Tonight’s poetics challenge from DVersePoets is to create our own major and minor seasons using the traditional format of Chinese and Japanese micro-seasons. Growing up in a farming family means that your sense of the year is always tied to the land, and I thought this might be a nice opportunity to share what January/February means on a farm in North Shropshire.
Sekki: Unearthed Abundance
Store lambs are bought in the Autumn, and sold on in the Spring. During the months in-between they need a source of food, and a good way to provide this is by grazing them on stubble turnips. The sheep will graze the leafy green tops off the crop first, leaving the field looking fairly barren, but the pink turnips that actually contain most of the nutrition remain below the surface. Without the easy to reach leaves to snack on, the sheep turn their attention to these. To represent this I chose ‘unearthed abundance’ as the name of my major season.
I was a little stumped as to what to name my minor season for this challenge. I decided to go with ‘where we repeat our tasks of preparing’ as my family are still in that point of the farming calendar where they are preparing. Lambing is a few weeks away since we don’t lamb as early in the season as some, and the day-to-day tasks revolve around fencing off new patches of grazing for the store lambs, getting reading for lambing, and keeping an eye on the cows close to calving. While the crops have been sown, in places the fields still look empty, and it is easy to be fooled into thinking this is a quiet time in the farming calendar. There are no quiet times.
Green leafing forage
shifts in sections of fleeces
one patch to the next
With new calves being born, thousands of store lambs grazing in the fields, and new pedigree lambs on their way, my parents’ farm is currently busy with livestock. Winter may not be quite over yet, but new life is there just beneath the surface. In my own garden, removed from the farm I grew up on, I can see this in our koi fish. Sunk to the bottom of the pond, they are waiting out the cold weather and look almost dead in their stillness. This is the way of this season, the barren hiding the plentiful.