I should have known medieval farm illustrations might still be relevant to my own farming experience — found in the Lutrell psalter above all, which is unbearably wonderful. Also full of grotesques and wondrous creatures, everyday life is not forgotten. Here is catching lambs and ewes after the sheep have been herded up tight tight between hurdles — otherwise it is near impossible:
This is, to be honest, a little spooky as it is exactly what we actually did, though the hurdles look a little different these days. Those look like buggers to manage, I confess. Also, they should be as tired and dirty and scraggly as me, but if you’ve been doing it longer maybe you can do it better in style.
Then there is the use of the little hook blade — not to harvest grain as here, but to clear pathways, wonderful things:
To be fair, I did not in fact plough anything, but I have hunted out the old ridge and furrow patterns of open fields, seen all over the Peak District farm I worked on. Below is how they were formed and sown. Dogs, to be clear, do still chase birds with similar lack of success, but there were no clouds of birds settling across the newly turned earth as I have read about here, and once experienced magically in Mexico:
When working in the permaculture garden, Rob pointed out to me a Bruegel painting where someone was obviously peening a scythe in the front left corner — a method still used to give a new edge to the blade when the metal has blunted enough that whetstones are no long able to hone it.
This makes mowing look lovely — mowing weeds isn’t quite the same, but the piles are much the same and the work teaches you just how wonderful such rest and food can be:
There are few things in life better than Brueghel paintings, whether by the elder or the younger, especially for understanding a landscape and how people fit into it, how they shape it.
Tractors are mostly used to cut and bale hay for long winters, but we did some smaller bales — still mechanized, but heaved around and stacked by hand. No grain though.
We’re still feeding chickens, and building them secure homes in the hopes that the foxes won’t get them.
No feeding of squirrels though.
Raised beds? I spent so much time working on raised beds just like this one, and the space looked just the same:
Here as well — we had no knot garden, but edged and dug the earth using the same tools:
I am rather certain that is some pollarding of the tree happening at the top right, and look at those sheep!
This look has been a bit desultory, I am sure there are many more!