Humility and patience are painful lessons
After a few days in the woods (where it actually snowed!), I am having one of my frequent crisis of confidence events. This is not just a steep learning curve - it is practically a vertical cliff-face of deadlines, anxieties and incipient fails. True, the narcissi clumps are looking lovely.......but the vast nettle and bramble infestations are now joined by dock, hogweed, chickweed, cleavers......amazingly, no bindweed or couch grass- the bane of my allotment life. And so, with a heavy heart, I donned my new turquoise knapsack sprayer, filled with lethal broadleaf weedkiller, in an attempt at clearance so we can do a quick grass-seeding before the summer drought (poplars are thirsty trees). A job made much, much harder because I am trying to avoid the foxgloves, campions, bluebells, anemones and so on, I have been planting since autumn. It pains me to admit, yet again, that I am wrong and everyone else (in my family) is right.......we need to be doing prep, prep and more prep before faffing about seed sowing and planting.
After a melodramatic sulk (the death of a dream blah blah)....which was, fortunately, cut short by the the urgent need to deal with a rat disaster(invasion!).......hope once again resurfaced with a new wheeze (I WILL grow plants). Calling a halt to any more bramble removal (nesting birds), it struck me that we really need more understorey (such as wild roses!)....and so, I will slack off some of the maniacal seed sowing....and embark on a cutting frenzy - buggered if I am spending money when new plants, literally grow on trees and can be had entirely for free. Dogwoods, viburnums, euonymous, cotoneasters, quickthorns, medlars, quince, prunus varieties......what am I waiting for? All that's required is a spade to make slit trenches in September and October.....and hey, a heap of berrying, blossoming, cover-producing plants. Am heading over to the shrub forum asap.
Ratty - nope, these are not some hideous sewer dwelling urban rats.....but are pretty fearsome, huge shaggy things, the size of cats (slight exagerration, obvs). Sitting in the horsebox, beer in hand, woodburner roaring....we were startled by a furious gnawing sound under one of the cupboards, Torch investigations showed a terrified crouching beastie trying to eat its way out. Further investigation, in daylight, revealed a chewed gearstick case and several inviting entrances to the land of Nutella and biscuits. A visit to the hardware store in town just confused us even more - feeling ambivalent about the ethics of trapping and hateful about the idea of poisons, we decided to borrow my daughters fierce cat, remove any food from the horsebox, block up all holes (with metal) and try to live in some sort of harmony. Keeping a woodpile outside the door was probably not one of our smarter ideas ( we actually sat and watched ninja rodents grooming their whiskers) and we are having a furious debate about youngest sons many bird feeders.
So yep, all-in-all, lots of lessons to be learned, problems to overcome and a careful path to weave between townie romanticism and rural pragmatism, environmental holistics, energy priorities, chemical use, soil restoration, land use and reclamation while treading lightly on our small patch of earth.