We had a typical crofter’s tiff last night:
Her, just arrived home after a hard day at the office: “The ducks haven’t been fed!”
Him, sulky: “I was busy”
Her: “But you’ve been here all day, working at your computer”
Him, more sulky: “Yes, I was busy”
Her: “But didn’t you have a moment?”
Him: “I was busy…”
Her: “During your coffee break?”
Him: “I was busy… drinking coffee.”
We do a funny thing when we, the urban, busy Northern Europeans attempt a smallholding. We import stress. We’re so addicted to our stressed working lives that we can’t resist recreating them even in the tranquillity of a Catalan smallholding. We manage too many animals, we manage too much woodland or too many fields. And we do it, just the two of us, living with (possibly enjoying?) the stress we have imported.
A hundred years ago this house would have had 8-12 people living here in an extended family – parents, kids, grandparents, an aunt… The four hectares of the Croft would have been easily manageable, allowing one or two members of the family time to get paid work. We are trying to do the same thing with a modern nuclear family.
Sometimes the nuclear family is a bomb.