Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The loneliness of the long distance neep singler

I'm procrastinating, prevaricating, delaying, watching the diving at the Olympics. . . I'm sitting on my fat backside when I should be working.

The trouble is that the job waiting for me is dealing with these fellas. . . .

Neeps, turnips or - in England - swedes. I've no idea what they're called in Sweden. They're great food for pigs and not at all bad for humans. I like them roast in big chunks next to the joint or mashed with tatties to make clapshot. They're also good in Orkney patties - leftover mince, tatties and neeps made into patties, battered and deep fried.

Still, before we get to that stage, we have to grow the things. My neighbour Jimmy kindly brought up his old seed drill and sowed the best part of 40 rows, each one about 50m long.

Sadly it's not a case of sitting back and letting them grow. The field was occupied by pigs last year and the rows have become choked with docks which need to be cleared and the neeps have to be singled - or thinned out. The picture above shows a thinned out row next to some overgrown rows.

There's no mechanical way of doing it, so it's out with the hoe and get stuck in. It's a time-consuming job and I'm lucky that Jim is prepared to muck in and help. Actually he's done more than that. A lifetime's farming experience sometimes comes in handy and Jim (below) is a demon with a hoe, clearing weeds and flicking away unwanted seedlings with ease.

It's not so easy for mere farming mortals like myself and I've been nursing a sore back and the odd blister for a week or so now. It's also not good for the ego as Jim clears three rows in the time it takes me to do one.

Anyroadup, we're nearly there with only three-and-a-half rows left to do and I'm going to make the effort to do them myself. I hope the pigs appreciate my efforts. Time to get my fat backside moving.


Pearl said...


I was bound to learn something today, wasn't I?

A labor-intensive little vegetable! Your hamstrings (no offense to the pigs) will get a work-out!


Z said...

I've been eyeing my veg garden sourly enough, I can't quite envisage hoeing an entire field. Hope you get a good crop at the end of it.

Zig said...

I can't even grow grass (the lawn variety) except between flagstones where it isn't meant to be, so I admire your flourishing swedes / turnips (are they yellow or white?) and am v impressed with your hard work.

Pat said...

Sad about Tom wasn't it?

Richard said...

Brings back memories of helping out on next door's farm when still at primary school in the 60s. Used to hoe the weeds out between the runner beans. Never got paid, either. All our Mums worked there for a few quid a week so I suppose we benefited.