Saturday, November 28, 2015


3 bags of oomska
As I'm likely to be blogging about it quite a bit, a euphemism for horse shit is needed. Manure is an ugly word. Most euphemisms for this substance have no place here, a blog for adults, because they echo out of the nursery. Withnail and I came to mind when I was at the riding stables the other
oomska bloodworms
week, in my nice clean Doctor Martens, I could hear Monty saying"You mean you've been up here in all this beastly mud and oomska without wellingtons?" And so, oomska it is. (The etymology is uncertain - it sounds Russian. Monty may have been a Polari speaker, but no polari lexicons have the word. Pig latin for "scum" is suggested somewhere online.)

Back at the riding stables out past Cumbernauld this morning, this time in my trusty gardening boots, (which I'd taken home and polished and gave new insoles and laces to yesterday - a gardener needs to look after the boots); I got three hessian sacks of oomska. I was methodology testing, really, seeing how heavy it was, easy to work with, what tools to use. It's easy to work it with a garden fork, and it is heavy, a hessian tattie bag not-quite full is hard to carry and handle. The plan is to hire a flat back wagon and get several tons at some point this winter. There's a wee mountain of it at the stables. 

I learned that the ponies are fed on a chaff based feed. And you can tell that their bedding is straw from its presence in the oomska - that is, not woodchip, which is not very good for the soil. And there were lots and lots of lovely blood worms in it. Earthworms of any kind are not as plentiful as I would like anywhere in the allotment, so introducing more, and a particularly useful species at that, is all good. 

One bag of oomska in the compost, and one each for the East and the West bed. It's a start, anyway. I don't think this poor allotment has had a good old feed in years. 

Here's the view this morning from the shelter of the "shed". Gloomy. During a brief break in the rain, I managed to get another barrowful of earth from the top of the rediscovered brick path. I love the thought that it's been buried under a foot of earth for years, decades maybe, and now at night, like Dante at the end of his journey through the Inferno, it can "look once more upon the stars". I also noticed prints in the newly thrown up earth, presumably a fox's, and I'm hoping it's visiting in search of rats and mice. 

That whole area in front of the plastic chair is the Old Greenhouse Foundation. I'm slowly digging into it, about a foot to make it level with the rediscovered path, surely the allotment's true, historical level. This will also involve excavating the ancient midden, to the far right in this photo. Then, in the area of what will be the pond, I need to go down another foot to reach the heavy clay subsoil, and then I can start to excavate into that for the pond itself. 

In the photo, you can see the compost cage, (with the carrier bags tied to it: I take our kitchen waste for compost, turn them inside out at tie them to cage to get them washed by the wind and rain). On the path near there, I've raised two sections of two slabs from the path, and dug down to the heavy clay to provide some form of drainage. Those diggings are full of water this morning. Despite the gloom, I left it with a song in my heart: I can see where the pond's going to go, and where all the water's going to run down into it, and I can see in my mind's eye a pond full of tadpoles, surrounded by bulrushes and reeds.