Getting the fungi before a herd of hooves trample them


Mushrooms and muck. They have been the key words today. Meaning the grass fields are perfumed by well rotted manure from when the foldyard was mucked out in the spring, and my supper tomorrow is pasta with a creamy field mushroom sauce.

The mild, damp autumn is offering a bonanza for mushroom pickers.

I have been away for a few days with Jessica my granddaughter in London, and have returned to a bountiful crop of mushrooms in the grass fields.

The problem is that all of the fields are being grazed by either cows or sheep, so it is a matter of getting to the fungi before it is trampled by passing hooves.

Still, there is enough for all. I took a basketful to a neighbour and there is still plenty left over.

John will not eat them. As far as he is concerned they are another suspect food, especially as they thrive where the fields are well manured.

Today I have been playing catch up. More apples into store, several ducks into the freezer from John’s evening out duck shooting with a friend, winkling out all the eggs from the hens’ secret nests, washing John’s work clothes and tidying up after his week of bachelor life.

Last bit is not true. I am the one who causes chaos.

The house was immaculate when I came back (although our cleaner had only just been in the day before), but now the detritus of my return is everywhere.

Although Jessica and I had a great time in London visiting museums, going to see the musical “Matilda” and just a touch of Christmas shopping, I was delighted to turn into our farm entrance.

Driving around country lanes does not equip you for the aggression of London driving, although I am sure I could soon sort out those cyclists, taxis and buses with a big tractor.

No hassling me then.

But I may have picked up a trick in the big metropolis. Everywhere in the museums, groups of school children, most clad in Hi Vis jackets to identify them to their teachers, wandered off exploring on their own.

Out on the streets, the jackets also kept the profile of the children very high, Is this what would keep my chickens and guinea fowl safe on our lane?

For sadly on my return home one of the first sights to greet me at our farm entrance was yet another flattened , feathered, corpse.

And it was not the only one. The poultry seem to have embarked on a suicide pact. Some sort of dash across the tarmac into oblivion.

Surely life here on the farm cannot be that bad.

And then on the television last night I saw the answer. Hi Vis chicken jackets. I kid you not. If lambs can have them, why not hens?

The idea has however not met with senior management approval. John has another solution.

We’re plucking ( and it will only be plucking) tonight.