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...and you thought you knew about him

...and you thought you knew all about him

The alarm sounded. I start violently; my head rattles with reverberations as it jerks me out of sleep. I’m not used to alarms – they hurt and unnerve me. I’m lucky to have a body-kind internal one that wakes me up naturally.  But Robert was off to London on the early train and needed to get up half an hour before my normal waking time. I open a sleep-sticky eye, for a second I’m bewildered but with relieved realisation I sigh and snuggle back into the cosy warmth of the duvet and drift into a blissful half conscious state…

…I’m awake, acutely alert; every nerve and every sense quivers with tense vitality. I’m standing outside the kitchen window looking past the bird table and the immediate line of oaks to the woods and marshes of Lewmoor, across the green fields of Lower Pulworthy, up the gentle slopes of Venton to the steeple of Highampton church on the skyline ridge: it’s Windowlene smear-free blue-ice clear; building blocks of vivid concentrated colour vie with one another, hard-edge butting hard-edge, eventually sliding into a startling compromise of overlapping cellophane layers in iridescent hues. I breathe in the colour; each shade pulses through my blood in goose-bump chords of music wrapped in a sensation of cold, clean water or soft gentle breezes.
Slowly my eyes travel back to the sky above the bird table where I become aware of great tits, blue tits, marsh, willow and coal tits, nuthatches, chaffinches, green finches, bullfinches, robins, blackbirds and even woodpeckers circling in a vast rainbow flock; every now and again one breaks away and flies toward me where in a fleeting hover above my head it releases something from its beak before rejoining the flock. I stand in open-mouthed amazement and realisation – of course, now I understand!

Abruptly I wake deep in the sweet sleepy warmth of our bed, a jumble of pillow and duvet. Only a few minutes or so had passed since the alarm went off. In the moment of awakening the strength of my dream dominated my thoughts. I knew, with the utmost certainty,  I had found out something of infinite importance. It was wholly credible. I must get up now and write about it. What was this world-shaking discovery?  Wait for it – and yes, for that instant, this was totally plausible.

Birds find our messages/emails drifting aimlessly in the ether; they pluck them out and deliver them directly into our heads for us to open!

working on a dream...

working on a dream...

We have a project. What with the diabolical summers we’ve been having (not forgetting possible climate change freak conditions; can it get worse?), credit crunch (why did I mention that? the term’s trotted out at every conceivable opportunity –it’s so beginning to grate), global meltdown and Armageddon hazily waving from the horizon (positive sightings from our very own doom and gloom merchant), we thought we’d better become geared up and equipped for any eventuality.

We have, after long and serious thought and debate, decided to erect a polytunnel! Now what this has ensured for you is, obviously, quite the most perfect growing season next year, weather-wise that is. And for us? Well our plan is to be able to provide ourselves and the family with enough fruit and veg throughout the year. You know the sort of thing – wonderful orange, lemon, peach, apricot, greengage and fig trees down one end, complete with vines, yes, grape and kiwi; the odd almond and olive tree too – chairs underneath to enjoy the ambience – you get the picture? The rest will be given up to the most tempting and varied array of vegetables. Glossy, inky aubergine, piquant sweet pepper, hot chilli, big fat tomatoes, elegant ladies fingers (okra), garlic, ginger, fennel, french beans, squash (lurve!), sweetcorn and even our courgettes (oh to get a glut again) and early, early new potatoes (sans slugs)…our green house would continue to produce our salad crops and our productive kitchen garden would be given up to brassicas, roots, onions, runners not forgetting our brilliant asparagus bed. As you may have gathered, we’re not talking little squiddly-polythingy here but a gargantuan, stonking beast. A polytunnel.

But where to site it? It’s horrid, ugly, an eye sore – so we don’t want to see too much of it; at the same time it has to be accessible for vast quantities of dung, compost, sand and grit and all those encouraging-to-grow things. And there’s the lazing around with glasses of the finest homemade bevy. And I’m possessive and neurotic about damage to my fields and the lawn, sooo…?

the old cart embedded in an ash stool - resulting in an area of scrub

the old cart embedded in an ash stool - resulting in an area of scrub

After lots of head scratching, umming and ahhing it was decided to clear away an area of scrub behind the fruit cage in between the kitchen garden and Top Meadow. Why was it scrub? Well, like most rough areas on farms they evolve around an abandoned, broken, rusted-out piece of farm machinery; an old plough, a dung spreader, cart and such forth. This grew up around a dumped cart.

the slash and burn begins

the slash and burn begins

Olly set to. Chainsaw, machete, slasher. Mincemeat was soon made of bramble and withy, fires lit, our very own slash and burn.  Digger-driver-dave arrived and with consummate skill grubbed up tree roots and levelled the site.  Fortunately we’d chosen somewhere with a half decent covering of top soil.  All we need now is a respectable dry spell, a month or two of hot sunny weather should do it (hollow laugh), and we can fork out the remaining roots, mix in grit, dung and so forth.   Next step is to actually order the polytunnel; then the real fun starts.



So next summer, as the world collapses around us, and civilisation as we know it disintergrates; we will be languidly supping our G&Ts in a sub-tropical paradise. How smug are we?? Yeh, right, dream on!

Locks Park Farm

Thanks for visiting my blog. All entries are presented in chronological order.

I have a small organic farm on the Culm grasslands near Hatherleigh in Devon, with sheep and beef cattle. I've been farming in the county for more than 30 years. I've set up this blog to share views on farming and the countryside - please do give your thoughts.



The Campaign to Protect Rural England has helped set up this blog. We want farming to thrive in England, and believe that it is essential that people understand farming and farmers better in order for that to happen. Paula's views expressed here are her own and we won't necessarily share all of them, but we're happy to have helped give her a voice.

Find our more about CPRE and our views on food and farming at our website,