Ladies that Brunch April 2020

What a challenging time we are living in, many anxieties but also much to be grateful for. No visitors to our house brings about a change in my routine, does it matter if my hair looks like I have been dragged through a hedge backward? Why would I spend time cleaning the house for it to get dirty again, no one is going to see it, and as we spend so much time outside not even we are seeing it!  We are both so enjoying being in the garden, what a pleasure and how grateful we are to live in this wonderful community and with such a great space around our bungalow. Much of our time is being spent on our veg area, fruit cage, green houses and now a poly tunnel. We bought the poly tunnel from a friend in Mickfield last year, and Mr P is pretty chuffed with himself that he finally has it up and ready to use. I find great excitement each day from watching the seeds germinate, creation is amazing.

But I do feel a sadness that I am not hosting any get togethers. This has however been reduced greatly by Helen Brookson suggestion that the Ladies that Brunch meet up on Zoom each week. Thank you Helen, it is lovely to see and hear others, to chat about anything, just as we would have done here at Green Acre.

As I am not able to cook for guest, I am throwing myself into be inventive with our meals, using up the stuff that has been in the freezer for some time. It’s a great challenge and we have had some amazing results, topped of by the fact that ‘himself’ keeps an excellent stock of red wine. My greatest concern is the pair of trotters which sit at the back of the meat drawer in one of the freezers. It is almost as if they clip their heels together each time I pull open the freezer drawer, waiting to be eaten.  Thinking about them makes my stomach tighten, will it get to the stage where one day I have to thaw them out…. I hope NOT! On many occasion in my life I have thrived from coming up with meals at the end of the month, when there was more month than money. My children loved toadless hole, I still laugh about it now.

We had rabbit (I use to tell visitors it was chicken…. Sorry God, I lied), and one of the children’s friends remarked on the number of times we had pheasant pies when he came to tea. Wild goose being another treat at Christmas and other occasions through the year. The house thronged with callers for cups of tea and home made biscuits, children friends were always in the cake tin. I am so grateful that I entertained so many times in quiet large numbers, never as many as the five thousand, but I have always been provided for and guest have gone away not aware that a miracle has happened.

I am looking forward to the chit chat and company of friends when we are able to get together again. Until then, let us appreciate our blessing and support each other through these challenging times.

Keep Safe, Alex xx

Notes from the cart track

Monday 13th April 2020

Last month I wrote the notes on a sunny day while praying for a calm dry spell to allow us to get on with the spring barley and bean drilling.  We were given just that, and the first 10 days of lock down allowed us to drill it all.  The soil conditions varied from OK to poor but because we had not moved the soil before drilling, most seed went into moisture and is now emerging.  This year will be a real test for our Claydon strip tilling system.  Charles spent a fair time during the wintering tinkering with shims, spacers and tape measure trying to get all the coulters placing seed at the correct depth.  My father would have been horrified to see spring seed going into such a rough seedbed.  Rolling in spring beans was strictly forbidden in his day.  The 7mm of rain that arrived yesterday may well have saved the crops.  After having faith that the good Lord would send rain, we also have to have faith in the Claydon Hybrid Drill.  Watch this space!!

As the virus situation becomes worse, we had a family discussion on how we were to manage it.  Elizabeth and I, who are both close to, if not actually in the vulnerable category, were to remain confined to the farm and our needs would be fetched by our children.  I could self-isolate to a degree by using one machine and Charles and Sam would each have a main machine with disinfectant cloths in the forklift and yard tractor to wipe down before a change of driver.  Social distancing would be practical as far as possible and, after several forgetful actions to start with, things have been reasonably safe.  I have to say folks exercising and walking dogs through the farmyard have been very thoughtful indeed.  We are very lucky that we do not have full time staff and we have been able to continue working safely and so far with minimal disruption to the various supplies we need.  We are taking the view that we need to stock up with wearing parts for autumn work and trying to think of other stuff which might run short.

One very positive side to the lack of necessity to travel, is that we have finally spent a bit of time sitting on the deck that we have had built at Halls Garden.  When we moved out of Broughton Hall we realised that we had, for the first time, moved into a house with a view.  Our veranda has an uninterrupted view across the Jordon Valley to Mowness Hall and Little Stonham which is very nice.  Because the garden is a bit natural – I would say feral when the grandchildren are playing in it, we do get a lot of wildlife passing through.  Muntjac, rabbits, squirrels, foxes and Mr Grieves lovely tabby cat.  Woodpeckers (green and greater spotted), song and mistle thrushes, finches and titmice, robins, resident red legged partridges ad spotted flycatchers in the summer.  Plenty of company which together with the wonders of email, Facebook, zoom and Whats-app helps to partially make up for the suspension of a pint with a chat at the Middy!!

David Tydeman