Scudding clouds. Warm winds. Lots of sunny spells. A few showers. That’s been the weather recipe this week here in the north of England. The air is fresh and good up on that hill. Before that we had weeks of heavy rain and before that several weeks of no rain and hot sunshine. Is it getting warmer? I’m not that convinced. My orange tree didn’t survive a minus ten frost this winter, despite being fleeced under the lean-to.
Years ago I had the notion to incorporate growing my own food into busy daily life and I’m still at it. I ended up with one and a half acres on a sloping clay hillside and these days I grow a lot. I’m not a natural, but I’m getting better. I’ve slowed down and I’m trying to be more observant – it all ties in with that meditation lark. The truth in nature is a tonic for the ravaging nonsense outside the secret garden.
Every season, there are successes and failures. No peas or courgettes this year – they just didn’t grow. Even stalwart beetroot is paltry. It’s normally pretty tough and not a favourite of pests, but something is nibbling off the leaves – pigeons I suspect. I concentrate on things I like, so beans are abundant and I’ve exceeded self-sufficiency with spuds. I had to throw a lot of sprouty spongy ones away, in order to empty the mesh rat-proof store for this years imminent harvest.
There’s a lot of romantic bullshit about food growing – particularly on non-arable land. It’s endless hard work, subject to setbacks. Occasionally, I’ve just had enough and want to sell up for an easy life. The exercise is good though, and on hot sunny days, nothing compares to that secret private space, cocooned by thick wild hedges. It’s too much for one person, but I still haven’t mastered getting other burgeoning gardeners involved. It transpires that humans can be bigger dicks than the squirrels, crows and pigeons. Now a f’ing rabbit has joined the cast, spotted by my neighbour fleeing into mine. That could spell big trouble.
I like to do a bit of digging to keep the flab at bay. It’s always linked to a project – there has to be some goal such as a new path or pond. A gym subscription would be a punishment for a serious crime for me. I have a comprehensive stretching routine which so far has kept the wear and tear at bay. Back exercises are particularly important.
I do bit more landscaping each year and every time there’s a long dry spell, I increase the water supply. I’m digging a new well at the bottom and I found an old steel water pipe about a foot down. It runs horizontally across the bottom. It’s exciting, because it strongly suggests an old well at the end of it.
I used dowsing with two sawn off tent poles and bits of bent wire to find the likeliest spot. There’s a very strong signal right in the corner, so I’ll dig down and find out, when I get the chance.
Dowsing is the ancient art of finding underground water. No one knows how it works. It was traditionally done with a forked hazel twig, so that rules out magnetism. You can also pick up underground pipes with it and I heard a story of the gas board employing a dowser to find a pipe.
No one was more sceptical than me, until I tried it a few years ago and picked up an old steel land drain two feet underground.
The greenhouse is banging, providing pounds of tomatoes and cucumbers, with chillies and peppers coming through nicely. I watched a few hot pruning vids and my yields have improved. As usual, I grew too many plants, but managed to give a load away. A little 12v battery, charged by solar power runs a pump which fills the roof tank. A sack of comfrey in the bottom tank provides feed and the stench of rotting flesh and turds. Nice.
The garlic harvest has been the best ever and lots of onions are nearly ready to harvest.
It’s uncharacteristically autumnal with blackberries and windfall apples appearing much earlier than usual.
I’ve had my first success with grafting apples – 3 of them from my big Golden Spire tree onto dwarf rootstock. Wowser.
Cracking hazel nuts:
There are still carrier bags of hazelnuts from 3 years ago, when there was a big harvest. This years harvest is going to be huge if the squirrels don’t get them. Every so often, I’ll put the telly on in the background and crack a few. They’re not like shop bought – they’re smaller and chewier and delicious roasted. Each tree is different and with time, I learn what size of nut is going to be in each shell.
We have nutcrackers, but I find using my toolmaker’s vice a lot more efficient – I made it when I was nineteen, during my engineering apprenticeship. It’s a very precise thing, perfectly square in all aspects.
I study the vice, and recall the apprenticeship, which taught me the fabric of manufacturing and the ability to make and mend just about anything. I’ve lost my confidence recently, so when I bought a little house to renovate to be an off grid ‘urban farmhouse’ for the ranch, I got a builder to do the work.
When that fell through, I had the choice of finding another builder or doing it myself, with Sam’s help. I chose the latter and it suddenly became a project of great precision, enjoyment and satisfaction. It’s very chilled and humorous . We’ve completely replaced a rotten floor and built a brand new kitchen roof – we just need a dry spell to cover it. One of the highlights was welding a big steel frame to support the roof. Sam’s never done arc welding before, but he picked it up straight away.
