I really am enjoying blogging and am encouraged with the amazing reactions to my eclectic way (crikey its hardly a month and I am seeing notifications of over a thousand clicking in). Topics to date have included Vikings, fairy, recipes, poetry, medieval, storytelling, relationships, haiku and Norwegian farming. Here we see me getting a little carried away at the thought of a new career and soundly uplifted by people’s work upon the earth.
Introducing Farmer Giles
Breaking news: The chicken isn’t called Elsa she is called Clara Cluck
Journey to the Earth
Career change – was a nurse, then a single parent, Performance Poet, then of course storyteller – then blogger – pah all that’s behind me (calm down Adrian) I am a farmer now. I might be getting carried away; it was just one small harvest.
(Perhaps I am still being a storyteller here?) It started with the barley, no before that, when I wrote about past life connections with Otternes, no before that, when Laila named the lamb after me.
Eeee By Gum
It was in my bones all along. As a child I recall as the bus neared my mum’s home village she would become broader and broader. By we got off the bus I couldn’t understand a word. ‘Sithee Noo Tha Nohs’
And Granddad talked of Martinmas Sunday of standing on the village green with his wooden chest of belongings. The farmers rode around in their carts to choose from the likely. And that was you for the year; picked or not picked, lucky to be part of a well fed family or working long long hours for skinny pie.
Not immediate however; first there was the two shilling piece. All the chosen hurtled to the pub to fill themselves with 24 pennies worth of beer.
And, I was, at one point, a poet for farmers. Now we are going back a bit here. York Arts Centre, some grand occasion with wine and nibbles, (horse’s doovers as my mum calls them). It is clearly a long time ago as we were all excited to be welcomed by a computer. There was a person involved too, but they asked for your name and position and typed it into the thing, and, (very exciting this), it printed off a label for you.
Name? Adrian Spendlow. Position? Performance Poet. The label printed itself and was stuck to me. Off I went, wine in hand, to mingle and mix, (networking hadn’t been invented yet). I caused a great deal of interest. People wondered if I ever got any work. It was remarked that I was quite unusual. As this was in a room full of arty types I wondered how I could be more unusual than the usual.
As I was leaving the door person leaned in for a read and then said, ‘Goodbye Mr Spendmore’.
Once out I peeled off my label and had a look. It said Arian Spendmore, Farmers Poet!
So you see, it was destiny.
I am lucky to know people who work the land. When Chelsea sends me duck and quail eggs I feel part of things. When I climb the bank at Mum’s to fill baskets with fruit I feel a connection. Cutting back a mountain of briars for Helen brings a great sense of achievement, (and a bramble and apple pie), being lucky to know Michelle and to have the opportunity to work for her. Can you start to see now how I am turning into a farmer?
When it comes to agricultural construction I am a prize-winner. Don and I share the award of the best chicken hutch in the whole of Gudvangen. It was much admired and as market skald it is a duty of mine to make announcements. So, the second it was finished I turned to the market and in a mock shout made everyone aware that the competition for the best chicken hutch would be judged in five minutes time. The fact that no one else had brought a chicken plus five minutes not being very long to get building in may have secured us the position.
But prize winners we are.
I can’t keep calling her Johnny Chicken, I think her name is Elsa; she is a survivor and part of the family. She had been at the bottom of the pecking order (poor lamb) and had suffered greatly. That was until we went to Bjorgvin Marknad, leaving her and the rest of the brood back at Don and Wenke’s small holding. The sea eagle came! Or the polecat? Or perhaps it was Reynard? Someone snuck past the chicken-sitters, someone with feather or fur, someone with teeth or beak, someone with claws (build up to the sad bit) and…
When they returned they only had one chicken, (the previously pecked one); – one chicken who cannot bear to be alone. Not alone in the hen hutch at the top of the hill, no. she quite likes the stable, she sits by the hot tub, she hangs out with Molly the sheepdog, and even with the cats, she really prefers to cluck away on the kitchen work surface, and now, now, she visits Viking markets.
Oooooo, she has laid me an egg…
Back to Michelle
Every visit to her allotment is a joy. We always have such a wonderful sharing time and do things in our own way. The sowing of the grain however seemed a step too far for me. Allotments are allotments and I have been quietly worrying to myself that the committee might not approve. I have been secretly half expecting a ‘visit’ or worse still a ‘letter’.
The planting of wheat, barley, buckwheat, oats or rye are strictly against regulations – that sort of thing.
I worried for nothing. And, oh the joy. The first of these crops was ready. This was the time of the harvest. First the wheat, and then the barley. I cannot explain the experience. All I know is my eyes were moist, my smile was large and my energy knew no bounds.
Blessed I was, and connected to the earth, to my grandfather, ‘the grandfathers’, and all the way back through the ages of hunter gatherers.
Stoop, cut, gather.
Well sheaves to be correct.
To see Michelle heading home on her mobility scooter with buckets of grain and sheaves of corn is a thing which will stay in my heart forever.
Many a Blog Makes Light
I have been thinking of writing a blog on proverbs and one comes to mind now. Only vaguely connected to the theme but please do forgive me for the inclusion here. Russian I think, ‘Beware of pitchforks for they make three holes.’
I may have turned into a farmer rather than a revolutionary, but watch this space.
The Abundance Problem
I am reminded of the only marrow plant in existence in the whole of Norway and will be blogging on that shortly too.
Here, (well, I am on a plane to ‘here’ as I write this) but here (in Blighty) Johnny Marrow is a thing of abundance at this harvest time. Abundance yes, a thing of plenty, no, there are too many of them. A thing of great discussion among allotment gardeners. They fall within the range of ‘things to use up and how’. They are in there with, courgette pudding, rosemary tea, fried green tomatoes (recipe blog coming up soon), and beetroot ice-cream.
One day, one day, the whole of Norway will be enjoying my marrow pancakes, (and of course my Neolithic cave bread too).
Here it is I’ve found a pic of a marrow…
For now let us think only of the advice received from the Norwegian farmer Camilla Hansen.
Lets Take a Break for a Poem…
Waterfall girl has flowed here
To be beside me
Her limbs grow and turn
The nine known world’s experiences
Shape and form her
All the unknown worlds as well
Hugginn and Muninn fly wisdoms her way
And as hands dice and place
Wonders of taste are promised
I swear her thoughts enter straight in
Like a voice enjoining with you
There is a sense of Amma, of Freyr
Inspiring to be
For I, am farmer now
So, to be empowered
To grow, and crop and gather
Learning how to feed
Minds, hearts and bellies
Loved ones will be nourished
Because of her
With thanks for this connection I now fly home in a hurry with ideas and recipes and suggestions. How to use the barley. As for the wheat, I am on a quest to rediscover the recipe of a forgotten York only delicacy, the food of royals, mayors and journeymen; Morne bread, but that is another story, and another blog……
For appearance and booking enquiries see www.adrianspendlow.co.uk
My opening speech at Gudvangen