Monday, 24 November 2014

Magosto Celebrations

On Saturday night my daughter and I went to the local village Magosto Fiesta. As ever it has pagan origins and celebrates the chestnut harvest. In Galicia the chestnut is very important as it was the major carbohydrate food source prior to the arrival of potatoes from the new world.
We ate a delicious chicken paella with local wild mushrooms, various pork products including jamon, the fresh new red wine, numerous deserts and a wonderful chestnut ice cream and roasted chestnuts of course. After this the music started with the musicians just joining in with each other informally and singing. Dancing followed and a great time was had by all. 
There was chestnut competitions such as the largest, smallest and most unusual use of chestnuts. The winner being a Santiago pilgrim complete with walking stick and backpack. An Autumnal photographic competition was also hotly contested. 

We left at 2 a.m. and the fiesta was still going strongly, probably until dawn (they usually do).

Monday, 3 November 2014


I killed and processed the last of the turkeys last week and they are in the freezer awaiting a starring role in Yuletide celebrations. The family have all gone home, the goats have been sold and now it is just me and the dogs and chickens. Silence takes a while to get used to. I always need time to settle back down into it again. It is about communing with nature. Getting the books out to read, sitting by the log burner. I have had ample opportunity to do that as the weather has turned. It is colder with constant rain and it feels truly wintry since the Celtic year changed to the dark half of the year on Samhain.
There is plenty to do in the veggie patch. Rotted manure to be barrowed onto the empty beds. The last of the summer crops harvested such as flint corn and soya beans currently finishing drying in my kitchen. I hope to plant some green manure this winter to keep the soil in good condition but I need a decent break in the rain to do that. I also want to start the endless round of mulching the trees and bushes to add nutrients and keep the grass down under them. Broad beans, kale, winter brassicas and field beans are growing well but I haven't planted the garlic yet. I am also trying Chinese vegetables for the first time this winter. They have all germinated well but the slugs and snails adore them so I am growing them on a bit in cells before planting them out when they are bigger. I fantasise about a poly tunnel for overwintering veg and salads but that will have to wait. Perhaps next year....
In some good news, Ginger has hatched four strong chicks again. Motherhood is her thing and she goes from a low status hen to a ferocious lion when her chickies are threatened taking on all including the unwary dog.

Getting back to the silence. It allows me to think, to commune with nature, to answer questions about why I am here. I know that this place feels like it is beyond worth, something priceless. It is so much more than a rabbit hutch made for 'consumers' like the Kent terrace house where we came from. This is a place built for producers, creators, guardians of the earth, people. When I plant a seed or we plant a tree I feel an amazing sense of 'rightness'. A weird word but we are not just planting it for us, we are planting it for birds, insects, the soil, other people, future generations and increasing the biodiversity of this piece of land. From the pollinators, to the consumers of the fruit to the earthworms pulling the fallen leaves into the earth. It is so much more than just planting a tree. We are correcting the grass monoculture and healing the hurts.

This is a worthwhile way to spend the rest of my life.