A week or so after we got back from our winter break up north I had a mega tantrum.
I think it started when I went down to check the asparagus patch only to find it waist high in prickly weeds. The very same thing happened in the raspberries and the strawberries. After that I was a mess. I wandered around the farm with tears streaming down my face for hours. I felt overwhelmed, out of control and completely hopeless.
It felt like we had left this place in the depths of winter and while we'd been gone the sun had come out, warmed the earth and everything had shot up and taken over. It felt like in another few months we would be like Sleeping Beauty in that fairy tale where she goes to sleep in her castle and the vines and creepers grow up and cover her home until no one knows there is anyone or anything there at all. It felt like it would take us weeks and months to get on top of all the vines and thistles and that was precious time we didn't have considering it was the start of spring and things needed to be planted.
So I wandered and wept. And I wept and wandered.
And after a while my farmer boy came and wandered with me and tried to console me and make practical plans for mowing and slashing. He would put in a few days on his tractor and I would follow behind with the brush cutter. It would be hard work but he promised we would see results quickly.
But the truth is that I knew then that we were having the same conversation but thinking two different things.
In my head I was planning a war on weeds. I would spend as much time as it took to get this place in order. I would slash from sun-up to sun-down. I would prioritise it and I would be super proud when in a few months or weeks time I would stand back and look at our manicured farm.
On the other hand I knew that my farmer boy was thinking a very different thought. He would happily mow the orchards and clean up a bit around the place, but he didn't see the horror story that I did. To him weeds aren't the sworn enemy but another part of the farm's ecosystem. He certainly doesn't want them to take over and bury us, but he doesn't want to eradicate them all together either.
So we did as we planned, we spent a few days mowing and cleaning up this place and almost immediately I felt better. I felt like I could breathe. I felt like I could cope.
But then this morning as we were walking from the house down to the bottom garden to gather some rhubarb and asparagus and broad beans for lunch, we decided to check in on the hazelnut orchard to check for fruit set. And there, under a tree, tucked into the prickliest blackberry bush there ever was, was the most beautiful little nest. A nest for a tiny bird. A nest for a bird that needs undergrowth for it's habitat and undergrowth is not really something that our local forests, having been disturbed over many years, provide.
And as we walked down and then back up the hill for lunch I opened my eyes further and saw this place differently all over again. Not so much overgrown but biodiverse.
We're thinking the nest we found is probably a fantail nest and I'm thinking good thoughts about that fantail family living happily in our hazelnut orchard. I'm also thinking about picking those hazelnuts and eating those hazelnuts and cooking with those hazelnuts come autumn-time, fingers crossed for a good harvest.
Fingers crossed I can keep seeing the habitat and move onto other pressing farm jobs.
I hope your fairy tale castle has a clear way in my friends.
Love Kate xx