Friday, 31 May 2013

Feeling unsettled.....

it's not very good here at the moment. We try to stay upbeat but it is a bit of a job. It's the rain and low temperatures which are trying to push us down. And I think of other farming folk over the years, how hard it is to grow food for one's self and others when nature is being so temperamental, when nature is being its self. 

In the safety of our homes we are sheltered from nature, and in control of our environments, the same for our daily work, whatever it is. Not many of us are reliant on nature. Most of us have stepped away from that reliance, keeping away from the outside, and away from the natural world, living our lives closetted away indoors, unless it is warm and sunny, then we will venture forth. 

And then some of us up took an opportunity to make a change, to move away from living indoors, to live more outside, to discover that nature is the boss, that we are but just midgets in comparison, that nature is mightier than us, that we can never hope to control nature even if we try, that nature will always win, one way or another. This we have learnt since coming to France. 

An email in from Sara down the road, to say that we are under orange alert again for rain and flooding. Third time this year. We are not surprised. It has not stopped raining since January. We can, and do, moan about this. But there is no point. It is the way of things. 

I look at the grass and try not to fret that we have lost the hay it would have made. I look at the far field and see the wild pea starting to seed itself, knowing that it will turn the field into a tangle of vegetation as it does so. It was a good hay field last year. This year it will not.

I look at the tomato plants, now deceased, at the potatoes, some of which are doing well, but a patch not so good because they are in a lake, at the intermittent lines of mangel (sugar beet), the patchiness of the seedlings due to the munching slugs, the slug pellets not working because of the rain, and try not to fret. Instead, I look at the strong growth on the pole beans, onions, and garlic, and I marvel at a very strong line of seedlings growing although have forgotten what they are. 

I stand in the rain and watch the piglets romp about in their hut, and feel pleasure at them doing so. I try not to worry about the swampiness of their paddock, nor the wetness of the other paddock in which Max and the other sow live. But I look at the sheep and do worry. They look in a state, their fleeces are mud caked and ragged, their barn and paddock sopping wet. For most of the day they are out on the field, so have relief from their home environment. Otherwise, we keep putting straw down in their barn, but the floor needs to come up. It will make excellent manure when it does, which does not help matters much at the moment. 

The chickens have gone off-lay, although I am managing to find up to two eggs per day, if I am lucky enough to get to them before the magpies and dogs find them. Am relieved, that when we had a glut of eggs, I froze about thirty. I think that that is an experiment which has paid off. It is encouraging to think that I have a small store of eggs.

It is also encouraging to look at my eight jars of canned food, and know that I have eight meals already cooked. At the moment I am concentrating on learning how to use my canner, so keep the food in those jars simple. Four have lamb mince in tomato sauce, and the other four contain goat mince in mixed veg and spices. Lester said that he thought I should have bought a bigger canner as mine will only take four one pint kilner jars at one time. I said that the size was just right because four jars filled with the same filling was enough, otherwise one would get fed up with eating the same thing. 

My freezers are full of food, and that is encouraging as well. Means we are much less dependent on the supermarket. I also have a small stock of DIY soft goats cheese in the freezers, plus four one pint jars of DIY goats yoghurt. 

All these things are positive, and help to keep the spirits up when one is waiting to see if one is going to be flooded again. And if we are? It is the way of things, it is the way of nature, and there is no point in getting upset and moaning on and on and on about it. 

But it is alright to have a tinsy bit of a moan. 

We are, after all, only human. 


Jean said...

You make me feel so humble, Vera, moaning because it's not warm and sunny for our holidays. Living our cosseted lives we forget how many livelihoods depend on the weather, and how it eventually affects all of us in terms of what we can buy in the shops and the price we have to pay for it. (Unless of course we are prepared to buy food that has come thousands of miles by aeroplane, which I try to avoid.)
I do hope the wet weather ends soon, and that the next deluge is not as bad as forecast.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Saw the vigilence orange for your area on the weather site. Will keep fingers crossed that you aren't badly affected. Rain here too. Getting very fed up with the clammy chill.

On the positive side the longer range forecast is for better/good weather from Sunday.

Take care.

rusty duck said...

I sincerely hope you are NOT flooded again Vera. The weather has certainly been weird this Spring - the coldest in 50 years for us apparently.

The canner sounds brilliant though..

SueC said...

Hi Vera
it has indeed been a depressing month - we even had a frost last week which did bad things to the tomatoes! There is some good weather forecast but this year have learnt not to think that will mean summer has really arrived. Anyway - hope you don't get too much inondation. Glad your canning and cheese making is going well

SueC said...

Hi Vera
It is indeed depressing isn't it, bad enough for an ordinary gardener like me - had a frost last week which was unkind to the tomatoes. Hope you don't see too much water. Gald to see the canning and cheese making is going well
best wishes SueC

Horst in Edmonton said...

Yes in deed we are at the mercy of Nature specially the farmers. They have to adjust to what ever nature sends out to us. I just hope that everything will work out for you soon. Have a good weekend.

Janice said...

Hi Vera, all the rain and threats of flooding must be very discouraging. Glad to see you are having some success with your canning. Here in Canada, if you are into canning, we do it in a much bigger way. My pressure canner will hold 8 quarts or 16 pint jars. I was always taught that you determine how many jars of something to can by how many you would eat outside the fresh food season. If you can eat fresh stuff 5 months of the year then you have 7 months to can for. How often in a month would you eat carrots? Once a week? If so, you would need 28 jars put by. Same with canning lamb. If you think you will eat lamb once a week multiply it by the number of weeks in the year you will be without fresh lamb and can that many. You would end up with quite a stock cupboard. Good luck with the rest of your canning.

Vera said...

Jean, living on a smallholding has made us realise just how much up and down nature can be, sometimes working with, sometimes against us!As for the 'next deluge'. It has come and gone and was quite bad!

Niall and Antoinette, hope we get some better weather, - the animals need it desperately.

Jessica, the canner is fabbo! Intimidating to use at first, but worth the efforts. It is really good to have a store cupboard of food, and to know that we are not obligated to going shopping in the supermarket.

SueC, hi to you twice! We have not any frost, but the tomatoes most definitely have not liked paddling and so have died. Canning and cheese making going on a treat, and worth all the effort it takes.

Vera said...

Horst, hope you have a good weekend as well.

Janice, thank you so much for the info. I have made a note of it and shall use it to make a plan. Crikey, but your canner is a big one! I can hardly lift mine! I think I could get eight one pint jars in it, but have been practising with just four at the moment. They do can here, but not in the way that the USA and Canada do, - it is mostly water bath canning, and not pressure canning. I could not buy a big enough canner here, so purchased an All American canner from the USA. But the jars are easily available. Once again, thanks for your help on this.

Vera said...

Jean, living on the land has most certainly woken us up to how the weather affects our food. And the 'next deluge' has come and gone and was as quite bad. Water now on its way over our land towards the house.

Niall & Antoinette, hope the sun comes out soon, for the sake of the animals really.

Jessica, the canner is fabbo.