We now have our very own Fort Knox on the farm. Unlike its U.S. counterpart however, ours was not built to protect against two-legged robbers, but as a stronghold against four-legged ones. The new, French Fort Knox contains gold bullion of the vegetable kind: asparagus.
Everyone adores asparagus, so two years ago we decided to plant some for family consumption. Most people would have bought a few plants, a dozen at most. My husband, a farmer at heart, is unable to grow things on a small scale. He dug out a trench with his digger, went to get a few tonnes of sand from down by the river and planted over a hundred next to the vineyard.
Pleased with himself, he sat back to watch them grow. Two nights later we were raided. Wild boar uprooted and destroyed several of the crowns that we had planted with such precision. I was devastated, but he was undeterred. He fenced the whole lot off with two electrified wires, strategically placed at wild boar height. The high security measures seemed to work and the plants grew slowly but peacefully; undisturbed for the two years they need to produce asparagus.
Yesterday morning, our long wait was over. In anticipation of home-grown asparagus with vinaigrette, he went up to the enclosure to see what he could find for lunch. After quite a while, he brought the fruits of his labour back down with him. The single asparagus stalk poking out between his fingers seemed pitiful. Looking closer I saw that the head had been gnawed.
“Rabbits” he said. “They’re eating them as fast as they grow”.
I sighed. He has always loved rabbits. We do not have a cat on the farm, because he says it would catch the babies; as a result, the farm is often over-run with both bunnies and mice.
“I’ve put up electrified sheep fencing inside the other wires. That should hold them off for a while”.
I took the solitary asparagus stalk. The kids were already arguing over who was going to eat it. I chopped off the woody bit at the bottom and carefully took a couple of millimetres off the nibbled part. Then I gently placed it in the steamer, and went to fetch some carrots.