Monday, 16 April 2012

How different!

Under that mound of soil is the last bit
of snow on that part of our land. There
is still some down the other end where
the sun doesn't get to as much.
Well what a difference a week makes, the snow has nearly gone, I have finished writing and so out and about on our land and in the garden and life is starting to return to our environment as it wakes from its winter sleep, even the grass has just a hint of green and not its post snow brown. Our ponds are starting to teem with life and we have already spotted the dragonfly nymph which we are keen to encourage as they eat mosquito larvae, and a water vole which we are not sure if we want to encourage as it is in the pond nearest our greenhouse. I had the fright of my life when something large, brown and with a rat like tail suddenly appeared and swam for cover in our pond. Ian also spotted our first lot of frogspawn ever in our ponds. He was a bit disappointed last year not to see any, especially since we have so many frogs that frequent the ponds and the year before we imported frogspawn from the pond nearest our apartment to increase the number of frogs we have - always a good thing when you have a garden.

Not a cloud in the sky and the storks soar 
I spent much of my time this week raking molehills and pig holes on the bank next to our currant bushes to flatten out the steep area that cannot be raked with the tractor, not an easy job but good exercise - at least that's what I tell myself when I ached the next day. I also planted more seeds in preparation for the middle of next month when we can start to plant things outside, albeit with some protection probably from previous experience, or in the greenhouse. Other jobs on the land included completing our new deep bed system that hopefully over time will improve the soil in the orchard plot which is a bit sandy. We have layered up rotting hay, of which we have got much, and topped with rotted wood chips. This will probably need some extra soil for the plants to grow in this year, especially the more shallow rooted plants, but next year will hopefully be an easy to weed but perfect substrate for the plants. Well that's the plan anyway. Ian also made a jetty for our top pond so that he can more easily get to the pond for watering the greenhouse. I think it will be a bit high for me to get buckets of water from, but maybe he can sort me out one of those windy up buckets that they have over wells - a project for when he isn't building fences, raking grass, harrowing ground, filling in pig holes, putting up wire for the tomatoes, landscaping around the barn, digging drains for the barn, ploughing some land for oats and clover, rotavating in the old buckwheat, and whatever else is on his list of jobs to do over the next month or two.
Such class work heh! The first step in

The new jetty, complete with woodchip path
so no slipping in wet weather

Sophie on the run!
We have also been adding to menagerie or at least plotting and planning to. We finally managed to get a source of eggs for our incubator and we went to collect them today and they are currently in the incubator. Hopefully we don't have to do much with it  for the next 19 days as it is an automatic one but then we prepare the incubator for hatching by increasing the humidity and stopping it from turning the eggs and they should hatch out at 21 days. Quite excited really as we saw in the lorry, where we collected the eggs from, whole trays of little fluffy chicks - very cute! Must remember though these are utility eggs and they are broiler chickens, some will be to raise more eggs but some will be destined for the freezer - sad I know but we love chicken and a decent roast chicken will be a very welcome change to the pork we get here. The other decision we've had to make is on the type of alpacas that we are going to get. We have finally managed to get in touch with someone with alpacas for sale that is easy to get to to collect them ourselves. He has offered us either two neutered (castrated) males and one which has won a prize but is an untried male, so it has potential to be a good breeder but that is not guaranteed or the two neutered males and a pregnant female but that female has had difficulty rearing her cria (baby alpacas) before and have needed some tender loving care to help them survive but could mean we have a breeding female and a baby so four altogether. We are thinking that the three males are going to be the best bet though as that means that next year we will already have the male and it will be easier to collect females next year if we decide we are going to go ahead with the breeding of alpacas. At least it is a step nearer to our plans anyway.

Two furry mechanics doing a bit of an inspection of the
bodywork of the car
Our heating situation continues to be a bit of a pain. For the whole of March the heating was barely enough to keep the place warm, but at least they haven't charged a lot of money for that - surprising really isn't it! Think it might have something to do with checking up on them? Who knows! This month the heating season is supposed to finish on April 15th and to be honest I am pleased the heating is still on today the day after the heating season is supposed to finish, as the weather has turned chilly with the rain, but I found the heating was too hot last night resulting in a poor nights sleep, could be something to do with our home being 21C instead of the 17C we had got used to. Something definitely needs to change next year, but what is a problem. The heating company despite apparently poor finances seems to have stocked up on wood chips - fairly wet woodchips judging by the smoke/steam coming out of the chimney stack, but why are they able to buy in woodchips when finances are poor? Is it something to do with keeping the dormitories warm for those working on the technical school's accommodation block and upgrading it to passibhaus standards (highly insulated standards)? Or could it be an amazing bit of forward planning of buying wood chip cheaply - experience tells me that might be an over optimistic thought, but you never know.

