April 2011

Fertile waters

When we dug out the trench for the polytunnel we found some sections of clay. This seemed a resource I should not miss so I investigated turning ground clay into the clay used in pottery, and with the help of you tube developed a plan.
The lumps of clay /earth were dried off in the greenhouse for several weeks. This was crushed and then sieved through increasingly fine mesh all the time removing stones and grass. The final fine powder is now ready for mixing again with water so that the fine light particles will float to the surface and the heavy clay particles sink. I am not totally sure what to do after this stage.
There is a well on the land so a well dressing is needed with a nice watery deity to ensure a continuing supply. I would also like to make a mosaic in the future as I was really inspired by the mosaics at the Bardo Museum in Tunis.
At the moment I am not sure how to colour the clay to get enough different colours for a mosaic. I don’t really want to get into glazing at this stage but maybe adding pigments would do the trick, these would need to go in now at the powder stage. I am near a copper mountain so that could provide some colour. I also need to look at firing and kiln building.

We now have pigs and a fine strong pair of boys they are too. They have settled into a routine of 9am feed and a 5 pm feed that does mean we can go out for the day if we need to. The chickens day is totally dictated by the sun, so they do not go to bed until very late just now, and yet the pigs have a stomach clock, so we have two different routines to get used to. Although the pigs are mainly black they have a white band around the shoulders this means they get sunburnt. One piggy is very calm and lies down in a nice way while I rub mud over him. The other piggy is very silly so I run round and round the field after him while he squeals and runs around in circles. He usually ends up with some sunburn, but at least I am not rubbing suntan cream on them. As the pigs can be seen from the road they have created interest in passes by and bartering is already being suggested.
One of the hens has just become broody we have collected together some eggs and popped them under her. Llewellen (Dad) is strutting about, looking handsome, and keeping an eye on her. She is taking up one of the nest boxes so now all the other girls, Llewellen and ourselves have been pecked quite badly, still baby chicks in about 3 weeks.
Ted is now turning the tractor shed into his own workshop, one end has been bricked up and vented creating a cool room for food storage the rest is starting to take shape as an Edwardian production unit

The greenhouse is an increasing hive of activity with plants getting stronger and being potted on. I have some shelves outside to strengthen up the plants. With the polytunnel now taking larger crops; currently full of broad beans. The planting area in the greenhouse is to be for smaller or fiddly crops, I have herbs like coriander, cumin, basil and caraway also the habereno chillies and ginger. The main chillies, peppers and tomatoes can go into the polytunnel when they are big enough. The seed drill was flourished again for a few rows of fodder peas to finish off the oat bed and I shall plant a final row of sunflowers along the neighbouring fence.

The planning permission had a condition that we built a passing place prior to building, this needed its own planning permission, we submitted drawings and all the necessary documentation- this was lost, we submitted it again one document at a time getting acknowledgement for each and every document as it arrived. Our assigned officer is now off sick, no one else has access to his work. All things considered it has become apparent that no building work is likely to happen this year if ever; so it has become increasingly important to make our current abode more comfortable mainly in the form of a bigger better compost toilet.

We have collected some big free water butts. These have been put together as water collectors from the tractor shed roof so now I have water for all the plants, and a pump from the well fills these tanks if there is low rainfall.
My swanky seaweed container takes water from the chicken shed roof which also has in it seaweed, ash from the fire and nettles. This can sit for 2 months from then on being topped up, I can draw off the liquid with a tap and about a 1 to 10 ratio will give me a high potassium feed.
The plants are all showing signs of potassium deficiency caused by the creeping buttercup so I am having a 2-pronged approach. Refuelling the soil with the magic mix and now as the buttercups are in flower I am popping up the flower with its stolon with the end of my dibber. The improved drainage of the land from the willows and alders along with some intensive weeding should get rid of them or at least get the numbers into manageable proportions and improve the soils nutrition. As I do not have much to think about when pulling up these little jiggers I have estimated that there are about 4000 so that will keep me busy for a day or two

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One Response to April 2011

  1. David Keltie says:

    Use the excess clay for seedballs?

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