Progress was made, all the same.
Journeys to the ,unknown interior' , can be far scarier for some, than going 'out there'.
|Full 2 week October trip report coming soon, so long as new tech' plays nicely.|
Separate groups in society have always had their own private codes, and definitions, only fully understood, and agreed within that group. ..
Whether that be amongst the professions.
Or marked by those regional dialects and differences within languages.
And then there's the verbal and idiomatic distinctions, drawn along such delinations as age, social grouping, or hobbies, enthusiasms, and what have you... .
But it only really occurred to me today, how these terms, and descriptions can become so very localised to people working together, in one place.
To within a 12 acre, rural neighbourhood in fact.
Girl Monday, has, for various reasons, been temporarily repurposed as 'Girl Wednesday'
It was most noticeable today, how her presence speeded up the pre Christmas veg harvest..
When we'd finished picking sprouts, I was pleased to discover that she would still have an half an hour free, in which to continue working, so I suggested she help us 'fettle' the sprouts...
Which spurred her to enquire, whether 'fettling' is the term we use when preparing all the other vegetables for delivery ?
I'd not fully considered before, the logic behind the particular terms, applied to each operation...
(Spoiler alert!.... As with most of these 'job specific' etymologies .... There is no real logic, or at least, not one explicable to others)
But here is the 'correct' parlance; for these operations, peculiar to this place, just in case; you should ever be called upon to help out in this very local, locale...
And wouldn't wish to feel like a hopeless ingenue.....
Few of us enjoy not feeling 'in the know' vis a vis specific terminology...
Sprouts, and leeks are fettled
Cut leaves, eg spinach, kale, or salad
Roots such as carrots, parsnips, beetroot, are prepped
- but seldom washed, unless it's felt that not to do so, would seriously imperil the conservation of soil, within the valley ..
And cabbages are groomed.
Most other produce, is bagged up, and sent out in much the same state as it was picked...
Thankfully that task, should all be done and finished by the end of tomorrow.
And then; after Friday; when the man of that moniker will be putting in a welcome appearance, to get completed a few urgent tasks on the jobs list.
There'll be a chance of a sit down, for at least a day or two.
And perhaps even, the necessaries will be put in place, to enable the resumption of pictures here, alongside the words...
For some reason that does feel important.
|Golden nuggets of sunshine.|
|Hoes down for the ho - down|
Old tech... There really is nothing new under the sun.. But with an open mind, some collaboration, and a 'can do' approach. Workable solutions, to age old problems, will emerge.
Farm hack, Tombreck, on the banks of Loch Tay, Scotland.
What is a farm hack?
Well really hard to sum up. But could be described as a gathering of interested, practically minded, parties.
Who are looking at taking forward, sustainable food production. Growing, and farming, as if people and ecology mattered.
How can we combine the best of the old...? Sometimes it is quicker (and quieter) to reach for a well honed scythe rather than a noisy petrol strimmer.
With the best, of more, up to date tech, recognising that a diesel powered tractor, well maintained, can do a huge amount of work in a very short space of time.
Such a diversity of people, cross fertilising ideas...
No small number of high tech, science workers. Plus a couple of escapees from the oil and gas industries, who have concluded, that there must be a better way of powering ourselves into the future.
Crafts people, forgers, farmers, film makers, activists, all sorts, many in emerging fields.
This post really would go on for ever; if I attempted to detail all the fascinating angles and approaches I've encountered via this friendly, open minded bunch of people.
But a couple of sessions particularly stood out for me.
Initially from some folks from Edinburgh. Using high tech solutions such as 3d printing, and unfathomabley accurate laser cutting, to craft bespoke one offs.
Could be to repair a broken widget.
Perhaps to make something new, to fit a customer's very personal spec. But they are about more than just cutting edge technology..
They also recognise that the old ways can be just as, if not more, relevant for certain applications...
Sometimes tying things up with a length of hairy string, really is, the most utile resolution.
More investigation needed into what could be achieved. But it feels as if imagination; might be the most limiting factor...
And then, returning to more familiar ground. Making, and using, the soil amendment of 'bio char'.
This method of building soil humus, providing 'niches' for the all important soil microfauna, and hopefully sequestering carbon, is not a novel one.
Not new at least to anyone who has hung out on the fringes of organic growing for a number of years.
And it is posited that the Amazonians were using something like this method centuries ago.... Not 'slash and burn' - far more sophisticated than that.
But again, the science, the methodology, and practical application, do seem to have been refined..
The (left in more than capable hands) 'steading, now has fine stands of Italian Alder wind breaks.
The intention always was to coppice them in rotation.
Bio char is, simply put, a method of making charcoal from this biomass.
Done in pits, using a 'top lit' fire, carefully tended, then quenched with water at just the right moment.
A little like the traditional charcoal making method, but not looking to exclude oxygen in the same way.
The fire quenching, also makes a lot of steam (and drama! ).
This blasts apart the charred wood, maximising surface area. Then inoculate or feed your char with nutrient...
There is just the thing, in the form of lots of 'home made cider' sitting in many barrels behind the urine separating compost toilet at home..
The char is then added to the soil, to work its wonders. It doesn't get depleted in the same way that conventional 'organic matter' composts do.
Still, again, much more investigation needed before this becomes a done reality at the farm.
Though I'm fairly certain "Once you've got a fire going, it isn't really work any more" Man Friday, wouldn't need a lot of encouragement to get involved..
And of course these events are social too.
Beer, kindly bought in at my behest by the lovely Mags... Didn't fancy cycling over here with that much incriminating clinking going on.
And the 'Willow' , was well and truly 'stripped'.
As oft seems to be the case at these, hairy (and not so hairy) farmer moots.
It has been a pleasure, to meet, and be welcomed by the Fair Scottish contingent.
Not to have to explain, what, or why you do what you do.
To have it valued, and understood. After all, most of us do realise we look like idiots to much of the outside world.
With our crazy utopian ideas about decent tasty food, being produced in as benign a way as possible, whilst still making something approaching a living.
Weather right now, almost suspiciously friendly ... Really cannot expect it to hold forever, so aiming for an early start to head out west by bike.
To see, up to a point, which way the wind blows me..
Almost a week has passed. Barely time to draw breath, between alighting from the past midnight train and getting back to farm work, and yoga teaching.
Alongside dealing with all the somewhat odiferous hiking kit.
Washing stuff, and oneself, in rivers, and cattle troughs doesn't have quite the same squeaky clean effect as hot baths and domestic appliances.
Makes one appreciate them all the more when they are there..
But a few days taken for family visit too, and to walk a while in Wales with my two now all - grown up boys.
I had a lovely green leafy picture to post here; but it would appear the tech won't play nicely right now.
Unlike first and second born who seem to enjoy each other 's company most fulsome out and about.
They used to moan sometimes when ' 'made' to go for walks. But now they return to it voluntarily, and can see the point.... Especially as they like taking pretty pictures too.
Hoping that the picture posting glitch is but a temporary annoyance.
There's a small mountain of hot Pyrenean
images to sift and sort..
And an account of sorts, to write. Might have to wait for shorter days.. Winter fireside being the traditional time for storytelling.
And what news from the farm?
I hear you cry.
Well, all was well, and lovingly cared for.
Some things have grown hugely in the time spent away...
The sweetcorn is ready! ... What a homecoming treat.
Should keep me close to the valley; for a couple of weeks at any rate.
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.
|Might need to work on the 'farmer tan' ... But scarlet nails seem to go with the overall reversal of 'feet on the ground; head in the clouds' reclining....|