Unfinished business (461)

by Max Akroyd

It appears winter isn’t finished with us yet. A big storm is heading our way. It’s precise trajectory is still uncertain, but 9 times out of 10 Finistère attracts anything big and ugly heading west out of the Atlantic.

Much batonning of hatches, then. Most importantly the ranks of seedlings hardening off outside had to be brought into the barn. There’s hardening off and there’s obliteration: the latter outcome would be heartbreaking having coaxed the myriad brassicas and sweet peas from October to the point of planting out… Elsewhere it’s mainly a question of making sure everything that needs to be is nailed down, closed, fastened etc.

The animals are confined to quarters today. Not so much because of the weather but due to the omnipresence of the local hunt. It’s the last weekend of the season and they’re out in force: little white Renault vans and gruff Breton voices policing the local landscape.

All in all not a particularly propitious backdrop for the weekend’s work. But somehow it’s fitting that this pretty fierce winter ends with a proper exclamtion mark! And I can justifiably hide away in the greenhouse and determinedly work my way through the huge box of seeds assembled for next month. Stealing a march on March.

Primroses on the border of the field

***  

Tempête  Xynthia is forecast to arrive in the early hours of tomorrow morning and supposedly spare Finistère her full force. We’ll see. This afternoon turned out to be a cliché of calm and far too good to be spent in the greenhouse.

Instead I prepared a large section of bed for eventual occupation by outdoor tomatoes. As usual this cultivation yielded a barrowful of of perennial weed roots which was gratefully received by mummy pig and co. More delight for them as I proceeded to mow the periphery of the field, thus generating an abundance of fresh grass cuttings.

It’s the last opportunity for my little mower to outpace the growth of the rougher grass so I concentrated on straightening up paths and thereby setting the template for the season ahead. I’m trying to divide all the as-yet-uncultivated areas into easily accessed chunks which can be enclosed by electric fence. Starting in April, the big pig and two piglets will work each area in a clockwise progression, thus hopefully opening up another acre or so for the year of rural idiocy.