Monthly Archives: November 2009

No pudding until you’ve eaten all your turnips!

Every day I pass a field in which turnips are growing then, suddenly, a flock of sheep appeared in the field restricted to one part of it by electric fencing. At first you could only see the sheep’s backs as they were only a little higher than than the turnip leaves. Slowly the sheep ate all the greenery and about a week ago all you could see were sheep and turnips, no green at all. As the days went by more sheep appeared to be resting than eating and I expected the farmer to extend the electric fence in order to let them get at new turnip greenery. But no, the farmer seemed to be treating these sheep like recalcitrant children who wont eat their Brussel sprouts! They were left in the electric fenced off area to eat the turnips and they are ….. slowly. Sheep seem to prefer turnip green to turnip root. A bit of research pulled up this site which although it’s American seems to describe our local Hampshire situation exactly.

Turnip Pasture for Ewes

Purdue University has conducted research to determine the value of purple-top, white-globe turnips (Brassica rapa) as a grazing pasture for flushing ewes during the fall breeding season. Turnip pasture has a greater animal carrying capacity than conventional grass pasture. How the crop was grown and pastured in the Purdue study, and the results experienced are discussed here.

In late July or early August, seed was mixed with 12-12-12 fertilizer and broadcast onto a prepared seedbed at the rate of 2.5 pounds of seed and 50 pounds of fertilizer per acre. A chain harrow was used to lightly cover the seeds to help initiate germination and reduce loss to birds. Within 60 days, the field was ready to graze.

Because the upper part of the turnip taproot grows above ground, sheep will eat both foliage and roots. To minimize waste, the turnips were strip-grazed by limiting the grazing area with an electric netting fence to approximately 0.5 acre at a time. When each area was completely grazed, the fence was moved to expose an additional half acre. Water and a salt-mineral mixture were supplied free-choice.

Using this strip-grazing system, the pasture provided 45 days (October 1-November 1 5) of forage. However, under favorable weather conditions, this could have easily been extended another 15 days to December 1.

From this study, the following management procedures are tentatively recommended for fall-grazing ewes in turnips:

* 1.Maintain the sheep in approximately 0.5-acre paddocks until turnip foliage and roots are completely grazed. An electric fence or sheep netting works well in making the paddocks.

* 2.Provide salt-mineral mix and fresh water at all times. Since turnips have a high moisture content, ewes will usually consume less water than on grass pasture.

* 3.Ewes grazing unsupplemented turnips should gain 0.1-0.2 pound per day, which is adequate for flushing purposes. Therefore, do not feed additional shelled corn.

* 4.Consider using an adjoining grass pasture, especially during wet weather, for ewes to bed down at night. Shade in either the turnip or the adjoining grass pasture should be provided during hot weather.

* 5.For a grazing period of 35-45 days, use a stocking rate of approximately 20 ewes per acre. The grazing period could be considerably longer if weather conditions are favorable.

* 6.To maximize utilization of land intended for turnip pasture, consider seeding oats and broadleaf rape in early spring, grazing until July, then reseeding to the purple-top, white-globe turnips for fall pasture.

A forage turnip called Tyfon, developed by crossing a stubble turnip with the Chinese cabbage, has a leaf-to-root ratio of 95:5. It can be either cut or grazed and will have one or two regrowths during the summer. Tyfon turnips should be seeded in the early spring when soil conditions permit by drilling 5 pounds of seed per acre at a depth of 1 inch in rows 7-14 inches apart.

Cathy Buckle’s latest letter

Dear Family and Friends,

If you think things are back to normal in Zimbabwe, just walk into a bank. Its something I haven’t done for many months and flipping through my last cheque book reminded me of the mayhem of our banks less than a year ago. My cheque stubbs look like something from a crazy kindergarten. There’s a payment for a telephone bill of four hundred million dollars, another to a dentist for forty one billion dollars. There’s a deposit of four trillion, six hundred billion dollars and another page showing a balance on hand of fourteen trillion dollars. One page is slashed through in red ink with the words : “NB: Aug 08: 10 zeroes removed by Gono.” And
then, in October 2008, also in red ink on a cheque stubb are the words: “Can’t get in bank, queues of thousands.”

It seems like a lifetime ago but in fact its just a year ago that this was happening and now of course Zimbabwe doesn’t even have its own currency – thanks to Zanu PF and Reserve Bank Governor Mr Gono. Zimbabwe’s much talked about sovereignty is long gone when it comes to the economy and now we buy and sell in US dollars and South African Rand. Having been taught since childhood to save, save save, I decided it was time to get back into the banking habit.

