Wednesday, 27 April 2016

"Aint nobody here; but us chickens"

But of course; what with it being a longish weekend; earmarked for Beltane celebrations; there are quite a few folk sprinkled about the 'stead; in tents and other accommodations.

Enjoying the verdant May views; and a good blaze after dark...
Whilst comfort testing the many and various laps proffered; Trailer Trash Kitty almost got her whiskers singed. 

Fresh ground for the ladies; to go a clearing....
 Actual proper 'free range'. This is the sort of image often pictured on the outside of a box; that may contain eggs from larger more commercial flocks. Those birds are technically allowed outside; but the convoluted passageways through which they have to make their way; to acheive egress often results in their never quite gaining their freedom.
But better for sure; than being completely caged with no hope of escape..

 There is talk of horticultural help being proffered by the temporary residents too.. Many hands should make light of the work of uprooting the old brassicas to make way for sowings of the maincrop carrots.

Broad view from the nearby heath; the sea is just visible middle horizon. There is something about this very particular vantage point; perhaps due to the land steeply rising so close to the coast; that can give the impression of the briney being higher than the observer....Interesting perspective.

The oaks are a tad late showing their fresh-gold leaves this spring..A very thin wind is holding a lot of herbage back.

It's still frosty in the mornings, a freshly laid egg makes for an eggcellent hand warmer; post the filling, and carrying, of cold metal water containers. Tea flask that should never run dry; to the rear...

At this time of year the hedgerows are starting to fill with joyous; abundant; luxuriant growth... Untamed; as yet; by the hand of man...

One of the problems of writing about gardening, yoga, the countryside, excursions, and what have you; is that one can feel as if one is almost wading thigh high in metaphor and allegory; nay on occasion; at risk of becoming smothered by it....

To the point where any observation; or parallel drawn; almost becomes painfully trite; or skin crawlingly obvious.

What am I saying that hasn't already been said; with greater lyricism by others?
 Perhaps; and most likely nothing at all.

Given that there really is 'nothing new under the sun' just various rearrangements of energy and 'stuff' constantly changing; totally unfixed. 
Change; or transformation is the only constant.

. But each individual arrived here at this moment and place having had their own unique individual series of experiences; and influences.

 Each of us should have our own voice; and be allowed to use it.
 For some of us however; gathering the courage to use that voice; but at the same time respecting the opinions of others; is where the hard work is.

 Campfires are always good for drawing out stories. Sat round in the semidarkness all gazing at the same fire but from a slightly different perspective... How did we get here. what's your story? That is the thing of intrigue.

From where did your point of view emanate?... That is one of the fascinations of all sorts of people... To me; at least.

And there's no point pretending; that most of our conflicts; both large and small don't come about as a result of strongly held; yet differing points of view.
 And our sometimes; almost overwhelming; desire to convince someone else of the total veracity of our own.

So perhaps some help from Nietzsche; for a friend who is struggling to be allowed to walk her own path....

  No one can build you the bridge; on which you; and only you must cross the river of life.

  There may be countless trails; and bridges; and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and foregoing yourself. 

  There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead?

  Don't ask; walk!

I fear however; that he may not have been able to help; with a new threat stalking the Shires... According to 'The Grower' Magazine we are now to have our slumbers disrupted by fretting over 'Carrot Motley Dwarf Syndrome'........Eeeek! And yet at the same time; chortle.

You couldn't; and I didn't ; make it up...

Like most of these incipient dread diseases about-which-we-are-supposed-to- worry. I'm hoping that healthy roots will result from lots of love; and compost combined with a liberal sprinkling of hope; and 'It'll probably be OK'.

First warming job for the day; flaming the newly sown leeks.... Then a quick spin bikewards over the hills to do a few deliveries. And most likely compusory / compulsive viewing of the bluebells in the beechwoods....It's not too much of a chore to be making your own fun in the country; in Devonshireland; in May...

So wishing warmest Beltane cavortings;  to y'all too....  ;

Sunday, 24 April 2016

New 'spirit capture' lens

Visible 'Happy hossy aura' emanating....

 Pricked forrard ears; being a sign of cheerfulness.


Onwards; but not necessarily upwards.

