by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
GOS and I went to Remembrance Service at our local church this morning and were reminded by the preacher that this poem gave inspiration to the poppy theme for, not only the British Legion, but also the fallen of all our conflicts. He also said that since 1945 there has only been one year our military have no been involved in some conflict or other. Chilling thought really. I also learnt this week that all the animals lost in war are commemorated with the blue cornflower which grew alongside the poppies.
With the help of a neighbouring farmer I took two ewes to market on Friday. (We want to cut down the flock a bit to make lambing less arduous). This is somewhere I have not been for ages. We looked up our records and we had not actually taken sheep to market since 2006. The last ewes we sold off went with lambs at foot to a neighbour who also keeps texel sheep. All livestock going through market now have to display identification tags in both ears. One of which contains a ” chip”. So nowadays, the market attendant hops into the pen of sheep with a bar- code reader and an I-pad to make his records!! The auctioneer, a strapping great bloke (whom I remember has a little lad in school with my son) looks like something else – sporting a head set microphone and blue flashing control pack worn at his waist. The upshot was the 2 sheep made quite a good price for the day and my helper was pleased as his own lambs made £1 each more this week than last week. The downside is the cheque, expected next week, will be made out to him on the golf course, as he is the registered flock holder, and not to the shepherdess and buyer of all hay and sheep feed!
The neighbour who helped me transport the sheep, like many of the smaller farmers around here also used to hold down a full time job, from which he is now retired. In his retirement he helps a bit with a local shoot and very kindly, now and again, presents me with a bit of “game” for “the pot”. On Friday I was given two good sized mallard, which are now in the freezer. These need to be plucked and dressed quite quickly after “dispatch”, unlike pheasant, which is better “hung” for a while. So that was Friday afternoon taken care of – quite a task as both birds were very fluffy, but the feather themselves are beautiful.
As a child, every Christmas, I had to help my mother with plucking and dressing poultry for her little business side line on the farm. Something I have grown up with and which is part of country life. However, something my younger sister never came to terms with; she is terrified of all things feathered. I remember, and Mum must have been around 90, Mum had to go urgently to my sister’s cottage to get an errant jackdaw out of the house. The unwelcome guest had fallen down the chimney.
All this reminds me . . . . . . I really must start giving Christmas a bit of thought! What are we – only 6 weeks away.. . . . . help!