Corona Virus Lockdown, Hill Farming

Adapt or Die!

Reappraisal, re-purposing and a lot of digging:  that is what we have been doing during the corona lock-down as we wait to see what Nature throws at us next.

When Bill and I renewed our friendship we had just come through difficult times having both recently lost much loved spouses after long illnesses.  In the past we’d worked together for many years so knew we got on and are still getting on in both senses (three score years and ten!)  We also lived in and are rooted in different parts of the Britain, he in England, me in Wales.

As the Corona Pandemic started to unfold it became evident that movements would be restricted but I think we had already made a leap of faith and  here we are — locked-down together in Wales.

I had sold or re-homed all my stock (apart from my dear old pet “lamb”, Aby seen below in her new role as artistic muse!) We should have been making the most of our new found mobility…  Lisa runs her sheep on the land now.

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Recent portrait of Aby — lady of leisure.

But there is still a lot to do and so much better with a willing helper!

I’ve always believed when you run out of space what you need to do is sort things out, de-clutter and find the space that you had just mislaid!  We have tidied the tools.

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We have processed the remains of the demolished, unsafe, storm damaged and rotten barn and removed the remains of the rat infested container — taken down in the nick of time.  All the higgledy-piggledy timber we have cut and stacked.

We have surveyed the fences and arranged for all the wobbly ones to be reinforced by new posts now that contractors are free to come. We have removed the debris.

I have repurposed the now deserted chicken run — digging vegetable beds and converting the coop into a potting shed.  The feed troughs that are no longer needed have been filled with compost and planted with lettuce, onions, coriander and radishes. Brought up on Beatrice Potter I’ve always identified with Peter Rabbit!  Not any more — I’m  Mr McGregor.  As the new baby rabbits gathered in awe around my magnificent courgette plant, I rushed to the now tidy shed and put my hand directly on the  roll of chicken wire, grabbing the staples with the other, and made haste to increase security.

The grass from the chicken run was raised like an old carpet and re-laid on the scar that was left by the container and seeds sown where it would not stretch.

The compacted stony ground within the chicken run, the only rabbit proof area, has been dug and re-dug and fertilised and planted. The seedling beans got frosted the night after they were planted out (I’m on a learning curve) and the onions got mowed (so is Bill) but it all looks more promising than any of my previous attempts at gardening. The Jerusalem artichokes left over from a recipe that gave us hurricane levels of wind are growing fantastically — a mixed blessing.

Bill has cut the bracken and the thistles on the pasture with the new topper pulled by the newly serviced quad-bike without mishap and I cut the ones on the steepest banks by hand.

During all this time nature has entertained us. The birdsong is less deafening now as this years fledglings hop about in the low branches and the parents flit about busily feeding them. Kites soar above as two buzzards and a magpies skirmish in the field over one less rabbit for me to worry about. Neither of us have ever witnessed the Spring unfolding in such detail and the weather has never been so good.

Jerusalem Artichoke
Salad planted in feed troughs

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