Cultivating along the contours rather than across them; guards against soil run off from a heavy Spring shower.

Best to take precautions what with weather; these days; being predictably unpredictable...

Discing in the Autumn sown ryecorn, if left to grow on, it would produce a grain crop. But here the green stuff will add fertility to the soil. 

Then a fairly humungous amount of hossy contributions will be added; and worked in prior to the main brassica crops being planted mid - May...

Everything to do all at once now. It's tricky not to get all 'startled rabbit' about the whole undertaking...Every job seems like the most urgent one......

Plus invoking fair weather; via the cloud pixies.....

Five months growth.... 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Tango with a long tall hoe...

It scarce seems credible, but apparently there are a few folk who peruse this blog in the hope of garnering some gardening advice!
Well; if that be the case; and first taking the precaution of referring your good selves to the context and contacts page by way of disclaimer. Here be some timely advice on the subject of weed control.
The primary tool employed; even on a relatively large scale such as here; is the good old fashioned hoe.
Although the model I favour is a more modern iteration of an old design;
Which cultivates on both the push; and the pull.
Whatever the vintage of implement chosen, the principal is the same.
Tiny; recently germinated seedling weeds should be sliced just below soil level whilst they are still small enough to then be frazzled by the sun or wind in a few hours.....Dry weather favours the wielder of the hoe.
The most timely advice would be to start before you can even see the blighters.
It may be discernable in the picture that the rainbow chard transplants are growing here on the 'offset'

I.e. Like the fives on a dice.

This is an optimal spacing; given that plants develop with a roughly rounded outline when viewed from above. So this configuration makes best use of the available planting space.
And once crops are fully grown they will do a reasonable job of shading out competing weeds.
Keep the hoe moving through the tilth as often as possible; whilst the plants mature to full size.
Accurate plant spacing makes hoeing an enjoyable slantwise job, especially so when the company is congenial.
If Girl Wednesday is busy elsewhere; there's always the dulcet tweets of other birds to enjoy.
And have the handle of whichever tool you might employ; at the correct length.
Many tool handles are designed for those of more traditional stocky yeoman proportions; and will give taller sorts a hard days labour.
You should be able to stand up straight; driving hand right on the end of the shaft to give maximum motive force. Its partner goes further down for accurate guidance.
There is no need to be toiling; bent over; 'nose to the grindstone....It's inefficient and gives for a grumblesome back...
A few years back my optician told me that this sort of work is good for the eyesight, as the need to focus on the far then near is more akin to natural working conditions for the eye, compared with looking at a screen..
Having said that; they just don't seem to be printing labels as clearly as they used to....
Elliot Coleman ; a gardening guru hailing from Maine; opined that once we've got the hang of this cultivating technique; it should feel as if we are dancing with our hoe...
And could indeed; quite happily; keep it up all day.
Quite so.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Elephant Garlic

Healing fast

Nice shorts....

Yup; they are medically proven cure for hurty knees; laughter being a well known balm for many ills...

So; having thrown myself; somewhat inelegantly onto the pavement in my hurry to get to the darling country station in Shropshire. And subsequently finding myself almost unable to walk by the afternoon; I feared that this was going to be a 'clumsy idiot' ; self imposed 'admin week'....
Well sorry paperwork; but it turns out that both practising; and preaching the legwork seems to have almost miraculous powers of restoration.....

Still a bit painful, but teaching four classes with a particular emphasis on "maintaining and regaining knee strength" seems largely to have done the trick......

So someone is going to have to tie me to a chair; and turn off the Internet kitties if the admin is going to get done....
But first perhaps a little light hoeing; a touch of spinach planting; harrowing of chickens; a modicum of pig bothering; and general spreading of love and compost.....

It's truly remarkable how much  growth results when you leave the farm at this time of year; even for a couple of days. The tunnel grown garlic being a fine example....... 

They're not really shorts btw; it's my 'sitting round the fire talking nonsense late at night wrap'......A comfort blanket; if you will......  ;)

Monday, 18 April 2016

On the train...

