As a child I loved the idea of farming and on my ninth birthday received a deluxe farm set. This had two fields, six stables, a barn with a loft and a farmhouse. The roof of each building lifted off. My favourites were the barn and the farmhouse.
A family of felt mice lived in the latter. The hard farm work was carried out by the small group of Britain’s human farm workers that came with the set. The mouse family spent most of their time riding around in the gig – pulled by a white carthorse, as the boundaries of the farm went way beyond the confines of the wooden board. The carpet in my bedroom was a patterned Wilton type with lots of sections. These became country lanes and five acre fields. Way over in the distance was the market where the mice sold their milk and eggs and did their weekly shop. Towered over by a huge Victorian wardrobe which the mice referred to as The Old Town Hall.
The mice ran the sort of fantasy farm that had no bearing on real farming. A crop could be planted and harvested within few days on the hills of my bedroom floor. The mouse farmer was kept busy with his stock whilst the horse drawn plough and rakes toiled endlessly in a constant round of ploughing, planting and harvesting. There was a large dairy herd, sheep, goats, a few pigs who permanently had piglets, chickens, geese, turkeys and even ducks that swam on an imaginary pond. At dusk he would gaze out beyond the boundary of the board and survey the hundreds of acres of wheat, barley, carrots, spuds for human consumption. Hay and Mangelwurzels were grown to feed the livestock. I had seen these left in great piles in fields beside the Devon country lanes.
I find our kitchen garden as absorbing as my childhood farm. Having expanded the planting area by 50% we are now seeing the benefit of being able to produce a much larger range of crops. We are now planning to dig up the remains of the rose walk and lay the entire end section of the garden over to chickens, soft fruit and vegetables. This will give us the equivalent of nine large beds (12’x12′ 4mx4m) and the space to expand our range and extend the seasons with cloches and fleece.
Although I don’t have a gig and the band of Britain’s human helpers I am as happy and absorbed as the mouse farmer. Inspecting our vegetables, fretting over caterpillars and blight, enjoying the freshest tasty fruit and vegetables and optimistically planting seed for future harvests.
Leave a reply