Tag Archives: Local Exchange Trading System

Having a think… or maybe just going round in circles

This morning this months LETS newsletter arrived, along with a membership renewal form.

I didn’t go to this months meeting as it would have been to much of a rush after work to get there, and to be honest I couldn’t be bothered to make the effort. I am in two minds about LETS at the moment, on one hand I am a member because I believe it is a step in the right direction, it stands for a part of something that I want so badly… But on the other hand I am not sure what I am getting out of it.

To be active within the local branch you basically have to go to meetings, which are monthly and some times just feel like hassle to get to with work and all. More or less it is the same people who go along to meetings, and almost all the trading is based on goods not services. I got some nice Christmas presents for some people at the December meeting but I’m not really sure what else I have gotten… Sometimes, especially coming up to meetings, it feels like I am turning my much needed time and cash into ‘DEANS’ when it could possibly be used in a much more productive way towards my life.

I do support the ideology, it just seems to ‘fit’ with how I want to live my life, and that is why I am a member. If I am going to be a member than I want to be active and involved and not be just another member who pays my membership each year and means to do better (and there are a lot of them on the list) but what is it I am getting out of it…

And that is how my thoughts on the matter go round and round. Now the new question is; Do I fill in this years membership renewal and see how it goes for another year, or put my efforts into something else?

I really could do with some help on this one… Answers on the back of a postcard, PLEASE!

December LETS meeting

Tuesday was the December LETS meeting and market, and the last one of this year. I haven’t been to as many meetings as I could of this year and I’m in two minds about whether it is right for me or not. While I fully support the whole idea of LETS it some times feels like I’m just converting money into another currency that I can’t actually spend on what I need.

It was a nice meeting though, there was the Christmas cookery competition which had some really yummy sprout omelet entered in the savoury food part, sadly it didn’t win though but I think I might try making it myself one day. I managed to find five Christmas presents, or parts of presents as well.

The night before the meeting I made a load of hob-nob biscuits, I thought I might enter some of them into the competition but after getting home from work at seven o’clock I got tired and just cooked two trays of them, one to take to my staff meeting the next morning and one to leave at home to be eaten.

I got the recipe from the Creative Living Forum and have cooked them a few times over the last year or so, it is very simple and yummy;

8oz oats
8oz sr flour
8oz butter
1 tbsp syrup or honey
1tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp bicarb

melt butter, syrup water together add to dry misture mix well, make into walnut sizes, flatten bake 15-20 mins gas 4 till golden, leave on tray 1min then put onto cooling rack.

I have always used golden syrup and have never added bicarb and they still taste fine. If you forget the water then they come out a little hard though!

Seed sowing

At the last LETS meeting I had a very interesting conversation with one of the other members about seed sowing. She is trying out square foot gardening and her brother send her a book that she has been reading. The most interesting and useful part that she has found is that we buy and plant far too many seeds, and it is very right. At this very minute I have an open packet of cabbage seeds in front of me, average contain 350 seeds. They are not the only type of cabbage I have, off the top of my head I can think of two other verities sitting in my seed box.

Even just thinking about one of the packets of cabbage seeds, 350 cabbages is a lot even for a big family and takes up a lot of growing room.

I hate seeing wasted seedlings, or wasted seeds that aren’t ever going to grow but am guilty of just sowing the whole packet, after all I’ll find room somewhere for them, and of course most of them just go to waste or don’t reach their full potential or productiveness because of lack of time, it takes a lot longer to pot on a whole packet of seeds then just the dozen or some plants that are needed, or lack of space.

The book says something about changing your attitude to growing and it is completely right, if my seed box was my main way of feeding myself I would be much more carefully about only sowing what I needed and planning a head, after all I’m not going to eat 350 cabbages in a few weeks so it is much better to plan what I am going to need, say a dozen at a time, and then have another dozen coming on for a few weeks later. 

I have no idea what the book is called or who it is by, and I very much doubt I would get round to reading it if I did but it all fits with what I am trying to do: be more self-sufficient, sustainable and less wasteful so I am going to try and work with it.

So today I have carefully counted and sown:  

  • 24 Musselburgh leeks
  • 54 lettuce
  • 60 Ferrari french beans
  • 12 Raab ’60 days’ broccoli
  • 12 Red Russian kale
  • 12 All the Year cauliflowers
  • 12 January King cabbages

I haven’t done the best job of planning for them, and I know it’s not the best time of year to sow all of the seeds, leeks are very late but small leeks are better than nothing.

