Monthly Archives: October 2009

Falling back

View point on a misty morningThis morning it was dull, misty and drizzly, and it hasn’t really gotten much better all day. This photo was taken at the view-point at the top of our road, normally you can see right over the Wye Valley and across into Wales and even further on a clear day but this morning you could hardly see into the next field down.

I was up early this morning and off out in search of flaked peas to mix up the goats feed but came back empty-handed, that is three different feed merchants we have been to, two had run out and the third was charging over £11 per sack!

Sheep grazingThe garden is covered in Ash leaves and the roads are covered in fallen leaves of all colours, it is very beautiful but mixed with the drizzle it is very slippery. Autumn is here. When the leaves are coming down like this I always want to let the goats out on them but it is always to windy and I don’t incase they spook and something goes wrong.

The clocks go back tonight, after half term I will be working in the dark and getting home well after it has gotten dark. I’m looking forward to it in one way, and not in another. Next week is going to be very busy with half term, long days and extra play sessions means I have written the week off for anything else.

Pass the parcel

I have been having a big sort out of lots of things, books, videos, clothes and even a bookcase have been offered on freecycle and I am really looking forward to having more room and being better organised (yeah right!).

I have also been sorting out my seed boxes, yes I have more than one and there are odd packets dotted around my room, and have filled a chocolate box with packets that I either have more than a couple off or seeds that I have been given that I am not likely to grow, some are whole, unopened packets and some are half packets but most should grow and all are unneeded by me.

I could offer them on freecycle but what I would like to do is arrange a ‘seed swap parcel’, there have been some organised on forums I have belonged to but there has always been a massive list of people waiting for the parcel to be passed to them so I would like to arrange my own with the seeds that I have sorted to start it off.

So what I need now is people to pass the parcel to; and for them to pass the parcel to next.   

The rules of the swap are simple, when you receive the parcel take out what seeds you like the look of and think you will grow, add any seeds you have that you no longer need or want and pass the parcel on. If you would like to be involved then leave a comment saying so and leave an email address (but please do not leave postal addresses), when you receive the parcel contact the person who has commented after you and send that parcel on to them. At the end send it back to me!

I thought it might be nice to include a letter of what the weather is like or anything garden or nature related that you have spotted, and maybe what you have taken out of the parcel but it would all just be for something nice and interesting so I don’t mind if no-one else likes the idea of this.

And it carries on

Well, that is another weeks work done. Next week it will be half term, so soon after the summer holidays, I feel like time is flying by. The clocks will change this weekend, and I will be home in the dark after work. Time for indoor, winter crafts but it still feels like there is a lot of outdoor work to do.

Permaculture in a Nutshell by Patrick Whitefield

I have read another book! And it was well worth the two month wait for the library to get it in.

I’m been interested in the subject of permaculture for a while and the more I found out about it the more interested and the more of a good idea, or right way of doing things, it seems to be. But it is a massive subject, and it is very hard to work out where to start with it but this book is excellent starting place, easy to read and, possibly most importantly, it makes it easier to see how permaculture can be made use of.

After reading the book I have decided on two smallish projects that will make a real difference, with very little work and with mean less of a work load in the long run.

Firstly; water butts near to the chickens and goat housing. We did have water butts by the goat house, isn’t that far from where the chickens and rabbits are kept, but the main one fell over twice (the garden isn’t very level in places and it wasn’t the best made or placed stand for it) and then the tap broke and it hasn’t been used since, meaning that water has to be carried all the way from the top of the garden by the house to the bottom of the garden where all the animals are. It also comes off the mains, which is not ideal.  We have a few water butts that could be used, they just need taps and putting in place. And now is the prefect time of year to do this seeing as we should be getting all the winter rain soon.

The input for this will be small maybe a few hours work, and minimum cost, the out come and productivity of it will be less carrying of water by people, less use of mains water, rain water is probably better for the animals, making use of a resource that would have otherwise gone to waste and the guttering on the goat housing (which is already up until the new housing is finished) will help stop some of the run off into the goat pen which makes is wet and bogging in wet weather.

Secondly; I am going to use a ‘no-dig’ method to bring the new allotment ground into use. The beds will be 1.2 meters wide, and the length of the allotment long, and the paths will all be 1 meter wide. After the beds have been pegged out (which has already started being done) they are ‘lined’ with cardboard boxes, which our local supermarket are more than grateful to give us, so as all of the ground and any weeds are covered and then this is covered in manure. This can be planted straight into, so long as the manure isn’t to fresh, and a layer of grass cuttings or straw (hay is not a good idea as it probably has lots of grass seeds in amongst it) to keep the moisture and warmth in.

The input for this will be a lot less than if I dug over each bed by hand, and added manure and then dug this in. It will mean weeds are less of a problem as the cardboard will block off the light to them. It will also mean that the ‘eco-system’ that builds up in soil to break things down and turn them into usable materials for the plants will not be disturbed and so can carrying on building up as the field was turned from grazing to allotment plots in April. Hopefully resulting in better soil and better crops.

