Friday, 11 March 2016

The difference a day makes...

From the ridiculously windy, to the calm after the storm...

There may not be many offsite camping excursions in the immediate offing. But here at the top of the hill, this part of the farm; known as Beacon could be just the place for a quick overnighter... Look there's already some firewood for sending messages...Reasonably dark skies, for stargazing, and none too shabby a view, for the morning.

And because the trees planted a few years back have grown up to a height; protected from deer browsing as they are by an understorey of brambles; it's almost impossible to see the work pending on the lower slopes beneath. 

So coming up here even for a short perambulation can be equivalent to 'getting away from it all'
 A bit like having ones very own local park to wander in. How lucky is that?




 Go to the shoulder of the hill however and the work is all laid out below; like a life sized 'to do list'...But at least the horticultural witchcraft (more of that later) appears to have worked it's spell and some of the 'to do' can now be done....Set fair for a few days now.

The red sandstone coast lies just over far distant hill; that high ridge being known as Mutters Moor. The briney is a good hour and a bit stomp via green lanes and the pebblebed heath, or just short of twenty minutes by bike; maybe a bit longer if you decide to go the hilliest route for fittening kicks.....Even more pertinent now, as I have two antipodean chums petitioning to be visited. And I guess there are a few steepish hills between here and there, not to mention the ocean going pedalo section...

This lot needed settling in deep and firm, even planted out of the gusting winds, they threaten to topple...


Muck (compost) and magic...These greenhouse raised, overgrown, leggy broad beans have been sitting outside on a bench 'toughening up' (properly known as hardening off) for nigh on two weeks now.
 The ground conditions however haven't been in the least bit receptive to their planting...So finally I relented and find them some space in the polytunnel.
They should crop sooner, even early June perhaps, and the little Kale plants in between will give some more welcome greenery. But, on account of the heat these brassicas will probably show their yellow flowers quite soon too...Could be useful, as they in turn will lure in more bees and other pollinators to give the bean flowers a good seeing to...Ensuring an abundance of well filled pods....


And now; almost immediately that the plantlets have been warmly housed away from the inclemency; of course the weather comes good.....

Correlation and causation.. Endless 'whitchy?' fun to be had; mixing those two up....

 I used to worry a lot about the weather; too wet; too dry; will it ever come good?  Of course experience shows that in the end that it will be OK. And cultivating variety (the most profitable crop) means that enough, will do well enough to provide an abundance in the end...

I still worry about climate, and how that might be changing, but that is I guess another wasted worry in the end if performed unilaterally....Without some collective action pretty quickly, that particular possibly unstoppable juggernaut is taking us into uncharted territory....

Now of course very few people; if they're truly honest; enjoy being proven wrong....

But I can honestly state that very little would give me greater pleasure than to discover that the climate change deniers have got it right....

That really would be some kind of 'witch craft'... Put all that extra carbon into the atmosphere at a hitherto unprecedented rate; whilst at the same time reducing the carbon sinking capacity of soils, ocean flora, and terrestial vegetation.....
And....

'Nothing Happens or Changes......?'

Hmmm? That really is 'Collective wishful magical thinking.....' methinks.

Or; did someone suspend the laws of physics; and not tell me?
 That's the trouble with living in the country; news takes a while to get through...



Very effective distraction technique...The blueberries depicting a treasure map of...?
Nope 'tis a secret....


But never mind all that environmental angst; how about a bit of 'living in the moment'....?
 An absolute classic this one. With eggstra contributions from our feathered fiends on account of the damage caused by Wednesdays' 'Gustybuffeting'* that had the eggshop inverted.....But there's rarely an upset, that doesn't have an upside, if you're willing to look closely enough....

Especially as; on this particular Thursday there was only it's generous creator; and myself; and two spoons.....
And....A veil is discreetly drawn....I'll leave the rest to your imaginings.

But first t'was nestled 'pon a bed of just picked salad. Showing the oriental greens' inclination to flower with the lengthening days...Once fully bloomed they do fill the polytunnels with a honeyed scent. Bringing in yet more bees and their mates. It's quite a treat just to stand at the door and inhale, and hear the busy drone.

