Friday, 19 November 2010

Edwardian Farm & Other Dreams

It's been nearly two years, and now, with our departure from Europe looming on the horizon (December 28th!), we're starting to get serious about the kind of life we want to build and where.

The details are still fuzzy, but we know some things we do want.  One of the most important to us is that we plant some real vegetation wherever we are.  We have some serious garden/farm fever, despite having no practical experience whatsoever.  I'm so intrigued by other people's stories about the way they farm.  How did they learn their skills?  What do they grow?  What does their harvest look like and what do they do with it?  How much time and money does their venture require, and what kind of chores do they do?  How do these choices and tasks ultimately change a lifestyle?  For now, we're pestering our farming and gardening friends with these questions.  The advice we invariably get is to figure out where we will be first and then try to nurture the plants and animals that will thrive there.  We plan on doing exactly that, of course, but in the meantime it leaves us with empty hands and not much to satisfy our new... shall we say... urges.

The solution we've come up with over the past few weeks has two parts: 1) Dig the you-know-what out of my in-laws' back garden and toss around a pile of manure  2) Watch Edwardian Farm on BBC 2.  (I found out about it after chasing up Jenna's mention of Victorian Farm ).  Given that the first is back-breaking, visually unappealing and malodorous, I'll focus on the second.

 Edwardian Farm shows back-breaking labor and likely smells bad, if not to the viewer, but it is some of the most gorgeous footage you could possibly find on reality TV.  There are no aerial shots of cities overlaid by pop tracks.  Instead, the costuming and dramatic setting (the Tamar Valley in Devon) make each frame look like it could become an oil painting.  Then there's the content.  As the website describes the show: "Archaeologists Alex and Peter and historian Ruth attempt to bring Morwellham Quay in Devon back to life as it was in its Edwardian heyday." This process is beyond fascinating, at least to us.  In one episode alone you can see smoking and salting pork, milking goats, clearing land, navigation of a tidal river, slaking lime, strawberry planting, cider pressing, chicken roasting, wholesome halloween traditions and putting a pair of draft horses in reins. It's sometimes the details that catch us up though--in our quest for a simple life we don't realize how much depends on oil and technology.  Sometimes it takes a man running after a pony cart full of strawberry plants to bring that into focus.  Who knows though, next week they'll be using "new technology."  (Above, the Edwardian Farmers from the Edwardian Farm page) 

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