Category Archives: Sheep

Spring 2020

Welcome to another sporadically posted newsletter! We hope that the stories here help to entertain you during these strange times…

In this Newsletter…

Pentiddy General Update

Lots has happened since our last offering, way too much to fit in this newsletter so we have tried to pick a few items that may interest you.

In the whole weird Covid-19 and lock down we have faired pretty well all in all. With our Community of 9 folk we have kept busy and buoyant most of the time, though we have all individually found the process challenging in different ways.

We decided to take a week ‘off’ (if there is such a thing) and just enjoy a little more space- but it seemed the sheep had other ideas and chose that week to have their lambs! Out of the 9 Ewes we think two are not pregnant so 7 have lambed and we have 4 ram lambs and 7 ewe lambs! They all run around in a riotous little group- escape the hurdle enclosure and generally cause havoc- ADORABLE!

Lots of projects still on the go: bread oven, cladding the barn, mycorrhizal inoculation of biochar, root cellar and larder, reed bed, water system re-jig, permaculture designs, intentional quantum manifestations… the list goes on and is all very exciting. Just a few of these things are covered below.

This newsletter is changing format slightly to include less rambling and more photos.

Fridge Fun – Anthony

One of the ongoing issues living off grid, and particularly highlighted by last summer, was the need for some means of cooling food.

We do not consume huge amounts of dairy but cheese and milk amongst other perishables were going off very quickly with either our ambient fridge (embedded in the wall of the house) or the slightly assisted cool box which never quite worked properly and was noisy…

One of the many visitors here last year lived in a van and they mentioned the idea of using a small counter top freezer as a fridge and explained how they had achieved this.The principle is fairly easy- disconnect the existing thermocouple and replace it with a circuit that switches the compressor based on a temperature sensor- like the one I bought from e-bay for under a fiver (here).I kept my eye out locally and a counter top-freezer came up on Gumtree- so I bought it for £30 and proceeded to take bits of it apart.

When I took out the thermocouple it left a convenient hole to post the new sensor through.

The downside of this set up is that the freezer still has to run from ‘mains’, or in our case the inverter, which is less efficient than straight from the low voltage system. However in the summer when the fridge is really needed is when we have plenty of power so a little drain from the inverter is absorbed easily.

The compressor on the freezer is really quiet, and because it is designed as a freezer and not a fridge the insulation is better. This means it stays cooler for longer and so the compressor runs less often.

We have been enjoying drinking cool drinks, being able to keep pastry for more than a couple of days and all of the wonders such a new-fangled device offers! A fairly simple, quiet, low cost solution – at last!

Water – Evan

So the theme of my post is the contrast of the seasons. For me arriving in January meant that I was welcomed by pretty much 2 months of rain – which obviously has its drawbacks. Recent climes have certainly made life easier; we almost suddenly went from non-stop rain too non-stop sunshine! This certainly lightened the load but was also not without its drawbacks – from flood too drought! Last week we reassessed the water management systems for the site, recognising that these weather patterns (extremes) are quite likely to continue, and possibly worsen, as the years pass. Water resilience is key to everything here and as an engineer I have loved learning about the systems in place and also thinking about ways in which they can be improved. These themes, along with reading the inspiring, Viktor Schauberger, has led me to think further about wider water management policy. The concept of regenerative agriculture/agroforestry, something which is practiced here, and the benefits that has on the water cycle has been an interesting revelation.

Project Pentiddy South West Corner – Lily

After finishing our Permaculture Design Course a few weeks ago, Evan and myself have been busy implementing our design ideas – theoretically we should wait and observe a little longer, however, as we’re only here for a few more moths we’d like to see some of our plans come to fruition!

Also, one of our key functions is food production which needs to get going! Major elements of this are the hugel kultur, herb spiral and the ‘cosmic egg’ veg patch, the latter inspired by Viktor Schauberger. Below are pictures of the processes so far.

We have incorporated Holmgren’s 14 major principles into our design, and in line with our analysis work, mainly SWOC (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, challenges) we have developed our ideas more fully.

In particular our function ‘Inspiration’ includes the element of a yoga platform which surprisingly meets most of the principles.