My original inspiration, but it
already looks nothing like this
I took the opportunity of a cold afternoon to start another fabric piece that is, as usual, turning out to be an evolving project, i.e. one idea triggering another. I liked the picture on the left by a textile artist called Bobby Britnell. I thought maybe I could do something along these lines but with blocks of fabric rather than painted blocks. I then decided some of the blocks of fabric needed dyeing and started off with teabags and then added some onion skins expecting to get an orangey-brown colour but it turned out to be bright, bright yellow. Looked nice! So my next idea is now to colour some more fabric with onion skins and then make some sunflowers to stitch over the top of the fabric blocks, i.e. nothing like my original idea.

I nearly fell on the floor laughing when I read an article about the dear old chancellor for the UK, Geroge Osbourne and his shock that those who earn a lot do not pay much in tax. Errr! Which planet is he on? It does not bode well for the UK economy for a politician to be so blind to the ways of those who have much money. They pay accountants a lot of money to find any loophole there is in the system and anybody who has even an ounce of nous about them will know that is the way the system is played. Surely he was not that naive? Surely it was just the way it was reported that makes him look so silly? 

A bird box added to the barn
While we are on the subject of the economy, could someone tell me who owes what to who? Who are we risking people's health, and livelihoods to repay? And for what are they being repaid exactly? I know Greece cooked the books so to speak, but that was with the aid of Goldman Sachs. I also know there is a living beyond the means problem and so scaling back on some things maybe necessary, but foisting the cuts onto the poor and the needy, expecting the grassroots population to fund the paybacks is repugnant and unjust. Unfair debt is unfair debt and even more unfair when those least able to pay and least responsible have to pay for it. It isn't just the UK with the rich who pay little in the way of income tax after all. Sounds like Divine Comedy might have a very good point in their song the Complete Banker.

Can anyone led me ten billion quid?
Why do you look so glum, was it something I did?
So I caused the second great depression, what can I say?
I guess I got a bit carried away
If I say I'm sorry, will you give me the money? 
The pied wagtails are back. They seem to find it highly
amusing to torment the cats, especially by sitting on top
of the greenhouse where they can't get to and singing their
little hearts out.
So start trying to think of ways no matter how small to get out of the corporate culture, otherwise they will own everything in the end. It can seem like an immense task to get out of that culture but often these things do start in small ways, buying one fairtrade box of tea in five is a start, better than none. One hand-made article for a present for someone special, secondhand clothes, mending things instead of throwing them out. Those are just little things, but add up over time and help break the cycle of better, newer, bigger that we can get sucked into. So let's make sure that the next time the bankers or any other professions feel they can get away with sucking the economies dry there is not the scope for them to do that because we have turned to making our own local economies work, and paying others a fair wage to make what we cannot get locally, without relying on our credit cards to do that.

Even the ice has nearly gone on our bottom pond.


ju-north said...

We've had a lovely day here but snow is forecast for Scotland, also high winds! Keeps you on your toes!

Joanna said...

Our weather is set to improve this week, hope so as we have some things to do that need good weather

Mavis said...

Wow. Your smallholding is increasing and improving by the day.

I must say that my reaction to George Osborne was the same as yours. Is he for real?

About Greece - I saw a news item saying that they had this new market without money where people took things they had but no longer needed and exchanged them for other things they wanted. There was a proper system where they were credited with the value of what they brought and so what they could take in return. Going back to basics!

Joanna said...

That system was used extensively in Argentine following the 2001 economic collapse there. There is quite a bit written about the trading clubs that they set up to try and help people suddenly plunged into poverty with no access to normal sources of finance. It started quite a few enterprising businesses. I would like to see something developed here but there is such a lack of trust and that really needs working on.

Joanna said...

Oh yes and glad it was not just me who found it incredible that George Osbourne would not know about how little the rich pay in taxes

karen said...

Me thinks our George knows full well what is going on and where........his feigned surprise was for the benefit of us ''little people'' who haven't apparently got a cluster of brain cells between us.

Joanna said...

I would sincerely hope he was not so surprised Karen, but it did make him look faintly ridiculous