Pointy Things

And for once I don’t mean knives or swords.

Yesterday evening was largely spent grubbing out ragwort in the “gallop” paddock (it’s called that ’cause it’s big enough and more or less flat enough to). Ragwort and the occasional thistle. The ragwort we had to carry out in buckets, because while it’s poisonous to animals, it’s also more tasty when it’s wilted. Thistles are also more tasty when they’re wilted, but are not poisonous, so they get left behind. I spent most of the time clearing the ragwort out from under one of the larger patches of gorse (gorse so old and tall that it was possible to walk around more-or-less safely underneath it). I must say it takes a certain amount of… finesse to dig a four-foot-high bull thistle out from a mass of gorse.

It was really quite lovely under there, though, in the dappled sunlight. The gorse trunks get all twisty and wiry (it was old gorse trunks they used for Fangorn Forest in The Two Towers, BTW), and where I was they were tall enough that grass (and ragwort and thistles, of course) was all growing underneath, and also these great purple spires of blooming foxglove. Heaps of them. So I was basically surrounded by either spikes or poison, but it was all very very pretty. (Luckily, livestock generally has the wit not to eat foxglove, so those can stay).

Apart from the foxglove, there’s tons of other stuff blooming in the pastures as well, though apart from the broom, nothing so showy. I know clover and English daisy and buttercup, and maybe a spot of vetch, and something that might be dead-nettle or henbit or something. But other than that ? Tiny little stars, bells, cups, in blue and white and yellow and pink, in different shapes and sizes and habits. Oh, and eleven different kinds of plantain, rushes in the damper spots and watercress in the streams. Plus, you know, grass, and other leafier things that aren’t quite blooming yet.

Stephen has the right of it: We don’t have pasture; we have salad.

Conveniently enough, that makes it just about perfect for alpaca.

4 thoughts on “Pointy Things

  1. Angus says:

    Sounds like you have nicely fertile land, good for both crops and animals. Time to start growing and breeding your own!

    Although… what are your thoughts on keeping livestock for food? Being a country boy I would be okay with sending off a pig to slaughter, but how do you two feel?

    (Well, I think I’d be okay. Unless it was a really cute pig with a spider writing messages above it, or it was capable of being an eye-dog….)

    (And BTW, that rivercottage.net site has some articles from his books on livestock)

  2. Tam says:

    Well, we’ve picked out three alpacas that we’ll be getting sometime next week, most likely. So we’ll have some stock of our own. If by around March we decide we like them and want to get in deeper, that’s when the females get put up for sale.

    As far as raising something to eat later… dunno. We *did* inherit one of the former owner’s many freezers, so homekill is an option open to us, if we want to try it. (For Viewers At Home — you don’t have to kill Buttercup yourself; there are people who will come do it for you, and whack her all up into the proper steaks and briskets and whatnot.)

    I figure that if we stick with this farming thing, at some point we’ll try it. But neither of us are in any rush. Baby animals are so damned cute, and even when they’ve grown up, you still remember them being small and cute. I want to have been farming long enough to get some callus.

    I mean, I’m still having trouble not baa-ing back to the neighbor’s sheep, and moo-ing at the cows and stuff, you know ?

  3. Angus says:

    I’ve never stopped doing that… but then again, I’m known for holding long conversations with babies about rocketry. There are many two year olds who now know that you’ve got to keep your centre of pressure behind your centre of gravity.

  4. Tam says:

    Words to live by, my friend.

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