The Last Post ( 1 day to go…)
by Max Akroyd
The countdown is complete. Thanks to a big push over the last couple of weeks, there are now bottles and bottles of elderflower cordial in the fridge and jar upon jar of strawberry jam on the shelves. The early potatoes have been dug up and the paltry beans and peas podded and frozen. Each day starts with bread-making and ends with – well, nothing! – the last (commercial) wine having been supped and the last coffee drunk.
A pig is sleeping in the barn, unaware that today is the last day for him too…
The transition to home-made and garden-grown has been accomplished. Not completely, and far from perfectly. And we’re still waiting for rain of any significance here. The garden has been frozen by drought. Progress out there is faltering in the staring face of a yellowing and slightly sickly-looking reality. Without the abundance in the polytunnel and the glut of early fruit we’d be pretty hungry peasants, pretty soon…
But at least the relationship between the garden and eating is now direct and intelligible to all here. To put bowls full of delicious food from the garden in front of the family is the best job I’ve ever had. This does mean, however, a complete commitment to food production and food processing. Easy words to write, but a wholly different reality to the work-life balance we were brought up to consider as normality. The new (as in non-industrial) normal is invaded by uncivilised responsibilities – ranging from digging to killing – previously devolved to hidden, less fortunate others. It’s thus a return to what and how we are, with all the discomfort and difficulties that entails.
This blog has attempted to record this mental and physical shift (backwards, forwards, sideways..?) I hope the 325 previous posts at least give a sense of the efforts involved, as well as the available rewards. I maintain this transition could happen to anyone, at any time. Beneath that strange, calm surface, the world economy is a turbulent and wild place right now. It may be hard this peasanthood thing – almost impossible for an office body like mine – but it is safer than the alternative. After all, every increment of self-sufficiency is a step back from the ever-encroaching fire of debt slavery. It’s the only reasonable defence.
This chapter is over. We will be starting a new Rural Idiocy? blog soon – Emma and I – but the emphasis will be a bit more on the food itself rather than the growing of it. I’ll post the details here as soon as the kids, the animals and the weather give us the opportunity to finalise things… We may be some time! If it ever does rain, I’m sure you’ll understand that our priority will be to teem over the field with soggy seed packets to try and recoup some lost harvests.
Lastly but not leastly, I’d like to thank warmly all the fellow travellers who took the time to comment here or email me or even visit us. Your support and encouragement have been the difference between perseverence and despair on numerous occasions!
I hope to see you at the new place some day soon.
Max, Finistère, May 2011