Viking head, Celtic heart (25 weeks to go…)

by Max Akroyd

The hunt were out this morning, their hounds hither and thither over the fields; their baleful, echoing cries turning the frozen valley into a big, empty room. That control menace fox in mind.

I’m sure man dreams in diagrams and, given the motive power of oil, his fantasies find straight-lined expression on the landscape. Most of my beds first took shape under the Philistine cut of a rotavator but have since been twisted and turned to accommodate nature’s non-linear master plan: a weary spade being the blunt palette knife of choice. The whole ethos of smallholding, it transpires, is contrary to straight-line thinking and the adjustment of my mental processes to this non-industrial mindset has been surprisingly difficult. Since my first born arrived home I’ve been following clues on this twisty path to the nappy bucket of enlightenment. Not straightforward in a world where complex derivatives of truth are the currency of normality.

But even an illusion of control can still be a comfort when the thought of the field unfurls in my mind like the horticultural equivalent of a chimp’s tea party. Using the swanky garden design tool called Excel 2003, this is what I think will exist in my corner of the world by the end of next year.

There are some concessions to reality even in the flat earth diagram. The idea of separate, named areas arranged lengthways (The Upper Beds, The Lower Beds etc.) has been abandoned. I’m thinking laterally now, in tiers, which is more in accord with how the sun and irrigation work. That’s my Celtic heart talking. My inner Viking (Dad’s side, Halifax, West Yorks) will be very pleased, however, to declare to the unheeding scramble of family “I’ll be in Bed 106 planting garlic this morning!”… Of course the actual outcome will be different: like the difference between servicing a BMW and tending to a baby.

For some reason, this morning’s work started as a garlic bed and turned into a carrot bed. I don’t think they’ll ever get that fox neither…

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Cruel coincidence? Look what our six year old brought back from school for his reading book this week end:

"Emily and the Lost Goose"