Who doesn't love an aqueduct?
A visually stunning feat of engineering, and collaborative effort.
Resulting in a elegant, effective, means of transport.
It sits beautifully in its location on the border btxt England and Wales.
And further childlike transports of delight to be had; from water running where it didn't ought to be; combined with vertigo inducing "It's a long way down!".
Today's train didn't actually cross this most pleasing bridge; another time perhaps.
But most thoroughly 'hoisted by my own petard',  or more accurately tripped by my own poorly tied laces.
After yesterday's lecture on thinking about how we walk; am now nursing quite a 'hurty knee' after sudden and violent contact with perilous pavement on way to the station....
I know....." A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step" And all that....
Idris the Welsh Dragon of 'Practice what you preach' was craftily laying in wait.
Once on the train, whilst in conversation with a fellow passenger, I was on the point of rolling up my trouser leg to get a view of the damage.
Turned out one of his hobbies was freemasonry; so I desisted from any adjustments to my attire lest he suspect I was making fun.
His occupation was something akin to 'Systems Analyst'....Which actually sounds quite interesting from a 'working out what, and why, people do what they do. And how to make a business run more smoothly...
So now I'm going to have to find a new, extra inscrutable occupation, for those moments when I don't want to be pre defined by job titles....
Tonight's classes might be bit long on tell; and short on show....Ooops

Sunday, 17 April 2016

'Fat Bike'......

I've been wondering about the performance of these wide tyred steeds for a few months now.

Little did I know however that an acquaintance of mine already had one; in his rather well stocked stable of velocipides..

So a sunny test ride was undertaken.

Great fun; comfy travelling; and surprisingly little drag from the chunky tyres.

It practically floats through deep water and mud...Irons out pot holes, and rocks...And has a niftily tight turning circle..


I now have a new 'thing' to covet....
Botheration..... ;-)

Saturday, 16 April 2016

She's got legs...

But does she know how to use them?

Those of us lucky enough to have an above average number of legs; pretty much take them for granted.

But we expect them to carry us about in our daily lives; and sometimes on longer  excursions. So it might seem sensible to pay some attention to how they; and the rest of the body could work more efficiently; and comfortably; whilst we are out and about.

This week I shared a 'jumping about' session with some young people who are preparing for a longish two day walk on  Dartmoor.

 It was a yoga class; but one specifically aimed at considering all of the above.

Excuse me 'school system' ...... I have a bone to pick with you...You appear to have bent some of our youth into some proper odd shapes. Thirteen years of being forced to sit, in a badly designed chair, hasn't done them many favours posturewise.

But hey; at the same time; I guess I'll never be out of a job.... 

Busily employed in trying to sort out the slightly older folks who turn up at class needing some help. 
Not because they want to have 'deep yogic thoughts' installed; but usually because things are starting to physically hurt in some way...

Modern life seems almost to be designed to make us uncomfortable.

I know, we can all have accidents, illnesses, genetic predispositions; circumstances not in our favour, and so on.... 
 Any of these things, mean we can't always take optimum care of ourselves.

I do know that.
 More than once I have temporarily knackered my back, by over doing things on the field work front, or hurt some other bits by falling off my bike...

 But luckily I have some tools and knowledge, to hand to get most things back to where they need to be....

And now I fully risk being smote bythe ire of 'Smaug' the Dragon; that may yet shove me off a precipice to a sorry end for being such a clever clogs....

But my job as a teacher is about passing on hard won knowledge, the years; in the case of yoga thousands of years; of collective experience. 
But also asking questions; or asking people to ask themselves questions about what might be going on; or perhaps going wrong with their own internal structure.

 And then showing them some ideas and techniques for working a little differently.

Yoga is a practical 'show and tell and do' subject. Difficult to get over; just via words on a page. 
So really best done alongside some practical instruction..
But some of this might help; even those who don't get to go to a classy class.

When preparing for a long walk, in remote country, there is, quite rightly, a lot of effort put into navigation training; and very detailed  discussions around the kit that is required on an expedition.

For sure; it totally makes sense to keep your backpacking gear as lightweight and efficient as possible.

But what about that primary piece of kit that can't be left behind?

What about your corporeal body; that which you're asking to do all the work, show you fine scenery. carry all your kit, but not grumble in the slightest. 

Thankfully; walking is one of the most natural forms of exercise that us humans can do. 
And perhaps if we only walked, at a non urgent pace most of the time, occasionally breaking into a sprint to catch a meaty dinner; or even; now and then; ran a bit faster to avoid being someone elses' meaty dinner.

