Saturday, 22 October 2016


That just as some people might suggest that the label 'feminist'  should no longer be required...
i. e. That believing all genders, should have equal rights and responsibilities,  might just be a normal way of thinking. 

And that believing the obverse,  should attract an 'oddball explanatory label'

In the same way,  I'm getting fed up with the 'Environ mentalist'  label...

Which implies that attempting to live as if it really matters that we quite obviously inhabit a resource finite,  ecologically fragile, and infinitely precious planet... 
Is a rather niche, or 'crackpot' position to have..

When in reality,  to suggest otherwise. Or to operate as if this inalienable fact were not  true ; is to my way of thinking, really quite the difficult position to grasp..

Especially when so many of us would claim to appreciate the beauty,  diversity,  and landscape, of this globe,   and life that it supports. 

But; it it is of course, a desperately inconvenient truth.

That requires that we might actually have to consider our behaviours and even face up to the consequences of our own 'freely made'  decisions,  and actions. 

Particularly when it seems nearly always,  to cost more,  and be more complicated,  to 'do the right thing'... However we might judge that  ' right thing' to be.. . 

Even more so especially when it might mean that we might even have to forgo,  that next ''instant gratification'. 

I want it now, I have the money to pay, I am therefore entitled. 

Oh OK, go ahead, why not,  everyone else is. 

  So, never mind,  look the other way,  distract, dissemble, even put up some straw men.

And whilst about it, we can have a jolly good time lampooning the woolly hatted,  woolly thinking, tree hugging,  yoghurt weaving fruit loops.  

Who might, however ineptly, inconsistently, and hilariously,  be trying to make some tiny difference...

And who will persist in grinding on about all those tedious ecological realities, that might require us to stop and consider where we're headed. 

The broad path, is after all,  the far easier route to walk, for sure. 

And you can be assured of plenty of company.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Back to the land....

The end of a classic autumnal day on this small farm.  All the squash are safely gathered in, tucked up in their winter quarters in the barn.
Hidden from the frosts, that would otherwise turn them quickly to a mush...
Many golden nuggets, of stored sunshine to keep lots of folk,  well fed with their Sweetness.
Then an amble up the hill to stretch the legs in a more linear fashion.
No shortage of bending and lifting in the days labour. Man Friday resuming 'normal service'
Now Devon starts to don her multicoloured finery,  the weather we've had up to now,  would presage some classic colours, in the weeks forthcoming.
Received a thorough telling off, up here on top, from a cross squirrel who wasn't expecting company...
She executed some fine acrobatics within the white stemmed copse of birches, whilst chirruping away like an angry jay.
Followed by a retreat, with almost a harrumph to the higher sanctuary of the mature oak.
Could almost imagine her chucking acorns at me if I entered any closer...
Quite right too,  my girl, stand your ground,  establish your boundaries.
The landscape,  of hedgerows and heath,  is in vivid 3d, as the uniformity of summer green gives way to the supersaturated hues of autumn.
It's not too beautiful, but it's certainly glorious enough.
Will have to address the tedious tech issues that are preventing me posting pictures this way... Because there is,  as ever,  much to share,  with those who care.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Mulling, on Mull.

There is something about Islands,  that appeals to certain deep parts of the human psyche. 

Remote,  yet knowable. 
Self contained, with clearly defined boundaries.

'This is this,  and that is that'

Graspable sizewise by the human brain that would prefer to see the 'whole picture'.

Mull is one of the larger Isles. And would, most likely, take many weeks to get to know in any great detail.

In such fine October weather as this, the temptation might be, to invest more time in such investigations.

But time is the scarcest human commodity,  when there is so much to see and do.
So getting the pace right, is the thing.

Slow down enough to 'be here now'.

But not so much dawdling, and prevarication, that time is wasted.
So with that in mind,  tent down,  panniers packed,  and head out further west.
To see whats over the next horizon...

