Sunday, 10 May 2009

Cuckoo's, nuts, camels and seeds.

And so this morning I was doing a potter in the dreadfully overgrown onion bed. In the beginning we were anti-weeding, taking the attitude that one put the things you wanted to grow, and eventually eat, into the ground, watered a bit now and then, and hey presto, a certain amount of time later one would wander out to the veggie plot and harvest the perfectly grown produce.

This is not so!

One has to work like VERY HARD to even get that something to grow, let alone eat it. Watering the seeds, for instance, is a must. This we found out when a row of carrots failed to even send up one sproutling after they were planted at the start of the six weeks of glorious sunshine we had in late winter, and not one drop of water was put upon the little seeds. Quite frankly, I think they were of the opinion that since we obviously weren't going to help them along, then they weren't going to bother either.

And one must WEED, because if one doesn't then one will not find one's produce because it will be buried beneath other green stuff, or if one does, that it will be shrivelled up and distorted because the much stonger weed has taken up all the nutrients from the soil.

It rained last night. Great. Weeding time. Soil soft enough. Out I went. Lovely morning. Birds singing. Ah, a cuckoo! Been around for a while. Not fussed with the bird, because of its selfish disinclination to look after its young. Pop one into another bird's nest, then off to it goes to enjoy the day, freed up from any responsilities associated with rearing babies. "Cuckoo...cu...cough cough", went the cuckoo. And again. And again. It could manage the first "cuckoo" Ok but the second one was cut short midway by a cough. As if it's voice hadn't woken up yet, as if had had a late night out on the town and really wanted to stay asleep only everyone else was up and doing things so 'I guess that I had better show willing but don't really feel up to it today'.

And so I smiled, and felt a warmth towards that little bird for at least making the effort, even if it wasn't really up to it. The warmth has carried on as it continues to fly about the neighbourhood, now in full voice and cuckooing properly even as I write this piece.

Bit of a problem has arisen. Lester over to Bruno's. Sees some baby trees. "Ah good for Labartere" he thinks. Back over to me. "Bruno's got some trees - they're chestnut trees".
"Ah great" I say, let's get them planted. Lovely to have roast chestnuts, and I could puree them and do all sorts with them" I said, in the true manner of a self-sufficiencer.

A wheel barrow appears, full of baby trees, most still attached to their nuts.
"Conkers" I said. "They are conkers".
"How many" says Lester.
"About twenty."
"We'll plant them all over", Lester says now launching into Head Gardener mode. "We need to put them in pots first. You can do that. "
"Hokay. I'll have a look on the Internet just now, see what things I can do with the nuts. I am SO excited about having them. I just love roast chestnuts."


Internet search: Ummm, uno problemo. It transpires that the eventual nut produce from the trees needs to be heavily processed before we can eat them: mincing them, washing them through at least five times. Definitely can't be roasted and eaten entire. Not only that, but the flowers may or may not be poisonous to honey bees. And also to some animals. There were differing opinions on this, but the outcome to this Internet browse, was that we have the wrong nuts! Or rather the wrong trees! We needed Sweet Chestnut trees. We have Horse chestnut trees. Sweet chestnuts are eaten. Conkers can't be, and the flowers are iffy for the bees.

And so another problem: I have already potted up seven of the baby trees. The rest are still in the wheel barrow. Somehow a solution has to be found as to why these trees are not suitable, which will not upset the endeavours of our neighbour Bruno, who dug them up for us. This remains an ongoing difficulty. I will let you know the resolution in good time. Also, what the hell are we going to do with seven trees. At the moment the favourite idea is to say "Oh what a shame, the deer ate them." But it is likely that dear Bruno might go and dig up a few more for us. Mmmmm. So thinking caps on for this one. Or I suppose we could say "thankyou very much, but we can't grow them on the farm" all the while smiling sweetly and with great sorrow. Great! Solution found! And all with your help.

Off to Sara's the other day. One of her camels has a sore foot, and she recently has had a young white camel delivered from Bulgaria. Can't fill you in with any more info on this blog otherwise it will end up yards long, but I am in love. Me and that white camel bonded. She has rickets. The camel, not Sara! Thought I would do a bit of healing for the other camel. She is big. Done little birds and things before. But camels, no. Got in the pen beside her. Crikey but she was HUGE! One kick from those gigantic feet would have had me flying through the air to join the cuckoo. Nevertheless I had a go, did my best. And then off to the white camel. She looked at me and I looked at her, and we had a 'moment'. Anyway, as I say, I will give you more info another time.

And so I have planted loads of seeds, watered them, tended them, and have a halo bright and shining above my head. As Under Gardener, I think I am doing OK. Head Gardener is going OK as well. He has done loads of mowing this weekend, and I have done loads of strimming. Labartere is looking quite pristine, if you ignore the piles of rubble (which now have their own halo's but of grass and wild flowers, or weeds if you like), piles of bricks from the builders and the hugest pile of gravel which we have to scabble through to get out the back gate, and that is for the floor in the half barn.

What I have learnt is: That even cuckoo's can have a 'bad hair' day. To be careful about what one encourages one's neighbours to dig up from their garden - have an Internet search first. That big camels are OK to snuggle up to providing that someone else is keeping them occupied. That one can have a 'bonding' element with other creatures including young white camels. That if one bothers to look after seeds and things in pots then they will bless you with showing willing to grow. And not to swear at piles of stones which make you slip and slide when you walk across them because soon they will taking up residence beneath our first solid floor.