We just left Ceridwen, and are now on our way to the next farm where we will spend the coming month.
The fact that we are leaving from our first English farm means that 4 weeks have passed. If I would not know this as a fact, I would say that we just spent a few days at Rob’s and Diana’s place.
Time never seemed so illusive, perception of time never seemed so unreal.
On a smallholding and in nature there is a different perception and measurement of time. Time as we know if with it’s minutes, hours just simply does not exist. In there there is not human-time, only nature-time.
What we take for granted, that there will be a future, the next moment, another day, nature seems to have another way. Plants and animals do not plan ahead, they don’t seem to project their expectations into future, future does not exist. There is only the NOW, the eternal one moment.
Minutes, hours, days, months, years seem to be an endless continuum of series of moments, one coming from another, going through itself and passing by, still it remains the same thing, the moment.
Nature just simply lives through and adapts to the moment. One step at a time.
Thinking back to the last 4 weeks, I collected a lot of knowledge and memories, so I am certain that I come from somewhere now, but being there for 4 weeks just seemed to be a passing moment. And how will be the next place we go to? Well, we will find out…
And one thing I definitely learned from nature, is to not expect the future, but simply be there when it happens, right now.
A big piece of black plastic sheet can make a big difference. If You want to prepare a piece of land for cultivating, or simply want to get rid of the unwanted plants on Your field, use a black plastic sheet, or any non-transparent cover on the desired area. Make sure to put something heavy on the edges and on the surface, so wind will not blow it away.
By taking away the sun from the plants, they soon have to use their energy resources from their roots, and hopefully deplete it. Except couch grass, who is a tenacious plant. It can find a way around or even through the plastic, so to get rid of that prepare for some serious digging.
When planting trees, it is a welcomed idea to use ready compost at the roots, then add some calcified seaweed and some dust, containing a variety of mushroom spores, or even mycelium. This way the mushroom mycelium will function as an extended root network for the tree, and the compost and seaweed combination will give precious nutrients for the tree.
I will not write many words, instead recommend the book THE SPELL OF THE SENSUOUS by David Abram.
A thoughtful book, speaking as well as possible about the unspeakable world of the body, connecting the flesh of oneself so the flesh of the land.
And, some photos from the last few days!
It is spring already, but winter still leaves its mark on the weather. The climate is shifting slowly, the transitions blend seamlessly. As we went outside to begin our daily duck feeding routine, the wind started to blow hard, and hail greeted us good morning. The ducks found a wind protected spot right where we planned to make another gravel road. So we waited until the hail goes away, so the ducks can go and venture in the garden, and we can get on digging and gravelling. I learned that I should make before and after pictures of the little projects we make.
Looking back on a day, I always feel that we actually achieved something, something what is there, what is graspable, something material, something what was not there, and now it is there, something what was that way and now it is this way. And we did it. Through our work, effort, energy, attention and time, we made something happen, we made something change. And that change might not have an immediate result or effect, but with time this effort pays back, maybe in the form of strawberries, salads, or a pair of not-so-muddy ‘wellies’ (wellingtons = rubber boots).
Before our adventure sometimes I was thinking that I am powerless, lost, overwhelmed, and a simple victim in the cascade of things happening around me. Looking back on any of the days I spent here, reassures me that this is not the case, but merely a state of mind. If I want I can make a huge difference, I can actually change my surrounding, I can form my environment to anything I desire and need. It is just a matter doing so…
Today’s fun fact: Turf Turf as I understand it, is the top ca. 8 cm of soil, covered with grass and cut into spade sized squares. So making a square shape with a spade in the ground, and then levering the top layer off the soil, and getting nice square shaped top soil parts. Because this top layer is so rich, it would be a waste to just throw it away, instead there are several things what can be done with it:
– preparing a deep bed: lift the turf, lift another similar sized layer under it, that put back the first turf green side down, and put the second layer back as well. Ta-taa!
-You can easily make a natural earth barrier with it, and even plant in that barrier (trees on the top, and herbal plants on the sides)
– If you pile them up and make a sort of wall from it, and cover it with black plastic sheet, and leave it for a reasonable time (2-3 years 😛 ) than after this time it will compost and make a perfect soil for pot planting.
We arrived to our second WWOOF home about two weeks ago and we have already learnt a whole lot and done some good work for our hospitable host Rob and Diana.
We have been digging and clearing an abandoned vegetable bed from couch grass and dandelion roots for planting raspberries and potatoes. They are cleaning, drying and roasting the dandelion roots for making dandelion “coffee”, witch will be interesting to taste soon. It is apparently good for strengthening the livers functions.
We also gravelled some paths, took down a tree, weeded and planted some early peas, salads, carrots, beet roots and potatoes in the poly tunnels, chopped wood for next winter and cooked (and eaten!) lots of soul food.
Some moments I stop to think; what are we doing here?
On the English countryside, weeding someone else’s weeds.
But then again it feels like we are doing what we can. What we can do now is to be humble and learn. Listen and observe. Help and be helped. Read and ask questions and possibly most important of all; get in physical contact with the land to feel what this life style is all about. Building ground for our intuition to grow roots into. Seeing and sensing how the effort of ones body can change and form the surrounding is a powerful and pleasurable realization that I would encourage more people to try out!
A nice lesson: when looking for a place to settle and start a smallholding one thing to notice in the landscape is the shape of the trees; they will tell you the direction and strength of the winds. Tilted trees means constant wind from that directions, tall, straight trees means little and/or dynamic wind from many directions.
An interesting theory is that the herbs and plants needed for its inhabitants (wild animals and humans included) will grow wild in your area. So observing the forest and wild areas as well as weeds that can be used as herbal medicine is a good tip!
We started our WWOOF´ing journey in November 2015. Spending a month in the absolutely beautiful setting of Bürserberg, a small town hidden on the mountainside close to the city of Bludenz. Our hosts were Tanja and her mother Maria and father Ferdinand. The farm have been in their family for many generations so the farming methods were inherited and the house built and rebuilt through the generations.
The farm was also home to the Sheppard dog Akasha, three cats, around 30 goats and around 7 brown alp cows. We were warmly welcomed into their day to day life, feeding and taking care of the animals, harvesting the last vegetables for the year from the garden, cleaning and colouring wool, sharing cooking culture and learning the basics of glass design in Tanja´s glass workshop(!).
Click HERE to see her glass visions.
As I am writing this in retrospect I find it most meaningful to share some photos and general information. Later posts will surely be filled with more practical tips as well as thoughts and discoveries from the organic farming universe.