Nothing compares to the shimmering light bright green of spring as it rapidly coats the bare brown branches of the hedges.
There are magical beings that take carbon dioxide out of the air and give back oxygen – a pure clean oxygen close to the ground – easy to breathe and absorb – cleaning, purging, healing.
So it is, that this self-contained rough rugged one-and-a-half acres, is at times complete and self-contained – almost as if its early incandescent green cloak is a protection from the buffoons and tyrants out with.
Hence, I need little else and increasingly withdraw from the toxic chatterings of sophisticated electronic devices that read us, cloud our minds and coerce us with almost unimaginable sophistication.
And maybe, every so often, with the swoop of the peregrine, or the magic rising full moon, there’s a crack in the wall of the material world and I get a glimpse of a deeper magical spiritual world beyond.
The orchard is in bloom including the almond tree for the first time. Might I get nuts? All the peas are hardened off (steady on now) and planted out. Several other trays of beans and squashes are waiting in the wings, eagerly anticipating the frost-safe time of mid-May.
I developed tray gardening several years ago and I’m sticking with it. Many gardeners use modules and pots but as with most things in my life, I search for the quickest least-labour methods. I buy gravel trays from a local hardware shop and three of them fit in a larger tray. I drill a 22mm hole in the corner of each one, which provides adequate drainage and can be easily plugged with half a wine cork if need be.
In the trays I plant seeds well-spaced and let them grow big and strong and well hardened-off, before even thinking of planting them out. It suits our harsher clime and works well. When the time comes, the entire tray is planted out en masse, with minimal root disturbance. If I’m growing plants to sell, I can pot-on the strongest plants from the trays.
As soon as a tray is emptied, I re-plant it, creating a simple succession. The two trays of tomato seeds, grown on the warm kitchen windowsills in late winter, are all potted on and will be ready to sell soon.
We’ve had a beautiful mild sunny Easter weekend and suddenly everything is growing rapidly. The spuds dutifully went in on Good Friday. I’m re-potting lots of perennials and there are quite a few other plants ready to sell. Will I finally get round to doing it properly this year? I need an online shop and a market? I’m rubbish at that kind of thing – I need a business partner.
Elsewhere, progress is strong and I’m steadily on track to double the growing area in the field.
Pev hired a digger for a weekend and beautifully terraced a lower well-sheltered section of the field, including a roadway into the old horse shelter which, with the end wall taken off, will provide another generous storage space.
I plan to surround the new beds with a deep retaining wall, preventing the under-invasion of creeping outside roots and fill them from the muck mountain next door.
I bought 2 jam pans to use as a bain marie and finally got round to melting down and filtering last season’s beeswax to use in ointments – messy but worth it. Both hives seem to be doing well.
We ordered 6 tonnes of soil and compost – two for me, two for Lisa and Dave and one for Pev. Dave and I fitted the hefty towing hitch to the MF35 and hooked up the tipping trailer. The smaller trailer went on the Ferguson and I drove both (not at the same time) down to the road. When the compost arrived on a Saturday morning, with a very grumpy driver, three tonnes went on the trailers – two on the MF and one on the Ferguson. The rest we shovelled into the tipping trailer.
It became a day-long operation with a number of un-anticipated glitches: a tyre burst on the smaller trailer; the just-fixed tyre on the tipping trailer went down; the Ferguson jammed in gear and the battery on the MF failed. Nevertheless, we got there and now I’m well-stocked with potting compost. Making my own from hedge-clippings is one of many planned projects.
In another double-tractor operation, Dave and I concreted in two posts and fitted a mesh panel between mine and Jimmy’s, so that I can drive in and get muck directly. The concrete mixer works beautifully on the Massey Ferguson – the hydraulics work better and are more sophisticated than the Ferguson. It’s so much easier than mixing by hand.
Most gardeners have an area that particularly interests them. Dewy’s is trees and mine has always been native wild plants and their medicinal properties in particular.
I’ve mastered seed saving and propagation for: comfrey; borage; valerian; golden feverfew; great mullein; papaver somniferum, rye, dill, coriander, moss-leaved curled parsley, betony and self heal. Helen found a website that specialised in native medicinal plants (earthsong seeds) and I ordered one-of-everything of the ones that I don’t already have. We probably planted them a bit early and only half have come up – time for a second sowing.
I have a bunch of Celtic-haired friends who share with me the ability to tolerate any amount of smut, filth, vulgarity and vernacularity, without even being slightly offended – weird, intuitive, spiritual, artistic, hot-headed and belligerent. We have no time for fools.
