The Softer Crofter – In fine condition for spring

Over-conditioned? Surely not.

Want to read more?

At the start of the pandemic in March we took the decision to make online access to our news free of charge by taking down our paywall. At a time where accurate information about Covid-19 was vital to our community, this was the right decision – even though it meant a drop in our income.

In order to help safeguard the future of our journalism, the time has now come to reinstate our paywall, However, rest assured that access to all Covid related news will still remain free.

To access all other news will require a subscription, as it did pre-pandemic.  The good news is that for the whole of December we will be running a special discounted offer to get 3 months access for the price of one month. Thanks you for supporting us during this incredibly challenging time

We value our content, so access to our full site is only available on subscription.

Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.

And there’s more – your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Already a subscriber?

 

Subscribe Now

Well, this farming malarkey is an education.

This week my husband caught me, yet again, in the woods with our three pigs, not just for cuddles and a bit of welly-nibbling, but for some totally unnecessary grooming. I had worked out that their boisterous shoving, leaning and squealing could be immediately calmed in one single stroke.

As soon as I begin to brush their tufty backs with the comb intended for Highlander hairdressing they fall silent and even stretch out flat at my feet, eyes closed, snouts twitching in delight.

It was at this point that the farmer/husband taught me some new vocabulary.

‘That one on your feet; she’s verging on being over-conditioned.’

‘What, Splodge?’ I replied, looking at the young pig cutting off the circulation to my ankles, ‘she’s too conditioned?’

Yup, it turns out that one of our girls is getting a bit porky and is now on reduced rations until she’s as lean and trim as her sisters, but personally I’m delighted with this new terminology and I intend to adopt the concept myself.

With foreign holidays having been given the Covid kybosh there will be no need this year to swap my crofting attire of hats, hoodies and leggings for anything approaching beachwear, so the threat of over-conditioning this summer brings no fear.

Nevertheless, a bounty of nourishment to get us all in top condition is already budding in our cosy, if slightly smelly, Polycrub.

The husband has discovered skills and muscles previously well hidden.

He has dug out and shifted tonnes of soil, manure and compost to create the perfect base for a load of veg, but he’s also now quite the craftsman.

Inside the Polycrub, he’s built perfect little walls and raised beds from scraps of wood to keep everything tidy and efficient. It’s not going to win Grand Designs 2021, but it’s an impressive feat from a guy who’s never put up a shelf.

In neat little rows we have garlic and onions; early potatoes and carrots; asparagus and courgettes; peas and tomatoes; mint and strawberries and all sorts of salad. In one corner there’s a wee cherry tree, in another a thriving lemon tree. Hanging baskets await the arrival of new strawberry varieties and the back wall is poised to be completely festooned in vines and raspberry canes very soon.

The bulk of our seeds, bulbs and seedlings have been sourced locally, the more exotic stuff from a bit further afield, including yesterday’s new arrival.

Trays-full of baby wasabia japonica plants made their way to us from Dorset, but were soon comfortably ensconced in their new Argyll home.

I confess that these versatile brassicas would be more commonly found on riverbanks high in the Japanese mountains rather than on the windswept Scottish west coast, but they might just work.

Their accompanying leaflet tells me the leaves are lovely in a salad, the stem is an excellent stirrer for a Bloody Mary and the famously nippy rhizome can be distilled to make a very punchy vodka. Sounds like the perfect recipe for peak conditioning. And if we get a bumper crop?

Well, there are worse years to find oneself slightly over-conditioned…