Friday, 15 July 2011

Jungle warfare

    I spent the other evening in the company of a Billy Goat. No, I haven't gone all goaty on you, between you and me people who keep goats are a bit weird. A Billy Goat is a self-propelled petrol-powered brushcutter, and as is my custom at this time of year I was using our rather venerable model to mow my parents' orchard.
    The growing season for meadow grass starts in early May. Ground nesting birds move in, the flowers come out, and for a while in June it all looks like a scene from a Timotei shampoo advert, except one featuring apple trees.
    By July the vegetation has reached out-of-control proportions. We don't have a handy baby elephant, but I'm sure some of it would be as high as its eye if we did. The birds have all flown and the wild flowers seeded, so it's time to reach for the Billy Goat and tame the jungle. It's hot work, but the machine makes a good job of it and lets the light in around the trees. More importantly the air can get in and keep the damp away, otherwise there are all sorts of mildews and other entertaining afflictions that can strike down your apple crop in its prime. In a few weeks a little bit of new growth will see the orchard carpeted in green velvet, just in time for the odd bit of casual scrumping as the early varieties ripen.
    Mine is a tenuous connection to the land these days, that of a hobby farmer who works shifting words at a desk in an air-conditioned office in the big city.


  1. Your heart is in Orchard Land Jenny amid the dwarf towers of mangled apple branches. The smell of the countryside pervades the air and it is all you can do from deserting this splendid scene...............well it beats sitting at a desk in a stuffy office don't you think?

  2. I love playing around with that sort of machinery! -Cleared up an orchard in Devon a few years ago, using a flail mower, very dramatic; several times, though, a shrill shrieking noise, suddenly extinguished, told me that a small mammal had just been reduced to a bloody mess somewhere ahead of me. The soundss still haunt me. Now and then.

  3. Absolutely, it beats an anonymous office every time!

    Remind me of that however in January when I'm pruning, chilled to the bone.

    A brushcutter does give you a sense of power, doesn't it. To my knowledge I've never caught any wildlife in mine but it's a constant worry.

  4. Jenny, I loved the first paragraph. Made me laugh and I haven't done much of that as of late.

    I sort of have one of these things, but I have so many rocks that using it is rather impracticable. Rocks make sparks and sparks cause fires in my neck of the woods. Also, launching these rocks is like shooting a cannon. You do not want to be a target. Better to save the petrol.

    Oh, and yes, some who raise goats have been known to inbreed, causing weirdness, etc.