THE word, features strongly in our everyday vocabulary. Sharon Doolin told me the dirtiest joke I’ve ever heard – I’d happily repeat it, but I’ve forgotten it. Helen bought me a ‘C’ fridge magnet and Mog has a periodic table of swear words tea towel. Emma introduced me to Rumi’s The Guest House. I think the kindred-spiritedness is due to the fact that I had bright blonde hair when I was younger. Because of the bullying, I longed to have the same average brown hair of everyone else so that I could blend in. It was even worse for redheads.
Some of my new-found domesticity following Louise’s accident has stayed and I’ve perfected at least five recipes including sourdough bread and chapatis.
Yellow split peas and my own dried beans form the basis of the others – an adaptable dahl/curry and beans in white sauce. I found to my chagrin that having two of these recipes two days in succession with even a hint of under-cooking can lead to eligibility for the international 24-hour farting championships and I’m just not ready for that yet.
Relying more and more on our multi-fuel stove has given my engineering head much food for thought. After the accident, I used the stove almost exclusively for cooking and hot water. The only thing missing is the ability to bake bread. Hence I’ve designed a rocket stove (four times more efficient than a conventional stove) with an inbuilt oven. It uses smaller pieces of wood not normally deemed worthwhile for firewood. I’ve bought steel in bulk and the necessary welding gear. I’ve said before, that of all my apprenticeships, the old-fashioned engineering one was the most useful.
We had a lovely meal up at Ann & Taff’s for Ann’s birthday and Taff, in expert salesman mode, was extolling the virtue of their 1952 Raeburn range, which includes an oven. I studied it to see if there were any features that I could borrow for mine but there weren’t. The essence of a rocket stove is that it draws the burning gases sideways into a swirling vortex, where they burn further with almost 100% efficiency. They are then drawn further sideways into a clay and sand surrounded pipe, creating an effective storage heater. It would be entirely possible to have a coiled copper pipe for hot water, but given that kettles work just as well, I’m saving that for a later design.
We were all back together on the ranch on Easter Saturday for an impromptu opportunistic gathering in the balmy sunshine – the usual bunch + 2 babies under 6 months! We have Sarah’s Bluetooth box thing for music, but strangely we don’t need it. The birdsong and conversation are enough. We watch a hazy golden full moon rise through the lean-to window. It’s maybe the year’s first pre-Sagefestlet. Friends and family are everything.
I peer into the world of finance and trust none of it. The catapulting hyper-inflation catapults apace and I continue to look for pragmatic investment into things of intrinsic value for food-growing and energy production.
The heinous cruel theft from the poorest of the ability to feed themselves and keep warm, boils my blood. Meanwhile the ultra-rich get richer and the energy companies gorge criminal profits. If circumstances were different I would sell up instantly, move to the ranch and buy a small run-down house to insulate and run off-grid, with solar panels and rocket stoves.
I was vaguely aware that the rules on red diesel had changed. When I went to get some from one of the only garages round here that sells it, I had to give my details and I learned that it was now illegal to use red diesel in a generator. Of all the barn-door lurching steps towards totalitarianism, for some reason this is one that has affected me the most.
They will of course soon tax any means of living outside the panoramic system of usury that is being orchestrated worldwide.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, when I was working as an Emergency Medicine consultant, I’ve voiced my misgivings and doubts about the mainstream narrative, based on my front-line experience and scientific training.
I stand by what I’ve said so far – the only difference now is that what I previously stated as opinion, I can now categorically state as fact: testing – an utterly corrupt, unregulated sham, scam, generating billions in profits for several Tories; masks – equivalent to trying to stop mosquitos with a garden fence – now proved with several studies; Pfizer and the other big vaccine manufacturers – long track record of absolute corruption – making billions from the pandemic; mRNA and attenuated chimpanzee adenovirus vaccines never before used on human population therefore NO LONG-TERM SAFETY DATA WHATSOEVER; vaccine spike protein lodges in all tissues leading to a propensity for clot formation and impaired T-cell function, leading to massive increase in cancer relapses and new diagnoses; adverse events vastly greater than all previous vaccines put together. Horrific death rates (~29%) in patients receiving Remdesivir.
I know of one relatively well unvaccinated person who died from Covid complications. I know several people both unvaccinated and vaccinated, who haven’t had it yet (including thankfully some vulnerable people who I know).
The latest thing I’m seeing now is hundreds of double or triple vaccinated people getting Covid, with lots of them saying things like ‘after all this time, I’ve finally got it’. Isn’t it blindingly and blatantly obvious that the vaccines are actually increasing the likelihood of getting it due to vaccine-induced impaired immunity? This is what the science is now confirming. I’m also seeing lots of vaccinated people getting long protracted colds that they can’t shift.
The thing I find the most disturbing, is that despite Pfizer’s release under duress of seven pages of adverse events including over 1200 deaths, from their original trial, there has been no massive public outcry. Instead, the dark horror of vaccinating 5-11 year olds completely unnecessarily has started. I’m disappointed that more healthcare professionals aren’t waking up and speaking out.
