News from the Mill
The heating oven has been installed and looks like everything is going well with it. We are happy to have warm rooms again.
The new oven is much easier to light and clean, since it is second hand there is some wear and tear on one part of it that will need replacing in the next months but this is hopefully not too costly to replace.
There is still food outside...
Whilst to the untrained eye the garden looks now quite desolate and empty as I walk around foraging for a salad I still have more than enough to fill my bowl. As I lean down to cut the onion sprouts, dead nettle, dandelion leaves I thank the earth for this abundance and smile to myself in anticipation of the rich green salad that lies in my immediate future. Feelings of warm gratefulness swirl around my body. I did not plant any of this, nor did I spend any energy into making it happen, I am simply another grazing animal careful not to harvest all the precious little flowers that the bumble bees need to survive the winter.
and food inside
Garden planning for the next season
This is an open invitation to anyone who would like to learn permaculture techniques into planning a community food garden. I will be scheduling garden planning sessions that anyone can join in online or in person if you are in the region.
This will be focused on:
- soil building green manures
- all season harvesting - back to back planting
- use of perennial, annual crops, medicinal plants
- greenhouse seedlings planning
I will document and write about this process and the decisions made on the wiki and the blog.
Podha was quite poorly in the last weeks he lost 8 kgs and had a fever that made his already not great hip very painful. At first he couldn't do the stairs and now he is not able to stand up by himself. He has been prescribed antibiotics and pain killers and will have an xray to the hip once the fever has gone away. To keep him warm and aid his recovery he now lives in the kitchen although he does go out often to pee and so on.
I must say it is very hard to see him in this state but he has improved greatly and spending time with him in the kitchen is a privilege. Hopefully we know more when the fever leaves him.
All other animals
Cats, dogs, chickens and ducks are all happy and healthy... the cats did have worms again but hey we live in the country so that's expected.
Our neighbour seems to be losing his cows on a more frequent basis and this morning I caught them lounging about in the mandala garden :-D With the cold mist behind them over the spring it looked a little like a scene out of a movie somehow, very surreal. Franz must have some kind of innate shepherd in him as they followed him out of the garden and to the field and then continued on their way to freedom. :-D
Thank you Sebastian for the picture.
Die Ökolodge / The Ecolodge
We have renamed the rental house into Die Ökologe / The Ecolodge, this is reflective of our goal to make it an integral part of our eco project. It will be rented out for short term rentals, workshops and retreats. A website with more information will be up in the next weeks. The money will go towards the property pot to pay for the loan needed for the oven and roof repairs done earlier this year.
Long term volunteer opportunity
We recognise that managing our income flows is an important function within our small community and that this is often not given enough time and effort due to all the other emergencies and tasks that come up. We therefore have opened a one year opportunity purely focused on this task. In terms of budget this will be funded from our workaway / short term volunteer allowance which means there will be 4 spaces instead of 5 in the summer and 2 instead of 3 in the winter. We will also give up one of the rental rooms so that the long term volunteer can have a private room, we hope that the potential loss of income from that end will be recovered from the valuable work done by the person. We would also be open and happy with a couple especially for people with carpentry skills.
No qualifications are needed, a good work ethic and willingness to learn are however essential.
For more details please read this.
Inspiration in flow
My slow travel train trip to the UK in November was very inspiring in many ways.
I was lucky enough to get my permaculture design certificate with Aranya and Klaudia Van Gool. Firstly I would like to acknowledge the sacrifice Franz made to make this happen, he helped to fund the course fees and the travelling costs together with Anton and also stayed at the Mill to take care of Gert and the animals while I was away. I am truly humbled and grateful for this support.
We had the opportunity to visit Martin Crawford's flagship cool temperate forest garden where he grows a lot of interesting perennial crops, he is also the main person behind the Agroforestry Research Trust in the UK. He gives the tour of his forest garden himself and explains the design and choice process for his forest together with the maintenance needed (just 16 hours every year!). The forest is used for food and as an education site. He also has another property which produces nuts to sell on the market and plants, seeds, trees and shrubs to sell in nurseries.
We also visited Huxham's Cross biodynamic/demeter farm which has a young Silvopasture and Silvoarable types of Agroforestry set up. This was especially interesting because it produces food that is sold locally and actually makes a profit with additional income coming from education, therapy center, they also produce surplus products, juice and jam.
I also feel that this ties in very well with our energy at Kuckucksmuehle heading into with the opportunities offered by the garden and the Ecolodge as a place of learning and a financially sustainable model.
One other site visit was to Land Matters, an eco community in Totnes. This visit was particularly interesting to me seeing as we face similar challenges as a community. I would like to write more in detail about this visit in a separate post.
Finally the place where I was staying High Heathercombe Center run by the beautiful and talented Mel. Seeing her dedication to the project there and our discussions about what it is like to run it I somehow felt like I was looking into a mirror and seeing myself in the future. It gives me hope that such a life is possible, to live on the land and provide a space for learning.
All four projects embrace permaculture ethics and principles and I was very inspired by what I saw as possible with the right networking, focus and resources.
Climate emergency, environmental catastrophies and grief
There seems to be no end to the string of news about the burning forests in the Amazon, the Artic, Australia, melting ice, rising C02 levels, the US leaving the Paris agreement, countries on their way to failing to meet their targets, EU countries failing to acknowledge that 0 emissions by 2050 is a little too little too late... All of this and more, it is no wonder that there are feelings of inadequacy about what our elected politicians and what we can do to change these spirals of erosion.
There is no time to sit on the proverbial fence... the fence is on fire.
Feel the grief for the earth and all its suffering creatures and use that energy to push yourself into positive action.
What we can do right now
- learn more about ourselves and the products we consume
- make small and incrimental changes
- opt for a CO2 reduced diet - less meat & dairy
- consume regional and seasonal produce
- give eco-friendly thoughtful gifts to our loved ones for Christmas
- try handmade, pre-loved, vegan or ethically sourced
- support worthwhile projects like this
- breathe, meditate, stretch - take care of your mind and body
- make small and incrimental changes
- join the children in protest
- decorate eco-friendly this christmas
I wish you all hope, inner peace, positive energy and happiness in the Christmas season.
Topics for future blog posts:
- Positive action: Slow travel - tips on cost and organisation
- Kuckucksmuehle: Garden planning schedule and online sessions
- 2020 event schedule for Eco Hacker Farm and Kuckucksmuehle
- Kuckucksmuehle: Die Ököloge / The Ecolodge website launch
- Kuckucksmuehle: Long term residents wanted!
- Community: Thoughts on cooperative property ownership
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