Saturday, 30 April 2016

What are you doing on Sunday?

Well, it being May 1st,
we are going to be outside in a field,
playing music with Etceltera,
that is what we are doing
on Sunday May 1st.
And this morning, the last day of April, 
 we opened the doors to go outside to cut grass for the pigs and cows,
and it was horrid,
large winds, sleeting sharp showers,
and a chilliness in the wind which said
 'Best stay indoors today'.
And I thought of how it might be tomorrow,
when we stand in a field playing music,
if those winds blow,
(and away into the wind will go the sheet music)
and a sleety shower happens along,
( now that will mess the electric sound system up )
and if the chilliness persists,
( not too worried about that, I am still in winter thermals )
And so why are we doing this gig,
and I use the word 'gig' with relish.
We are not a celeb band,
and probably never will be with me playing in it,
so no Wembley Stadium for us,
but we are going to be playing in a field,
and that is good enough for me.
And so why are we doing this gig?
I am not sure.
I know the band will get fed,
and I know that there will be hand crafting people there,
spinners and such like,
and that sheep will get sheared,
and that there is a market of local food producers,
so I suppose it will be a country fair type of venue,
and that will do for me,
because we shall be playing for the people coming along.
 Estang, France,
on the
1st May 2016
there will be a
Journeé du mouton
( Day of the Sheep)
Tonte des moutons a partir de 10h
( Shearing of the sheep to start at 10am )
Marché des producteurs
( Farmers' Market )
Métiers anciens
( Old crafts )

Restauration a base de mouton
( Couldn't translate that!)

Annulation en cas d'intempéries
( Cancellation of bad weather)
Hope this 'all over the place' weather calms down.
Hope we are able to play.
I think it will be celebration of local country life.
It will be good to share this life,
which is slowly being eroded by the onward march of consumerism.
Hope to see you there,
but wear sturdy shoes,
it is an 'open air in a field' type of venue after all!
 Bye for now,

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Wild foraging, DIY tea......

Veg Paddock 1
We have been waiting for the kale and broccoli to set their seed,
but it has been chilly here, and the pods are slow in ripening,
meanwhile Paddock 1 goes its own way.
It has become a wonderful jumble of green things growing,
and I am developing a love for foraging.
Wild chamomile, and long leafed plantain....
.... and the chamomile flowers on the dehydrator ready for drying,
..... and the plantain....
......and dandelion....
.... and a partly loaded tray of nettle leaves.....
So what I am doing is making DIY herbal tea by infusing a mix of these leaves in a tea pot. It took a while to get used to the taste of this drink, but I feel much better for not drinking tea or coffee. It does take a while to gather the wild harvest, but I have come to enjoy the gathering in process. I was also concerned about the electricity it took to keep running the dehydrator but it is on the lowest setting, so I shall carry on. I have pulled up whole plants of chamomile and they are hanging inside the house to dry because the flower heads do take a while to dry. Leaves of dandelion and nettles dry very quickly though, so I am drying a lot of them.
Most of the plants I have picked could be harvested on the go for most of the year, but I tend to not want to do that, and prefer to reach for a handy jar on a nearby shelf.
I have not, as yet, plucked up the courage to try incorporating any of these wild foods into our normal diet, but I did try a leaf of mallow the other day, encouraged to do so by a knowledgeable visitor, and it was surprisingly tasty. I think that I am still in my old mindset of 'Get it from the supermarket and it will be safe to eat', which is nonsense because of the amount of chemicals that food which is commercially grown is subjected to. I am slowly getting over my nervousness about eating things from the 'wild', but not 'wild' as out in the wilderness, just 'wild' from our garden. I am being helped in this change of thinking by the wondrous growth that is happening out in Paddock 1.
Of course this rampant growth will have to be cut down soon, as the Paddock gets prepped for the coming growing season, but meanwhile I enjoy foraging in my own mini jungle.
....and I enjoy drinking my DIY tea, and Lester has expressed an interest in perhaps at a later stage he just might perhaps think about maybe trying the DIY teas himself maybe perhaps in the future.....
And I have a thought that I might try making a salve /lotion. I have some mutton fat (tallow) which I shall make it from. My first experiment would be on my itchy legs. My legs don't like hot weather. My legs don't like anything much. I thought I would show how much I love my legs to my legs my mixing up a DIY salve to soothe them. I have time at the moment because France is suffering from an unseasonable bout of chilly weather, something to do with the polar something or other, so I have time to have a go at making that salve. At least it would be organic. At least I would not be putting chemicals on my skin.

And the sheep fat? I scoop that off of the mutton / lamb I am slow cooking once the pot has cooled down. Then melt it slowly, sieve it to take any shreds of meat away. Last time I did this I followed a recipe which said to add olive oil to the tallow to soften it so that it is more spreadable on the skin. I think that the olive oil stayed in clumps in the tallow, and eventually got mouldy. I think that perhaps keeping this DIY skin salve in the fridge might have been a good idea to stop the mould. But I still used most of the salve up. The mould did not look harmful, just smudgily grey.

 It is nearly the early evening, so time to go out and gather the more leaves for the dehydrator, which I run overnight when the electricity is cheaper. As I say, all this foraging, harvesting, and general wild foodying does take time, but it is fun and does make one feel that one is taking control of what is being eaten. There are  a lot more plants to discover, like mallow, dead nettle, chickweed, etc. This is turning out to be a very interesting project.


So I was sitting at my PC this afternoon, all was quiet, dogs sleeping, Lester out and about on the farm, and I was writing some music using Noteworthy. And my mind thought about all the people we know who go here and there, some to work, some to be tourists, all using cars to get them to where they need to go. And I felt a curious sense of contentment that all of what we want to do does not require us to be in the main stream, side stream, or any other stream that everyone else is being carried along in. We are in a quiet tributary, but are not at 'stop'. We are busy, we are going forward, but in a quiet corner of the world which does not require us to be out and about every day. This is what I was thinking, and it was a nice thought.

Bye for now,


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Scything, I have started......

Time to start scything again. Second morning today. Was drizzling a bit, but not too much to make the task an unhappy one....
Who is the grass for? The cows and the pigs. Lissie and Bonny are off hay for the moment, but it is handy to give Lissie something to munch on when she is being milked. As for the pigs, they are now banned from the vegetable paddocks, and are on strict rations to get their weight down in the hope that they might start breeding again. Both Mum Pig and Max had put on a lot of weight over the winter, possibly due to the milk and whey they were getting from the cows, so their breakfast is now cut meadow grass, with the normal grain ration in the evenings.
So......time for me to start scything. I love it. The swinging of the scythe gets me fit, airs my lungs, and has a general 'feel good' feeling, almost as good as when I picked up nine black little newly hatched chicks and put them in my skirt so I could carry them to their mum, who Lester had already put in the pen. This was surprise hatching. Didn't know that she was sitting on eggs. Lester found her in the Middle Barn this morning. Just as well he did. She was on her way out into the courtyard with her chicks. The magpies are now showing a heavier presence around us. They would have been oh so pleased to have feasted on one or two or more of those chicks.
And leaving you with a wee little song I crooned when out scything a couple of years ago......
Bye for now,