Last Wednesday again found me at Frith Farm. I do need to do a post just on how I found this place and give some salient details. But for now, here is simply my weekly farm update.
It was spectacularly windy, and I regretted not having a long-sleeved wool layer on under my fleece. I did already have a wool tank top under my T-shirt. It’s August, and I want extra wool! I also would have loved a bandanna to wrap ’round my face, for the farm behind Frith was burning a wood pile that was sending, via the wind, billows of smoke around us the whole morning. You can’t see the smoke here, but the grasses do look quite windswept.
It had rained all day Tuesday, so the ground was rather heavy and wet. We lifted mesh off a long bed of celery to have access for weeding. I felt like I was in a physical comedy scene, trying to keep a hat on my head with the wind buffeting me, carrying logs and trying not to drop them, the mesh flying around as we used the logs to anchor it down. I somehow lost two gloves in the process.
All the rain the day before had generated marvelous growth for the chickweed, and there was lots of it in the celery bed. I picked a large bag-full in literally sixty seconds, just quickly skimming the bed to get some out before I managed to get the chickweed all muddy. It’s so satisfying to harvest an abundance of delicious green material in so short a time. Four of us weeded the bed fairly quickly.
We then hoed a long bed just next to that one, to ready it for planting baby celery plugs that were anxious to get in the ground. Planting them was fiddly work in the mud and took the whole rest of the morning.
Lunchtime found us taking refuge in the greenhouse, just to get out of the wind. It was nice and warm in there! We were fairly quiet, sharing our meal and recouping from the morning. Wind can be tiring.
For the afternoon, we were back at the wood chip pile, shoveling the chips into wheelbarrows and moving those to the raised beds, to fill in the trenches between them. These are nice, long-handled shovels. I learned that most shovels in the area tend to be short, because traditionally, shovels were manufactured for use for mining. When mining went out of fashion, the shovels were still fashioned with a short handle, and people are generally used to them. They bend over, creating much more back strain than necessary. That made me think of how people do generally learn very visually. We watch others at their activities and mimic how they do their work. Even though we had long-handled shovels in front of us, we were bending over and using only the shorter half of the shaft. Funny habit. I had to consciously use the upper half of the handle and not strain my back. We must have had short-handled shovels when I was young too.
A young fellow named Phil (who’d biked to the farm from Hull – it took him 50 minutes going against the wind) was cheerful, smiling and polite the whole time. It was lovely working with him. I commented on how he liked to make the work enjoyable. “Oh yes”, he replied. “You have to make it fun, and a challenge, to get the job done.” So very Fire and Wood of him, slight red-head that he is, with a good jaw. I would like to take pictures of all the folks at the farm for my face reading files – I hope I shall do that.
The raised beds had seas of water between them, from all the rain the day before. I was glad to borrow farm wellies to wear! The drainage is not good in that section of the farm, and the chips are an attempt to absorb a good bit of the water. Four of us did at least a dozen barrowfulls each, filling four trenches. The beds no longer looked very raised since we started this project. A work still in progress. When I left at three pm, Phil and Ben were digging trenches to drain any additional water away from the salad beds.
Walking home, I couldn’t resist stopping at the plum trees again. I’ve filled nearly all the jam jars I have, but I simply can’t leave all those plums on the ground. I picked up a lot of yellow ones with the plan of trying a yellow-themed jam. By the time I got home, my children were pining for me. No jam until another day. The plums are okay to wait a bit.