June 8 2014

The main type of grass on our farm is kikuyu, a sturdy running grass with deep roots. When one of the other families had to excavate deeply into the side of the hill to make a flat slab for their house, it exposed the devilishness of the kikuyu, with its long runners at least a metre below the surface of the soil. I’ve been pulling them up all day, and I know my dreams will be filled with my searching for their thick white strands, the feel of breaking them from the earth, the effort of extracting them.

One of our less successful attempts at holding the kikuyu at bay was to lay down a length of weedmatting on top of it. I say ‘our’, but Martin was never convinced. In my defence, it hasn’t been completely unsuccessful, since the grass has been substantially weakened by this treatment, and pulls up with less of a struggle than usual, sometimes even with a very satisfying length of runner attached. But not completely successful because we (and that is ‘we’) left the weedmat down for too long and it has decayed quite a lot in places. Small clumps of its plastic strands are interwoven with the grass, creating nasty little nests of inorganic impurity.

The cows have no complaints about the kikuyu. Four of the Friesians stood at the gate and watched me until I took them some clumps of grass. The bravest one inched forward, its head down against the gate, then lifting at the last minute to grab the grass from my hand. The others muscled in and started jostling at that. Soon four massive muzzles were reaching over the gate, sniffing wetly at me, wide nostrils twitching.