Like many British youngsters growing up in the city, I developed a strong romantic attachment to the countryside and farming as a result of various country holidays. This interest lay safely dormant until the 1980s when I began to chafe at the physical context of suburban life. The result was that we purchased a small hobby farm on the Saanich Peninsula, just 20 minutes’ drive from the University. Here we raised purebred Southdown Sheep, and at various times cattle, chickens and pigs. There was also a variety of heritage fruit trees on the property, including King apples, greengage plums and Bartlett pears.

Ruckle ParkWhen we sold the farm after 17 very satisfying years, I thought it would be a good retirement project to combine my interest in farming with my philological background. The result was that I started work on a translation of Palladius, one of the four Roman scriptores rei rusticae (agricultural authorities). My translation of his Work of Farming was published in 2013, along with an article on issues in the Latin text. I hope this work will contribute to a renewed interest in the techniques and productivity of Roman agriculture.