 Then squatted down to eat the nuts, berries, and other foragables we had gathered along the way, and used same action to effect elimination later on.

Later laid down to rest somewhere reasonably comfortable, got up the morn and repeated, pretty much all the time, we wouldn't run into a lot of trouble.

But we don't.... 
Our lives generally look very different to that.

But who would go back to 'caveman' days? 
No; me neither.

We can pick from a range of the 'best of both worlds'....
 I for one; am not giving up custard anytime soon...

Feet 'sandal ready' spread those toes out...the forefoot should also possess a slightly springy 'we have lift off' arch to it to....
And 26 bones in each foot!

Anyway; in our session we considered many things in the allotted
 hour and a half of 'fun' (mostly fun when it stops....? )

I'll mention a few points here; but perhaps return with some more ideas another time.

Starting with the feet..Noting first just how vital it is that the nail polish matches the leggings...

We have to start with the feet - basic physics tells us that in order for something to lift up; something else has to press down. 
It's interesting that our feet contain twenty six bones each? A quarter of all the bones in the body.

That's in addition to all the connecting tendons, ligaments and muscles that animate them. And what do we do with this fine piece of engineering?? 

We shove them into shoes, without a second thought and expect them to get on with it, without complaint..

 Fallen arches, are a commonly encountered problem, where the foot has been  
 Orthotics can help counteract immediate problems, but it might be a better idea to 'reboot' that foot as far as is possible so the arches are springy, less prone to injury? 
 Standing, in bare feet, with your inner heels joined and inner ankles too, then joining as much of your inner leg as possible starts the process, by making the inner leg muscles do the work they've been shirking..

Can both feet be made to press down the same amount?
Does one leg work harder than the other? Apparently this can be the cause of walking round in circles, if lost in a desert...
Look at the wear on the soles of your shoes, or the impression of your feet in wet sand, that will give you some clues as how you use your feet.

You can, if you so choose; within reasonable limits rebuild your body, over time. The cells ... Apart from the central nervous system, fully regenerate over the course of every seven years. 

So deliberate repeated action, will reform things along more helpful lines.
That is effectively what any half decent form of bodywork should be doing for you.
I used to be able to stand with my feet inner feet a good four inches apart and my inner knees would already be touching, (knock kneed).
But now; after some years practice; I wouldn't say my legs are totally perfect but they're a damn sight straighter than they were...

And whilst you're walking; and standing; your feet should point forwards... Its far more efficient tracking - wise; gives better engagement of the femur in the hip socket; and helps avoid the narrowing in the lower back that can lead to the evil scatica. 
A deeply unpleasant leg pain that is referred from the sacro-iliac joint on the back of your pelvis, its horrible, avoid it if you can...

And then there's stride length; there is perhaps a plausible shoe leather saving argument for taking longer strides, with properly extended legs. Fewer strikes per mile; longer lasting boots or shoes? And of course with longer strides you will cover more miles. 
 But there comes a point where excessive stride extension could start to have a deleterious effect on various parts; such as knees, groins, hips, and lower back. Particularly if the body hasn't been conditioned to make such a reach.

All these adjustments need to made gradually, mindfully, with some knowledge of technique, so as not to traumatise or damage the body..
As with all important journeys ; it's also about how you go; not just how far you go...

For the chin to go to the shin; the legs have to do some serious lifting 'leg work' front and back... The front edge of the spine hast to stay long....All in good time...
As we get older (and please message me urgently if you've found the non terminal antidote to that one) our frontal groins have a tendency to tighten up. 

Even the least observant amongst us, will have noticed that some of the very aged tend to have a bent forward aspect to them... This is often because the dorsal spine; or upper back has a tendency to hunch over; not surprising really given that most of what we do is in front of us, and slightly down there.
Makes me wonder if we're going to see an increase in neck problems in years to come. As we all seem to go about these days, staring down into the beloved faces of whatever tech gadget we favour...

 Perhaps there should be a free kite given away with every smart phone to counteract the effect. 

And the back rounding is furthered if we give into the effects of gravity, rather than using it for some bone density enhancing, resistance training...
Such as jumping about..

