Monday, September 29, 2008

Felting!!..........we are up and running with the first felting training morning for those who want to learn how to use the machinery set for the morning of the 15th October. This will be FREE!!!
In the pics you can see we now have guards around the carder as there are lots of running parts that could be dangerous un h&s when it was built! Felting courses will follow with the first being on the 16th when participants will be able to take home a huge bit of felt of their own design.

The felting table is wonderful and big rectangles are very quick to make.................approx 30 minutes in total! The whole kit is available for hire from £50 per day depending what you need and a couple of entrepreneurs could easily base a new micro enterprise around the unit making hats or handbags etc.

Finally our other amazing find has been a 1940s mangle which is just perfect for remooving all the water from the felt and whats more you can just see our biomass boiler down the end of the unit to keep us all snug and the state of the are compost loo.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The National Ouessant Sheep Show 2008 took place in Argol in Finistere, Brittany, France on a wonderful sunny Sunday afternoon. I was the sole person who had travelled all the way from England to attend te show though not the only persin from the British Isles as two friends who live there were there of whom, who has some smashing sheep won the Prix d'honneur for white rams............WOW!!
The pictures here show the judging of the white juvenile ewes, with very animated judging!
The next picture is of the top five ewes in an enormous class of black senior ewes
The next is of the winner of the junior black rams, this man also won the junior black ewe lamb class and his stock are all very good.

The show was held at a museum of old living rural crafts and what a place! There were lots and lots of people demonstrating everything from making Far Breton (a sort of sweet yorkshire pudding with prunes in it) to blacksmithing and sabot making (sabots are wooden clogs and a fascinating fact is that the word sabotage originates from people breaking machines in the industrial revolution by jamming their sabots in them!) Also there was spinning, weaving and basket making among lots of other things going on!
It was a lovely day which ended in true French style with my friend Celia and I sharing some good wine and a good laugh in front of a roaring fire.

Friday, September 12, 2008

FELT!!!! I have my first trial ompleted and wow is all I can say!
I spent a while carding a load of waste wool from Coldharbour mills Fibre Harvest and piled it on the felter as I wanted to see how thick I could go with it. Once sprinkled with water and washing up liqued I turned it on for 15 mins......and waited......

After 15 minutes had passed I turned it over and gave it another 15 mins and whilst it could have done with a bit longer I had to go as I needed to collect smallest son from school.

Here is the result..........3ft x 4ft and half inch thick!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hoorah! The children are back at school! We have had a busy last week to the holidays with some lovely friends from Cumbria staying for the week and giving us a hand outside in between the torrential downpours! The week before we had super wwoofer Pat with us..........a lady of mature years, age unknown but suspected to be older than most of us here she was a human dynamo! We took a load of rubbish to the dump in the stock trailer and whilst there liberated a brand new top of the range folding chair complete with its carrying case and joy of joys a roll top cast iron bath!!!!! (and a pale green one at that) Getting the bath was a dastardly deed.............the man at the recycling centre (dump) said we could not have it as it was going to be chucked in the metal recycling skip when there were enough hefty blokes to shift I pointed out that cast iron was not recyclable.......which fell on deaf ears!
So...........we argued.............and argued and I pointed out that I would be recycling it in my garden as a hot he relented but told us he had not seen us!
So we put the trailer between bath and security cameras and Pat with the strength of several men and me with the strength of a mouse hoicked it quickly amid lots of puffing into the trailer and sped away feeling like a couple of naughty school girls!
It is perfect.......and will be made into a wood fired hot tub for next year!
Pat departed and we now have Domenic a German student who is an ace painter and we are making use of his talents on sheds and in my eco business unit!
Now back to the weather...............
Friday dawned in torrential rain and countrywide weather warnings, I drove up to the Permaculture convergence in Ilkley Yorkshire in the most terrifying conditions. On getting there we were warned that the adjoining river was about to burst and we were stuck.......I have to admit I was so relieved to be there in one piece I would have happily been flooded in for a week!
On the Friday evening there was a Ceilidh and we danced until midnight including Breton was great and helped 300 people get to know a few others!..........helped of course by good food and good beer!
Next day I ran a pegloom workshop which was so popular it ran over into the afternoon and the following morning!.................but also had time to hear Permaculture Magazine editor and publisher Maddy Harland speak (she is very good.....I reccommend listening to her talk) and had a chat with her and husband Tim...........if you read it look out for an article by me in the future....! I also had a chance to hear Roberto Perez from Cuba speak about the Cuban experience which was amazing listening and all I can say is listen!
All in all it was the most positive experience of permaculture folks I have had and several of us met together and are working on joint projects re teaching and livestock!.............the food was superb over the weekend and the journey back complimented by seeing a pair of red kites!
Talking of permaculture I want to show you all an interesting example! Above are 2 photos taken from our raised patio of a bit of land that was used by our property for years but was owned by another neighbour but about 5 years ago was split between our property and our next door neighbour. It is about 3/4 acre in total. We made a garden, orchard, duck lawn with raised beds, and wildlife corridor with willow bed soak away from our bit which is low maintenance, but high output as its now grazed by geese, ducks or sheep, full of fruit trees, has beds of soft fruit, a willow fedge, basket making willow, etc and is a haven of productivity and biodiversity.
Our neighbours levelled theirs and mow a mono culture of grass with a ride on mower. strimmer and push mower weekly!!!..........theirs is very high input and very low output.....they don't even sit out and enjoy it!
And finally my bike! 2 weeks ago I escaped to my house in Brittany and cycled 24 glorious flat kilometres on my bike along the cycleway between Morlaix and Concarneau...........passing 1 dog walker 3 pedestrians and 2 elderly men on rickety bikes.............bliss!