Slow rain

An afternoon to go planting and it's raining. Fidgety, I found a few minutes with the plants that were going to go out...a row (where, I hadn't decided) of Japanese peppers. They used to be very definitely third out of the Nepalese, Szechuan and Japanese peppers I'm trying to grow but they're coming round on me with their soft almost floral leaf scent...I'm sure there's a hint of white chocolate about it but my wife thinks I'm doolalley.



Rain slows me down. I can't think so easily and when that happens I usually look to do something outside and I'm impatient at not being able to get on with it, but slowing down does make me look a little better. It's all fruit and flowers in the polytunnel and out in the fields and at the moment, but with a few extra moments I notice the link between the leaves and the thin branch on these peppers, standing up well next to any of the more obvious loveliness.

Mow, chop, strim, weed

A few uncharacteristically sunny holiday days in Cornwall eating too much seafood, while turning as brown as a strawberry milkshake, and now the pay off - what was approaching order and almost 'getting on top of things' resembles a jungle on homecoming.

Endless asparagus, leaves out on the peppers, blossom in the apple, plum and medlar orchards, and the rather marvellous aralia elata, below, poking out it's umbrella leaves. You don't want a walking stick made out of one of those.



I'm off out for a couple of hours break with the camera see if there's anything to eat

IoS

A rather lovely and generous piece in the Independent on Sunday, from a couple of days ago have a look

I've had an alarming number of emails from people telling me they didn't think I could do 'mournful'...



It's pic above is of a Nanking cherry in blossom

Stunning

I'm quite hard to stun (although very enthusiastic/blown away about it when I am). Some moments, some songs are (to me) undeniably stunning, instants when all the planets seem to line up just right.

This, while very small, insignificant even, has genuinely bowled me over. Almost 66000 unique visits to the Otter Farm website last year.



To my mum and my 65819 cousins, I say thank you.

Two years on

Remember the climate change allotment? Well of course you don't...why would you. It was a marvellous idea I had a while back, forgetting that I had another 16.75 acres, a few jobs and a family to accommodate. It was one of my better ideas, honest...have a look



After lying dormant, I've quietly got on with mulching the whole place out and even got the few things planted - including the Rubus specabilis, below, which has already started flowering. I've got the pre-tea wobbles, so I'm off for some toast, and will explain how the allotment and the forest garden are planned differently when my blood sugar has been reinstated. Or indeed, after the footie.

Nice tea

Putting together the Otter Farm Newsletter I was looking at what happend this time last year and I realised I was tucking into the first asparagus already.....so I looked even harder than normal, and there it was this morning. Yes, it is the worst picture of anything ever, but that's a new unfathomable phone for you. rest asssured it has a zillion pixels, sadly none of which relay any focused information.



Marvellous, but not the only thing sneaking its way skywards toay. Moving a few plants around in the polytunnel I noticed a weird thing poking out of a pile of iron tubes...unless my mushroom ID skills are worse than I thought (v possible) I reckon it's a morel. How can it grow on mulch mat, through metal tubes?

Over the top

An early morning clearing out the over-the-top brassicas from the veg patch

1,2,3,4....ouch

I'm not having much luck with this strimming lark. After last weeks difficulties I'm not so sure the strimmer gods are looking down on me any more favourably.



Just two minutes in and I strim a cat shit. I didn't see it, I smelt it...but in the same way that a man just knows....

1 - when the woman opposite at the party is the one
2 - that Morrissey wrote that B side just about me and my uniquely miserable lot
3 - that no occasion calls for a shirt with a different coloured collar to the rest of the shirt

...you instinctively know that that smell is a smell from cat.

I strimmed some wild mint (near the goji berry bush- tenuous link to the pic above) to cleanse the air. At least I've exhausted the strimmer comedy nice and early in the day, I thought. I can proceed with abandon. The next half hour or so went without incident...*adopts Ramsay tone* Nettley base around the hawthorn hedge....done; nettley base around the barn....done; long grass up to the veg patch....done; long grass, nettles, compost, and various detritus around the compost bins...done.

A last few minutes of tidy-up strimming around the chicken house, before allowing myself a mid afternoon tea and cake. I let the thought of cake into my hungry head and lost a little attention and strimmed into the gravel edging. Strimmer lovers everywhere will know that the odd erroneous strim is par for the course...it's what happens. Few of us are Vidal Sassoon when it comes to the Husqvarna 450.

Kicking across the gravel, the spinning thread must've found a stone randomly teed up by golf-loving gods, lashing itself around the stone in almost the same insane instant that it began unlashing itself from the stone and propelling it towards me. Obviously I didn't actually see all this, but it's how my puzzled mind has chosen to make sense of the ludicrous events of the millisecond that led up to the coming together of me and that stone. It caught me squarely amidships.

Now, there are two kinds of pain. The 'reach for the pitta from the toaster and in pinching it to lift it from the toaster cause it to expel a jet of 400C steam into the delicate centre of your palm' instant, 0-60mph angry pain. And then there's the 'get up, tred on a plug, stub your toe' kind of pain where for some inexplicable reason there's a gap........then the pain. Diacono's Law states that the longer the gap, the greater the pain. There's never been a paper in a peer-reviewed medical journal to contradict it. Ladies, you have child birth - it is yours, you own it, we lucky ignorant men can only try to imagine the extremities of pain endured. We, however, in our own small, crap, useless way have a pain to call our own. A 'taken one in the plums' pain. It is very definitely a Type 2 pain.

In the same way hangovers get you as you get older, there's a space when everything feels normal, a window where you entertain the idea that you might have managed to get away with it. At the point of the stone's impact my brain divided. A small part started counting the gap, another sat there anticipating the pain, a wedge held on to the possibility that I just might have gotten away with it, another wedge scolded the first wedge for being so stupid as to think I might have gotten away with it, a third superstitious, vaguely OCDish wedge actually hoped that by denying the possibility that I might have gotten away with it I might somehow actually boost my chances of getting away with it. And one great globe in the centre of my brain actually had the time to recall from the darkest recesses the Young Ones episode where Rik, similarly struck in the underwear department, shouts 'Ha....missed both my legs'.

....4....5....6....and the pain kicked in.

Go to Otter Farm | by Mark D