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Posts Tagged ‘Crop rotation’

Fieldwork by Ferret

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 December 2016

crop-rotationThe pseudonym Ferret conjures up fears of ferocious mustelidine battles (mainly based on Magpie experiences) so there was a hint of trepidation as the Numpties downloaded this wee thing with its very economical clues, but we were delighted by the clarity of the pre-ramble and immediately identified four clues in each quadrant that needed special treatment and the one that was unclued, that was to be completed by the corrected misprints from two others in the quadrant.

We have seen Ferret, glass in hand at both Listener and Magpie events (time for a Magpie plug – if you were the moaner who complained that this was one to attract new solvers and too easy for you, the Magpie provides six more Listener-style puzzles each month including one numerical one – Oh no, did I mention those anathematical monstrosities – and do we suffer one next week? … misery!)  but I did still need to confirm Ferret’s admission to the Listener Setters’ Drinkie Elite – and scanned his clues.

Disaster, what do I find? Some soft cheese, ‘Inclined to eat small volume of soft cheese (9)’ a normal clue that gives us PRONE around VOL O = PROVOLONE, ‘Foul-smelling assorted salami sandwiches taste of mace (7)’ SALAMI* around M[ace] = MIASMAL (What a superbly deceptive clue with that verbal  use of ‘sandwiches’ disguised as someone’s olid packed lunch!). There were fish and mutton too, ‘Finally trap fish in dune, slippery with its skin still on (8)’ [tra]P + EEL in DUNE* giving UNPEELED, ‘Buff fellow consumes mutton (4)’ (of course that led to DON round EM giving DEMON but it was at once clear that we had to dock the last letter as only four cells were available; so in went DEMO).

There was a copious drug use (or abuse), ‘Decided a long time ago to give up ecstasy after heroin became difficult to obtain’ (HARDGOT though the word play foxed me) and ‘Cherished a desire for something mood changing: dope and a bit of horse (5)’ DOPE + H[orse]* = HOPED (with our first misprint, a G when Mood changed to Good). And the alcohol?

‘Very good daughter gets a fizzy drink in Disneyland (4)’ (yet another superb surface-reading with that subtle transition from word play to definition) – SO + D + A. I suppose I have to give Ferret the benefit of the doubt. He’s hardly going to drink that soda without a shot of whisky is he? Cheers Ferret!

Our grid is almost full as we have immediately spotted with delight that the five different clues in each quadrant are placed symmetrically so we know where to look for those that are to be entered in reverse (LOOT, SODA, FEER and RIAS) and the ones to be curtailed (SCULL, EARLY, DEMON and BERET) and as we ferret out our eight misprints and slot them into the spaces in the unclued lights we have a delightful penny drop moment when four ‘crops’ appear (well, three and one that ‘isn’t’) GARLIC, BARLEY, CARROT and FALLOW.

Suddenly light dawns and instead of looking for some dubious phrase like ‘cut back’ we understand that oh so appropriate title. We are working in the fields – we CROP and ROTATE.

I loved every minute of this solve with its thematic unity. The late Roddy Forman who coached so many of us in crossword matters used to insist that the device used had to relate to the theme. It would be difficult to give a better example than this one. Many thanks Ferret.

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Listener No 4424: Fieldwork by Ferret

Posted by Dave Hennings on 2 December 2016

Ferret’s previous Listeners have been based on the old British Rail logo (no 4207, Loco), Pete and Dud’s one-legged Tarzan (no 4257, A Short Entertainment) and the Origami staircase from Swing Time (no 4319, Feature Film). This week, a two-word phrase would provide the theme.

listener-4424The preamble was very busy, but basically each 4-, 5- and 6-letter word lay wholly within one of the quadrants; two would need modification (according to the theme), two had misprints in their clues and the other was unclued. The remaining clues were normal.