The other day I carefully counted out and sowed 30 Greyhound cabbages that are just starting to show their heads. 30 cabbage is a lot but I will learn

July’s LETS meeting

Last night was the July LETS meeting and market, in the summer the meetings start at 6.30pm which makes getting to them when I finish at 6pm or after but this meeting wasn’t to far from work so I got there just after it started. There was already most people there by the time I got there and it had a busy ‘isn’t-it-nice-to-be-meeting-outside’ buzz about the place.

The meeting part of the ‘meeting and market’ is a very informal meeting. We all turn up lay out our produce and bits and wander round inspecting what everyone else has got and chatting. Last nights meeting was at a picnic site so we all laid our stuff on the tables, if you find something you like you call across to who ever’s ‘stall’ it is and ask what they want for it, some are more organised and put price labels on things. A lot like a carboot really.

About half an hour after I’d got there ‘the bread lady’ arrived and everyone flocked round for a loaf of freshly make bread. I didn’t get one though as I like homemade bread when it is hot from the ovan best.  

It was a very nice evening, as always.

May LETS meeting

Well, I’m just back from this months LETS meeting (and my first day of my new job!) it’s the first one I have managed to get to this year, I do enjoy them.

I didn’t ‘sell’ anything but ‘bought’ ten black current cuttings, some chives, a mint and a pumkin plant, it looked lonely on it’s own. I also found a book that I have seen around and wanted to read called The Farm by Richard Benson, now I just have to finish the other books I’m reading.

Boxes by the goats

I had a bit of a rubbish day yesterday, for a few reasons my ‘main’ job is not the funnest place to be at the moment, then on the way home (from my second job) I ‘broke-down’, or let the van run out of petrol. Luckly it didn’t happen until I got to the bottom of the hill, but I did have to push the van all by myself back up a little bit of a hill before I could push it of the single-track road then walk up the hill home.

I was pleased with myself though, yes the van was empty but I did push it and get it moving up (a small) hill, and then walk almost a mile home up a very steep hill in complete darkness and all in about 25 – 30 minutes. And I wasn’t too out of breath when I got home or to cross, walking by myself makes me cross, it always has done. I’m fitter than I thought I was!

When I got home mother made me a cup of tea and gave me a box, that had been left by the goat house. My heritage and heirloom seed potatos, yay! There is 180 of them, all different colours, all seasons for all uses. I won’t be growing all of 180, there just isn’t enough space however much I’d like to, I’ve arrange a ‘potato share’ through LETS and the local Frercycle Cafe but I will at least get a few of each kind to try out.

I’ve still waiting for one more varity, a untra-earily call Mimi. They look like little cherry-potatos and are breed for growing in containers or small sizes. I’m planning to grow them in buckets i the polytennel and, if they would just arrive, we could be having home grown spuds for Easter.

Now all that is left to get, is sweetcorn seed, a problem I think ‘ve solved. For months now I’ve been looking for non-F1 sweetcorn seeds, they are THE LAST seeds left to order for this year now. Unless I find something interesting, which of course I won’t be able to live without, but that really isn’t how I should be thinking, I have far to many seeds to be able to grow them all this year and I hate the thought that even a single one of the little seeds I have won’t be given the chance to sprout and grow.

T&M use to sell a varity called ‘Idian Summer’ but they seem to have stopped for some reason, I’ve tried ebay and the other seeds companies I use but haven’t come up with anything, until I remembered The Real Seed Company, I’m been on their website a few time, they have some very useful information on there about things like seed saving but I’ve never bought anything from them.

They have just want I’m after, two different types of non-F1 sweetcorns that will grow well in the UK. perfect! I even have a plan in my head, I just need to sit down and work through it all to add the final touches.

November LETS meeting

Last night was the November LETS meeting, November seems to have come round really soon this year. It’s a very odd feeling to think about it almost being 2009…

The meeting was busy but I hardly ‘sold’ anything, not even my homemade mustard (which has always all gone ever since I started taking it to meetings) just another plastic pegloom mat and some old Spanish books I’ve decided I no longer need. I ‘bought’ some TVP and raspberry jam.

Well, winter is finally here

Outside it is snowing, huge flacks but it’s been raining all afternoon so the ground is, touch wood, to wet for it to settle.

