Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chasing Dreams! This is a favourite topic of mine when I’m chuntering on to Gabrielle about the Meaning of Life and other such imponderables. When posed the question, “what is it that one really wants from Life?” I think that most people would answer, “to be happy”. Do you remember Venn diagrams from school? Two (or more) circles that intersect on common ground: I like to imagine Dreams and Reality as two such circles. Consider these two circles in our Venn diagram of happiness far apart: huge dreams and no effort being made to attain them = unhappiness. By being satisfied with more humble aspirations and making more effort to reach for those dreams, I’m sure it’s possible to make those circles touch, even overlap a bit; and that, for me, defines happiness.

Television brings other peoples’ dreams and achievements into our lives, so that they become our dreams. In the past, I've been a bit too keen on watching lifestyle programs about house improvements, cooking or maybe upping sticks and moving abroad in search of a better life. I find it amusing, in a self-reflexive, ironic kind of way, that I still deliberately tune in to such programs even though I have moved abroad, am embarking on our own straw-bale house-build and enjoy the best food I’ve ever had in my life (a combination of living with Gabrielle and in France). I recently ordered a DVD by a TV hero of mine, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (of River Cottage
fame) called Pig in a Day. He recounts the delights of keeping pigs, tells you how to care for them and, with his butcher friend Ray, goes onto explain how to butcher a pig and create all manner of porky delights from roasting joints to cured hams and sausages. Hugh cares passionately about the welfare of his pigs and the quality and provenance of his food, which I think is very important if one is a meat-eater.

We now have our first two pigs, a pair of castrated male Kune Kunes, pint-sized porkers originating from New Zealand. There are many permaculture combinations possible with pigs including, for example, running pigs under willow pollards or under apple trees in an orchard. Pigs can act as a sort of living plough, their rooting behaviour turning over the ground and rendering it weed-less whilst manuring it at the same time. The Kune Kunes are meant to graze more—grass-eating animals being forever welcome on our permaculture smallholding—and root less, although ours don’t seem to be aware of that and have created all manner of holes and divots in our field. They are instantly endearing and are already giving us loads of pleasure.

I popped round to our neighbours the other day to find Carole’s mum, Bernie, and Alan, making sausages. Carole had made a herby, sage mix and a spicy mix and these were being fed, via a new attachment on her food processor, into washed lambs intestines, which you can buy in the supermarkets here. Alan then did a very impressive sleight-of-hand to loop the string of sausages into bunches of three. I returned home with samples of each.

Scratching the tummy of a contented pig and eating a couple of home-made sausages for breakfast: simple pleasures perhaps but the sort of thing I dreamt of and so, within the above definition I think I can admit to being happy!