saving for what?

...labour-intensiveness...was the essential ingredient of the good landscape. it employed more people; it attended to the needs of the landscape more closely than a system whose priorities were set by the requirements of the machinery and chemicals used to run it; it generated other jobs; and it created places that other people would want to come to, see and stay in
adam nicholson, perch hill



unfortunately i dont have much of a visual picture of how something will be, more a feeling that whatever it is will be right when its done....it makes communicating the idea of the final 'loveliness' a little tricky, and asks rather a lot in the way of trust from others....i wish i understood it a little more, but im fortunate that it usually provokes something that turns out well....or at least if i keep thinking so it justifies my selfishness

this raised curve of river gravels deposited over centuries, thousands of years ago - now the natural platform for the almond orchard.....having watered in the 100th tree, looking back and starting from zero seems impossible



as we find ways of making everything faster, less work, less effort, im not sure that we ask ourselves exactly what we are saving all this time for......what else we would like to spend that accrued commodity doing

if i do nothing else this year ive planted something with time depth, put down some fruiting futures, given other people - some not yet born, something beautiful, something long

downsizing?

are you ready for the country.....because its time to go?
neil young

remember downsizing? time was all you had to do was get on the ladder, get on at work, tuck a bit back for a rain day, enjoy the urban life, before one day, it creeps up on you....youre not having fun anymore, the worlds a compromise….you remember holidays in the lakes as a kid, making jam with your gran, the stolen valentines weekend in the country….thats when you were happy….why cant it be like that all the time?

and so it goes….country life stops being just the toilet read at the inlaws.....your jokes about ‘that’ place with all 'that' land to farm a little more tantilisingly spoken….but its almost a straight swap for our semi?

you look, you dream and one of you bites, and you go and see one, two...then you see it, the place, and in a few short months youve swapped your town life for the rural idyll....youve downsized

a stereotype, yet thats how it was for many, but things have changed....prices out here in the sticks arent the snip they once were, land values continue to soar, and unless youve a small fortune you have pretty much no chance of finding a place with land to straight swap for your city pad.....now, in a ridiculous irony, you have to pay big time for the privilege of entering an industry likely to reward you with a miserable income

all the escape to the country, river cottage, jimmys farm programmes have tapped into so many peoples need for some kind of reconnection with their food and their countryside.....yet so few can make the leap now, just check the river cottage forum and youll find the enthused, the skilled, the dreamers all wanting their piece of the countryside on which to let their imaginations go.....but its not an option for most

around the country the pattern continues....local authorities sell off our allotments to developers, small parcels of land near our towns and villages are snapped up by planning permission prospectors, once affordable fields now sell for top dollar as paddocks.....outpriced in a soaring market theres nowhere for many to start smallholding, simply grow their own, or for imaginative minds to run wild

so no more downsizing, for most the reality is upsizing....selling up and taking on larger mortgages, and squeezing regular work with the dream, if youre one of the lucky ones

theres a place I can get to
where I'm safe
from the city blues
and its green
and its quiet
only trouble was
i had to buy it
stephen stills, johnnys garden

a big waste of money?

almond trees in flower: all that we can achieve is, with
nothing remaining, to recognize ourselves in earthly appearance.
rainer maria rilke

bringing the holding back into being a productive space is a costly business….fencing, stock, ditching and the prospect of a storage building….to say nothing of all the time commitments needed….in our last, much smaller holding, we were too cautious, too reserved when swallowing a few sizeable bills is all part of breathing life into somewhere…sometimes you have to push it, commit more than might be comfortable to reach the critical threshold, tighten the string a little to get the right note

having ummed and aahed about what to do this year and what to leave til next, I leapt at almost everything I could think off that I wanted to do…..the last decision was whether to plump for almonds now, or at all….a gamble, newer french varieties whose flowering may dodge the frosts that tend to do for most almonds in england

one hundred, from a french supplier, the combination of two complimentary cultivars I wanted… disaster….they arrived late, bone dry, broken wrapping, and as a work colleague arrived for a meeting…..once stood, their feet covered in compost, i soaked them and we ran for cover and coffee…yet again, ‘work’ and 'here' collides

maybe its too late for them, will they fail to take when planted?....itll take a few months to tell, theres no option but to commit days of time to dig holes, clear turf, soak roots, plant, stake and plastic sleeve from the rabbits….and perhaps all for nothing

Go to Otter Farm | by Mark D