October has flown by; I’ve spent most of it working. I work right though from the 13th until the 22nd, two days off and now I’m back at work. Officially I’m on holiday, but only from one job this week. Next week though…

Everything is mostly indoors now, on the 12th I almost completely cleared up the vegetable garden. Planted out the kale and spring cabbage plants, pulled up all the nettles, potted up all the strawberry plants. The garden looks bare now, the purple sprouting plants are coming back well have being completely massacred by caterpillars. The sprouts are coming back as well, but the ‘sprouts’ aren’t forming as sprouts but leafy bubs. I thought that some of the red cabbages had survived the caterpillars but the remaining cabbages are rotting away at the stream and falling over.

We also mated Keris, Kniteshade is such a good boy. He could easily flatten any and all of us if he wanted to but he just does as he’s asked. Mother has taken him out for a few walks with the other goats and he’s been really good then as well.

Indoors I’ve been pickling lots of quail eggs, they are all indoors for the winter now and still laying at least one egg a day each. Working on pegloom-carrier-bag mats for the next LETS meeting.

Tonight mother took me out to buy my 21 birthday present, I didn’t know what I wanted when it was my birthday. I now have two drop spindles and a big bag of ‘rolls’ to play with. A while ago I was thinking about self-sufficiently and clothes, it’s just not practical to try to make all of your own clothes while working, tending to animals, processing food, etc. there just isn’t enough hours in the day but something on a small scale is doable. So I’m learning to make socks, right from spinning the wool to knitting them. That’s my plan any way, and that’s what I’m working on re-learning to knit and now spin. 

Another week gone

This week I got behind on my posting because I a had a problem transferring a file from one computer to the one with the internet connection and lost everything I had written whist trying to do so, I think it was the first time I’ve ever completely lost a file, I’ve sometimes had a problem opening the odd one or two but have always managed to with some playing about, it was really annoying, and also this week has been extra busy, with lots of things to post about, so I haven’t had much chance to re-write what I lost.

Tuesday was this months LETS meeting and market, it was very busy with lots of people there. I ‘sold’ some paper pots, some mustard and another plastic bag pegloom mat. I had a fair few requests for more mats as well. I ‘bought’ a carrier bag full of material, a travel sowing machine, some photo frames and a couple of books.

Wednesday evening was the first semi-finals of the competition Rhys is in, he’s playing next week but we wanted to go along and see who won this week. Before that I went and helped with a youth history project I’m sort of involved in, both my sisters go to it and they are all doing Arts Awards which is something I’m trained to deliver but never have so have been helping out to see how it’s done.

Thursday evening I was off but catching up with things and this evening was meant to be a CSA meeting but no-one turned-up, too many people are ill, so I am at home writing this, watching TV and keeping warm by the fire.

When the sun is shining…

I’m working.

It feels like every time there has been even just one day of reasonable weather, and I don’t even mean sunny weather, I’ve been in the middle of working flat out for one reason or another. This weekend is was because the museum that I work for was taking part in Heritage Open Days, up and down the country buildings or sites with ‘heritage’ interest were open for free to encouraged people to visit. Of course unless you are a museum in Wales (and Scotland ?? ) or are run by a council and are luckily enough to have all your running costs paid for, if you’re not taking money on the gate for visitors you have to some how make some money to cover running costs.

This time it was a ‘Forest Fair’, we had duck races round the mill pond, face painting, milk a cow, hoop-a-frog, etc. and the weather was good, not sunny all the time but it wasn’t overcast or about to rain and at some points the sun was even out. Which made the event even better, but I did keep thinking about all the out door things I could have been doing at home.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I really enjoy my job, I get on with the people I work with and the site is beautiful but now that the nights are getting darker again then days off are becoming more precious, and days off when it’s not pouring with rain even more so. A weekend of dry weather could have made a big difference too, at the moment we are re-doing the gate pen so as it drains better.

Last weekend it poured down, and when it wasn’t pouring down it was building up to the next down pour, but still me, Rhys and middle-sister were out there.

A few more sets of water-proofs are on my list of things to get when I next get paid.

There is also a large corner of the veg garden that needs the nettles pull, a bonfire and a few tip runs with the rubbish from it, it’s half a dry days work. And then there’s the private tree that needs cutting out, and the strawberries to re-pot… and I want to sow a few more buckets of carrots to grow in the poly-tunnel… and so on.

It wasn’t all bad though. One of the days another LETS member came in and I’ve got an order for some more paper pots for the next meeting, which is a nice ‘watching-TV-in-the-evening’ job, and I do like working. I can’t imagine not going out to work at least part-time, I just wish that I could enjoy the work and have more time for the outdoor things at home. With the same (or more!!) pay.