A lot of agriculture has been happening this week. On Monday the farmer went to Italy, arranging for truckloads of slightly processed human poo to be delivered in his absence and jet-sprayed over the field just upwind of us. There is nothing quite so rural as the characteristic slapperslopper noise of a loaded muck spreader pebble-dashing the AONB. We were just too late shutting the windows and wedging towels into the letterbox, and the smell got in and started to peel the wallpaper.
On the other side of the lane they were cutting and baling something unidentified that they'd grown around the edge of a field, possibly as a comforter for game birds. The giant swiss roll bales were plonked onto a sort of outsize potter's wheel and rotated as they were wrapped in clingfilm. The polythene wrapping came in two shades subtly designed to blend in with the landscape; black and white. The field now looks like a chess board for orbiting astronauts. I suppose green polythene would be too much to ask. Too much risk of the odd car-sized bale being overlooked, or something.
On Wednesday the shooters were out, slaughtering partridges. They can't have got many, because most were trembling in our garden. The partridges, that is. I don't mind quite so much about pheasants. Not the cocks, anyway. They spend most of their time pointlessly sparring with their rivals, and creep under bedroom windows to screech at dawn. Partridges are different. They never quite grow up, scurrying about in fluffball bewilderment like castratos at a rodeo.
The same old shooters were there, tricked out in shiny green gumboots and this year's shade of tweed. They seemed shorter, if anything, but perhaps they'd just treated themselves to bigger guns. Or maybe they were further away. When they've banged a bit they gather together and do some group hearty laughter. K's friend said that they drink champagne and smoke weed, but I suspect he thinks weed means Benson and Hedges. Afterwards, pockets bulging with hand warmers, hip flasks, sachets of travel tissues and packets of Victory Vs, they clamber back into a box-like trailer and are towed away by a tractor, doubtless exchanging tales of 12 bore derring-do.
'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' I don't think.