Wednesday, 18 January 2012

On ploughing a furrow

Been a bit short on words since Christmas. Not sure why. Just seemed to have a block in my head, that's all. Anyway Jean sent me an award, which I would not normally post up on the blog, but I did this time because she seemed to click a switch on in regards to getting back in the blogging saddle again. So thanks Jean.

Today I did two hundred thwacks with my trusty thwacking instrument. It is a three pronged thingy which, when raised up behind me, similar in action to swinging a pickaxe, and then plunged down into the ground in the same way as you would a pickaxe, will hopefully break up clods of earth, or clumps of grass, or dislodge unwanted greenery from the soil. It is a magnificent bit of kit. I could use a fork but you have to do a lot of stooping and lifting which makes my back moan no end. With the three pronged implement, no bad back ever arrives. Other things might ache in my bod but my back remains quietly happy.

Mid December and Hubs took it upon himself to get the tractor revved up. Together we managed to get the plough attached. Off he went into the Kitchen Field. Down to the end of the field he drove. Into the soil went the plough. A furrow was made.  Our first.

Then some more were made......

....well quite a few actually. And what Hubs made were three long section of furrows with a wide grassy path in between.

And then the plough broke. Expletives punctured the air. Not to worry, though I thought, because enough furrows had been made. If the plough had remained unbroken heaven only knows how many more furrows Hubs would have made. He was, to put it mildly, really really keen to keep going up and down on his tractor.

So he finished off his afternoon of tractoring by lifting the last remaining hay bale from the front drive and donating it to the pigs, who received this provender with great pleasure.......

Max first because he is king in his little kingdom, so he expects to get first choice over everything. So what he is doing is rummaging about in the hay bale to break it down. Then he did a bit of a wee over it all, I suppose the equivalent of spraying some air freshener into one's house to make it smell warm and homely, then he grabbed a mouthful of hay and ran around the paddocks as if on important business.

Then the two girls joined in and a good time was had by all, including arguments, chattings, rompings and general family type behaviour. The hay was a great success, the pile lasting a week or two before the rains came.

So now we have the Kitchen Field with three long swathes of ploughed earth. Ploughed earth is not easy earth. It is cloddy earth. Big clods actually. Big enough to make it difficult to walk over without tripping over. Good thing, then, that we can walk in between the rows of clods.

Now this clodded earth is supposed to be the growing medium for this year's veg. You can't put anything into these clods, so they are unusable at the moment and need to be broken down into fine tilth if they are to be used.

Two hundred thwacks a day I devote to those clods. But I cannot break down the clods because a clod is made up of big chunks of grass and weeds and their accompanying roots, resting sideways on. What I have to do is thwack the clod hoping to break it down into a smaller piece. The three pronged thwacker then fixes itself into the clod so that I can turn it upside down so that its bottom is in the air. Any frostiness will then sit on this clod bottom and break down the lumpy bits of earth, while the green bit which was up top but which is now underneath will become rotted down and act as manure.

Two hundred thwacks does not take me very far along those furrows, but I have a lot to do during the day so two hundred is the quota I give to that particular task. One hundred mini-thwacks are given to the small veg plot. I try to do five hundred clips with the shears on the brambles and two hundred thwacks at demolishing a pile of plants and rocks out front. I do one hundred spins on my spinning wheel before I put the wool on to the next hook. I count to ten when I feel my patience evaporating. Sometimes, though, I have to count to fifty, or even a hundred, when my patience is at zilch. Counting is a good way to get one through a repetitive task and helps one apportion one's energies.

However, I might have to increase the two hundred thwacks tomorrow because the earth is drying out fast. At first the ground was heavy with water and turning the clods was a long and heavy task. Then the conditions were right, and I zinged along with clodding. Now the ground is drying, and the clods seem to have glued themselves into hard lumps. Perhaps we shall have rain soon. That will soften the clods. It will also give me a day off!

I dedicate these words to Jean, who may, or may not be, flattered!

Please note: I can receive your most welcome comments, but I can't get into the comments box to make my response back to you. I have noticed other problems of late with other blogs. Methinks Google needs to sort its links out.

Meanwhile, Horst: thanks for your advice about the tractor. Hubs has decided that we need a smaller tractor more suited to the size of our paddocks so will eventually purchase a mini tractor and the necessary implements to go with it.

Diane: That implement is a marvelous tool and sure does keep me fit, especially the bat wings on the underneath side of my upper arms!


Horst in Edmonton said...

You need a small cultivator or Discs to break things down, like those clumps. We had an old Ford tractor that came with a 3 point hitch and a set of discs to break clumps up on the fields, it worked very well. I don't envy you the work that you are doing. You have a nice small tractor there. Maybe in the future, you can find something cheep to help you out with the garden work.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

That thwacking instrument sounds a pretty useful thing to have around, I hate breaking up clods of earth with a fork. The pigs are looking healthy and well. Have fun, and keep thwacking, it must be good exercise as well :) Diane

Vera said...

Horst: thanks for your advice about the tractor. Hubs has decided that we need a smaller tractor more suited to the size of our paddocks so will eventually purchase a mini tractor and the necessary implements to go with it.

Diane: That implement is a marvelous tool and sure does keep me fit, especially the bat wings on the underneath side of my upper arms!

Vera said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vera said...

just testing again

Dee said...

Dear Vera,
This posting with its numbers and steps in doing things reminded me of a poem I learned in the fifth grade. It is called "the Song of Milkanwtha" and it's by Marc Anthony Henderson. I memorized it all those long years ago and can still recite it.
Here it is:

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the inside skin side outside.
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That’s why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.

DUTA said...

Hi Vera,
I have trouble with posting comments on three blogs, yours is among them. It has to do, I think, with the introduction by Blogger of the treaded embedded comment form. I don't have trouble with those that are not using the embedded form.

The pigs are cute and the tractor nice.
It's good you can discuss work on the farm with Horst and Diane that also experience farming problems ; mutual exchange of ideas is always productive.

Vera said...

Dee, I tried saying your poem out loud and it was quite a tongue twister!

Duta, thanks for letting me know about your probs with my blog. I used to have problems with even getting your blog to upload, let alone leaving a comment, but that seems to have got sorted out now. I have un-embedded the comments box and all seems fine. At the moment! But I think Google must have altered something in the Template settings because I never had this problem with the old blog, but I changed templates and probs arose. A lesson for self: Do not mess about with the blog if it looks alright in the first place!!