We’ve been shifting some stones and came across an old wooden box that disintegrated when we touched it, just leaving a sheet of paper behind. It had writing on it that was very faded but just legible.
The writing was in Welsh which we don’t speak but our neighbour said he’d have a go at translating it for us. We thought no more about it until he telephoned quite late on sounding very excited.
“You’re not going to believe it!” he said, “This could be a revolutionary new approach to farming and gardening. It explains so much, yet is essentially simple. I’ll send it by email tonight.”
It turned out to be a letter written by a desperate father to his son.
My dear son,
I’m writing this letter because I may not see you again and have to impart the secret wisdom of farming to you. For you will be master of the farm when I am gone and I fear I may not get a chance to tell you beforehand as the soldiers are coming up the street searching for me.
As you know, I’ve been a member of the Snowdonia Revolutionary Front (an anarcho-syndicalist commune that was oppressed by a self-perpetuating autocracy ruled by Edward Longshanks of England) for some time.
Well we decided to stop the cultural oppression of the English by burning down their holiday homes here. I picked that house built by Longshanks in Caernarfon that sits like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend overlooking the river.
I piled some wood to the side of it and after an hour of rubbing two sticks together (I was saving my matches because I need them for my fags) I got a fire going. With much sadness I tell you, the walls would not catch fire.
Possibly it was the rain pouring down that thwarted me or possibly the cunning English have fireproofed the walls. Stones never burn easily at the best of times, except those black ones south Wales is made of.
Well the guards awoke. Someone must have told them a joke for they were rolling around on the floor laughing. I decided to run for it but they have me cornered now. So, to the secret method I must impart to you to ensure our family’s prosperity from the farm.
As you know, when we dig into the soil here we turn up many rocks. These rocks came from the fires belched by Welsh dragons in the days before history. They’re imbued with the fire magic of the dragons and this fire magic is what makes the grass grow lush and the leeks grow tall.
Of course we have to dig out these stones that break the plough and use them to build the walls that surround our fields. Now this is the secret of keeping the land fertile…
The land needs to be supplied with other hard things that have been through fire. Pottery is good, for that was forged in fire and glass is even better for that was melted and set, holding the fire’s power.
Metal is best of all. The strength of iron leaches into the soil and the plants grow strong. It doesn’t really matter where the iron is from. Old nails, pots and kettles – even bedsteads all add to soil fertility.
Wherever you dig on the land, you’ll turn up old pottery, glass and bits of iron. This is the secret of our soil. If the land should start to fail to provide, just add more.