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Ragwort; brassed off; health and safety; land clearances

Published: Monday, June 13, 2011

Ragwort
I missed the original article, but a letter to the Western Mail from Swansea Friends of the Earth takes exception to the “urban myth” that even a small dose of ragwort is poisonous. The FoE writer also points out that ragwort is not spreading and that it does not cause liver damage when eaten. As a vet I have always accepted that ragwort was dangerous to livestock; I now need to do some homework – or CPD (continuing professional development) – on this.

A couple of years ago I was showing a butterfly expert around our grounds at the office. We spotted a brown butterfly on a ragwort flower. He identified it as a Small Copper butterfly which lives exclusively on ragwort , so no ragwort, no more Small Copper.

Brassed Off
On Saturday we went to the summer concert by Pontardulais Brass band which we sponsor. The Dunvant Male Choir was also performing and although this is not quite my type of music I enjoyed most of it. The biggest cheer of the evening was for the debut public performance by Alice and Alfie, two eight year old budding band members.
… But three and a half hours was too long; my bum was numb.

Health & Safety
We often think that Health and Safety issues are just so much red tape; you need a risk assessment to go to the loo. But the last thing I want or need is for someone to be hurt at work. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has reported that farming is the most dangerous work environment. It has 1.4% of the workforce and around 20% of the accidents and injuries. It’s not just the workers; a significant number of members of the public are injured in the workplace.

Land Clearances
In 1963 John Prebble wrote a book called The Highland Clearances This related the story of the forcible removable of crofters in the Scottish Highlands from their land by absentee landlords trying to maximise income from the land. This was brought to mind by a Guardian report about new land clearances; farmers in a number of African countries are being displaced as wealthy American universities, such as Harvard, use UK and European investment funds to buy vast tracts of land in a number of countries.

If you want to see the future, just look at the past.

Postscript
Winter has come early this year.  On Saturday the temperature was 6 degrees.  Yesterday I lit the fire!

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