Who’s in charge around here? (443)

by Max Akroyd


When the alarm clock went off this morning I found myself instantly thinking about the jobs that need doing today. First to enter my mind are those jobs I’d really like to be doing: leisurely sowing, planting, hoeing – preferably in the sunshine…

Then reality starts to invade my thoughts and I realise it’s Wednesday. No school for young ones in France on Wednesdays (very civilised) so, for part of the day, jobs will have to be adapted to suit them or, failing that, take place somewhere I can keep an eye on them.

I don’t know how they manage it, but the next bossy presence in my head is always the pigs! What are their pressing needs? Oh yes, piglets to relocate – yippee. Fifteen minutes later, I’m out of bed and a piglet tucked under my arm squealing so loudly it must have woken people in neighbouring communes. By the time I’ve got to my third I feared an Animal Farm type uprising as the goats and the other pigs go crazy in response to the piglets’ cries.

Back inside for a late breakfast and pondering the influences over the work I do without the dreary presence of a boss… Some responsibilities – like family and animals – I’d find life dull without and assume them willingly (most of the time!). They enhance freedom rather than detract from it.

There is, however, one over-arching authority in my life. A turbulent and implacable authority who determines exactly what needs doing, and when, and how – even more so than my wife. Who is this godlike influence?

It’s the weather. Like any obedient follower I look for signs of her moods all the time. I pore over her sacred text at least three times a day (the weather forecast). Because it’s now forecast to rain tomorrow instead of Friday, everything changes today, a change that only the most tyrannical boss could impose. The mower will have to do its work this afternoon and the new enclosure for the geese and ducks will have to go up too, while it’s dry…

The rain will be a blessing for the soil. (And if it rains really hard I can stay inside and get on with the sowing at last). 


With the sun shining and school holidays suddenly in plain view, the pace of things remained frantic this afternoon. I managed a mowing of the two areas of reclaimed meadow which yielded barrow loads of mossy mulch, with which I lined the raspberry beds.  

Then a dash to the hardware store to pick up a new, enormous drill bit essential to construction of the duck house and enclosure. I returned home with “the wrong drill bit” but somehow everything got built and our three year old had great fun playing with said 13€ drill bit, bashing it against the duck house and pretending to drop it in the pond. This photo shows half the area (sorry the image is a bit rubbish, the dwindling light seems to have caught out my camera).


Duck house at dusk


It’s only now that I realise that I had one last, last-dry-day job: to light the burning pile. Hopefully it won’t start raining too early tomorrow…