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We blessed the crops, but we didn’t get to whip any damn children…


The ancient church is the heart of our little settlement, though services there are few. So far, Uncle B and I have neatly sidestepped most of them because the hours we keep. When an afternoon service cropped up this Sunday, we were kind of stuck for good excuses (“we’re aggressively obnoxious atheists” didn’t seem a very sociable excuse).

This was the annual Rogation Service. The Rogation Service is a church adoption of the pagan custom of blessing the crops and livestock in Spring. It originally lasted three days, which coincided with the Gange Days — a procession known as “beating the bounds.”

Yea, verily, in ye days before ye Google Earth, remembering and maintaining the boundaries of each individual parish wasn’t easy. So once a year, substantial men of the village — along with many boys — would walk the entire perimeter of the parish. “Entire perimeter” to include wading canals, walking through the middle of houses and trampling any new fences or outbuildings. Literally every inch of it was retraced on foot, along with much partying and whooping it up.

Along the way, the boys were thrown into the brambles, tossed into ponds and slammed into hard objects, all the better to cement in their tender heads the landmarks and outlines of the boundary. Works for me.

We had a feeling this Rogation wouldn’t be quite that sort of wild medieval par-tay. And so it wasn’t. When we reached the open field, our entire merry band consisted of six bluehaired old ladies, the vicar, Uncle B and self. We were handed programs and given speaking parts, and off we went.

We shuffled twenty feet into the field and said prayers for the livestock (astonishing several lambs). Fifty feet the other way and said prayers for the crops. Up the road a piece and prayers for the church. Then we had mugs of hot tea and little sticky cakes and walked home. Hymns and all, about an hour.


The strawberries? First of the year. Uncle B growed them in his greenhouse, a little bowl for each of us. They were awesome and flavorful, and so sweet they didn’t need sugar.

I reckon it was the Jesus blessing that done it.


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 25, 2009, 6:33 pm

Yeah, right – Jesus was the one out there in March, making sure they got a nice, high potash feed and were all wrapped-up against the cold and ice.

I’d swear to Odin, I’d seen him hand-pollinating the little blighters, too.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 25, 2009, 6:47 pm

Uncle B goes out with a paintbrush and sexes the strawberries.

I’m so ashamed.

Comment from Joan of Argghh!
Time: May 25, 2009, 7:52 pm

Mmmm… paintbrushes. . . uh, wha– oh! Sorry.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: May 25, 2009, 8:46 pm

Tickle, tickle little strawberry,
Let me brush your derriereee.

Comment from porknbean
Time: May 25, 2009, 9:21 pm

I reckon it was the Jesus blessing that done it.

You never know…….

BTW, what are those strawberries named? I planted some plants last year, they spread this year, but the berries look sickly.

Comment from lauraw
Time: May 25, 2009, 9:38 pm



Homegrown strawberries are amazing.

Wonder if it’s too late for me to set a patch…

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: May 25, 2009, 10:16 pm

When I was a kid we lived for several years in Maryland. A few of those years we went to a nearby farm that did “Pick Your Own Strawberries” deals for a few weeks in the summer. You paid for the boxes they gave you to put your strawberries in and led you out into a row to start picking. At first it was fun but it quickly became tedious. Dad bought lots of boxes – he loved a good deal. We picked a LOT of strawberries. The rest of the week we ate a LOT of strawberries too but we had way too many to eat before they spoiled. We sliced and packed a bunch of them with sugar and water and froze them. The rest we made into preserves. This was so we could have strawberries in the winter. Anyway, after we moved from there it was many, many years before I cared to eat strawberries again.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: May 25, 2009, 10:45 pm

When we reached the open field, our entire merry band consisted of six bluehaired old ladies, the vicar, Uncle B and self.

So that would be 7 then, yes?


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 26, 2009, 6:36 am

Living dangerously there, Scott 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 26, 2009, 7:10 am

It’s just a skunk spot. So far, it hasn’t spread to the rest of my head…

Comment from Dawn
Time: May 26, 2009, 11:43 am

My in-laws have strawberries that blossom like crazy but no fruit??? I told them about the hand sexing.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: May 26, 2009, 11:59 am

On my dad’s ranch, it was wild asparagus. It grew along the fence-lines, and my grandmother would make herself a sunbonnet from a grocery sack and go pick way too much of it. A banker was supposed to came out to the ranch to talk to my dad, but he never showed; later, he told my dad that he did come out, but the only person there was some crazy lady out in the pasture with a grocery sack over her head.

In any case, have you ever tried homemade asparagus ice cream? I do not recommend it.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: May 26, 2009, 2:09 pm

Did I already tell that story?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 26, 2009, 4:26 pm

Not to us.

Bunnies ate my broccoli 🙁

Comment from jwpaine
Time: May 26, 2009, 5:13 pm

Is that what you kids are calling it these days?

Comment from David Gillies
Time: May 27, 2009, 10:49 am

Best thing for bunnies (well, not best for them, best for getting rid of them) is a little scoped-up .22LR rifle with a suppressor and a 100,000 candlepower lamp. You wait till midnight or so and then the spotter waves the lamp about. When you see a little red pinprick that’s the reflection from the bunny’s eye. The gunner takes aim and despatches Brer Bunny to la-la land. Bonus: rabbit pie! If you’re using subsonic ammunition (Ely make a good version) your neighbours won’t even know you’re out there.

When I was at school my buddy and I spent quite a few Saturday nights plinking rabbits. The farmer paid us 50p a head bounty and my friend’s mother would cook them. The only stipulation was that we cleaned them first.

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