Plus the tendons and ligaments that attach the top of the legs to the abdomen get shorter.  Sitting down a lot doesn't help..... Stand up, for your back.

 Wouldn't it be a shame to end up so bent over; that one day you could no longer enjoy the sky?

Bending over backwards; to please; as ever...
Frontal groins fairly well open; dorsal spine going in; but  please don't try this at home; or in the hills; or even the valleys; until you've spent a while (several years perhaps) building up to it......

Once your legs are as straight as they are going to get; then we can think about the levelling of the pelvis. And particularly; but not exclusively for the girls here, make a point of lifting the front of the pelvis up. So your lumber spine isn't dipped in like a ballet dancers'... They tend to end up with dreadful lower back pain in later life... Talk about 'suffering for your art'.

Then the spine can start to grow tall; space can be made between the vertebrae.

And glory of glories your chest can open and spread 

Because what is contained within your rib cage? Only your lungs; only the oxygen tanks that are going to supply some energy to those hard working muscles as they get you up that last hill to a higher pitch so you can wake if you're lucky to an awe inducing sunrise; or if you are truly blessed; and high enough an inversion.

This inversion Sirsasana strengthens almost every thing, and has a beneficial effect on the circulation and digestion...Also handy around the house for locating long lost items under furniture....

This kind of inversion might just give you a 'moment'... Both sorts require some kind of effort to attain.

A note of the largest possible denomination was inserted under my models rucksack chest strap; to illustrate an incentive to lift that area. 
Imagine that note is the only thing you have to proffer should you ever reach civilisation in the shape of a bar. 
Lift your chest, it literally lifts your heart too*

And shoulders down of course ..First rule of pack fitting is; as everyone knows;  that the weight is carried on the hips. Shoulder straps are for stability, not so much load carrying. Move your shoulders away from your ears. Most peoples cervical spines are far longer than they think, and your neck will love you for it.

Learning to work your arms like this; is great not only for shoulder mobility; but also makes reaching things out of your side pockets just that little bit easier...

And then last; maybe not quite least; but certainly not as important as it would like to think it is; the head.

Even if your noggin is merely filled with faerie dust; and unicorns' kisses. 
It is still a very heavy thing. So why adopt that "Here comes my cranium, my body will be along later stance"?    It makes you look like you want to fight someone.... Maybe you do?

But mostly you're just creating your very own 'pain in the neck' to follow you around.... Your neck structure is quite delicate; but the skull will balance quite happily up there if you position it correctly...And will even port several kilos of water over many miles, if one happens to live far from a fresh water source.

I've often wondered what those girls and women, would think if they could see what we in the west actually do; in that sparkling fresh; delivered purified to our homes water...Before we flush it away....

A lot of headaches result from neck tension; and a fair amount of that is caused by how the head is carried, and by the shoulders hunching up in that 'protective' posture....Fear not; there is unlikely to be a tiger; ready to pounce...

And finally ; and sublimely; after all that effort; have a break, lie down and take it easy. 
When we train, or exercise, or use our bodies vigorously in any way for pleasure or work, we are actually damaging them.

When we rest; the body repairs; builds fitness;  and re-forms; hopefully along the lines that you have consciously redrawn. 
So if you throw yourself down on the sofa, or wherever without a thought; immediately after you've worked hard; then that is the shape your body will take...

 But there's nearly always a floor; or firm mat of some sort available to lie down on, in a straight line. Having the knees bent up; is sometimes more cheering for your lower back.... You never know your body might even grow to like you for it...


* I mentioned to my group of mainly older teens that I had spend most of my early youth hiding from the world: posture and body language wise: in a state of painfully shy embarrassment at having grown so tall so quickly; or even at the frightful cheek of taking up any space in the world at all.
 I don't think it's an altogether uncommon state of mind; for young or old....

I suspect that very few of them actually believed me; given the slightly over exuberant person that was exhorting them to undergo this process.

Lift and spread your tractor....

But it was the case; it took a lot of self-training. But once you discover; and start living the fact; that others' response to you; almost directly mirrors your approach to them; it all starts to fall into place......

 If your body language says 'uninterested, nervous, unfriendly, or withdrawn', literally turned in on yourself, then that will, unless people are willing to persist, most likely be reflected back at you.

