The four-foot-deep well in the main allotment is completely dry for the first time since I dug it many years ago. It’s a barometer for the water table – the level always drops during dry spells. If my observations are correct, it’s dryer now than during the summer drought two years ago. This can’t be good for UK agriculture. I haven’t seen it mentioned on the news yet – maybe because there’s so much else going on?
The well in the field is also dropping but still has two feet or so of water in it. Normally, I would pump it out into the nearby IBC tank, but the honey bees have commandeered it as their water source – it’s about 30 feet from the hive. The surface is thick with water cress. Any remaining areas are covered with duck weed, providing a perfect landing mat for the bees to drink from. At any one time, there are up to fifty of them on the surface – they are thriving and I’m told I’ll need another hive at this rate. It’s a pleasure to watch them come and go with their pollen sacs full – mostly pale yellow with the occasional orange and brighter yellow.
After the drought, I resolved to double my water supply and I did. I have 6 x 1000l IBC tanks fed from every available roof + about 1000l worth of water butts. The weather during my second week off has still been dry but cool and cloudy with it, punctuated by three frosts, the third as low as -3. I anticipated it, and had all my frost-sensitive plants in propogators or covered with fleece. The potatoes in the field however are decimated – Dewy says they will recover.
Watering is a daily chore, and despite a few feeble efforts, I still haven’t sorted any irrigation. Elias resolves to design and build a system. I’m pleased that the engineering genes are coming through. He’s researched the ancient method of buried clay pots (ollas) – right up permaculture street.
Dewy has finished the drainage system in the field. The beds are now shuttered and there are sump drains at the bottom, with land drain arteries feeding into the run-off around the well. A row of yellow flag iris finishes it off (absorbs moisture). It seems a bit daft putting so much energy into drainage when it hasn’t rained for so long. It’s about the longer-term bigger picture though. It will rain torrentially again – it’s just a matter of when – bit like a pandemic – we know it’s inevitable a long time in advance, and we prepare accordingly.
I am astounded to hear healthcare workers who I know say things like ‘Why don’t you give him a chance – he’s doing OK’. I’m talking about Alexander De Pfeffel of course. Boris is just his cuddly public persona name – his mates call him Alex. He missed the first five Cobra meetings and he and his puppet-masters have made a world-leading astronomic catastrophic fragmented fuck-up with regard to managing the pandemic. The power of the media to twist the truth is unsurpassed.
This week’s icing on the cake is prick-Hancock saying that nurses have ‘already had a significant pay rise‘ – a red rag to over 500 000 cows and bulls – there’s a stampede coming your way dicktard. Male politicians are so out of fashion. Please Oh please give us a Jacinda.
Elsewhere, I have lots of plants on the go, but still little means of distributing them: tomatoes; courgettes; herbs; broccoli; onions; leeks anyone? Rhubarb and salad leaves – all dressed-up and nowhere to go.
There’s a huge mound of soil and turf above where Dave dug out the area for the poly-tunnel. The clever boys and girls are saying we’ll move it next time we hire a digger, but I’m sneakily moving it by hand – about four barrow-loads a day. How the fuck else am I supposed to be able to carry on wearing my 30″ waist jeans, especially after all the wines and ales I’ve been swilling during my time off? Not to mention the pies. Being alone for so long is a weird one. We’re pack animals like dogs. I suspect there are a lot of head-fucked people out there. I still have the weird sleep pattern of going to bed early as it goes dark, then waking up in the middle of the night for several hours. I’ve spent a few of my days off doing hardly anything and snoozing in the van. Louise has to remind me that it’s OK to do nothing once in a while. Fortunately, a big open outdoor space allows for social-distanced visitors.
I like putting little clips of ranch developments on t’social media. This week, I got the first bean frame up, based around a mesh-fencing panel. I thought it would be surreally funny to have me driving past it on the tractor, pulling a face – I am so childish. I’m nearly the only one who gets my shit sense of humour. Gwen filmed it and took it up a notch by muttering a derogatory four-letter word as I drove past. The tractor lets out a puff of blue smoke just after she says it. There’s a lot of hooting with laughter afterwards.
I show Mog round one day. We’re in the mini-orchard and I smugly comment that I have four walnuts. Quick as a flash, with deadpan expression, she says ‘Have you thought of seeing a doctor‘.
There has to be humour during the shitshow otherwise we’d all sink.
The Biff for Breakfast Board and the Shitfaced on Saturday Society have released a wellbeing app, and not a moment too soon. For cynics like me, who think these smart-phone pinging-singing inventions are complete bollocks, it’s a game-changer. You don’t have to download it from the internet – you can dance under the moon at dusk, signal Venus with a broad hand-sweep and hug a tree. The app will then automatically download to the crack of your arse on a roll of birch parchment.
It’s pragmatic and down to earth, with lots of practical tips:
Feeling fucked? -> add some flax seed to your muesli
No money? No job? No income? -> climb an oak tree and piss on a passer-by
Not sleeping? -> cycle three times backwards round the park on your tricycle and do 100 one-handed press-ups on the bowling green.
There’s also an insightful blog of one man’s lock-down: I was a COVID c*nt, but I’m alright now.
There are sweet little out-takes from popular literature with up to date metaphors: Frodo fucks Mordor trip; Gandalf loses a tenner; Gimli shags an elf.
There are ‘how to’ tips too, such as safely sharing a Camberwell Carrot, by adapting a Mapleson-C circuit with a filter, three-way taps and 2m lengths of ventilator hose.
Dewy insightfully points out that as a society, we are overwhelmingly led by marketing, and that the unavoidable reset afforded by the virus must have some positive effects. The utterly obvious fact that working outdoors is good for both our mental and physical health becomes all the more unavoidable.
There’s an interesting paper in the latest Ferret Fortnightly. It’s peer reviewed by Bill Pickles who says ‘I, it’s reight’. We can now all quote it on social media as fact.
Those trained in impartially evaluating science are few and far between. By and large, they agree that the emerging evidence is often overwhelming and sometimes contradictory. The rest of the population is at the mercy of internet algorithms and mainstream media. It can soon become a head-spinning mish-mash. I follow a bloke called John Campbell who does a daily YouTube report. He’s a retired ED nurse and reviews the latest evidence from the best papers. Once you’ve seen a few of his vids, they can drag on a bit, but he does seem to present a balanced view.
I sense a collective sense of weariness and exhaustion in the English psyche. Last weekend’s jolly-blighty street parties were somehow a subliminal signal from the govt – a quiet catalyst, and now people are just thinking ‘fuck-it’ and more or less carrying on as normal (including the token morons having large gatherings). Sweden’s response is very interesting and worth reading about. In Ecuador, the healthcare system has collapsed due to the virus and bodies are being piled up in shipping containers. Meanwhile, it’s rumoured that they received a 4.2 billion IMF loan as part of the Assange deal – some things you won’t come across in conventional media – it’s always worth peering between the cracks.
My muse is creeping back – I picked up my guitar for the first time in ages and I’ve started planning a music vid.
I had my monthly twat-tantrum last week. I’ve already forgotten what it was about – I think I thought someone was going to take my crayons off me, but it was all a misunderstanding – also the arsehole magpies ate all the newly planted kale and broccoli (sounds unlikely, but I caught them red-handed).
This week’s Achilles heel is a clip of an injured swan being returned to its mate after being bitten and cared for at a sanctuary. They do a lovely little dance with their heads and necks – achingly tender, elegant and beautiful. Oh how frail our little struggling existences. Love conquers all innit.