Mile high musings

I was reading Michael Pollan’s chapter on American feedlots in his book Omnivore’s Dilemma just as I was tucking into a corn crusted piece of chicken on Icelandair’s flight to Minneapolis. It was not a good bit of timing. In fact I even had to stop eating the chicken and actually wait until the book turned to a happier subject (good organic farming) before I felt it was safe to digest this bad food again. Omnivore’s Dilemma is the right book to read when you eat airline meals. It demonstrates the vileness of the product better than when you are at your farm eating food your have sown, grown and produced yourself. No way can I be smug here up at 30 000 feet. I’m blowing my carbon footprint for the year by flying. But visiting a dear friend Sarah each year is more sustainable for the soul than the guilt of what I’m doing to the planet by taking this flight to the Midwest. We will just have to live closer together in the future.

Actually one of the best things about this cramped flight is that I can actually think about future garden projects, and not be distracted by doing garden chores. There’s vision and there’s that not enough hours in the day issue just getting the basics done. I am doing all sorts of autumn and winters lists. And that can only be done well away from the garden itself.

I want to make another compost bin up in the forest and collect the leaf mould on the paths. Clear the paths, make the hummus work for the garden. I need to introduce more manure to the plot. And I think I’m going to need a trailer for the car to do it. Neighbours have horses. I need to get the stuff to the right spot.

Sow more land cress, mache and radishes and even maybe beetroot while the soil is still warm. I’m pleased with the winter lettuces that are in small pots already. But more is going to be needed. And there is a risk that the ones already sown will suffer a calamitous event (deer, drought, drowning) while I’m away.

My beetroots were a disaster this year as the seedlings were munched off just as they were at that baby micro salad stage. More cloches, more food security. (You can see I have been reading too much about the agribusiness and food industry issues. Who on earth would call it food security when actually it’s just Being Eaten By a Deer. Right. I only have an hour and a bit of battery life of this laptop and I want to watch the downloaded episode of Gardeners World. It will pass another hour of interminable flight beautifully.

More musings.
The Reinhardts kept sheep in the lower terraces of the farm to keep down the weeds. They did a good job and apart from escapes, served to maintain the land in a way that we can’t. But one of the pleasures of this year has been the wildlife we have been able to see from our dining table and even kitchen window.

They had never seen the wild boar, deer and foxes that we have been lucky enough to watch.And I suppose that is how we want to go on. But how do we manage in the future? The answer I suppose is just to keep on strimming. If you commit to just a terrace at a time (and I think there are about 12 terraces in all until you hit the vineyard) it will be cleared in a week. Must get that poor work horse of a strimmer cleaned next month. I had a frustrating hour trying to get it to spark into life last week and had to give up and go for the fun (positively frisky in comparison) of lawn mowing. But you can use a lawnmower on land that has a risk of stick or stone. So strim first and then maybe be able to maintain with lawn mowing later. We’ll get there eventually.

And speaking of mowing. If we are to have one terrace devoted to a new orchard I need to get the whole thing well mown, cleared and plotted out by autumn. And get in some sturdy deer proof fencing while the trees are young. Another task for the list.