August 04

First entry in my first farm blog. I have a dim idea of what it will be about. There will be stuff about what's happening on the farm: pruning, planting, digging, truffle hunting, pressing or picking — whatever I happen to find interesting at the time. I may also wish to wax lyrical (first cliché - someone keep count, please) about the music I'm listening to or the books I'm reading, and if I'm not very careful, I may offer comments on local and world events. And pictures too. You can get all the background to who I am on the main Limestone Hills website (when it's finished), but for the time being consider me a middle-aged man with some minor (in my opinion) obsessions: fungi, music, books, writing.

The author, with NZ champion truffle hound Peg.

From a work perspective, two big tasks confront me at the moment. As the placeholder page for Limestone Hills suggests, I am somewhat overdue with my next book. I need to put together enough uninterrupted hours to finish writing the thing - and current circumstances make that difficult. I'm with Neal Stephenson on the enabling factors for effective writing. "Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can't concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can't do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless."

I'm not writing novels, but the principle's the same. It takes an hour or two to get the bits and pieces of information for a particular section into my head (or refreshed, or in the right order), and then I can write for an hour or two. Then I can revise to my hearts content and go and do some farm work with a clear conscience. At the moment, this doesn't happen very often.

The farm work is more straightforward. We have "spring things" to do. The pruning of the olive grove, truffière and vineyard is finished, and it's time for some spraying to clean things up before we do the soil work around the truffle trees. This involves pulling a small set of sprung tines through the soil, loosening it and providing a nice soft tilth for the truffle fungus to grow through.

Interesting agricultural artefact number one.

Another significant task is repairing the irrigation system in the truffière, and renewing the drippers in the olive grove. There's some fencing to do, as well. And if normal spring temperatures are resumed in the next week or two, mowing grass will rapidly resume its tyranny.