnuts – the white-fleshed tuber root is about the size of a Sweet Chestnutand these were often collected by children from where they grow about 2 inches under the ground. They do actually taste rather good but, with the plants often at low population density, they were not a good use of scarce time for adults looking for viable food source to be gathered quickly and fed to their families!

So May can be warm showers and sunshine, but there’s a great old saying apparently said on May Day – which in medieval and modern Europe is celebrated on May 1st – supposedly being the first day of Spring.

‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’

It was first recorded in writing in 1732, but what does it mean? First, if we take the ‘clout’ part; since around the 15th century the word ‘clout’ has had a few possible meanings. It could mean either a knock on the head, a clump of earth or a part of clothing or clothing itself’. For this ‘ne’er cast a clout’ we assume it to mean a cloth or item of clothing, so taking the phrase literally, it would simply mean ‘don’t take off your winter clothing until the end of May’.

Another possible interpretation of the ‘till May be out’ part is actually until the time when the Hawthorn or May Tree is out in flower. The Hawthorn tree is unmissable in May, with its beautiful and delicate flowers, in this case the ‘May be out’ could very well be an allusion to the flowering of the Hawthorn Tree. Mind you, when this rhyme was written in the 1700’s,  Hawthorn actually did flower in May which is presumably why the tree’s often called May. Now-a-days it’s more likely that the first Hawthorn will be in flower in April and it’s getting earlier as the climate warms up – this year it was in March wasn’t it?

But from the early days of keeping this sort of record, the Field Studies Council tells us that in 88% of the years during the period of 1740-1788, these Hawthorn or May Trees actually did flower in May, whereas in only 40% of years between 1990-2015 was flowering in May and all the rest of the time earlier in April.  Similarly, the average date of May Tree flowering recorded on Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar[11]  is about 3-4 weeks earlier now than it was in the 1970s.  Is this the result of ‘Global Warming’ or is it just the variability of seasons that has been going on ‘since we all were kids’ and for the centuries and millennia before that as well?

Whatever the actual reason, the basic meaning of this rhyme is fairly obvious – i.e. we are likely to experience bad weather or should at least assume that despite these few glorious days in early April, there will be showers and bad days too! This more often than not proves itself to be true – take for example this April, we’ve had it all here in Carmarthen; glorious near high pressure summer-like days, extreme showers, weeks without a drop of rain, wind and even hail stones!

They used to tell farmers that it would be a mistake to sow maize for silage until after 4th May as until that day frosts might still occur and a frost would kill the germinating seedling of maize! Mind you, that advice was from the early days of maize silage growing in UK in the mid-1960s and maybe things have warmed up here since then! It’s all change isn’t it!

AND THE FUTURE FOR THIS NEWSLETTER is also a little uncertain as there have been Newsletters now since May 2018 – that’s 12 of them all together so far. It’s been suggested that instead of the Newsletter in its current format; with 8-10 different topic areas each month – it should be reduced down to a mere 1-2 topic areas, although still monthly or thereabouts. Apparently it needs to be shorter as well – perhaps only 4-6 pages – as the Editor in Chief is adamant that ‘the Reader complains’ about each Newsletter’s length.

Anyway, whatever the decision made, the first 12 of these monthly Newsletters have been enjoyed – by the author at least! So whatever – thanks are due to the Editor in Chief – may her name remain anonymous – the author’s Sub-Editor – also unknown, and the several Advisers consulted during production. Thanks also due to Huw The Farm who patiently answered questions on e-mail and suffered various meetings on Farm issues, and Peter L-T who put it all onto the Blog together with his photographs.

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27 April 2019

 

 

 

[1] The county of Dorset sources most of its domestic and business water from groundwater under the chalk.

[2] Such deliberate damage to opponents may not be permitted in the laws of most sports, but inevitably takes place ‘out of sight and out of mind’ of the umpire or referee!  Boxing and other hand combat sports do apparently allow physical damage to be inflicted on the opponent!

[3] Ewe lambs often have only single lambs but, as they age, the ewe will have a greater chance of having twins – and very occasionally more.

[4] Farming Facts and Figures, Wales 2015

[5] ‘I bought a mountain’, Thomas Firbank, 1940.

[6] The number of live lambs produced per 100 ewes put to the ram and mated.

[7] Although often called a Buffalo, the American Bison is not technically a buffalo as Buffaloes are only found in Africa and Asia!

[8] These include Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

[9] Farming Facts and Figures, Wales 2015, Statistics or Wales, Welsh Government.

[10]zoonosis or zoonotic disease is a disease spread between animals and people. Zoonotic diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.

[11]     https://naturescalendar.woodlandtrust.org.uk/analysis/seasonal-reports/ is is the link to Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar website where all of us can contribute dates and times of sightings and happenings in the countryside.