Saturday, 28 November 2015

Timely Reminder...


Undertaking what is probably the last big cultivation job of the year...Just quarter of an acre of ground, where the lately departed porkers once rootled. It's very poor practice to leave soil bare over the winter, precipitates loss of nutrients and soil micro life.

So yesterday I hitched up one of my favourite attachments...On the edge of being slightly too heavy for the Ford; Massey discs. The light and sandy conditions here means that even after only a couple of dry days it's acceptable to cultivate carefully; without risking damaging the soil structure; or  becoming bogged down to the point of needing a tow by another local farmer...

The discs lift and turn just the top few inches of soil. Then it's back to highly enjoyable medieval handwork methods; broadcasting the grazing ryecorn seed which will germinate even at this tardy point in the season. This 'green manure' will grow slowly; but protect against erosion; and keep hold of the pigs' contribution to fertility; until the resulting greenery can be worked back into the soil in the spring; prior to next years squash crop being planted.

Cycles and circularity of nutrition and cropping, in some ways ...But not quite a closed system; current legislation requires that pigs cannot be fed on our food waste; of which they are near perfect 
re processors, they have instead to be fed on soya based pellets...
Hopefully before too long this wasteful practice will be reversed, and swine can reclaim their status as most efficient converters of the inedible into the highly comestible.



After casting the grain about; it's off with the discs; and back on with the spring tines; to tickle in the seed; followed by the crumbler bar that firms it in to the tilth.

 I will dig out a picture... There are some as find that particular item of agricultural kit quite visually stimulating.

Then only ten minutes off completion; the sky darkens noticeably ...Nearly four O'clock;  I could have finished; but a figure approaches; I'm needed urgently elsewhere; annoyance turns to relief as only then do I realise, I'm about to run out of fuel; (the tractor; not me; I'm still full of Friday cake). And thereby am serendipitously saved from the very tedious job, of bleeding the diesel system...

By the time I get back up the hill with a jerry can of fuel it is pretty much dark; plus it's now bucketing down; the leaden sky was full of rain as well as duskiness. But I could just refill and get those last few yards done...
Climbing onto the slippery bonnet; funnel in one hand 20 litres of fuel in the other; I finally gather some sense...Hmmm? Rushing these jobs seldom ends well..

 I have a neat little scar on my inner thigh from an incident a few years back where I was saving a few seconds with what I knew at the time was an ill - advised implement manouvre. 
Hydraulic systems are very powerful; even on aged kit; and are no respecters of human flesh....
"One legged yoga teacher / farmer" might be a novelty act too far?

Farming has overtaken deep sea fishing; and construction;  to gain the unenviable pole position, in terms of highest accident rate statistics.

Maybe in part because we are often working by ourselves; racing against time; or the weather; or both; employing perhaps less than state of the art equipment?

Might this be in someway related to the minimal income that can be derived from food production? Or are we all just 'gung ho' idiots who didn't ought to be let out by ourselves? 

I was also mindful of the fact that today I was doing an emergency first aid refresher course. It would have been deeply embarrassing to have to cry off with a work related injury.......And to have missed the opportunity for a good bit of sitting down and tea and biscuits; between bouts of CPR and bandaging. 

So the cheeky jackdaws; that are often on hand to assist with cultivations; will have had a fair portion of that ryecorn by now; and it might not stop raining for a month; so it may be too late to work it in properly. But in the grand scheme of things; not much was lost.


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