Saturday, 2 July 2016

More things of beauty

Living and working in the countryside; it's a fantasy aspiration for so many people residing in more built up areas. The perception of endless peace and tranquility; an easier pace of life; abundant nature; clean air; and pretty scenery...

Now I'm not about to start complaining about my lot. 
Most of us; if we're lucky enough; get to make some choices about our lifestyles; and then we have to live with the consequences; be they fair; or even if not always so.

Running a small mixed farm can be hard work; frustrating when the weather doesn't play nicely; and can feel a touch relentless from time to time. But the work is varied; and the body is designed to do things. So get enough rest; and try to use the corporeal primary tool wisely enough; and physically; barring disasters one can keep going. 

The weather is beyond our control; and it would seem; even more unpredictable now. Not a massive surprise in truth; given that we are starting to see the effects of our releasing into the atmosphere; over a few lifetimes; vast stores of carbon laid down over millions of years.
It truly would be a 'miracle of nature' if there were no consequences to our doing that...

So we have to work with the materials we're given. 
And be thankful; as growers we get many of our inputs for free: sunshine; rain; and nitrogen in the air that can be captured by soil life; and reprocessed by those micro organisms; to feed plants; if that soil life is properly cared for. 

And perhaps; because the views from this particular farm are quite agreeable; there are often willing workers on hand; to be grateful for too. 

Preparing for Open Day this week... It's not so much a case of getting everything looking perfect. This is a commercial growing operation; not a show garden; no handy trust funds; or grants here.

 But who among us; if they take some pride in their work; doesn't want to show it off to its best advantage?

 Weed control; after maintaining soil health; via lots of love and compost; and not over cultivating; is the primary concern of anyone trying to produce crops for profit; without resort to herbicides...

So with a bit of extra, very welcome help; this small farm; is looking reasonably in shape for todays cake hungry influx..

Amina; cheerfully supervising the brassica weeding; and taking a few soil samples.... Looks like she's consumed a reasonable portion of healthy bacteria; to boost her intestinal flora... All the better for her digestion today..
And a few more items; pleasing to the eye; and palate; from about the place.....

Pea tendrils ...  Looking good; and tasty too..

Onion flowers...can be broken up, and used as a flavoursome salad garnish

Young red onions; on a bed of Agretti. A crunchily textured green vegetable originating from Italy. Its closest comparison texture and flavourwise; might be samphire.

First pickings of shiny courgettes; yellow patty pan; plus more conventional green variety. 

Lucky enough too to receive a gift yesterday. To be honest I'm not always such a fan of 'country writings'... They can often verge towards the twee; waxing lyrical on the pleasures of floriferous meadows; larks ascending; and other general bucolic blisssfulnesses; whilst turning a blind eye towards some of the harsher realities.

But I think the sender knows this..... :)
So despite exterior impressions that might be implied by the 'lovely' cover; the interior isn't quite so much 'unruffled country charm'..

There is something about getting a parcel in the post.... Thrills..

Even the first line of the preface reassures, against any rustic complacency..... "Now that I look back, I see that I have written with some anger"

This by a farmer; who is trying to build up the soil; and wild life of a depleted arable field over a couple of seasons; whilst producing a viable crop. 

That period of time; being not nearly long enough; of course. The saying being
"Live as if you are going to die tomorrow; farm as if you are going to live forever".....
 (Hmm...Sounds exhausting, to be honest.)

But an interesting undertaking all the same.
The first chapter mentions the regulations governing the atmospherically regulated cabs of tractors; involved in 'conventional' crop spraying. 
Protecting the operator from ingesting any of the toxic chemicals he or she is applying... EU directive etc etc...

Only now; if 'our' decision to leave the European Union comes to pass; then there won't be so many of those pesky rules; interfering with peoples right to apply whatever they like to their crops; on their land; however they choose... 

Although of course; those farmers are just trying to make a living, in a market driven world where "Business is business; and business must grow..... Regardless of crummies in tummies you know*"...

At all costs? Regardless of consequences? Yes; it would appear so... 
Sadly; I don't feel we really are; such 'clever monkeys' as we'd like to believe... 

Or maybe some are clever; but wisdom; at least for the longer view; certainly seems in fairly short supply.

Still; there will be cake; and anyway; glumness never solved much. 
So I will get the 'bunting monkey' to do his acrobatics; it visually cheers; in addition to distracting from any overlooked 'untidiness'.

And as ever; I'll put the kettle on for tea...

* Dr Zeuss ;)

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