Tag Archives: permaculture

The Coming Year (Part 2)

The plan for the year is gradually coming together, which is good, because I want something to take my mind off yesterday.

First, I’m spending time on getting my health in order. This isn’t really an active choice, after the pre-Christmas admission to hospital it was more or less forced on me. I’m in hospital tomorrow, though I’ve already covered that.

Second, I’m doing more exercise and making sure I get out in the open air. We said we would do it and although it’s a bit patchy it’s going quite well. Having blown a few cobwebs away I’m now feeling a lot fitter. Again, it’s not taking a lot of effort as I like getting out with the camera and binoculars.

Third, we’re putting a few plans in place for holidays- a long weekend in the Lakes and a week on Mull. Last time we had a full week the Beijing Olympics were on. Again, it’s not difficult to manage this.

Fourth, we have the permaculture and nature books out and we’re planning the changes in the garden. We’ll start with a good tidy (we’ve neglected it badly over the last couple of years due to the time we’ve spent on the farm) and see how it goes. This is going to take more effort. I’m starting with a wildlife pond and gooseberry bushes. Well, you have to start somewhere.

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Washing up basin wildlife pond

Fifth, we need to declutter the house  and do some decorating. (See comments in Four). So far I’ve taken some books to charity shops. Every journey starts with a single step…

Sixth is weight loss. No plan just yet, it’s just sitting their like the elephant in the room. That’s what Julia has started calling me anyway.

The featured picture is a Robin from Rufford Abbey, all puffed up against last week’s cold.  It’s hard to beat a Robin photo for cheeriness.

The Day that Permaculture Died

We went to the farm today to go through the tree measuring protocols so they can carry on measuring after we leave. Imagine our surprise when we walked out of the back door of the centre.

Something is missing.

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The day that Permaculture died…

Do you recognise this blasted heath? Looks a bit like as mass grave of all our ambitions, concealed under a carpet of woodchip.

As a clue, it used to look like this.

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Raised beds at the Ecocentre, Screveton

It’s not the greatest comparison photograph but I never thought to take one. After five years of planting, experiment and soil improvement we hadn’t thought that the beds would be flattened without warning. Nor had we thought our plants would just be ripped out and discarded.

In plant terms we lost sorrel, wild strawberries, lavender, chives, marigolds, fennel, mint, nasturtiums (though they were in winter remission), rocket, radish leaves, leeks and fat hen.

I keep saying I’m going to look forward and not complain, so I’ll stop here.

 

 

 

The coming year

Today I have been thinking of the coming year.

We are having a casual January to clear the farm and to set things in perspective. In February I will have to start doing things…

I’m likely to have more time on my hands in 2017 because, as Julia has pointed out in a kind yet firm way,  I’m unemployable. Age, size and lack of formal qualifications are all against me, and that’s before you consider that I’m rude, lazy and look like I’ve dressed in the dark. When looking at job adverts I have noticed that these qualities are not often requested.

On the other hand I do have my own tools and an estate car. If there’s nothing in prospect by spring I can always go gardening again, though I will be more selective with my clients this time. No gardens with steep slopes and steps, for instance.

Extra time is not all bad, as it will give me more time to shop and cook, resulting in us eating food that is better and cheaper. We will also probably lose weight, particularly me if I am doing more gardening. Time, I think, to rearrange our neglected garden on Permaculture principles. I might be poor but I’ll be healthy, and full of fibre.

Work-wise I need something to keep the wolf from the door for the next nine years, at which point I will be able to draw my pension.  Just nine years? Where did it all go?

I’m currently exploring a range of dead-end options to occupy my time until that day arrives.

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One of my favourite farm photos – think in terms of stormy weather or pots of gold.

(To be continued…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ups and downs

Another monthly recording session for the agroforestry scheme and more eggs collected from the poultry. There’s a grinding monotony about our daily tasks at the moment, probably brought about by short days and rainy weather, rather than by any actual increase in tedium.

A goat and a lamb both died over the weekend, which is always a depressing event. Added to the other goat that died last week it could be the start of a worrying pattern. We will have to see.

On the plus side – after numerous complaints to the taxi company they were on time at both ends of the day, which always makes things easier,  We were also visited by someone who used to work here and she brought cake! We knew she was coming, which was nice, and we bought shortbread in anticipation, which was also good. However, the addition of chocolate fudge cake really lit up my morning. I’m easily pleased. As usual I managed to eat it before remembering to take a photo, which is why I’m not a food blogger. However, I did take a picture of the biscuit tin.

I’ve also managed a book review, which I’ve been intending for some time.

If you want to try some exquisite cake (there were other varieties but I’m trying to hide the exact quantity from Julia) try visiting the The Clock House cafe and tearoom. I’m going to make a trip in the next few weeks so will report back for those of you unable to make it.

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Things that went right

Well, I did a post a while back on things that didn’t go according to plan. I’m feeling a bit more upbeat at the moment, so here’s a companion piece about a few things that went right.