It’s all a quiet revolution. Independence at least in part from the craziness out with. Breed seeds for the local climate. Make and mend anything and everything. Fuck their criminal energy bills. Weave and wind against the tide.
Sometimes rage and despair assail me. Bad words come into my head and string themselves into naughty sentences. A voice screams ‘Your dullness and lack of imagination and lateral thinking is not mine, you thickest of dull … I have to remind myself of that ‘Let it burn’ Zen saying.
I have four acquaintances who have an online ‘C*** club’ where they send each other c*** memes. How very childish.
Those questioning the mainstream narrative are constantly looking for other sources of reliable news. It’s getting more difficult. Social media is getting crazier, particularly Twatter and it’s hard to know who to trust and believe. Trusted friends turn out to be compulsive liars. I can see their Pinocchio nose flapping in the wind. They must think I’m stupid. Oh well.
Someone tells me the earth is flat. People with no scientific training or medical experience state that there was no pandemic and viruses don’t exist. They spout with confidence about what did and didn’t happen during the pandemic in hospitals, despite never having worked in one. Then there’s that big blood-boiler ‘Covid was re-branded flu.’ Give me strength.
Working in A&E for a long time allows you to see every shade of humanity – it’s not just illness and injury, a lot of it is social. You learn what can and cannot be for humans. There are some topics I daren’t even mention.
Some of those rabbit holes are dark indeed and as usual, everything leads to those at the top of the pyramid. It’s well-recognised that millions of children go missing every year to traffickers and it’s almost too awful to imagine. The American film The Sound of Freedom tackles the issue head on, and is quietly outstripping other films at the box office. Perhaps the doings of the heinous baddies are reaching a wider audience?
The latest biggie in the hit parade is climate change which has knocked the pandemic off the top spot. The formula is the same though. Fearmongering, transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, and more and more restrictions on personal freedom. Cameras everywhere etc.
Paradoxically, I would score maximum points with the climate twats. Climate change is as old as history and has been far more devastating before man’s possible contribution. Check out Greta and her cronies ffs and find out who’s really behind them.
It’s being shoved down our throats on every news and weather programme just like the pandemic misinformation. Climate science is more precise and researchable than medicine and there are two sides to the debate – it’s just that we only hear one of them in the mainstream – the other side is blanket censored.
How can anyone seriously think that man’s puny efforts can make the slightest difference to the variations of the sun’s brightness and the subtle changes in the earth’s revolving axis through space?
What is very real though is the destruction of the earth’s micro-environment by corporate greed. The pouring of raw sewage into all our waterways whilst the company directors cream off millions of profits is a prime example. It’s even possible to re-wild deserts using permaculture techniques. Hence climate change and micro-environment destruction are two separate issues. It’s entirely possible to mitigate for the former by addressing the latter. Alas, the latter is firmly under the control of the so-called elite, yet small efforts like mine can make a difference. Anyone want to buy some garlic?
Otherwise, it’s our quiet family and friends life. We had another Sagefest which was the best so far – hot and sunny. Three Notsensibles, with Bish on drums and Sam singing, played a Notsensibles set the Vincent Black Lightning played – Lee came all the way down from Scotland especially. The highlight was Dave, Hodgy, Tyler and Sam doing a blistering Sabbath set – check them out here, filmed by Pev. We fired bows and arrows, pursued merriment and danced the night away with disc jockeys Pev, Gaz, Steve and moi.
I paid a brief visit to muddy Beatherder to spin some 7″ singles – it was the anniversary of Ticker’s death, so poignant. I chose records that he would approve of.
My dear friend Emma visited from America, and we had a day out in York. I sneaked in the annual camping trip to my favourite place and climbed that mountain again.
I was always too knackered and grumpy with work to fully appreciate my own kids when they were little. Now it’s a special joy to see the little baby every day and watch his funny little personality develop and listen to his chunnerings. From a crawl to a waddle. One word, two words, three words. Spike Milligan brought his kids up on his own when his wife died. He described them as little fairies. Herein lies the crux. Us reasonable people would do ANYTHING to protect and nourish our babies.
I agree with Mozzer. Some people are ridiculed, bullied and cancelled for being radical and different when they’re alive, then immediately canonised when they die. Fuck the hypocrites.
Come ye back when summer’s in the meadow, or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow and I’ll be there in sunshine or in shadow.