An element vital to the design is water storage – a limiting factor identified in our client interview and introduced by Evan in his blog on the stark contrasts in water presented by the changing seasons. Water storage is a unifying element between Pentiddy SW Corner and the rest of the site, this is down to the fact that currently water capture and storage for SW Corner is limited to that from the barn roof, which also feeds the main water system {at times of shortage}.

The final function is biochar production; this has since been a combined effort with others at Pentiddy and so, as well as requirements for suitable storage this has meant that the biochar operations have shifted back to the main site. This is an example of the ‘Adapt and respond to change’ principle. More information will be going up shortly on the biochar operations.

Plants, Activities, Herbs and Juices – Ele

Lockdown as a community of 9 (That’s Me, Anthony, Adeon, Elowen, Ben (Elowen’s fiance), Evan, Lily, Alex and Klaudia) has not felt in the slightest like isolation. Not a day goes by when we don’t give thanks for living in community and for having access to moorland and woodland right on our doorstep.

In recognition of our privilege we decided to try to do our bit to support the village populace. So we sowed lots of extra seeds in the hopes that people in the village might feel inspired to try their hand at vegetable growing. We had a big plant give-away last weekend with around 50 people coming along to take plants for their gardens – many of whom were first-timers who were very excited and a tiny bit scared! Of course these acts are never purely altruistic. Our hope is that we might finally light the spark that leads to people recognising the need to move swiftly towards a state of greater local resilience which is our aim with everything that we do here.

I’ve also been posting up weekly activities in the Community Woodland to encourage people of all ages to connect with their woodland in new ways and to see it with new eyes whilst out on their daily permitted exercise.

Back at the ranch, Alex (our herb-loving intern) has been leading us through ‘herb-time’ every Monday afternoon. Using the Sensory Herbalism approach, we have been meeting the acquaintance of a new plant each week. This has lead us to making nettle tonic wine, teas, fresh juices, various tinctures and even an anti-viral blend in response to Covid-19. It feels great to be blending not only herbal potions but also our various levels of knowledge and personal insights and to be learning alongside each other in such a nourishing way.

Guest Slot – Wildlife Photography – Harry Rule Hodson

Hello my name is Harry Rule Hodson and I am a surfer and a wildlife photographer. Due to the lock down I have been doing lots of my photography at Pentiddy woods. One of my best shots is one of a Roe deer buck.

I took this image early one morning in April while I was walking though the woods. I walked down the paths and 2 Roe deer ran out in front of me and into the woodland. I got down on the ground and looked under the trees. There they were in the clearing, standing looking at me, so I started taking photos! The doe  was really interested in me and kept coming up close and running away again but the buck was less interested and just stood still. This gave me a really good opportunity to get some shots of him though the trees and the final outcome is the image above!

During these uncertain times,I have found that having access and being able to go to the woods has helped me relax and enjoy time outdoors and has helped reconnect me to nature. I would like to thank Anthony and Ele for letting us as a community use the woods for personal exercise etc.

My Instagram feed is here

Thank you for reading and I hope you found this interesting

Best wishes

Harry

Spring 2019

In this blog…

Coppicing is officially finished!

We’ve talked about the coppicing at Pentiddy before, so I won’t go into great details. Suffice it to say we bit off quite a large chunk this season, and we are grateful for the fact we have actually now finished it. The Chestnut is now sprouting new shoots and looking healthy. Once again we have decided not to protect against rabbits and deer, so we’ll be keeping a very close eye on progress…

Chestnut regeneration

Whilst the coppice was down we also took the opportunity to pollard the Alder along the southern edge of the area. These trees were planted as a nitrogen-fixing shelter belt- but they had grown so tall and had thinned out so that the wind whistled through the lower branches and the canopy was shading the coppice. By pollarding them, and hoping for them to re-grow lower down, we will be re-instating the shelter but without the shading aspect. The timber from these trees has already been split and stacked to dry and will make high quality firewood for next winter.

