In Praise of Old Technology: The Gallus-Gallus

What, you may ask, is a Gallus-gallus? The domestic Gallus-gallus is an older garden technology, now having a well-earned return to popularity. It is absolutely the top of the line in horticultural multi-function, and quite possibly the most environmentally friendly investment you will ever make in your garden. Let’s look over some of the features.

When you see one operating, the features which come most clearly to the fore are the two cultivators. These are primarily used for weeding, but can also be deployed in the turning of compost. Though it is not solar-powered (more on this later) the cultivator function is operational throughout the daylight hours.

Cultivator3tand

Flowing on from the cultivation function, the Gallus-gallus also provides a variety of pest removal services, including insect, slug, and snail disposal – and it’s entirely organic! No hazardous residues, no stand-down periods, just one dart and it’s gone. Select models also dispose of small rodents.

Continue & Comment

I Also Am a Steward

Georges Seurat - Le jardinier

“The rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”
Gandalf to Denethor, Steward of Gondor, in The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Drawing the Dream into Life

If I lived in Middle Earth, I wouldn’t be an Elf (insufficiently ethereal) or an Ent (too hasty) or even a Dwarf (I don’t like beer). I’m not wise enough to be a wizard, or big enough to be an oliphaunt.

I’d like to think I’d be a bard in the hall of some minor HorseLord (or HorseLady) of Rohan, kept to work up the deeds of my employer into suitably heroic (and alliterative) verse to be chanted over a goblet of wine after dinner.

Inside Viking House in Rosala Viking Center in Finland

I’m thinking of practising my compositional skills on the saga of Boromir’s heroic resistance to swallowing a pill. (That’s Boromir my cat, not Boromir, son of Denethor. As far as I know, Boromir of Gondor could take his medicine with the best of ’em.) I could even try my skills at flyting.

But it seems more likely that I would have been a Hobbit: a short, round homebody.

The world of Middle-Earth is one of those fictional creations which exerts a fascination over its fans so strong that they want somehow to become part of it. Of course, the best way to become part of a story you love – or more accurately, to make it part of you – is less by buying the merchandise (how many One Rings can there be?) and more by incorporating the values and culture of the story into your own life. Living the story, in other words.

Map of the Middle Earth #2

I recently read a book by the intriguingly named Noble Smith, titled The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life. (NB: if your surname is Smith, it behoves you to give your child an interesting forename. Mr Smith’s parents have clearly done their duty by him.) He draws out the threads of hobbitness from the tapestry of the novels which include them, and suggests how we might weave these threads into our own lives. “The Shire can become as real as we make it in our own lives and communities and countries.”

He speaks of the value of a good night’s sleep, suggesting that going to bed is a more sensible (and hobbity) thing to do than posting “I’m tired” on Facebook. He suggests eating locally grown food – what could be more hobbity than fresh garden produce? – and even provides a plan for growing a hobbity vegetable patch of your own. He promotes the hobbit pastime of walking, the importance of sustainability, and the value of quality craftsmanship (there’s no plastic dreck in a hobbit hole).

Bag End, Frodo and Bilbao Baggin's Home, Hobbiton

Parties are heartily encouraged, along with singing and the company of good friends – those with whom you can spend time “just hobbitting about.” Loyalty to friends is praised, as is the mending of quarrels, and the everyday devotion of what he calls “heroic monogamy.”

Reality, he notes, is superior to virtual reality. Anyone who has ever received a virtual gift knows this. Consider giving out mathom at your next party – your clutter can be another person’s gift. Greed is not good – don’t be a Sackville-Baggins.

When it comes to dealings with the Big Folk, Smith stresses the need to be true to yourself, not changing – or pretending to change – to suit the company in which you find yourself. Hobbits are never anything but themselves (even if they have been known to travel under an assumed name.)

Stamp Carousel / Stempelkarussell

Noble Smith writes strongly against the erosion of people’s rights (such as privacy) by the powers that be, adamant that such a state of things can only continue as long as people allow it – which would be a most un-hobbity submission. Bureaucracy is to be tolerated only so long as it serves the people – not vice versa. “Baffling rules made by flawed men sometimes need to be torn down and replaced with the standards of common sense.” There are few beings more commonsensical than a hobbit with his feet on the ground.

But perhaps you do not yearn for the rustic simplicity of a hobbit life. What world do you dream of – and how will you draw it into your waking life?