Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day work

As usual we went for a walk along the river first thing - well we walked and Becky ran and swum and ran some more! While my other half kept her entertained with that I sawed up some drift wood to bring home for the wood burner. I'm not sure why but I really love this job - the inner peasant I guess! It pleases me to get some free wood and when we mix it with the wood our neighbour gave us when he chopped up a diseased fruit tree it will make our load of bought wood go further. But it's not just the thriftiness that pleases me; it's using a local product and working in the landscape too.

After lunch I went down to the allotment. I wanted some more "stuff" to put in the hens run and I'd spotted a good pile of dried leaves in the tunnel where the footpath goes under the railway. A sack of that has given me and them a bigger area of dry ground to walk on and they are loving scratching through the new material.

I have two plastic composting bins on the allotment - the sort you get from the local authority. To be honest I've never had great success with them in the past. But, when I emptied one of them out today it was a lovely well rotted crumbly mix. Over the last few months I've done my best to put in a good mix of green waste from the kitchen and garden, along with newspapers/poultry droppings from the hen house....and it has done the trick. I've spread the resulting goodness over one of the raised beds and I'll plant squashes there next year. I'll empty the other one over the next week and spread that too....and then start the process of re-filling them. If I get round to clearing the polytunnel this week then the spent tomato plants etc will get chopped up and go in the bases.

I feel like I've made read progress with this life over the last year. I've produced lots of food; good compost; learnt more about caring for hens; made more good preserves; found a local source of wood shavings to use in the hens run; found a local source of grass cuttings to use as mulch; got involved with the local produce stall; bought more of my clothes in charity shops; collected drift-wood for the fire; had double glazing installed to give us a more energy efficient house;and most of all I've enjoyed every bit of it.

I'm going to put my feet up now and relax with a book. Urban Homesteading :heirloom skills for sustainable living by Kaplan and just have to see the pics to be inspired!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Simple inspiration

It was my birthday yesterday, and as always, books are one of my birthday treats. This year it's Money secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker and a book on Homesteading which hasn't arrived yet.

Although it isn't the best written book I've ever come across, Money secrets of the Amish is very interesting. It discusses how they try to make do and mend rather than buying new. The author talks about finding ways to solve problems, without spending your way out of it.

With that in mind when faced with a problem this morning - the chickens run which was turning into a mudbath after all the rain - I thought how can I solve this for free with what I already have? Last year I bought a load of wood chips, which worked for a while...until they disappeared into the ground, which is turned often. Mainly it was an expensive solution. So what did I have, well newspaper which is hopeless when it's so wet. I also had wood shavings from a joiner friend which I use in the hen house. It might help a little, but is too wasteful of a great free resource. So, I went to look round the allotment for inspiration....and found some dried out plants - Ammi Major, Cosmos, Cornflowers etc - that I'd left in place, planning to use them to provide cover for the beds over the winter. Just the thing. Strewn over the hen run they provide something dry for the hens to stand on if they want to avoide standing on very wet cold mud all well as something pleasanter than mud for me to stand on while feeding them. Not only that, but the hens immediately set to work searching for bugs and seeds on the dried up plants, keeping them entertained too. Something to remember at the end of next summer.