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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.

digger-driver-dave

digger-driver-dave

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!

eas a cual aluinn falls - the highest in Britain

eas a cual aluinn falls - the highest in Britain

An extraordinary week to be away.  An extraordinary week to be without any of our normal communications; no phone, no broadband, no telly, just  a crackly old boom box which tunes into radio 4 with a protesting hiss and fart, fading out in an explosion of excruciating white noise at the pertinent  point… “Global meltdown!”  “Financial Armageddon…” “A day so black it’s impossible…” “No one has seen the like since 1920…” “The chancellor has just announced…” “Now we are going to our correspondent in Reykjavik for the latest on the collapse…” the rest frustratingly disintegrates in a furious high pitched whine.

Yes, I have savings in an Icelandic bank; researched carefully on such sites as moneysupermarket.com, make-your-money-work, what-to- know-about-investing-your-savings and how-to-get-the-best-out-of-your-money.  Before we left for Scotland I seriously toyed with the idea of moving my money out amid the panic and mayhem – but where to put it? Nothing seemed secure.  In the end I decided it was probably best to leave it alone, after all it was FSI backed.

Through last weekend the panic and collapse of the financial system worsened. We gleaned snippets in the foothills of the Cairngorms of the drama being played out across the world; stock markets crumbling, banks folding.  And in the car driving to Robert’s aspen conference dinner we heard of the American 700 billion dollar bail out being thrown out, and then succeeding in an enlightened form.  Arriving at our destination high in the remote north-west highlands, we learnt of the lack of positive response in world markets, which continued to plummet in chaos and turmoil.

Surreal, and strangely bizarre. On the one hand my eyes and mind were hungrily drinking in the remote ancient wild beauty of a landscape that feeds my very essence and on the other there was the banal, yet very real, material worry that I could lose my hard earned savings.

aspens by the edge of eas a cual aluinn

aspens by the edge of eas a cual aluinn

It would probably be better not to have even a radio.  Not a thing I can do about it.  I now inhabit a part of the world that is clothed in rocks three billion years old.  Today, in a wild isolated hanging valley, I stood at the head of the highest waterfall in Britain, watching a rainbow caught in the fall’s spangled spray which played on quivering, golden leaved aspens;   around me a curtain of blown mist parted to reveal scenery that made me ache with its beauty.  Billions lost? The fall on Wall Street?  The crumbling City? The crazy machinations of bankers? Armageddon? Standing there in the wind and the rain I felt rich beyond words and extraordinarily fortunate.

the mists lift to reveal an extraordinary panorama

the mists lift to reveal an extraordinary panorama

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.

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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, www.cpre.org.uk

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