Many undertakers are reporting the presence of unusual long stringy clots in cadavers.
The govt has changed the way it presents some of its data, meaning that infection-acquired vs vaccinated immunity can’t be teased out. John Campbell covers it here. Now that a large proportion of vaccinated people have had Covid, adverse events will be blamed on Covid rather the vaccines and it will become impossible to demonstrate the true extent of vaccine injuries. One thing I don’t know for sure is how long the spike proteins hang around in the body. There are some doom-mongers adamantly stating ‘you’ll all be dead in 2 years’. I sincerely hope that they’re wrong.
Would John Lennon have been jabbed?
Down the rabbit hole
Several worried hippies are turning to CBD health biscuits. Who can blame them?
A friend with good knowledge of aviation points out the difference in aeroplane trails one day. She says there are the typical ones of limited length and width, usually on a recognised flight path, then other fatter criss-crossing ones, which she says are chem trails.
There are a cohort of people who believe that the govt are poisoning us with chem trails. It’s this kind of area that I find so speculative, that I can’t even go there, because there will never be any hard evidence, although it’s well-known that geo-engineering exists as a branch of science.
Likewise, it’s so easy to be drawn into speculative rabbit holes surrounding the ultra-rich and powerful. Nevertheless, so much is in the public domain that you couldn’t make it up – you don’t even have to. The person dishing out misery and poverty to the UK population is married to one of the richest women in the world, who has dodged millions in taxes. The pair of them had USA citizenship, meaning that they pay US taxes on all their income. How on earth can people like these represent the ordinary English?
Sending refugees to Rwanda – that fine country with an excellent human-rights history is almost too surreal to imagine. The operation of course is being tendered to a private company. Guess who has shares in it? You couldn’t make it up.
The police fine the Downing St party goers a pittance compared to their overall income. If the utter contempt of the British could be focused and directed, the whole tribe of vile pricks would dissolve in a pool of slime. In another time and place, revolution would be inevitable, but alas today’s propaganda machine is so well-honed, that it’s unlikely to happen. They are systematically taking away the ability of ordinary decent people across all age groups to have a reasonable livelihood – not only in the poorest groups, who inevitably suffer the most, but also right up to the so-called middle classes.
The same formula of fear, uncertainty and inevitable worsening is common to the pandemic, the Ukraine war and the cost of living stranglehold. As ever, it’s the same bunch of older, ultra-rich white men pulling the strings in all three situations. As I predicted, the govt are blaming our pre-existing cost of living crisis on what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine. Of course, the Black Sea situation and the lack of exports will affect us, but as ever it’s the same bunch of rich old men orchestrating it all. Sometimes the energy sucking internet gets too much and I’m just so grateful to be able to withdraw into the balmy heady spring paradise of the ranch, where the simple pragmatic certainty of food growing is a real leveller.
Rock & Roll
At this time of year, I’m quite happy with full-time ranching and have little incentive to do much else.
Music was taking a back-burner then I got a phone call one day from my old muso friend Gary Ward, asking if I’d like to play at Sunbird Records in Darwen, in just over a week’s time. Gary, a talented multi-instrumentalist has been promoting gigs in Darwen for yonks. In the same way that I have strong ties with Rossendale, I also have ties with Darwen via Fenny and John Donaldson. I immediately said yes. Gaz and I decided to do it without a drummer and saw the opportunity to do all my quieter songs that I rarely play live. I asked Mrs Cakehead to join us (surreal rappy raga with a tuneless trombone and two singing dancing girls with Cake toasting away over the top).
Gaz and I unusually rehearsed four nights in a row and it paid off. It turned out to be a splendid evening. Gary joined us on drums for the last few songs, taking things up a notch. Mrs C played after us, and loads of young people were enjoying it and dancing. I didn’t expect anyone to come on a Thursday night, but they did including quite a few folk from Bacup folk club. Sadly, lovely Patrick O Neill has died. He was a Bacup folk club regular, and when I first started playing there, he was ever so kind and encouraging when I was feeling a bit anxious. He remembered Notsensibles playing at Deeply vale. What a lovely bloke.
Sam and I have decided to buckle down and try and record all his songs – initially just him and guitar. We did the first one on Tuesday evening.
My fellow vinyl nerd disc jockey friends keep inviting me back to the Tapsters to play records to each other – next one 30th April.
Sam, how lovely.
Cheers – I think he’ll be playing punk on the night.
Another great and interesting read, Sage. I see Simon (Geddes) is out and about again doing stuff, he recently went through a hard time. He and Zero and I go back a long time from the days when they were young schoolboy punks at Ribblesdale School in Clitheroe and were encouraged in their musical and visual art endeavours by a dodgy member of the school’s teaching staff!