I was the only customer in the newly refurbished international bank in my home town last week. Yes I still have an account, they told me after tapping in my numbers, but it’s no longer valid. The balance left there in January 2009 of trillions, or was it quadrillions, is gone – apparently eaten up by devaluation and ledger fees, not converted to ‘real’ US dollar money. A new account number has been allocated to me, the bank said but it’s dormant and requires a deposit of 20 US dollars to bring it to life. No, the bank say, the money left in my account doesn’t qualify to activate the new account, you must deposit REAL money they insist. Once this has been done I enquire about a cheque book – oh no we haven’t got any yet I’m told. And an ATM card – oh please, what planet am I on to be asking such an insane question!

A week later with the account open and activated I take a deep breath and embark on the first withdrawal. I am the only customer in the bank and my shoes click loudly as I cross the polished floor. The lady at the enquiries desk is applying her make up and doesn’t stop as I stand in front of her. She won’t tell me if my expected transfer has arrived. She says I have to fill in a slip before she can tap the number into the computer. She doesn’t have any slips, I’ve got to get them from a man sitting at a desk back at the entry door. I walk back across the banking hall, the man is busy chatting and laughing to someone on the phone. He ignores me until he is finished. I fill in the slip back at the enquiries desk while the lady carries on with her face decorating, mirror in hand, lips pouted.

Finally with a completed cash withdrawal slip in hand I approach the only teller on duty. I am still the only customer but have to wait because the teller is busy – chatting to a friend. At last I’m noticed, the friend steps aside and I am served. My greeting to the teller is ignored. My slip is checked, ticked and stamped and then all the information is copied, written by hand into a ledger. This fools me completely because the electricity is on and the computer screen at the tellers side is working. The teller takes my ID, withdrawal slip and ledger book and disappears. When he reappears he says : ‘What about my commission?’ What commission I ask, saying I wasn’t informed there would be a commission and saying that I know the depositor paid bank transfer fees and commissions at the other end. “No,” he says, you have to pay a commission.” I am then told to deduct the amount and change and counter sign all the amounts written in words and numbers on the now stamped and signed withdrawal slips to allow the bank its commission.

Finally after 17 minutes and now with one other customer in the bank, the money looks like it may be forthcoming. The teller shouts out through the bullet proof glass to someone in the back to bring him bank notes. They only have small denominations it turns out and finally these appear in a locked steel box. Checked and rechecked below the counter, the teller finally pushes a pile of notes across to me. No, I say, I wish you to count the notes to me. “What?” he says. I repeat my request and he rolls his eyes and with an audible sigh, the bank notes are counted to me. 26 minutes later and again the only person in this very well known international bank, I leave.

Will I be back soon – I don’t think so. This is the face of Zimbabwe for investors and tourists, what a shocking disgrace both for a country and an international bank.

Religion gets in the way ….

…. of driving a bus! First it was the no God Bus. Now it’s bus driver suspended for praying which says “An Atlanta bus driver was suspended for insisting his passengers join him in a prayer, his employer says.

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority spokesman Lyle V. Harris said LeRoy Matthews received a five-day furlough after passengers said he stopped his bus and asked all riders to hold hands and take part in a moment of prayer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday.

An unidentified passenger said he was trying to get off the bus Tuesday, when Matthews made his prayer request.

The impromptu prayer session on the public bus lasted at least 4 minutes and the focus of the prayer remained unclear, Harris said.

The Journal-Constitution said Matthews has been a MARTA employee for six years.


On 28th October I wrote about our return from South Wales and said “Monday was taken up by something of which I’ll write about later but it certainly couldn’t be classified as a thing you go on holiday to do!”

Yesterday we received the result of what had taken up that Monday – Essy’s Mum has been granted a visa to visit us! She had made an application for a visa for 2 weeks back in May hoping to come over in June for a fortnight. The Home Office denied her a family visit visa so she appealed the decision to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and I represented her. The case was heard by Judge Crayshaw and as with all immigration appeal cases you do not know the result immediately but have to wait for the written determination. This was my second time before an Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the first time was in January 2008 which I wrote about here.

Instead of the intended summer visit it now looks like she’ll be spending Christmas in the UK.

Tomorrow’s World

There is a wonderful archive of BBC Tomorrow’s World programmes here. This one, introducing the home computer terminal, predicts a time when homes will have ‘special computer points’ (WiFi was unthinkable) and prices were expected to fall below those of renting a telephone. This first home computer terminal 42 years ago cost £30 per week! That’s £1,500 per year at a time when I was earning £900 per year.