For a bit of fun, I decided to tackle the normal 7-, 8- and 9-letter words first. I was pleasantly surprised at how many I got. PREMIER, FULL-TIME, TETANIC, MIASMAL and UNPEELED were the acrosses which I plonked in fairly quickly, followed by REAPING, HARD-WON (?), ARMHOLES and AIRBUILT down. 20 minutes in and feeling happy.

Next, I decided to try and ferret out (no pun intended) the misprints. 1ac HIRAGE and 5ac SLOPE were next to fall followed by GRIFFIN, OVERREACH, PROMISORS and HOPED. I was getting annoyed at missing the entries that needed modification before entry, but that was soon rectified with 5ac SODA which looked as though it became ADOS in the grid. I also realised that HARD-WON should have been HARD-GOT. Next came 21ac BERET which looked like it needed truncating to fit the B and E I already had. RIAS at 26 becoming SAIR confirmed the anagrammy entries and 24dn EARL[Y] confirmed the choppy ones.

I sat back mildly contented and tried to come up with the thematic phrase:

– Clocks changing (wrong time of year)
– Chop and change (too many words)
– Chop around (a bit vague)
– Irish stew (clutching at straws)
– Short change (now that’s a possibility)

listener-4424-my-entryThe rest of the grid came together fairly quickly once I had identified the two methods of entry, and the two misprints in each quadrant enabled GARLIC, CARROT, BARLEY and — ah-ha!! — FALLOW to appear. CROP ROTATION was obviously the theme, and I tried moving the four unclued entries clockwise. Some new words were revealed, so I knew I was home and dry (although it didn’t stop me checking other rotations).

Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Ferret. It wasn’t as tricky as your previous Listeners, but it was one that I could explain to a non-crosswording friend over a couple of pints to give him an idea of our fascination with these beasts.

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“Fieldwork” by Ferret

Posted by Encota on 2 December 2016

What a beautifully elegant puzzle!  Ferret has picked four six-letter words suitable for clockwise crop rotation in the puzzle, BARLEY, GARLIC, CARROT and FALLOW, whilst ensuring all changes are still words – very smart.  But also the four ‘rotated’ entries have 90 degree symmetry, as do the four ‘cropped’ entries – impressive, a superb grid.

There were some great clues: to share one, I particularly liked the apparent verb tense mismatch in 30a.  With the clue:

    Decided to dispose of son’s means in Scotland (6) ,

would it be ETTLED [being SETTLED without the S(on)], or ETTLES [Scottish for means]?  Of course one misprint was used to bring the tenses back into alignment – means change to meant – and all was sorted.

One or two words in the grid – especially TETANIC – looked ripe for a single letter change and, in this case, so it was.  Perhaps I wasn’t the only one to wonder if Ferret had at any time been an owner of the bike known as the MIRAGE MOPED that might have appeared at 1?  OK, it was just me!

For the correct answer have a look at Shirley’s and Dave’s blogs.  Alternatively… in some form of parallel universe and for something a little more mystical, first mix yourself a drink.  Specifically knock back a SODA (i.e. ADOS back to SODA in the grid), then off we go….

The aim, in my surreal world of CROP CIRCLES, is to determine in which REGION is the point at which mystical forces converge (and so find the hidden item).  The process is as follows:

  • Stage 1: Locate the Crop Circles – these are all the letter Os in the puzzle.
  • Stage 2: Seek out the ‘ley lines’ created by connecting these, with straight lines as in the diagram.


  • Stage 3: It is then trivial to locate where those forces are concentrated (see diagram).  Rumour has it that if you dig in the REGIONS (27a) with the TOOL (25d) provided, you will find the location of a buried golden hare.  I knew it would turn up if I kept looking.  [editor: Tim, I think you’ve got your puzzles muddled here!]


OK, the diversion above isn’t actually true as such – but it felt slightly plausible.  I think?

Thanks again Ferret for a very elegant gentle puzzle.

cheers all

Tim / Encota

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