Contour ploughing (poetry, permaculture and P A Yeomans)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Packing up the house today. About to leave on a year's adventure. Dipping into old notebooks. Stopping on this page. From fifteen years ago. A hill in Musk, close to here: Contour ploughing.

A black shouldered kite
follows my spine –
scribed by a grader,
filled with coarse rock
pursues the depression
         contours of my
         tired back;
my blades
with sour grasses
of mid-summer
once covered in clover
           like my belly now
dark and wet
protected from the sun's west

The drawing and poem were very simply imagined sometime in my late twenties (the notebook entry is undated). A vineyard is now situated on this hill, but it has never been ploughed on contour to create swales for passive water harvesting.

Well before I was ready to know about P A Yeomans, permaculture, ploughs and poetics or my own political imperative of bringing back the digging stick, I was intuitively writing and drawing up the logic of rehydrating land through swales – spoon drains that follow contours and hold up rain water. All these years later Ian Milliss and Lucas Ihlein are focussing on these very relationships in a show called The Yeomans Project. They have asked Milkwood Permaculture, Taranaki Farm, (f)route, Diego Bonetto and us, Artist as Family, along for the ride. And we will be riding over 1000 kms to witness this project, leaving Friday.


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