Saturday, 22 September 2012

Autumn Harvests

Today is the autumn equinox and it is beautiful, sunny and breezy with some wispy white clouds. I have been harvesting for some time now, picking pears with apples coming on line any time soon. I fought the birds for figs, when they are ripe they are gorgeous but the birds have an uncanny knack for spotting the ripe ones before I do. Often there is just the remains of a pecked out fig skin to show where they have been. I have jars of spicy chutney in the cupboard along with pickled onions and some wonderful blackberry jam. Often my breakfast consists of a mix of yoghurt, muesli and fresh picked berries.

The domestic bird numbers have reduced a little as ducks head for the freezer along with ten fat rabbits. More to go and the animal food bill is huge but I can't bring myself to kill too frequently, I still find it difficult mentally and physically.

The batch of chicks are indeed a little mixed, males will be eaten and most hens will be kept but there seem to be too many weedy ones with pompoms. My original hens consisted of a mixed bunch from the local market. As they all lay their eggs in the same set of nest boxes it is impossible to tell who has laid what. Amongst them I chose a pretty small hen who looked like a Poland with a pompom on her head. She seems to be dim but incredibly fertile and an increasing number of the offspring seem to take after her. Small and scrawny but with the luck of the Irish they continue to hatch and survive. Next spring I must get some new blood into the flock.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Watching or experiencing life

This morning I sat and ate breakfast as I often do, sitting on the patio watching the sun rise. It is always a special moment and when the clouds allow, the sun rises from behind distant mountains and the clouds turn many colours. I don't mediate as such but sitting peacefully, listening to the dawn chorus of birds and watching the natural world awaken makes me feel close to nature.

Last week Tim and I visited the Cathedral at Santiago and we were both struck by the apparent devotion of a young man kneeling penitently in front of the alter. Upon closer inspection we could see that he was filming the alter on a camera for some time. As ever there are few visitors there sitting in contemplation, most are chatting loudly whilst taking snaps of everything. Modern life seems to require that life should be experienced through a camera or television screen. An experience has to be validated by others, you have to show your pictures to the whole world on Facebook, you have to film everything or it is valueless.

How damaging this attitude is.... putting the screen between us and the world. We experience everything second hand and in safety, wrapped in cotton wool and unaware of the planet around us. Paul Kingsnorth says it so much better than I ever can here

It is so easy to let the damage to the planet and our society go on unchecked when all we see is what we are meant to see through a screen. More people need to go out into the world and look for themselves, get cold, get wet, kill an animal for food with your own hands, grow a carrot, pick the blackberries and taste them, this is real life....every little helps.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Nose back to the grindstone

Tim has gone back to the UK to look for his next contract so I am alone again for the first time in 2 months. It seems awfully quiet but I am looking forward to getting stuck in again to the mountains of work which have been put on the back-burner while I had family staying here. Current animal statistics are 34 ducks, 4 turkeys, 19 rabbits, 15 chickens, 2 goats and 1 demanding cat.

The whole place needs a bit of a deep clean, stables need to be cleaned again, tons of apples, pears and figs to be picked and preserved. Not to mention the overgrown vegetable garden, watering the new trees and the general household tasks including jam and chutney making. It will soon be time to start the Yule preparations as well, mincemeat to be made, puddings and cakes to be baked. There are still sunny days here but a nip in the air and a decrease in the numbers of flies (hurrah). The year is turning still and Autumn is upon us but each season has it's pleasures.