Sunday, July 27, 2008

My beautiful 1920s cotton carder that will be carding wool into webs ready to layer in the felting table!

Well its getting exciting here! I have taken posession of a fabulous carding machine which is now installed and working in my eco unit! The walls, bare wood in the pic (which is now alone in the next post due to editing probs with blogger!) are now being painted white and the felting machine has arrived in a crate from Canada and is presently in the container at Liverpool docks........can't wait for it to arrive! I have recently exchanged my little car for a van that now sports the Woolly Shepherd logo (pic of it parked by the unit) and we are applying for funding for a scouring plant to wash the wool prior to the felting this space for news!
I have a top of the range compost toilet in the unit as do the other units and a biomass boiler so its an eco business in an eco unit!
The veg plot is starting to produce well and we have salad with everything! runner beans are looking good and so for a change is the sweetcorn.....very difficult to grow up here. We have some new livestock, two new Ouessant ewe lambs, a white one called Lulu and a little chocolate one called Fleur, they have settled in very well. We also have two young geese and two Aylesbury ducks.......all of whom have an identity crisis as they were raised together since hatching........not sure if the ducks think they are geese or visa versa!! swapped them for two of the oven ready chickens from the freezer, a good bit of bartering methinks.
Last Wednesday I joined the Transition Taunton group. For those of you who are scratching their heads and wondering what that is I can only say look at this link 'Transition Towns '
The idea is that each town, city, village, area can start thinking about what to do when the dependence we have on oil comes to an end (called 'peak oil') and measures to reduce our carbon footprint and combat climate change.....I can see myself getting very involved in this as I really think its the only option, and wonder of wonders Somerset County Council has aparently just adopted it as one of its strategies!
Yesterday and today were beautiful summer days, and we ran our first Introduction to parmaculture course here with 10 people booked.....a full course! They came from as far away as Stoke on Trent, Chepstow and Banbury and we had a fantastic time discussing design, zoning and edges and constructing a compost bin from pallets, a water harvesting roof over a 1000 litre IBC to provide water for the pigs and had a charcoal burn with the charcoal kiln. Permaculture Magazine provided free copies for participants and all went on their way happily promising to keep in touch. I hope to repeat the course in the autumn and also run a design course next year. I will post some pics of our construction efforts in the next day or two.....I have to admit to being so absorbed that I forgot to take pics of the course in progress!
Last weekend it was Buddhafield festival 500metres from our house and it is a truely green festival, very peaceful, in fact so peaceful that you could miss the fact that it was there if not for the copious AA signs pointing to it. Pete and I went up for the Friday evening, meeting up with my good friend Brigit and having a fantastic meal in the Chai Organic cafe before watching Seize the Day on the big stage.......all powered by solar and wind power.........they were awsome!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Well I'm back from France....came back early as I was feeling poorly and changed my ferry for one in a force 8 gale....nevermind! Berrien was as lovely as ever and we went to the beach in the pouring rain too!
Back to the grind stone the weeds have grown at the same pace as the veg so lots of weeding! All the spuds were lifted before I went and we have a large sack of lovely first and second earlies. The mixd salad leves are amazing this year......we can eat salad with every meal! The tomatoes are ripening, the first cucumber has been eaten, and the radishes are taking on giant proportions! We have grown so far....tomatoes 5 varieties, tomatilloes, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, chillies, spuds, parsnips, persil(a sort of cross between parsley and parsnips) carrots, kale, russian kale, cabbages , white sprouting brocolli, red cabbage, celery, round and long courgettes, 3 types of squash, sweet corn, black salsify, leeks, onions, french beans, runner beans, pumpkins and other stuff I cannot remember! Tomorrow the bed where the spuds were is being planted up with lots of new stuff!.........I love growing food! Talking of food the meat chickens were all killed this week and our freezer is stuffed! They weighed between 2 ad 2.8kg at nearly 10 weeks old. We ate a small one fed 5 people with more for a pie tomorrow! Fabulous taste and texture!
One of the pigs went to the abattoir on Thursday morning.........C Snell is one of the last family run abattoirs in the west country and is where Hugh Frarnley Whittingstalls 'River Cottage' livestock are killed. All my sheep and pigs go there and I wish people who think abattoirs are cruel could have seen my pig sauntering down the ramp to Trevor, the head honchos encouragement of "Come on sweetheart, this way" and the nice Spanish vets words of "come along darling" ..........this to the pig....not me! She is to be made into sausages by Somersets champion sausage maker!
I want also to tell you some good news and some bad/sad news!
First the good can hear me on Farm Radio!!! follow the link!
The sad/bad news is that Yeovil market has closed after over 150 years trading on the site in the centre of Yeovil. Why is this sad? Well Taunton market and Highbridge market closed earlier in the year, both markets that were in 'Market Towns' There are only 2 livestock markets in Somerset now........the new out of town shiny new Sedgemoor livestock centre near Bridgwater and The out of town Frome livestock centre. There is a certain poingnancy about all this because this is first of all a long way for many people to travel to market but more importantly it destroys a way of life, the weekly social outing for farmers and their families, a place where frmers, who are often isolated and socially excluded can chat, moan, laugh and talk the talk with others who understand their way of life. Often while the men talked prices, bid on the beasts, bemoaned their losses or rejoiced in their meagre profits over a fry up in the market cafe, the rest of the family who had come too hit the shops to stock up on rewritable CDs, school trousers, new wellies etc as well as a trip to the hairdressers and the bank or a quick rummage in Morrisons!
At these shiny new out of town livestock centres you can buy a few things, but they are too far from the local highstreet or indeed anywhere!
Our local rag summed it up with the following quote at the end of their report.........
'It was late in the evening before an erie silence descended over the site and the market gates were padlocked for the last time. A large chunk of what had been Old England, a place of tradition and community spirit had gone for ever'
What will replace it? Apparently a housing scheme including social housing, an old peoples home and some shops are to be built as part of Yeovils regeneration doubt called 'The old market'?