I felt so sorry for John Davison, now close to, no, past retirement he says, when he popped up on the BBC’s evening programme Look North, yesterday evening, to chat about the loss of his 15 month old calf due to an ingestion of a deflated helium balloon and its string. As he related in the Look North piece, the string had got stuck in the calf’s mouth, so that the balloon itself could not travel further through the calf’s digestive system, and it died what must have been a painful death. With an uninsured loss to the farm business of well over £1000, the helium balloon had caused a significant dent in John’s livelihood.
John used to be the point man for booking Allendale Village Hall, always promptly right after the event was over, for the next year’s Farmers’ Ball. And then he helped his son Stuart of The Cart’s Bog, in any of a number of receptions featuring the big stainless steel hog-roasting oven. Always quiet and unassuming, I understood that John is really a farmer’s farmer. I was delighted to read, in the Courant, of John’s prize flock of Bleu de Maine sheep, and of his past presidency of the Bleu de Maine society.
There are so many farming stories, about these parts, but whenever local farmers get together, a good part of those stories would have to include some of John Davison’s life history. Even such a sad story as the premature and inhumane demise of a healthy calf due to negligence at a party far away.
Though the release of helium balloons has often been a feature of many social gatherings in the relatively recent past (I confess I’ve participated in the occasional group launch myself, back in the days when everyone thought the practice was innocuous), now especially that the scourge of plastic is overwhelming the planet, surely we owe it to the farming community to be careful to avoid releasing these plastic timebombs outdoors, and to devise other awe-inspiring, but safe and environmentally-friendly practices to lift a pleasant gathering.