So variety, again.. Seen here: mizuna, claytonia, pak choi red, and green, red mustard, rocket - wild - grrr, and tame, Morroccan little cress, red salad bowl lettuce, joi choi, oh and some red mizuna....The budding flowers like tender mini broccoli are even more nutritious than the leaves...

* I thought perhaps a new 'sturdy' underwear range?



It was whilst harvesting this salad that I involuntarily invoked the ire of the custard creator. Not an advisable course of action in any circumstance..Thankfully it wasn't directed at me...

Phew! Some folk, to their great peril have trodden that hazardous path in the past. I for one, would not stray down that thorny perilous route.
 There's brave; and then there's foolish.

The subject of her disgruntlement?

'The powers that be'...

 Oh no; not them!

The meanderings of conversation had brought us to the subject of our needing a fresh delivery of red diesel to fuel the tractor for the season.

Normally, that bill is paid for through the Single Farm Payment. A 'EU' bestowment, which replaced farm subsidies some years ago.

I expanded a while back as to how this payment has been withdrawn from all UK land holdings under 5 ha' . This plot comes in just short of that by 0.4 ha'

http://broadviewfromasmallfarm.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/a-winter-bounty.html

Now I know we could very well have a convoluted discussion as to the rights and wrongs of any landowner receiving this 'blanket' payment. We might meander through the issues of compliance with environmental regulations; quite rightly imposed by the EU; whilst farmers produce food priced as a global commodity; and so on; and so forth...

But; I've already glazed over just thinking about it; so doubtless you will have too dear reader......

But it does provoke; a not completely unjustified reaction; along the lines of "It's just not fair"

There was a suggestion made by 'She who should not be messed with', along the lines of driving a tractor trailer load of manure to deposit in front of our own august seat of parliament. Where, as it happens this 'devolved to member states' decision, was made ...Therby expressing our displeasure in the manner favoured by our more politically proactive continental neighbours in agriculture.

But I countered that it would be waste of good soil building fertility; that should really stay on the farm; and although it might well be great noisy fun holding up the traffic on the A303 as we chugged eastwards; I can't really afford the diesel for a trip like that...Especially not now...

So as smaller farmers we no longer get the dosh that our larger brethren still continue to receive; they with no upper limit of payment..

Despite the fact that globally; smaller farms are more productive per acre than larger ones...

Ho and indeed Hum; but at the same time Oh well never mind.

'Small' is still beautiful in so many other ways...

Freshness, nutrition, connectivity, community, efficiency, interrelation, diversity, resilience, mutual support.......Sometimes intangible; immeasurable benefits; but none the less real for that..

Repeated 'studies have shown' that globally; smaller farms are more productive per acre than larger ones...You don't have to be massively cynical to speculate just as to which vested interests might be driving UK food policy...

http://www.technologywater.com/post/69995394390/un-report-says-small-scale-organic-farming-only

And no longer getting the payments means no more worries about having to comply with the 'meddling' (but generally ignored here anyhow) edicts to keep the brambles back, which are protecting the newish trees, which are harbouring beneficial buglife (And OK not such welcome numbers of bunnies, foxes, and badgers) , and shielding happy campers from the southwesterly winds, and in turn temporarily giving the growers eyes respite from everything that needs doing straightaway.....

So; better crack on with some of it then....




Will be sowing some of this today. An Italian delicacy that a friend switched me on to quite some years back....It's shy to germinate; and a bit of a fiddle to harvest. Hence umlikely to be hitting supermarket shelves in any appreciable quantities any time soon.
 But it's generally very popular once folks have got a taste for it. Traditionally braised in Olive oil then dressed with lemon juice...It's something a bit like samphire, but grows happily on drier soils ... Ideal for these sandy south facing slopes..






Supplied by these good people...


Who in accord with the 'Supadug' lot, also close down for a portion of the summer, to give their staff a break...It could be the new ethical shopping criteria... Do the workers get a proper holiday??





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