Monday, 14 March 2011

Plough the Fields

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!


  1. Yes, the farmer in the field across the road from us has been busy plowing as well. One field nearby has already been planted and the corn is about an inch high. We got our own garden in, well, most of it and I spent the weekend making a new bed for the strawberries and moving them.

  2. What an interesting post Jennifer. I suppose in the past everyone had to lend a hand with the farming process. I love to see a beautifully fresh ploughed field too, preferably with rooks feeding. I guess in the "old days" it was only the "black birds" following the plough, whereas today the more aggressive sea birds have taken over.

    We actually saw a lovely, freshly laid hedge the other day too. Not a sight you see very often in Bucks.

  3. I love to hear about old local traditions, how did you find out about yours?

  4. I adore local stories, particularly when they are anything to do with stone! The farmers locally are a wonderful source and tell magnificent tales, real nuggets of history and stories of my area and how it came to be. There are lots of publications too, often published or instigated by the North York Moors National Park. You know what it is like when you have an interest in something, all intense and eager for morsels to feed the passion!


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