The agriforestry project is going nicely and we’ve just had a review of the results from the Woodland Trust, with Quercus Community being mentioned (which is unusual as we normally get missed out or referred to as “farm staff”). That’s good because everyone is going to get a copy of the report to take home and show their parents.

We’ve just started planting under the trees as part of the second phase, with rhubarb and wild garlic going in.Some of the rhubarb is Timperley Early from the market and some is Early Red that we grew from seed this year.

You can’t see much rhubarb in the picture, but if it’s ever viewed by the right village it will probably solve the mystery of where their idiot disappeared to all those years ago.

byron rhubarb

Based on this year’s harvest and the pressing we should be on for a bumper year next year. So far we’ve passed the production for last year and the cider is tasting good. There’s a slight disagreement on that subject at the moment – I think it’s shaping up nicely to be a flat, dry cider. The farmer thinks it’s like vinegar, but I suspect that’s because his idea of cider is something sweet and fizzy. So far all we’ve done is put it in a demijohn with an airlock and the natural yeast from the apples. We may add a little sugar to give it some sparkle but I’m hoping that will be all. Quite honestly I’ve been a bit surprised by the number of things some people add to the stuff when you read some of the recipes on the Internet.

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And finally, here is the Sloe Gin. The photo is a bit strange because the flash shows up all the mess on the glass and alters the colour a little. I’ve just had to decant it all into a bigger jar as the seal on one of the smaller ones started to leak (something we only found when someone tipped one up to look at it). Despite that it’s looking (and tasting) good, though I only had a couple of spoonfuls that wouldn’t fit into the new jar. Honest.Drunk in charge of an Ecocentre wouldn’t look good on my record.

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We Built a Pond

It’s only a small pond – just a washing up bowl sunk into the corner of a raised bed.

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The plant in the corner is Water Mint. Most of the rest is gravel or bricks, which form steps to get out if anything falls in.

I think I’ve told you all this, but as you can see from the main picture we had our first dragonfly, a Southern Hawker. Not sure if it’s a coincidence or if the “pond” really worked.

Get details here.

Tantrums and Thunderstorms

It’s been an oppressive day all round, both with temperature, humidity and picky bad temper. We’ve had several arguments amongst members of the group and a variety of bad behaviour. Even so, in keeping with the tetchy atmosphere, it wasn’t that which annoyed me most, it was the reckless use of craft supplies to build Minions. It started with a brief to make an entry for the art competition at Flintham Ploughing Match (theme: Nature). Several hours later (which necessitated not doing any gardening) we ended up with a selection of malformed yellow balls.

You can’t fault the effort that’s gone in, but it’s frustrating to think that it’s all wasted because enthusiasm for Minions seems to have blocked out all mention of “Nature”.

Ah well!

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The chick is still doing well but yet again the mother seems only able to hatch one chick out of a clutch. It’s a mystery to me what’s happening as you ought to be able to hatch more by accident than the one from 12 she seems to manage. She’s still sitting tight but the absence of another chick after three days isn’t looking good. Truth is that we’re not 100% sure where she gathered all the eggs from so as long as she’s happy we’re going to stay patient.

The farm is harvesting at full pelt, thundering past the centre with trailer loads of grain (always when I didn’t have a camera with me) but fortunately always managing to do it when there is nobody in the way. Theoretically I’ve discharged my Health and Safety duties by reminding farm staff that we have a group in and by reminding the group not to cross the yard without us present. In practice we don’t want a flat client so it’s slightly more stressful than that.

It was a fairly flat butterfly day today until I had a walk round in the middle of the afternoon. I managed to get some poor shots of a Common Blue male. It’s not the biggest of targets and now that cameras only have screens, and those screens are always smeared and subject to glare…

You get the picture.

I’m going to borrow Julia’s Canon tomorrow.

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The washing up bowl pond is doing OK, though we keep having to top it up due to the lack of rain. It’s finally got some wildlife in it, though mosquito larvae aren’t really what you want. The water mint is thriving, so that’s another species we have to talk about.

As we walked round the hedge by the allotment we saw what I think was a female Common Blue, which is brown, and then another blue. The latter was by a good growth of ivy, raising hopes that it might be a Holly Blue. I followed, but lost it and got stuck in a patch of thistles whilst a family of wrens tittered at me and a chaffinch looked on in disbelief.

As we got back to the centre my phone rang for the second time of the day (which is unusual, as nobody talks to me unless they really have to). It was the person who had asked me to do the permaculture talk. I’m not needed. I was a little relieved as after agreeing to do it I’d realised that was the weekend we were going to see my cousin in Norfolk. On the other hand my cousin is a doctor and she’s expecting me to have lost weight…

Unfortunately we have a forecast of thunderstorms late tomorrow, which is going to put a stop to combining. Looking on the bright side we may still get some butterfly watching in again.