Above my workshop the fields are being ploughed at the moment, and all yesterday there was a glorious smell of fresh turned earth. I watched for a while, Lapwings making a noisy fuss, birds flocking for the worms and grubs, and mice, voles and rabbits scattering, leaping the hills and troughs freshly furrowed.
Quite a scene, until stone was struck, which bent the plough! I am the lucky recipient of the offending ironstone boulder, which is huge. It will make a fine plinth for showing sculpture at my Open Studio.
All that earth turning released my own gardening energy, a cue it was time to get going with my vegetable patch. Last year I did very well growing in stone troughs - but I want to be a bit more ambitious this season. So the boulder was delivered along with a tractor bucket full of organic matter for me to dig in!
In times past, after ploughing and sowing, the stones were picked off the fields, usually the work of women and children. Locally this was done around Easter time, and if work was completed by Good Friday they could attend the nearby village tea party!
There were also 'stone rearing' days in Spring - walls and boundaries were the most economical use of the plentiful material lying about, loose stones. These were special occasions, after the land had been cleared during the winter, neighbours would bring poles for lifting the heavier stones and moved on from farm to farm. Where a heavy boulder lay near where a new wall would run, it was easier to move the line of the wall to include it, which explains why some old walls zig-zag so much.
I think I have enough on with my manure!