Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Making hay while .....

The heat has been punishing, and unaccustomed.  Adapting to life as a single handed homesteader is my job at the moment, and one I didn't need to be distracted from by yet another blow to our housing hopes.  It came, however, and it went. Rage, tears, and a gentle talking to by Jan, and I pulled myself together, and kept going.

Today's work day involved making yoghurt, cheese and hay.

I've added a project to my diploma portfolio - hand making hay - and after a fantastic trip to the scythe festival and many years of scything weeds and managing paths and odd bits of grassland with a scythe, I've experimented this  year with scything the side garden/orchard/ wannabe forest garden at the house, to test what we need to know, and what we can and can't do, should we decide to go over to hand hay making totally next year.

It's where my heart lies - small scale sustainable agriculture with diminishing/vanishing use of fossil fuels.  I think we can do it, but we will make less hay, and keep less livestock, but use no grazing in all probability other than our own. That's pre-empting my conclusions, but I'd say that's the way it's going.

Meanwhile, rain is forecast for tomorrow, so we had a crack at creating a haycock as seen at the scythe fair.

Haycock

we actually didn't have near enough hay cut, which is a lesson learned. I'm picking up a lot of tips from Scythe Cymru as well. Next year could definitely be the year of hand made hay.

Meanwhile, I think we've exhausted our attempts at resolving housing issues via conventional means, and are going to have to look at more radical solutions.

It is seriously now nearly 1 am and I have been beetling away since 6. I probably should sleep.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Week Two - Update

After a week hacking at thistles on the field, I needed to be at home for a few days to attack the garden here, and get some things in pots and cells in the hope of some late planting out and an indian summer.

When you take on a plot of land from someone else and it's in  a dire state, the  battle to win it back is a crusade, a valiant, self expressive thing - you visualise yourself somewhat Joan of Arc like, on a white charger, bravely battling the foe.

When you let it get that way yourself, through lack of time, money, health, patience and commitment - lets just say it's a humbling task to reclaim it. No shiny armour required. Sweat and repentance, hand in hand in the baking sun, scything thistles.

20140611_114348

 

and nettles. So many nettles.

There is no big equipment any more. The tractor went long since. So it is me, and a scythe.

It's a long walk back - cap in hand really.  We turned away and let it go, the garden fence needs rebuilding, the soil in the garden needs rebuilding, the fences need mending ...

But the vision is back.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Line in the Sand

Actually, it will have to be a line in the thin layer of clay over chalk.

As Neil is now fully booked up for most of the year back in his family gig, painting and decorating, with the able help of H the apprentice when she is not studying - I am back to writing 'farmer' in the space that says 'occupation'.

I let go of the safety rope of contracted phone work from home at the weekend, and then promptly fell on my backside hauling sheep fleeces around, injured my back, and spent two days doing not much.

So today feels like a sparkling, amazing brand new bright tomorrow (© Morecambe and Wise, God bless em) - if a today can feel like a tomorrow, then this today is the one.

In the years of struggle since we first worked down on that field, a lot of amazing stuff has happened. Lately, a lot of not so amazing stuff has happened. There are a lot of thistles and nettles.  Some of this is just grand, as a wildlife habitat, they are wonderful - but their dominance is not what we were after.

So my first day in the new office consisted of - scything. I love scything, it is meditative and compulsive. Even with a back injury. Wince.



 

Over the rest of the year, I hope to reclaim the shabby bits, nurture the wildlife bits, rebuild the market garden, start to sell veg again, and open up some opportunities for learning.

The sheep are sheared and many of them must now move on, so if you would like your own small starter flock of jacob sheep, please contact me - we have up to twenty ewes for sale, either with lambs or after weaning.

Also, if you are a spinner, give me a shout if you would like to buy a fleece - the ones that caused me injury are still available!