Monday, 9 December 2013

Living with History

Galician culture is very old, Galicia was first inhabited by humans during the Middle Palaeolithic period, and it takes its name from the Gallaeci, the Celtic peoples living north of the Douro river during the last millennium BC. Today I finally got round to cleaning up an old knife that was found in the muck on the floor of one of the stables. I managed to get it open and it was clearly well used and had been sharpened repeatedly over many years, and it got me thinking.
Our house is hundreds of years old, we don't know how old but a neighbour has told me it was owned by her extended family for many generations and was the original farmhouse for the big house in the local village.
When we moved in we were surrounded by the tools and equipment of previous generations.
Where we can we are keeping and using them. The wood fired cocina above still heats the kitchen and works well, the chimney running down under the floor and up the back wall. I love the saw horse below (if that is what it is) it is just a bit of well used tree of the right size and shape with various slots and holes cut into it. In the background you can see the two man saw and shaving horse. The hay fork is in the front, all of them have hand made handles and probably blacksmith made metal work. We have scythes, wooden ladders, hay rakes etc. etc. all made by hand.
I think the tool below is to do with potatoes, either earthing up or covering over. It is probably oxen drawn. We also have ploughs and harrows.
One of the star finds was the fabulous and huge wine barrel in a locked shed in a barn. We are still not sure what we will do with it but we might put a cheap litre or two of wine in it to keep it moist and stop it splitting.
We will never be Galician but we live with the previous generations whose spirits are still here. People here are still melded to the earth in a way that has so often been lost in the UK. I grew up in a succession of council houses, my history was all verbal but here history is all around, in the tools I use in the water I drink and the food I eat and the wood that heats me. I feel more alive and part of nature here, than I ever did in the UK. Long may it continue.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Winter Cold

We have had a very long run of bright clear sunny days and freezing nights. Heavy frosts have become the norm and we haven't had any rain for a few weeks now. Galicia looks very beautiful in the sunshine.

The pansies are continuing to bloom but the nasturtiums have yielded to the frosts.
I planted some chard in a container for winter vegetables but the freesia foliage started to grow amongst it, luckily the frosts have stopped them developing any further.
I am now eating brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and parsnips from the garden. I am carefully preserving the last few leeks for Tims homecoming next weekend and our Christmas Lunch. In Spain there is a pest called a mole rat. They behave like moles except they eat vegetables and mine are very active and enjoy leeks amongst other things. They eat them from underneath and all you see is a stunted plant with yellowing leaves. When you pick it up you realise there is nothing left just the top leaves in a hole.It is looking like I will have to grow vulnerable root crops in containers or raised beds with netting over the bottom next year. Having looked at the weather forecast it looks like more blue skies and freezing nights.
I feel very fortunate compared to northern Europe which is still clearing up after the recent storm and flooding.