everyday

it must be something about death...the only time ive felt anything similar, albeit of a different magnitude, was on the day of my fathers funeral

give me a crucial meeting, my wedding, a speech, and im thinking about it, nervous waves in the days before...on the day, oddly calm



today, its different...at ease making arrangements, calling the abattoir to organise times and procedures over the last week, im nervous, business like, focusing on making sure the lambs are relaxed

more friends than normal to ensure we corral them confidently, in one take

as usual, the longwool male, my favourite, lets me turn him over and separate him from the rest...im annoyed at his cooperation - i feel guilty at what seems like an odd deception



another chosen, both in the trailer, and the short journey starts

everything at the abattoir is efficient, impersonal but not unfriendly, and im grateful for it...everything seems 'usual'; this happens allday everyday

perhaps its different elsewhere, but at the small, local abattoir we use theres a sense of process that stops short of conveyor-belting, that takes away any sense of hesitation, stops me prevaricating or retracting



only if you wait for the offal or skin do you really appreciate how quick, organised and how oddly caring this efficiency is...the skins go to salting and tanning to return as sheepskins, and we head home with the offal

coffee made, i walk to the polytunnel as i do everyday to catch butterflies, moths and dragonflies trapped and nodding against the plastic and release them from the prospect of a dessicated death

bird feed farm

i seem to be breeding moths for a living - even a plain twig on the pear tree in the garden is hidden bird food



the caterpillar of the swallowtailed moth

munch

its easy to pamper the novel aspects of the holding, prioritise the almonds over the apples, the new pigs over the sheep - a combination of human nature and limited time and brain space

and so the devon orchard of mostly apples and plums has been largely ignored since planting, but i was still surprised to see fairly established apples on the devonshire quarrenden, an old local variety that fruits early in the year

the small, almost raspberry coloured fruits look completely delicious, and for three days i went back to look at them and examine for when i could twist them gently from the tree...three days and each time i missed the devastation immediately above the fruit



this little creature had removed all green life between the fruit and the growing tip



the caterpillar of the eyed hawkmoth, it hangs upside down, attached by clasping pairs of 'feet', nibbling the leaves down in monotonous strips



clearly theyd enjoyed their free pass on the apples, gathering in clusters of half a dozen or so, looking like the early season rolled leaves



beautiful, as is the hawkmoth itself, a neighbour and i prised them off their stalk and bucketed them off to the riverside willows - their other luncheon of choice

perfection

the much missed actor and writer spalding gray used to talk in one of his many monologues about 'perfect moments'...when just about everything lined up in a sweet second to create this sense that everything was right, whole



in swimming to cambodia he talks of his time filming the killing fields and relaxing in thailand, cambodia and nearby islands...when on a beautiful sunny day events and elements conspired into one such moment...and it was he that i thought of as i bumped the tractor around the field intricately cutting the grass between new trees and fruit bushes, admiring both my new found skills as a tractor driver and the peach tree that id saved from peach leaf curl by carefully removing any blighted leaf on first sight

slowly it had regained its vigour, until it stood handsome and full of leaves, 6 months planted and now four feet tall

i remembered a discussion with a friend who laughed at spalding's idea of perfect moments, insisting that perfection and genius were by their nature ephemeral, and needed an element of 'crapness', something to dirty them a little...the southampton player matt le tissier (whos sporadic moments of true footballing genius were sweetly counterbalanced by the sight of his portly frame being dragged around the pitch to no great effect for most minutes of most games) demonstrated this perfectly he said ...genius had to be faulty to be genius...who else could score a staggering 48 (and yet not quite a perfect 49) penalties out of 49 in his career? he argued

as i sang rufus wainwrights 'peach trees' at the top of my voice, mercifully drowned from poor neighbours ears by the engine ...a perfect moment beckoned ...the sun blazing, the cool wind blowing, the beautiful peach tree rejuvenated, the chicken pecking and the sight of my wife planting in the garden

a man at home with his lucky life, what could be better ... i knew what spalding was talking about

as i, distracted by the moment, mismanouevered the tractors topper across the peach tree turning it into a thousand pieces of sweet smelling mulch, the needle scratching across rufus' voice in my head, the keepers outstretched hand tipping that 49th penalty around the post
.

the independent farmer

now its in the paper, i guess id better not give up then



infrequent press
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Go to Otter Farm | by Mark D