Clearances by Rob Cullen

Visiting Scotland lots of times over the years with my Scots wife and recognising Welsh place names and what they mean pointers to a history never taught. Visiting Ethiopia and witnessing the same process threatening nomadic peoples viewed to be savages by the ruling elite, And nomadic people are under threat worldwide today ignoring what they can teach about sustainability!

I am not a silent poet

I see my people’s names

in all the places I search

but I do not see them.

I read my people’s names

on the dry page of the folded map

but the land before me is empty.

I watch the landscape

identifying the marks

that my people have named

but the sound of their voices

is no longer heard.

They are quiet

no echoing of names called

no trail of our footprints

only the trail of names

in a land that calls itself

by a strangers name.

A land echoing in its emptiness.

The mountains are still with us

but we are nowhere seen.

“And we will present our eyes to the world.

Is it pretentions to believe that we are equal?

Is it asking too much that we want to live?”

(From Deliverance: Alan Stivell)

At Kinlochmoidart 1993.

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And the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

A poem about children alone wandering through Europe alone, Does it matter where they come from?

I am not a silent poet

Imagine it is your child

Not a Syrian baby

Not an immigrant

Not a foreigner’s child

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Imagine it is your son

Alone in a land

And he has no clothes

When the weather is cold

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Imagine it is your daughter

Hungry and thirsty

Walking alone

Where no one speaks her language

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Think of your child

Without a mother

Without a father

Walking alone

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Think of your child

Unable to cry

When there is no one

To hold you

No one to protect you

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for prey

..

Think of those children

As if they are yours

Walking alone

So far from home

When the two-legged wolves are hunting for…

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Soils and growing

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Sitting in the Artist Exchange meeting at Rhondda Heritage Park and in a discussion with Melissa Warren about her concern about an apparent absence of worm life in her growing space we moved to the benefits of raised beds and no dig growing to soil life including the worm population! And as the conversation continued I found myself sitting next to another artist who was considering experimenting with Hugelkultur beds!

In our orchard Garden I started to lay the beginnings of a 25ft Hugelkultur bed last year. I used large amounts of deciduous wood from pruning’s and some given to us by neighbours. I lay the wood on the surface of the soil. In the winter water runs from a spring into the orchard and I wanted to avoid channelling the surface water and ending up with a waterlogged bed! But perhaps the length of the bed meant I was being too ambitious as I ran out of soil and organic matter to top the bed off and it remains incomplete. So that’s a job for this year!

I also constructed a smaller 3 metre Hugelkultur bed in our kitchen garden. Unlike the bed in the orchard garden I dug a pit and filled it with logs and topped it with soil, well-rotted cow manure and straw. I planted squash which failed to thrive. In part to a huge invasion of slugs but also it became noticeable that the trench had filled with water. I discovered that we probably have another spring! So another job for this year!

Last year I also made a “conventional” raised bed with layers of newspaper, cardboard and straw. I covered it with hooped nett tunnels to prevent our chickens from destroying it. In December I planted it with blackcurrant bushes taken as cuttings from our mature bushes. I intend to inter crop with flowering plants for the next year – calendula and nasturtiums to bring colour and provide food for pollinators and other insects.

Which has reminded me of a description of my parents in law Jimmy and Pauline Andersons garden on Busses Farm by the cookery writer WENDY E. COOK in the introduction to her book : The Biodynamic Food and Cookbook: Real Nutrition That Doesn’t Cost the Earth

“My first introduction to a biodynamic farm was over 35 years ago, yet it made such an indelible impression upon me that I can still vividly recreate the mem­ory. Nestling in the soft East Sussex hills, Busses Farm, run by Jimmy and Pauline Anderson, was a clear demonstration of a living example of biodynam­ics.

Walking through the kitchen garden was like being in a Monet painting. The French intensive biodynamic method was being practised, with raised beds and an exuberant riot of herbs, flowers and vegetables. Patches of marigolds, tagetes and nasturtiums tangled with bright blue borage, lavender, rosemary, courgettes, cucumbers and firm-hearted lettuce. Runner beans busily twined up poles and tomatoes grew warm, sweet and ripe.

If you managed to glimpse the soil through this cornucopia it was black and crumbly, the kind that produces happy plants. Bees provided the background hum as they gratefully progressed from flower to flower, spoilt for choice between gardens and orchards. This was the first time I remember hearing about companion planting.

Out in the fields was a herd of horned Sussex cows, most with their calves, for breeding as well as some milk cows; a few fluffy sheep that looked like an advertisement for washing powder, 300 pecking and excitable hens, and a wonderful workhorse that was used for transporting heavy loads.”

Busses Farmhouse 1976.