Weeds/ For Want of a Nail

We are fighting a total war with nature. Nettles and dock are my nemesis, and nothing makes me happier than beating, smashing, ripping and then burning the evil things.

It’s a job you have to be resigned to, but we are spending days on another job at the moment, moving and sorting an abandoned compost area- weeds and roots to dry and burn, rubbish to the dump, and good soil (after sifting) to a Rhino sack to use on the vegetable beds when they are ready. Its knackering.

The solution for each set of jobs and problems on a farm is livestock. Each breed of animal, let lose on the land in turn, is able to do specific labour saving chores another type of animal can’t. So cows eat grass with their tongue by ripping, sheep follow and nibble, goats prefer overhanging tree branches and wasteground, and pigs are the ultimate rotavators- they root around with their snouts until the land is ploughed, and fertilised by their droppings. I want to let lose the pigs on the weeds and all the crop areas taken back by nature. Within a month it will be like the Somme, and fertilised, and think how much Fallout 4 I could have played by then. And that will teach the nettles a lesson they’ll never forget.

However, we cant afford pigs yet (because they need an ark, and other stuff like a portable electric fence, and it’s too much) so we are committed to clearing areas by hand. Soon we are going to hire a rotavator, if we can’t buy a cheap second hand one (which costs what hiring one twice would cost) But this all rips my knitting, because the the cost of this is a frustrating false economy,  when such money could go towards an old tractor with bigger and better implements you operate from the seat, so you don’t spend days walking around holding the small of your back, like a weird fat bloke with….erm…a bad back.

I have found the perfect tractor, by the way- a Ransomes MG40, a tiny but powerful crawler often used in vineyards, that would be ideal for the kids to operate (yes, under supervision) because it has no steering wheel, only levers – like a tank- remember the push and pull and sensory stuff I talked about? The MG40 can do most of what other tractors can do, including pulling a topper (uber lawnmower) and ploughs etc. Plus it rocks. I used to dream about driving one around my land in a rainstorm, wrapped up in a waterproof coat.


The lack of the right tools compounds the fact we haven’t got the time we need to sort the smallholding out as quickly as we would like. Until it is sorted, its a mess. It makes me dribble, because I hate messy farms- you know the type with 12 rusty tractors out front, and fifty abandoned greenhouses full of trees out the back? I don’t want a smallholding like that.

The kids doing things on the farm is central but we can’t expect too much focus (D has ADHD) and if both are home (which is nearly every weekend) we can’t leave them to their own devices, so you get pulled off the job, and have to run down the paddock hooting, shedding gloves and boots and hand tools and twine to stop D trying to feed the chickens Red Bull soaked chewing gum, or something. Because, of course, some of the “help” you get from kids is about as helpful as getting on the wrong plane, and finding yourself in Botswana, when you have a business meeting in New York. Even my dog was unhelpful today. The one raised bed we had cleared- the only ready to plant raised bed Shabbafarm owns- he had decided to desecrate by burying his stupid hamburger toy, and then grinning at me.

Never work with children or animals.


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