The friendliest Robin to share my breakfast,  and an understanding landlady at the local hostelry, having furnished me with some 'spare greenery'  from her kitchen, for the next couple of days meals...
So far,  so very good.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

New Tech,

Old tech... There really is nothing new under the sun..  But with an open mind,  some collaboration,  and a 'can do' approach. Workable solutions, to age old problems, will emerge.

Farm hack,  Tombreck, on the banks of Loch Tay, Scotland.

What is a farm hack?

Well really hard to sum up.  But could be described as a gathering of interested, practically minded, parties. 

Who are looking at taking forward, sustainable food production. Growing, and farming, as if people and ecology mattered.

How can we combine the best of the old...? Sometimes it is quicker (and quieter) to reach for a well honed scythe rather than a noisy petrol strimmer.

With the best, of more, up to date tech, recognising that a diesel powered tractor,  well maintained, can do a huge amount of work in a very short space of time.

Such a diversity of people,  cross fertilising ideas...

No small number of high tech, science workers. Plus a couple of escapees from the oil and gas industries,  who have concluded,  that there must be a better way of powering ourselves into the future.

Crafts people,  forgers,  farmers, film makers,  activists,  all sorts,  many in emerging fields.

This post really would go on for ever; if I attempted to detail all the fascinating angles and approaches I've encountered via this friendly,  open minded bunch of people.

But a couple of sessions particularly stood out for me.

Initially from some folks from Edinburgh.  Using high tech solutions such as 3d printing, and unfathomabley accurate laser cutting,  to craft bespoke one offs.
Could be to repair a broken widget.

Perhaps to make something new,  to fit a customer's very personal spec.  But they are about more than just cutting edge technology..

They also recognise that the old ways can be just as, if not more, relevant for certain applications...

Sometimes tying things up with a length of hairy string, really is, the most utile resolution.

More investigation needed into what could be achieved. But it feels as if imagination; might be the most limiting factor...

And then, returning to more familiar ground. Making, and using, the soil amendment of 'bio char'.

This method of building soil humus,  providing 'niches'  for the all important soil microfauna, and hopefully sequestering carbon, is not a novel one.

Not new at least to anyone who has hung out on the fringes of organic growing for a number of years.

And it is posited that the Amazonians were using something like this method centuries ago.... Not 'slash and burn' - far more sophisticated than that.

But again,  the science,  the methodology, and practical application, do seem to have been refined..

The (left in more than capable hands) 'steading,  now has fine stands of Italian Alder wind breaks.

The intention always was to coppice them in rotation.
Bio char is, simply put, a method of making charcoal from this biomass.

Done in pits, using a 'top lit' fire, carefully tended,  then quenched with water at just the right moment.

A little like the traditional charcoal making method,  but not looking to exclude oxygen in the same way.

The fire quenching,  also makes a lot of steam (and drama! ).

This blasts apart the charred wood,  maximising surface area. Then inoculate or feed your char with nutrient...

There is just the thing, in the form of lots of  'home made cider'  sitting in many barrels behind the urine separating compost toilet at home..

The char is then added to the soil, to work its wonders. It doesn't get depleted in the same way that conventional 'organic matter'  composts do.

Still,  again, much more investigation needed before this becomes a done reality at the farm.

Though I'm fairly certain "Once you've got a fire going, it isn't really work any more" Man Friday, wouldn't need a lot of encouragement to get involved..

And of course these events are social too.

Beer, kindly bought in at my behest by the lovely Mags... Didn't fancy cycling over here with that much incriminating clinking going on.

And the 'Willow' ,  was well and truly 'stripped'.

As oft seems to be the case at these, hairy (and not so hairy) farmer moots.

It has been a pleasure, to meet, and be welcomed by the Fair Scottish contingent.

Not to have to explain,  what, or why you do what you do.

To have it valued,  and understood. After all,  most of us do realise we look like idiots to much of the outside world. 
With our crazy utopian ideas about decent tasty food, being produced in as benign a way as possible,  whilst still making something approaching a living.

Weather right now, almost suspiciously friendly ... Really cannot expect it to hold forever,  so aiming for an early start to head out west by bike.

To see,  up to a point, which way the wind blows me..