Sunday, October 15, 2006

A general update on some of our permaculturing: for the last three weeks, we’ve combined the two 50 metre electric poultry fences that we have into one, giving four times the area (think about it!) which the geese have really enjoyed. I was moving their patch every three days and the thought of moving 100m of fencing every few days put me off but, helped by the recent rain making the grass grow, and the quadrupled extra area, it’s become a once-a-week job. They have become as noisy as they’re reputed to be and can sit quietly, munch grass contentedly or have a funny five minutes and race around their much larger protected area flapping their wings and making a right old hullabaloo. Their reputation that they’re as good as guard dogs is rubbish, as they make huge amounts of noise at the slightest disturbance, often of their own making, so that one gets to ignore it.

My report of the snails’ Great Escape was slightly erroneous as we only ever accounted for 19 of a total of 20, so one is still at large and we’re awaiting a postcard from Switzerland for news that he’s made it to safety! (WW2 filmic reference for anyone wondering what on earth I’m talking about, hence the pic above). For the other n-n-n-nineteen, Gabrielle combined them with some field mushrooms I found and some Shiitake mushrooms we’d cultivated ourselves, in a mushroom and snail risotto, one of Hugh’s recipes from The River Cottage Cookbook; which was delicious!

Gabrielle has been making preserves for the first time in her life: a fig chutney and a peach chutney, both with free fruit from our neighbours and an orange marmalade, which included coriander and Triple Sec. The key factor is having time available for these things and we feel immensely privileged to have both the time and space to do all this. Before, we would have both have been spending huge amounts of wasted time commuting to work in busy traffic, working to pay taxes and other people to do jobs we could probably do ourselves … and to buy things like chutney and marmalade. So, our food production, fun as it is, must reduce our food bill to make up for lost earnings. And my never-ending barn re-roof is saving us thousands, whilst proving both interesting and satisfying (and ongoing .... aaaaargh!)

I’ve got a list of other updates to write up very soon, including news about our woods and our attempts to start constructing some “base maps”, allegedly the first thing one should do in any permaculture design.