|Supergran's monster turnip - or at least half of it!|
Unsurprisingly, the collision between her fragile septuagenarian knee and the unforgiving tarmac of the farm road saw the aspiring harvester end up in our local in A&E department. Ten stitches and numerous Steristrips later, she was discharged from hospital, bruised and still shocked. One might have expected, therefore, that she would then take things a little easier in the days that followed – at least until her stitches were removed. However, that was perhaps a rather fond hope, given the unpredictable forces that prevail when you live on a farm...
|The latest in designer leggings – not...|
A phone call from Farmerbruv had alerted them to the fact that some of the ewes which had arrived at the farm for overwintering the day before had decided that the lure of their own hillside was too strong, and a renegade group of them had sniffed out a weak spot in the fencing.
When I ventured to suggest that perhaps chasing sheep in the dead of night, by torchlight, wasn't a wise pursuit for two elderly folk, especially when one of them has 10 stitches in their leg, Supergran's answer did nothing to reassure me: "Oh, but it was fine last night when we were out chasing the other lot that escaped, as I just carried the torch in one hand and held a stick to stop me falling over in the other."
For some strange reason, her words – apparently intended to put me at my ease – did not have the desired effect...
But back to the reason for my intrepid mother's original failed mission to the field, which had been to source a few heads of barley in order to observe an ancient country custom: making a "corn dolly".
Apparently, this pagan custom (and no, Supergran isn't a pagan – she just enjoys country traditions!) goes back gazillions of years, and the basic idea was that when the corn field was being harvested, this process drove the corn spirits who lived there out of their home. So to appease them, the farmer would save some heads of corn from the last field to be cut during each harvest and keep them safe until the following spring. During the intervening months, the corn spirits lived in the farmer's home, presumably in the corn dolly.
After winter, the "dolly" was then ploughed into the first furrow of earth to be turned on the farm in the new growing season, allowing the corn spirits to return to their home. Evidently, the said corn spirits weren't feeling too charitable the day they stood by and watched Supergran sprawled on the road, as they didn't have the good grace to help her up again.
She's since been along to the field and cut a few stalks of corn, which she then popped in a vase as an impromptu floral arrangement – and that is as near to a corn dolly as the blessed spirits are going to get this year!
|Less 'dolly' and more 'dunked|
|Now this is how it should be done!|
|Black sheep misbehaving|
|The escape tunnel under the fence – just a few inches|
of space. Once they've got their little heads through,
escape is a piece of cake!
|The grapes of my wrath|
Meanwhile, autumn continues to paint the nearby hedgerows a rainbow of orange, gold, red and yellow. Here's a quick photographic overview of the beauty of our surroundings at this time of year.
|A leafy canopy|
|Dandelion clocks – one puff and they're away!|
|The indigenous bird population is well provided for!|
|Anyone for a game of conkers?|
|It's been a good year for hazelnuts!|