 Not because people are inherently mean; but mainly because many of us are  struggling with the same; 'worried about what people will think*' stuff. so for a while you have to 'act confident' until the results come in, and then it becomes an ingrained 'positive feedback' habit. It doesn't mean that the self doubt goes away, it just makes the world overall, a friendlier place to operate in...

And anyway Most of them are far too busy thinking about their own presentation to give you a moments thought .

Or as this quote allegedly attributable to Churchill puts it...

"Once you reach forty, you give up worrying what others think of you; but once you reach sixty; you realise that no one was thinking about you at all"

And finally a few thoughts about walking companions; should you be so lucky to have options.....
 In my experience the best people to walk with; if you don't choose just to accompany your own self in glorious solitude; are those who would also; quite as cheerfully go by themselves. 

For a few reasons.....They don't need a constant stream of verbal entertainment to keep them occupied or distracted. Although of course the natural pace of walking can lend itself to the stimulation and investigation of topics many and various. 

Solo walkers; solo cyclists; solo anythingerers; i.e. folks happy enough in their own company; are usually just that because they have enough going on in their own heads to make themselves, reasonably interesting company to themselves.

 And they may, perchance, have had a bit of time to think; or chew over an idea or two, of their own. 
They may even; if you are interested enough; be prepared to share some of those ideas with you. 

Yes naturally there are some; who; for their own reasons just don't like people at all; or may find us as individuals insufferable...

And that is of course ok too; there's no need to force our company on anyone... 

But hopefully your self sufficient; but friendly enough companion will in addition have cultivated the art of noticing stuff.

 Not just the fine long views; marvelous though they can be. 
But also the smaller details; leaves, rocks, an interesting bit of vernacular fence work, silly signs, rodent skulls, inonimate brown birds the moniker of which they may know, or cumulus clouds building in the West.... Whatever.

But equally valuably; these folks; do also know the value of; and how to do; a companionable silence. There is an art to knowing when to shut up...

For sure; I'm am still working on that one too; but as with all things; we are always on a journey towards the ideal; works in progress; we rarely really know where we're headed til we get there. ..

But silence; and or solitude; is where the light gets in; its where the 'moments' happen. Where we sometimes get to meet ourselves.

Where we feel the inexpressible; perhaps are struck by; even if only for a moment; the luck of being alive right now; on this; for all it's flaws; pretty awesome planet.

 And that; whatever the state of your legs; is a fine thing indeed.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Not a Moment Too Soon....

Although you could fairly argue; what with this still being a Wednesday; that the custard creator has delivered well before time. 
Complaints? I have none...

But Spring here; has made a frustratingly stuttering start.
 Now at last; after several false beginnings; the season seems to have turned a corner....

Oh I know..... Calling in the fates; and more than likely the furies; of tempest and chill.

But for now; lets stay in the moment; and the sunshine; for as long as we can..

"It'll probably rain" before long; may well be a meteorologically accurate Eyeorism. But such wet blanketry, doesn't, offer up so many reasons to be cheerful.

In the absence of pretty produce within which to nestle; we chose primrose and celandine to garland this early custard... The centre of the dish had just the right degree of 'inner thigh wobble' (mostly now alimentarily transferred, to that anatomical region ;) theres just a few square inches left; if you get here speedily enough with a spoon.

 Luscious treasures lie beneath this map of blueberries and nutmeg.
I may persuade the crafter to yeild her secrets one day.
 But for now we can only gape in admiration, anticipation; and appreciation....

The hogsback of Mutters Moor just visible in the background...The briney lies beyond.

Hawthorn finally in leaf on the hill top. Mid April is a tad late for this tree to come into leaf.
 The noticeable lean; on the still protected trunk; indicates the strength of the south westerlies; that this young thorn has to contend with.

This plot is just close enough to the sea to benefit from the warming effects of that body of water. But is, at the same time, protected from the worst of the maritime winds by a lowish range of hills.

Despite their being very good listeners; I'm not commonly in the habit of conversing directly with trees.
However there is still something reassuringly rooted; or dependably 'plugged in' to the earth; about them. They are not going anywhere.

