• Courses,  Craft,  Plants & Trees

    Joy of Simple Things

    “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” John Keats Today was not extraordinary in any way, I woke to the movement of Fiona wriggling herself in to my lap for our ritual daily spoon. I know it’s just a simple thing but one I cherish even look forward to, it’s one of the greatest joys of my life, a simple embrace filled with love for each other. Then we rose to feed the animals, Fiona put hay and straw down for the cows and I fed the chickens and collected their eggs. I noticed the wonderful scene left by last…

  • Land,  Plants & Trees,  Transport,  Up-Cycling

    Carbon Farming

    While I love the message of the video below, it points out poignantly that we have an issue with too much carbon in our atmosphere, and then moves on to solutions. The video even suggests clearly we have to reduce the amount of carbon we are putting into the atmosphere, but it does this with flippant disregard. Carbon along with other greenhouse gasses have already started to kick off positive feedback loops, this feedback means we have to do something urgently. Failure to initiate the solutions will cost lives but the most powerful thing we can do is less. Fiona and I have been working towards a productive food, fuel…

  • Uncategorized

    The Peace of Wild Things

    This post is inspired by the poem by Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things. I’m presently feeling hopeless and constantly bothered by thought of the future humanity is making for it’s self. I feel held on the edge of a precipice emotionally, this is not a natural state for me as I think the glass is always full, ever the eternal optimist you might say. So why am I in this emotional place right now? nothing has changed in my life, I’m honoured to be the co-caretaker of a small human scale farm  in central France along side Fiona my wonderful wife since 2002. We have food in abundance…

  • Plants & Trees,  Seeds

    Tomatoes

    The tomato is the edible, often red berry-type fruit of the nightshade family (Solanum lycopersicum). The tomato is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks. There is no such thing as too many tomatoes it is just not possible to grow too many,we tend to grow 60 or more plants and start with more than a hundred seedlings. We usually save some of our own seed but also buy in some new varieties from year to year or accept gifts from our neighbours and visitors. While its possible to buy them year round in supermarkets when you decide to eat seasonally…

  • Compost

    Compost

    Some say you are not a real gardener unless you make compost, while I don’t believe this as there are many ways to feed the soil with alternative methods, I do believe its important for many reasons. Beside reducing the amount of waste entering landfill sites, you will have a useful product that benefits your garden and your gardening, especially if you propagate your own plants from seeds or cuttings. There is a lot to know about successful composting and plenty of information is available in books and on the Internet. While the basic concepts behind making compost are constant, some adjustments in methods and compost bin construction will help…

  • Compost,  Courses,  Interns

    Compost Showers

    I guess most people wonder what showers and compost have to do with each other, being showered with compost is probably not anyone’s idea of being cleaned. However there is a perfectly valid connection and it’s one we have been exploiting now for four years and to good effect. Most people want to have a warm or even a hot shower most of the time, with the exception of perhaps in really hot weather. A well constructed compost heat can and does produce exceptional amounts of heat. This heat is usually not exploited, and is seldom exploited to good effect outside of hot beds, which are gaining popularity again within…

  • Animals,  Compost,  Food

    Compost and Chickens

    This year we have decided to try out a new idea, we always bring our chickens in off of the grass where they follow the cows around. This serves a few purposes, they are closer for us to tend to during the winter, it gets them and us off the grass and lets it recover from all the foot fall, and it keeps the chickens safe from hungry predators. This year though we are giving them new winter quarters, we have made an enclosure around two of our compost heaps. These are normally full by this time of year and are just left to overwinter and finish the composting process.…

  • Compost,  Food

    Mining Nutrients

    Fiona and I have spent a couple of days cleaning out our cow shed of last winters bedding and cows muck mix. This litter is compacted and does not compost well so some sort of aeration has to take place to help speed up the process. This year we are putting all the litter in one windrow in an alley designed in to our forest garden, this a two meter wide clear area between rows of trees and shrubs we use for annual crops on a rotation. First one of us fills the wheelbarrows above Fiona is taking the first shift filling the barrows. Then I wheel the barrow out…

  • Animals,  Plants & Trees

    Our Humble Bees

    Normally at this time of year we don’t see much of our bees, the mornings are usually frosty and cold so they are not around during our morning rounds. But we are having an amazing autumn full of the usual colours but with much more sunshine and warmth. The bees are making the most of the food that is still around and our beautiful Borage is still flowering and providing them with that much-needed late food supply. During our morning rounds visiting all our other animals we are enjoying the bees display of industrious foraging some standing guard to keep out unwanted guests. Some flying back and forth busily returning…

  • Craft,  Up-Cycling

    Upcycling Old Preserving Jars

    Up-cycling is an important and valuable part of permaculture but not one that is easy to do for everyone and is seldom done to a higher standard than purchased goods. This year we have reached the point at which our permaculture food system is producing higher amounts of produce with considerably reduced inputs to the early day of growing our own food. This has caused us some issues with storage the last thing we want to do is raise our energy consumption to store food by buying another freezer. Fiona my wife has always used the residual heat from our wood-fired Rayburn cooker to bottle food. Once our evening meal…


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