This week in May, in the year of Our Lord 2023, I finally feel like a fully-fledged farmer.This is, of course, a slight exaggeration, although as a newly qualified farmer, this is something to which I’m entitled. Paradox? I shall explain…
Having arrived in 2023 by virtue of a rural upbringing and having dirtied my hands on occasion helping to pick spuds (not to mention having to help cap sheep and pluck turkeys from time to time), I feel as qualified as anyone to comment on the rural life and the rural mind-set. There is also the fact that my current home is located in a countryside locale and moreover, I am the proud owner of two hens. I am neither any stranger to commenting on the weather from time to time, if and when there is a stretch in the evenings or it’s a quare drying day.
However, one thing which has always been apparent to me is a farmer’s penchant for understated exaggeration. I’m not sure if this is a penchant exclusive to local communities (I’ve never been a farmer in any other part of the country) but I do know that it exists and that it works in tandem with an ironic fatalism.
As a farmer, I have recently found myself in farming supplies shops. I might be buying hen meal or I might be seeking out parts for some complicated farming machinery at home (the lawn mower). As recently as last week, I was in a local farming supplies establishment and I happened to be awaiting my turn at the counter. Standing patiently and resisting the urge to check the news on my phone (farmers absorb their news from the wireless, not the phone), I noticed an elderly man take up position behind me. He had overalls on and unlike me, he was wearing wellingtons. I could tell a fellow farmer at a glance.
“How’s the form,” I asked in reflex and also by way of greeting.
“Not so bad, lad,” the man replied. “Sure, I’m on the right side of the ground still.”
Ironic fatalism. But the best was yet to come.
“The right side of the ground is the best place on that kind of day,” I suggested, the day being fine and bright outside.
“Ah, sure,” the man winced. “A man could be on the wrong side of the ground with the wooden suit on soon enough.”
Understated exaggeration. But I had to laugh.
So why is it that I am only feeling like a fully-fledged farmer this month and therefore only now qualified to partake in understated exaggeration? Look no further than this week’s pitur (farmers don’t say, “picture”).
In short, I had a small strawberry harvest over the past few days, nine in all, and they were the finest nine strawberries a man ever seen about the like of here (understated exaggeration).
Regular readers of this garbled mess will know that earlier in the year, I undertook an agricultural challenge: Two beds in the community polytunnel nearhand my house (farmers don’t say “nearby”). So far, as May slides past, it’s early days in the polytunnel although the strawberries have started to come to fruition. If each flower on the strawberry plants turns into a bright red ruby, I’ll have a great many more fruits to enjoy but even if the flowers don’t pay out, the first nine have already been worth the effort.
Even if the broad beans and peas shrivel on their runners; even if the broccoli is destroyed by marauding slugs; even if the spuds go unpicked because of blight; even if the corn is stolen by thieves in the night; even if an elephant bracks (farmers don’t say “breaks”) into the place in the middle of the night and wracks (farmers don’t say “wrecks” either) and heels (kicks) over the pots of peppers and dunches (knocks) over the pots of tomatoes; even if all of that happens, the first nine rubies have been better than any strawberries I’ve ever had in my life. They were too good to make into jam and to a berry, they were all swallied (swallowed) moments after they were picked from their homeplace (pot).
Anyone who has ever grown strawberries at home will be wondering what took me so long. And do you know, I was kinda thinking the same thing meself.
Who knew that home-grown strawberries were so delicious? Sweeter than their supermarket cousins, even their scent is enough to cope a body on their rearend (knock a person down). Not to put too fine a point on things, but if you were going to eat a last piece of fruit before donning the wooden suit, you could do a lot worse than some of Farmer Devlin’s mighty produce.
“Yer man thinks he’s a farmer now because he got a few strawberries out of his growbag.”
Ah, sure, come back to me when I’m digging the spuds and we can talk. I only have two growbags full of the purties (potatoes) but I might be taking on a lock (couple) of men to give me a han (provide assistance).
Understated ironic exaggeration.
No fatalism about here, though.
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