Saturday, 28 April 2012


Moving house has meant moving compost, worms and all.  We brought 4 bags yesterday along with a load of stuff from the house in Gloucester and today was dry enough to work on the new veg bed getting out the weeds and then spreading the compost on top so the new worms will take it in to the soil.  The smallholding topsoil is only about 6 inches deep and below is the clay from which the house has been built so improving the soil is essential and with no chemicals it's down to compost and the worms.

It was a good job to do today since it was dry but very windy and cold with the wind racing in from the North-East.  We need warm drying days for the soil as much as for the washing!  I'm now looking forward to getting the hens set up to contribute to the compost bins here.  Today I could see that the leftover grain and hops from my brewing contributes massively to the quality of the compost, so I best get on with the brewing too.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

gifts from friends

two friends have each given gifts of poems recently. 
i am a little church by e. e. cummings
i am a little church (no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying) children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church (far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish) at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring, i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)


Messenger by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird -
  equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old?  Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?  Let me
  keep my mind on what matters
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing since all the ingradients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
  and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
  to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
  that we live forever.

thanks be for friends

Sunday, 22 April 2012

what drought?

Heavy rain, huge hail, brief sunshine for a few hours and my 59th birthday.  Been a week of getting to know people locally and our shared space.  Watched slaughter of 3 local sheep by man of skill and compassion and then ate some; had a birthday bash of beer, bread, cheese and cake in the parlour (no floor yet and candlelit) with near neighbours; foraged in hedges and shared it; been to local Welsh speaking chapel service and loved it for its 'cradling' of a non-welsh speaker; sat on a fallen branch in the stream and marvelled at the place on 'Earth Day'.  So I'll go to the local choir and see how I get on - it is a requirement to 'bring a bottle' so could be good :) and even if the singing doesn't work out I'll meet new folk.  And still it rains every day for part of the day but that seems mostly ok (now I've planted my spuds!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

free food

Road kill pheasant found yesterday needs skinning and gutting ready to casserole - no oven so no roasting at present :-( - and today as we walked our fields we snacked on poor man's bread and cheese (hawthorn), dandelion flowers, pennywort, garlic mustard and sorrel leaves. 5 fruit and veg in a morning almost! The gorse in the hedge smells of coconut - there must be something to do with it eating-wise...

garlic mustard

On Friday last week I cut off my plait with kitchen scissors - bit of a hack really but now I'm a new woman with shortish hair! Can't find bluetooth kit or I'd upload a photo of plait which Rob wants to keep (creepy or what!).

Sunday, 15 April 2012

more foraging

found garlic mustard on the way to church today - mild garlic flavour, very nice.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

new start

after finishing the day job on Easter Day I've been able to live fulltime from 12th April at the smallholding and begin the new life we've begun to fashion. Rob is still moving stuff from Gloucester but I'm here fulltime. Yesterday was easy because I've got to get the potatoes planted and so began the final prep of the bed for them, though falling down the caravan stairs into the pit below slowed me down and I didn't do more than finish the prep. Today it has rained and been cold and windy so no gardening and I've struggled to know what to do with the time. With nowhere yet ready to spread out at all it's hard to do more than look out of the window, try to keep warm and eventually go on a foraging walk for wild garlic - success! Garlic pasta tonight.