Some other interesting bits from the book:

  • The first LETS was started in Canada in the 1930s in a small mining town, when the mining company pulled out of the area people were left with skills, and a need for other skills, but no way of earning a living and so the first LETS was born.
  • Growing vegetables in the tradition rows of beds is not the most productive way of growing them but where they are grown in this way than beds should be 1.2 meters way meaning the middle can be reached from either side, and paths should be 1 meter wide.
  • If you are already doing any of the following then you have already started practising permaculture: Enjoying the beauty of nature, growing some of your own food, walking, cycling or taking public transport instead of taking the car, making decisions about what you buy on the basis of how it affects the earth, reusing and recycling materials, supporting nature conservation

Look what I made!

Image048I have been on a basket making course today, and this is what I made.

It has been a really nice day and I now can’t wait for the leaves to finish falling off the trees. I have a long ideas list of what I can make… a different basket for everything I own to live in, boarders for the vegetable beds and paths, apple collecting baskets, mushroom collecting baskets, the list goes one. 

I am so pleased with myself, and by the end of basket making season, handly just as lambing and kidding session starts, I will have the strongest, toughest thumbs for miles.

Spinning

I spent the evening spinning yesterday. I have only really spent one other evening spinning so far so it was a very welcome chance to sit down and practices.

I think I have worked out why my tension keeps going wrong, I am leaving nobbly bits in the wool instead of pick them out so it then doesn’t thread through the flyer as it is should. Now that I know this is should make it much easier to sit down and do odd little bits and pieces

Wales, back to work, then London

8725_1228356821481_1005885323_30702014_7145580_nI don’t feel like I’ve been at home for the last few weeks, and when I have been at home it’s been to sleep or do as much as I possibly can for the next time I’m out. 

The days of last week of my two weeks off slipped away very quickly after we got back from Brean, without anything much feeling like it happened.

On the Wednesday I went to a carboot in the ‘big city’ as part of my de-cluttering plan, and sadly came back with all but a few things that I took and a pitch fee lighter. Still I have tried it and I didn’t let the temptation of staying in bed get the better of me. I would so like to become an early morning person, I seem to enjoy the day so much more than if I let myself sleep in but bed seems such a nice place to be in the morning, especially now that the mornings are chillier. Then that evening me and Rhys went out for dinner as it was his birthday.

On Thursday I spent most of the day driving round trying to get home after a road being closed after an accident, I don’t know where I was meant to end up but I did ended up over the other side on Gloucestershire after making my way through lots of little lanes trying to find somewhere I knew or had heard of to head towards.

8725_1228355661452_1005885323_30701985_4598601_nOn the Friday we went to Wales for a night’s camping, we stay on a wonderful camp site in the middle of no where. The camping field was on a smallholding, Gwalia, where they produce most of their own fruit and vegetables, eggs, meat and milk. It is always nice to have a look around other peoples holdings to see what they are doing and pick up ideas. They have a lot more land than us, about nine and a half acres, some of which is put down to food production but there is also a lake that they have dug with a long list of wildlife that it attracts, including Otters, and on the edge there is a small turf roofed hut which they very kindly let us stay in as it was raining and getting late when we got there. Inside the hut is big enough for two single beds down either side of the room and then room in the middle for moving around and a chair. Outside it the roof has an over hang with a wooden step running the length of it, where me and Rhys step the night reading by fire and lamp light. On some more of the land, and around the lake partly, they have planted a mix wood land that includes willow which they harvest for winter feed for their goats. They also make their own haylege in barrels.

8725_1228356021461_1005885323_30701994_6251604_nApart from having a look round someone else smallholding and having a nice night camping, the trip to Wales was to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology, I hadn’t ever visited before. The day that we went on they were holding a food event which had some very interesting sounding talks, unfortunately none of the staff seemed to know where they were so I didn’t get to see any of them.

After Wales it was back home, and I decided to skip the local food festival in favour of spending the afternoon on the allotment. Even though it is very much the end of the growing season there are still lots of bits and piece that can be done. I am bring on some more ‘raab 60’ plants at home to transplant when they are a little bigger for an early harvest in the spring, I have some pea seeds that can be sown this month for an early crop next year, which I will do if I can ever find the packet again and of course it will soon be time for broad beans (yuck!) which I think I will try fresh and home grown ones but have never liked them.

On Monday it was back to work, and it is very disheartening how quickly it gets dark after I get home, then after my week at work I have travelled down to London to stay with family for a funeral.

And tomorrow it all starts again… Half way through October already!

Our Farm by Rosie Boycott

PICT0105Whilst I was away I finally managed to finish reading Our Farm by Rosie Boycott.

I use to read all of the time, I remember once finishing a book in one sitting one night just so as I would be able to take it back to the library van the next day and get my whole twelve books that I was allowed out on my card ready for the next fortnight’s reading but I don’t seem to get some much time for it now, or I lose interest and never finish whichever book it is.

I bought this book for mother a few Christmas’s ago and have been reading it ever since she finished reading it, so far it as taken me over a year but it was very worth it. As well as telling some of the story of her smallholding it is also a wealth of knowledge about many other related subjects. It charges the coming of a Tesco’s store to the market town her smallholding is near, the worries that the shop keepers have and the fight to stop a new one-way system in the town that will divert all the traffic away from the town towards the new Tesco’s store before anyone could reach the high street. Especially interesting as there is a Tescos planned for my local market town.

It also is a very good starting point for many other interesting subjects that I might not have thought to look into other wise.