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Lamb's ear and scallop shells

Outdoor ink painting calls for dry conditions. Leaving Blackwater, rooks following a tractor fell upon a freshly harrowed field and gorged in frenzy. Black upon ochre turned damp umber. It did not auger well. A farmer knows to spread slurry before the rain. The stench at Boolavogue was ominous. Giant clouds cast Mount Leinster in sloe. I arrived at St Edan's National School, Ferns, to find the water butt full for the first time in weeks. The ground in The Monk's Garden was soaked. The strawberries were healthy, spuds ready for earthing up, lettuce flourishing, herbs established, fennel thriving, and our first radishes could even be pulled.

Following the recent dry spell, this week the Junior Room learned about watering and erosion. We soaked seedlings before transplanting and gave a strawberry a drink from the ground up. To explain erosion I made a mound of earth. We sloshed water over it, the mound collapsed and soil washed aside. So to protect our raised beds, the youngest gathered fleece to line the wattle fence and 2nd class edged borders with scallops. After sowing sunflowers seeds, we learned about our lamb’s ear. A child was invited to close his eyes, and holding a leaf, described how it felt to the rest of the class. ‘Soft . . . like a rabbit.’ With that, a rook took a wisp wool from our erosion defence and made off with it, proof for the children that the garden is supporting habitats.

With time in hand we took to the lawn for ink colour mixing. Seven stripes of clean colour and brush-washing between each. Primaries first, followed by violets and burnt oranges, now greens speckled with the first of the afternoon’s rain and pink pools running into the lawn, peacock blue sluiced over wool . . .

Next week, time to plant our Borlotti beans!



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