Friday, 10 June 2016

Tall tales; and curly ones too..


Of course everyone was right. May is a ridiculous moment in the horticultural calendar to go sashaying off to the hills.... Although; upon return everything was so tidy that I thought: perhaps stay away for longer next time....?

Poor joke I know.... Most fabulous farmsitter.

So as predicted; straight back to the tillage, trying (and miserably failing) not to bore on about reindeer, high campery, snow fields, rare birdlife, and stunning views as far as Norway... 
Will have to do a summit bunnet report; afore long; to fulfil the onerous headwear contract all the same. 

There was a heatwave in our absence; but everything survived due to the stirling efforts of those left in charge. Irrigation tapes were installed everywhere; but nothing gets into the ground so well; as a soaking downpour.
 And thankfully there were a good few thundery deluges today.. I love a bit of storm drama.
 And newly planted crops are glad of the soaking too..

'Man Friday' camouflaging the tractor..... On a Thursday?.... Confusion all round... 

So the activity pictured could be passed off as a traditional midsummer 'country dressing' of the Ford in greenstuff.
 A ritual that might ensure free flowing fuel, and happily working hydraulics for the cultivating season... 
The kind of thing us rustic types are oft reputed to get up to; when we're not busy rolling cheeses down hills; or making mysterious (and undrinkable) magical beverages from ill assorted herbs... 


We were; sorry to disappoint; rather more prosaically clearing the spinach; which grew all winter; through these holey sheets of ground cover fabric.

This mipex could then be moved onto freshly harrowed; and composted ground. Bricks reinstated to stop the wind lifting it... Frog* side up preferably; so as to reduce their attractiveness as slug and snail hotels...
Residential accommodation; with an all day buffet nearby...

Then get in over six hundred squash plants of multiple varieties in the hope of providing a bounteous harvest such as this....

   http://broadviewfromasmallfarm.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/left-out-to-cure.html

* that's the divot in a brick; for those unfamiliar with the anatomy of building materials...

 The tightly woven cover; with holes burnt in (against fraying) prevents the weeds growing; which would otherwise; be nigh on impossible to control; in a crop that spreads itself about as generously as this....
 Not hard to envisage being overwhelmed with tendrils; if one did lie down for a snooze; amongst these enthusiastic sprawlers.....


The spring tines did a workman like job job of pulling out grass clods; and sent up a hooley of dust as they went through.... Not great from a soil conservation point of view perhaps; to kick up quite so much soil.
But I think most of it settles back down on a still evening; as I shatter the peace and quiet of the countryside charging back and forth burning the dusktime diesel...

'Ginger pork and spinach' 

The beneficiaries of the 'tractor dressing' greenery.

 'Conventionally' raised; that is non free range piggles; are kept on straw; if they are lucky; but often on solid concrete floors to make cleaning easier...

 Can you imagine the boredom suffered by animals whose native home is woodland? They are designed to spend their days rootling in the understorey searching with their powerful noses; and hefty digging necks for tasty morsels. Be those plant roots; or crunchy 'caramel' snails to feast upon...

Pigs however; are intelligent beasts; some would say; on a par with; or beyond that of hounds.. So if confined to featureless quarters with no stimulation of any natural sort, will resort to behaviours towards each other, that probably don't bear recounting on a blog that might be read by those of a sensitive nature...

But it certainly isn't the happy frolicking pig that might be pictured on the outside of that; how cheap? Pack of 'farm fresh' bacon sold at an unbelievably bargain price in your local supermarket...

I don't consume pork myself as a rule; so some might wonder why I raise it? 
Well in part because I believe; that if folks who do choose to eat it; do experience on occasion; a taste of the real thing, they might; in time; eschew the factory farmed; in favour of a creature that had a life before its untimely demise. 

These guys are 'lucky' enough to have a very local abattoir nearby for their 'one way' Monday morning trip... They are kept as a group on arrival; then whilst waiting for their turn; they loaf about in a well strawed pen; and apparently don't seem to know what's up... Until it's over.

Sadly very few pigs get to live; and die this way.
We appear to have a strange attitude to animals in this country. On the one hand we will spend a fortune on our pets, and anthropomorphise their every move. 
But when it comes to meaty dinner on the plate?.... Sorry no; not interested; price is all that counts...

I'm not advocating vegetarianism, particularly not in these cool temperate climes; where grass; for raising milk and meat; grows almost better than anything else. But perhaps we could have a thought for; or interest in; how; and on what; that creature was raised, and in what manner did it meet its end? 

An additional benefit of having pigs on site; is that they are very good diggers.... Most excellent at clearing ground of unwanted vegetation. Moreover as a result of their 'ground hogging'; the roots of pernicious weeds; such as the well named Creeping Thistle get consumed.. 

They will also enthusiastically chase couch grass roots through the sod; as those tenacious colonisers send forth their doughty underground stolons.

 Apparently those roots used to be eaten; and even sold in the London markets as a delicacy. 
In truth I've never tried them, but given their toughness I guess they may well be akin; in texture and form; if not flavour; to undercooked spaghetti.
 If our porcine friends have left any ungourmandised; I may give them a try one day; and report back..... But don't hold your breath.


There are some slightly more conventionally tasty morsels on offer right now; which I know will be keeping the producers and purveyors of dairy produce busy for some time to come to come...

Globe Artichokes.....Steam for 30 mins; add prodigious quantities of butter; dismantle and consume at your leisure....Mmmmm.



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