But so long as fabulous farmsitter; isn't fretting: then all is well..
No fixed route in mind; save roughly (perhaps literally) eastwards from last years endpoint ... *
These innocuous looking clusters of yellow eggs can transform themselves into very hungry caterpillars.
And they in turn can transmogrify a verdant grove of kale, into a fluttering cloud of white butterflies.
Back in the late spring, there was a dearth of cabbage whites. As a brassica grower this was a relief, but as someone who enjoys seeing the swallows swooping to catch this usually generous bounty of foodstuff; I was a tad concerned.
The butterflies usually turn up just before the swallows. Just in time for; (or to be) dinner...
Turns out I needn't have worried. The caterpillars and their parents, have been abundant for the past few weeks.
Leaving just enough toothsome greenery, for those humans keen on it too.
The swallows are particularly busy right now. Fattening themselves up for their own remarkable journeys, back down South; mainly to subsaharan Africa for the winter.
Doubtless I'll find some other wildlife related problem to fret about afore long...
Such as fencing the badgers off the fattening cobs of corn...
Until someone comes to visit.
There is something about the smell of horses, and they way they will rest their heavy heads on your shoulder..
The equines at this farm on Dartmoor hang out together in herds. It's the most natural; stress free way for horses to live.
It almost seems tortuous to see one hoss alone in a paddock.
They are social animals, who look out for each other.
There may be a touch of hierarchical 'argy bargy' that goes on when establishing a pecking order. But once that's sorted, then everyone is far more relaxed in their lives.
On visiting the home of these fragrant ladies, I heard some gladdening accounts.
For it was here that we held the first 'yoga and the horse rider' session back in the spring.
Apparently, the attendees were still practicing a lot of the ideas, and techniques they'd picked up on the day.
And they were finding much of it helped them feel more comfortable about themselves generally; both on and off their mounts..
A thought occurred today..
In conflab with another friend; after todays mid holiday all day yoga session closer to home... (Lovely new studio, almost on the doorstep)
Yoga ; done properly with heart; for body and mind.
Is a bit like the butter; of the 'body work' world....
It goes with; and enhances deliciously, just about anything you might choose to partner it with.
So long as you don't over do it, and turn it into a sacred cow.
Is made up of little things.
And simple satisfying pleasures; are often to be found in small matters.
I love the ancient occupation of hand broadcasting seed.
Here a mix of ryegrass; red clover; and crimson clover. To keep the goodness sealed in a half acre patch over winter.
Make one pass; casting back and forth with half the alloted seed from North to South.
Then repeat with the second batch in the other orientation.
Having first stormed through with the duckfoot cultivator to lift and crumble the clods.
Then fire up the modern tech again...
Yes; a 46 year old tractor is still very young, by some standards... And at any rate she's a willing workhorse; who is reasonably low maintenance.
So hitch up the Springtines and tickle in the seed before the birds find em.
Would have been ideal to roll it all in with a ring (or Cambridge) roller, to firm and consolidate.
Further excuses for implement shopping.....
Although you can still find the odd one lurking unloved in hedgerows..
On the basis of her homemade pesto alone.
Imogen would marry Beatrix; like a shot.
If; of course; she was 'on the market'...
Her words... My picture.
The pesto is extraordinarily good...
Just As well I'm not 'the marrying type'...
Or there could fisticuffs.
I did get back to it eventually. And the lower bed is now filled with the same amount of rainbow chard. Then all was given a good soaking via hosepipe; fed by borehole installed nearly ten years ago now.
The elbows really would have rebelled at carrying that many watering cans.
The patch above the spinach beet; meanwhile; awaits one final cultivation with the tractor; and spring tines..
Then it'll be hand broadcasting (sideways peasant style) a mixture of ryegrass, red, and scarlet clover, to hold fertility, and the soil itself over the Autumn and winter months.
When we might, one hopes, get some much needed rain...
Light sandy soil will dash off down a slope at an alarming rate if its left uncovered in a downpour. And soil is ultimately where all proper food production; starts and ends.
|Three of my favourite things; a decent notebook, a pencil (they never let you down) and a well honed knife.... Lion optional; but a nice touch... Grrrrr!|
Even the hens were somewhat startled....... 1.6 oz polyester ripstop... Larks aplenty.
Unlikely that anyone; will want to borrow it either.
|And a bit of 'awkward' silliness with mother in mind... She usually being of the opinion that life is far too important to be taken seriously..... "Oh hello; sunshine!" |
Who could resist an aubergine with a ready made nose? Not this yellow patty pan squash obviously.
|Here optimising nutrition for the Autumn Savoys...|
Hoeing a scattering of 'supadug' into the top inch or so of tilth.
Killing off any seedling weeds germinating at the same time.
This might appear a lowly task to some.
But with slanting evening sunshine; enthusiastic birdsong; and the far distant thrum of a neighbour turrning their hay; this doesn't fall far short of that oft quite rightly lampooned 'bucolic blissfulness' vision of country life..
I have it...
I love visiting other people's veg growing enterprises..
To see what works for them; and look at other ways of doing things. I don't believe for one moment; that there is just one right; or wrong way; of making the magic happen in this business.
There are so many variables in terms of micro climate; soil types; pressure from pests or other limiting factors.
Then mix in the needs and demands of ones beloved customers; and which produce sells well in a particular area.
And not leastwise; the inclinations of the grower.
Being self employed in a less than lavishly renumerated occupation; has a few drawbacks.
So surely some leeway can be given; to operating in a way that 'feels right' and utilising methods that give personal satisfaction...?
Allowing for a sense of 'flow' even...
I imagine a systems analyst: I think I know what they do now; after having interviewed one on a train trip ; might say.
"Well this isnt such a profitable crop"
"Why are you wasting time growing that particular oddity ?"...
Well; as I've opined many times before; personally I believe that in a business such as this 'variety' is, in itself a valuable crop.
Giving the ability to surprise people occasionally -
"What on earth is this; what do I do with it?"
But now of course; thanks to the wonders of Internetland; there are a diminishing number of veg that baffle.
All the same; variety keeps things interesting; albeit challenging, on occasion for the grower.
These celeriac (grown by Cornelia... Lovely name; and person) are twice the size of the ones to be found growing on the much Sandler drier soil here.
Celeriac; as it's flavour and name would imply; is related to celery. And that vegetables' native cousin prefers a damp 'mucky' almost marshy soil to thrive..
However the intense flavour of a 'little one' more than makes up for any lack of size..
But at the same time; I can't claim, to be unenvious of this luxuriant stand of toothsome nuggets; steadily gathering goodness; for wintertime delectation..
And I call "Liar" to any herbicide avoiding grower; who claims no tiny reassurance gained from viewing others 'weedy' areas...
Pot marigolds growing in the foreground to attract beneficial insects... I rarely get round to deliberately implementing this kind of companion planting myself...
One day I might do it again... If I ever manage to eliminate the 'simple flowered' residents such as mayweed; that pretty much perform the same job here; and most likely have years worth of seeds in 'the bank' already......
|Even if the flavour isn't everyones favourite. The astonishing hues of rainbow chard are an undeniable glory... I plan to make a frock of green satin; and embroider it with this particular silken pink; plus all the other colours available... |
The time has come to get out the needle and thread again.. I'd forgotten, just how much satisfaction there is to be had from hand stitching... An eminently portable craft; especially on lightweight materials.. No power source needed, even achievable by torchlight, if necessary....
A very general, preliminary overview....
Of what 'small farms' need to take things forward:
More than just a few...
At the same time; several pressing issues might be addressed with a modicim of;
And more specifically;
Let's look at employing some well thought out mechanisation.