‘C’mon Jack’

From the house I walk down towards the barn, only 250m or so on a slight decline, but on the way back up it can be a challenge; especially after a long day or on the third trip to retrieve something you have forgotten from the barn! I can’t help but notice all the sprouting trunks of the saplings of willow and silver birch coming up after the cull to prepare for the run of the electricity cable last year; amazing resilience.

Jackie runs ahead as ever, checking for danger, things to find, things to chase, things to bark at. She has many different barks, much the same as a baby has specific cries to indicate various needs. On this occasion she goes into the throaty bark that tells me someone or something is on our land and I will be needed to give assistance or guidance as to what she should do next. As it happens it’s an overhead gaggle of geese honking their arrival; Jackie has a specific dislike for overhead threats to the point that she will chase Para-gliders and occasional low flying planes. I assure her that everything is ok and we walk on.

Past the barn and various patches of freshly turned and composted land for this years harvest; the every expanding strawberry beds, raised beds for salads and the like, another patch ready and rotovated for the tomatoes and chillies, a second ready for beans and peas, occasional perennials are dotted around the place as are black currents, red currents, gooseberries, raspberries and after a three year wait goji berries and Russian honeysuckle. I also notice that the rhubarb has decided to come out to play and is spreading well beyond its brick and stone boundary which was set around last years growth to protect it from the dreaded strimmer.

The relatively mild winter has left us with many herbs already in full growth, chives, borage, parsley, oregano, sage, and even coriander amongst the other surprise survivor, some spinach. This works well for me as I have a pre-made curry back at the house and I immediately decide on a sag aloo accompaniment, so handfuls of spinach and coriander are stuffed in my pockets.

Walking through the orchard I can’t help but notice the wild plumb tree in bloom already and it is the play ground for a mass of pollinators, bumble bees aplenty and the noise would be enough to drown out a phone call, I make a mental note to check on the date of last years flowering for comparison.

Everything seems to be doing well, although we have had to say goodbye to one of the old plum trees after three years of waiting for it to recover from a covering of the wild vine that dominated most of the orchard when we first bought the land. It also seemed to have a disease of some sort so we decide it was best cleared, to create more light for the surrounding trees and provide us with some nice wood for smoking in the future. I pass by the vivid coloured stump that remains, maybe I can find someone with a lath and skill to make something from the wood, it has a real beauty about it.

I take a detour into the neighbours’ field to investigate what they were cutting down with the chainsaw last week; nothing much, just some overgrown blackthorn, nothing that will impact too much on my sloe harvest later in the year.

Beyond the wooded area and into a clearing bordered by some agricultural land; it’s a small family plot surrounded by a crude but functional wires mesh fence, protection against wild boar and deer, but not Jackie as she finds a gap and tears across the forbidden field.

I cut back into a second wooded area and notice the recent logging that has taken place, felled beech and birch litter the ground with piles of brush piled neatly around the earth border of the land. I worry about the way the trees are felled in the area sometimes, a small valley on my right was recently cleared of many large trees and I fear that the structure of the soil will suffer and the valley walls collapse and then expand, with the loss of roots to bind things together. We walk on.

Out of the woods and into the open fields long since used for crops, either the farmers are too old or the land not productive enough to reap a harvest, although they will be rewarded by the EU in the form of a grant for giving the land up to nature, not much, but enough for it to be an option. It’s hard to make money farming around here as the land is poor as are the people, so a grant to stop you breaking your back for a pittance is a good option.

I often reflect upon the life that we are now leading, dog walking provides you with the time to do so, and I have to say the thoughts are mostly positive. I certainly don’t miss my old way of life, it may well have had more privileges, but it’s problems and stresses were bigger and without true reward, now I am rewarded every day by the simplest of things if only because I have the time to appreciate them. Of course we still have plenty to do and our future survival in the modern world is very much based on the throw away comment that โ€˜everything will be alrightโ€™, but I do firmly believe that if you think that then it will be. Hardly a convincing business plan, but then I hope we never have to borrow any money ๐Ÿ™‚

Jackie finds the scent of a cat; nose to the ground with little use of her sight to provide direction, she is driven by smell alone. Left, right and the occasional look up to see if her prey is near; a spring into the air, spinning 180 degrees as she does so as she tries to spot her victim which must be close by. Another jump, then another, her ears remaining in the air a split second longer than her body giving the impression of flapping wings, the cat bolts deciding it’s a good time to visit the old oak tree only twenty meters away. As cats go this one is fast, although true to form Jackie never quite catches it, where’s the fun in that? Much better to chase than to catch, after all cats have claws and dogs have paws, natures pure design ๐Ÿ™‚

‘C’mon Jack, back home’


Author: Eddy Winko

Left the rat race to live a less hectic and harmful life. From the building of a straw bale house to the composting toilet diaries; read my blog https://winkos.wordpress.com/

13 thoughts on “‘C’mon Jack’”

    1. So busy in fact that I have only just read your comment ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope all is going well with your build….this is the year we will both finish our builds ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Your dogs are going to give you plenty of exercise. You can forget about blood pressure meds for awhile because as your memory starts to fail you, you will be getting more exercise going to and from the barn. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Hope you get lots of plums from your beautiful well pollinated tree.

  2. You only posted one picture with this entry. You often post many. But your lovely words and descriptions let us see just what you were doing and seeing. How very gifted you are! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I could even smell what Jackie was sniffing!

    1. You are far too kind, I will pass your compliments onto my ghost writer ๐Ÿ™‚ Believe me you don’t want to smell some of the things that Jackie does ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks for popping by Lucy:) I’ll be taking my pic any day now and posting; if you could update the location to Podkarpacie, Poland. it would mean more to any Polish readers. We are in the South East which tends to get the warmer weather; mind you it gets pretty cold as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Nice walk-through Eddy! It’s a nice way of getting across all the things that are going on and changing around the land.

    Every time I walk our dogs, in between shouting at them, I notice many things that I would like to record and compare year on year, so many I don’t know where to start! I did make a note of the ponds melting a month earlier this year, and the Elderberry tree is 5 weeks ahead of last year. I’m going to pick a few markers and keep a watch. Very interesting and plenty to keep us all entertained.

    1. Cheers Terry. I know what you mean about the number of things going on, the plum tree just seems to be one that stands out and the variety seems to dot the landscape around here, so lots of white bloom against a still fairly dark background. I do love this time of year.

  4. This resonates with many of my own ramblings; collected thoughts about life-changing moves, and time to ponder, as you walk a dog. The main difference is that it is all your place, and your land, with your crops.
    And I was worried about some weeding earlier…
    Great stuff mate, nice and thoughtful. I can see it all as if I am there.
    Best wishes to all, Pete.

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