Quiet weather was welcome yesterday as the first pass was made with the dramatic looking; but achingly slow paced flame weeder. The burners use a lot less gas on a still day.

Methodical hand work; undertaken with a well designed tool; is an ancient medititive practice.
 But here raking with a purpose beyond the contemplative. Although it's hard to resist making pretty patterns. These plastic headed rakes are surprisingly robust, and have a nice springy action just right for preparing the leek seedling bed.

Sometimes helpers have to be restrained from scraping off the few stones to be found in the soil here. Small rocks can collect solar heat on a sunny day; and then re-radiate it; at night. And when the weather does turn hot, they can also have a shading, and dew collecting function.

The impression of the tractor tyre is just visible here. These 'wheelings'  becomes the inter-bed pedestrian paths for the season. Access for maintenance and cropping from either side of the 120cm bed.

But really just another well warmed bed for the not over-taxed; resident pest controller

Trailer Trash Kitty indulges; with some indolent rudery...

If reincarnation were a thing; there could be scarce few; more satisfactory creatures to return as; than a Tabby Cat.

"If you feed me well; give me a warm porch and a classy basket to sleep in; allow me to loll about on the warm earth whilst you work (just to remind you who; in this relationship; is not grafting); then I might just deign to stick my tongue out at you; as you pause to admire my stripely picturesque posing"

Looked at from her point of view; there is much to be enjoyed.... A path to more labours for the human; is just another 'time well spent' relaxation opportunity for the puss.

As Anais Nin would have it

"We do not necessarily see the world as it is; we see it as we are..."

In reality; there are too few fingers; upon which to count the blessings.

Friday, 8 April 2016

All to do...

At this time of year; on a vegetable farm you could quite easily work from dawn 'til dusk every day; and yet still; even going at it non stop; the end of the 'to do' list would bound away from you like a cheeky rabbit.

To fool yourself, into make it all seem a little more manageable, you can end up with 'lists of lists'.

Four types of Kale; and the last batch of peas (var' Meteor) very patiently await planting...

The old adage  "Hard work never killed anyone....... But it sure as heck bent them into some funny shapes" 

still holds true; even if not engaged in labours agricultural. There's a lot of 'worryingly shaped' keyboard drivers out there too...

And there undoubtedly comes a point whereby; if you don't down tools and take a break; you will; most likely break yourself; or some other vital piece of kit.
 Or you can find yourself making really blithering mistakes; that then take at least another day to put right.

So mindful of this; I invested in a 24 hr everso slightly northerly sojurn; to be bent temporarily into funny shapes. With the aim of putting everything back into it's proper place.

And the yoga crowd; despite the sometimes 'self denying,' image in which they are oft cast; do know how to have a laugh....... The hilarity; of some of our performances; is not entirely lost on us.

 But no matter; giggling is a proven, healthy, vibrational work out for the diaphragm......That's the sheet of muscle that separates the lungs from your abdominal organs; by the way; for those of you who might feel yourselves 'Anatomically challenged'...

Pavritta Ardha Chandrasana..... Yes I know the top leg could be straighter; being over flexed at the ankle doesn't help; perhaps the photographer missed the 'perfect' moment...? 

(I know, there's no such thing as perfection in asana; just always a little more wiggle room for improvement....)

One of the members of the 'Landworkers Alliance' wrote a book some years back; entitled 'Surviving and Thriving on the Land'. (see final link) An interesting read on many fronts; regarding how various folks go about making a small scale sustainable living from land based enterprises.

I do like our badge; you really wouldn't mess with these 'tooled up' folks would you?

 It also puts particular emphasis on how a farming business must be sustainable in terms of human energy and enthusiasm.

A drive to succeed, against the prevailing odds, might take you through the first few years. But how do you maintain those essential elements in the long run, as the enterprise matures?

And those people running it may need to be sustained in other ways. There seems to be a prevalent culture of applauding 'over work' in our world; that really does no one much good in the long run.

'Busyculture' to show just how important and indispensable we really are. Quite literally 'working ones backside off; that might save on gym fees. But butt tired; grumpy bunnies aren't nearly so much fun to be with... 

Perky rabbits, batteries recharged; are far more the thing...And energy begets energy; the 'help' is far more likely to be invigorated by the odd chucklesome moment; than a litany of woes...

