Thursday, 26 November 2009

Cool shower

I stayed at Dave's smallholding for a few days last week.

In the woofers' 'lodge' there was an aga (or was it a rayburn?) that Dave had set up in his own special way.

We lit a small wood fire in it each evening and shut the door. That provided us with enough heat for the whole night, and heated the water for three of our showers the next morning.

And now I'm thinking about slow casserole cooking, in a pot on top. So you could combine space heating, water heating and cooking fuel all in one small wood fire...

With the wood from pretty woodland nearby, in which you cut tress down and up when you have a bit of something to get out of your system, and in which you come with small children to plant trees

oo it's getting so idyllic it's oozing...

The Obamas' new veg garden: former White House lawn

Not exactly current, but fab news story.

Thanks to treehugger for the pic

Rob Hopkins TED Talk

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Late November Veg

I tend to think that food growing is mainly a summer thing.

At Canon Frome organic grow/milk/slaughter/bake-your-own community in Hereford, they have a chalk board in the dairy kitchen where they write up what food is ready to harvest. On November 24th, this was the list: [lost camera!!! :( ]

(most of it was growing outside with a tiny bit in a polytunnel)

Oriental leaves
Mouli (Japanese raddish)
Bulb fennel
Beet leaves
Chinese celery
Corn salad
Red cabbage

thanks to ann-eve and zotz for pictures

Monday, 23 November 2009

We drink meadows

I've been spending quite a bit of time with the goats here at Canon Frome.

I've milked them, put their milk in my tea, and made halloumi, ricotta, paneer, cream cheese and labna (boursin-like) from the milk. (In 4 days. Each cheese takes literally 24 hours to make. Or rather, about 15 minutes of effort over a 24 hour period.)

Every morning and evening, before milking them, I've given them hay. A lot of hay, to eat.

They make their own hay here, and before coming here I didn't really get what hay actually is.

Hay is summer meadows. Mown and baled and stored in the haybarn. (That I want to put a big rope swing in...) 

And the cows and goats eat it and turn it into milk.

Oranges, Avocados, Pecans...

I'm having a fantastic time at Canon Frome, an exceptionally well-organised organic community in Herefordshire where people have part time professional jobs, and they grow organic veg, keep goats, cows, chickens and bees, make hay and wheat and oats and all that, and are generally lovely and healthy and happy and great.

Lazing in my friend Ellie's bath last night, I leafed through a copy of The Hamlyn Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe, and it appetized me with ideas of orange, avocado and pecan trees.

Then I started thinking about the Pineapples they grow at the Eden Project in greenhouses heated by compost.

And now I'm excited.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

"Why I'm starting a woodland community"

"This week my wife and I took a rather large leap in the dark. We did something that many people dream of; something that many more think is daft or even dangerous: we sold our house in Bristol and bought a 10-acre woodland in Somerset. Which in itself is only semi-daft, it's the next bit that makes people think we're either visionary or deranged: we're going to run the woodland as a communal shelter for people facing a period of personal crisis."

This is a lovely article, in full here 

pic source

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The blended block

my favourite bit starts 1.20 in.

William Morris

"It seems to be nobody's business to try to better things - isn't mine you see, in spite of all my grumbling - but look, suppose people lived in little communities among gardens and green fields, so that you could be in the country in five minutes' walk, and had few wants, almost no furniture for instance, and no servants, and studied the (difficult) arts of enjoying life, and finding out what they really wanted; then I think that one might hope civilisation had really begun."

Quoted in How to be free, Tom Hodgkinson, p53
pic source

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tom Hodgkinson

"Escaping the city has been a long-cherished romantic dream. From the Bucolics of Virgil to the Romantic poets, and today in pop songs and folk songs, it's obvious that we all yearn for peace and that we're all trying to get back into the Garden of Love."

"Your view of the city depends, I suppose, on whether you view commercial activity as liberating or imprisoning."

"I even like the idea of going around on horses and getting from country to country by boat."

How to be free, pages, 50 - 61. Pic source

John Seymour

"I believe that if half a dozen families were to decide to be partially self-supporting, and settle within a few miles of each other, and knew what they were doing, they could make for themselves a very good life. Each family would have some trade or profession or craft, the product of which they would trade with the rest of the world. Each family would grow, rear or produce a variety of goods or objects which they would use themselves and also trade with the other families for their goods. Nobody would get bored doing their specialized art or craft, because they would not have to spend all day at it, but there would be a large variety of other jobs to do every day too. This partial specialisation would set them free for at least some leisure: probably more than the city wage-slave gets, after he has commuted to and from his factory or office."

Quoted in How to be Free, Tom Hodgkinson, p54
pic source


"Wherever men have tried to imagine a perfect life, they have imagined a place where men plough and sow and reap, not a place where there are great wheels turning and great chimneys vomiting smoke."

Quoted in Tom Hodgkinson, how to be free, p50.
pic source