And how long before technology allows you, dear reader, to enjoy the sweet aroma of these 'bee ready' blooms?

 Here showing the earliest planted broad beans flowering in the polytunnel. The first beans can be eaten whole as 'fingerlings' i.e. picked when still the size of your little finger...Lightly steamed before adding as much butter as can feasibly be persuaded to cling to them....Plus a generosity of black pepper; mmmm seldom fails to cheer.

The stems are supported by netting stretched horizontally; this is essential to prevent 'lodging' (agricultural term for falling over); which can easily happen when the plants are heavy with crop.

 The net itself is supported by thickish wooden or metal stakes driven in.... Easier on the eye than canes... Particularly if the upright should happen to meet the eye when bending to harvest beans through dense foliage. It is sadly; an all too common; potentially serious gardening injury...So sensible 'elf and safety warning here ....Use cane caps....

Or a large snail shell can be pressed into service atop the vision threatening spike  ....Mollusc dispatch duties. thus performed simultaneously.....Eeeeuurgghh.......I know.... Apologies to the more delicate blooms amongst you.

A few of my favorite things... Spotted on returning from a stiffish climb up one of the local cyclists 'fittening' hills. near the coast

* stats here if they're your thing......

Blue skies, fluffy clouds, and the start of the bluebells to further quicken the pulse. It's reckoned that finding these darlings in the hedgebank indicates that it once formed the boundary of  woodland;  long since cleared. And; just discernible as a fuzzy white splodge; the beginnings of the dainty white stitchwort...

 Sadly out of focus; but in my defence I was being squashed again the bank by one of those beloved of cyclists, oh so charming, "I own this road you know" Shiny 4wd operators; at the time.

And Alexanders, to top. Quite toothsome when young and fresh. 
And considerably tastier than many of the other foragables available. 
There is a reason why cultivated vegetables were developed. Just because something is technically edible; doesn't mean you'd necessarily want; given an alternative; to consume it...... The catch all description for a lot of these wild flavours is "tastes a bit like spinach". 
Well; how about we eat some spinach them?

The umbellifer tribe; of which Alex' is a member; contains a few individuals that are a trifle 'deathy'. (Hemlock water dropwort springs to mind)
 So unless your I.D. skills are in order; it might be best to steer clear of gathering them dinnerwards. 

And to finish; many thanks are due to a correspondent who kindly sent me this elephant in response to last weekends post...

Another way of saying that there is usually an upside to a downside...?
You just have to pay quiet attention to find it...

I also like this one: attributable  
not only to Buddha; but curiously; also to Ganesh;

Mohammed and

And often used by them; in response to any human constructed injustice....

"I never flippin' said that was OK"

Alright; that's quite enough vacillation ; procrastination ; and or displacement activity; the brassicae won't plant themselves...

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Steady Girls.....

Oh my!

A wood fired; steam driven engine; for motivating the saw mill.
A girl could come all over quite funny.

Housed in a barn (part wiggly tin roof) crafted from the planked Douglas Fir logs brought down by the hosses from the woods above.....

And plenty more timber for other projects besides; and thinnings for boiling the kettle for making the tea.

What more could one possibly want?

Look at the fly wheel on that !

Could be a contender for the WiTiAS annual photographic competition.

(Wiggly Tin Appreciation Society)

First meeting of UK DAPNET in Dorset. So nice to sit on dry grass, in the sunshine, and watch other folks and beasties working. Glorious Spring weather, a carpet of celandines.

Here discs being used  for ridging up, crops will be seeded into the top of the ridge.

Wiggly planks, storage shed made from the trees right here.

Taken down to the saw mill like this....

But I didn't come back with a big bottomed, feathery footed hoss'..... How's that for self control?

Lovely way of working, and people. Such larks playing in the woods and fields; under the guise of serious work.

But the Ford doesn't need daily feeds, nor, so long as the brakes are in order, does it risk, running off with it's load.

You know you've had a good weekend when you come home smelling of woodsmoke.....Really loud woodpeckers just outside the tent; first thing in the morning...But I didn't have to get up to attend to them, and someone else had got the communal porridge pot going...Camping Luxe; 'Hairy Farmer Style'.