You might also notice walking around this area that the willow that was around the central chestnut area has been coppiced too. The rods that will re-grow from these will now be cut annually and will provide basketry and hurdle materials, or will be bundled into faggots to fire our bread oven.
All in all we will be getting a large volume of very useful products every year. Our next challenge is to find markets for these…

Hedgelaying completed

Newly layed hedge
Newly layed hedge

After managing to secure a grant for hedgerow restoration and hedge-laying last year, we also embarked upon a lot of hedgelaying amongst the winter work this year. Many of the hedges here were planted with this in mind and we laid them West of England style with stakes and binders supplied from the coppice. The laying itself is a pleasure to do. The more tedious bit was the removal and re-instatement of the fences on either side of the hedge. As part of the requirement of the grant we had to make sure the fences were at least 1.2metres from the centre of the hedge… it did however give us the opportunity to replace failing tanalised fence stakes with cleft chestnut ones (unfortunately not yet from our own coppice).

Regenerative Silvopasture Experiment

The ‘Ash slope’ was planted mostly as ash coppice about 12 years ago. The intention was to sustainably harvest wood for furntiture, tool handles, firewood and charcoal.
Unfortunately however, ash dieback disease (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is very likely to kill them all in the next two to three years. This is a problem for ash throughout Europe, for more information you can visit https://www.forestry.gov.uk/ashdieback
We are looking at this as an opportunity to experiment with silvopasture, the combination of grazing and forestry.
As a start, we have felled and extracted an area of ash near the roundhouse and planted a mix of Hazel, Oak, Whitebeam, Cherry, Willow, Poplar and Douglas Fir. We will replant the rest of the slope over the next few years with a diverse mix of trees.
As those trees grow, we will pollard many of them (cutting them at around head height) on a regular rotation like the rest of the coppice. We will harvest a mix of basketry materials, fodder and tree hay for animals, kindling, firewood, weavers for wattle hurdles and many other things from these pollards.
Underneath the pollarded trees, we will graze our sheep in a style often called “management intensive rotational grazing”, moving them little and often to benefit both the pasture and sheep.
Over time, the slope should develop more diversity of structure and species and become a more resilient, productive and beautiful part of the land here. Having just finished removing the last of many thousands of tree shelters from earlier planting, we are reluctant to put too much more polluting plastic back onto the slope. Because of this, we are experimenting with using very few tree shelters and encouraging brambles to protect the natural regeneration and replanting from rabbits and deer. If you notice that the slope looks untidy and chaotic at times, this is the reason why.
We will monitor it closely and intervene if the brash and brambles choke the trees more than they protect them during the establishment phase.

If you are interested in finding out more about our plans here you can email Tim : tim@pentiddy.co.uk

Sheep update

Sheep in hurdles
Sheep in hurdles

The sheep have just started a new regime where they are in a fairly small enclosure and being moved two or three times a day. This gives us a lot of flexibility about where they can graze, benefits the grass and the sheep, and means they become more used to human interaction which will help come shearing time and when we need to work with them in other ways.

We have been making lots of chestnut gate hurdles to make this possible, and have refined the design and now pin the timbers together with oak pegs instead of very expensive copper nails… they are incredibly versatile and beautiful too!

Milking sheep

In the next month or so we are getting two new Ewe lambs and these are a milk breed. The plan is to grow them on through the year and then put them to the Ram in the Autumn.
If all goes well they will lamb next spring, and we will start to milk them alongside them feeding their lambs.
Tim plans to practice cheese making before then so at the peak of the yield we can be making stores for the half of the year when they will not produce milk… Watch this space!

Ki Aikido drop-in taster day

Anthony has been teaching Ki-Aikido for a little over a year, and is still looking for new students.
On May 4th (no jedi jokes being used here) he will be having a free drop-in taster event to give anyone interested a chance to look at Ki-development, ki testing and Aikido.
If you are interested just pop along to the Liskerrett centre, Varley lane, Liskeard, PL14 4AP any time between 11am and 2pm to chat with Anthony (1st Dan), Mel (3rd Dan), Ian (Green belt) or Alex (White belt).
The weekly lessons are on a Wednesday evening from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Liskerrett, cost just £7 and new students are welcome at any point- there is no requirement to start at a particular time of year as lessons are in no particular sequence.

So… what is Ki-Aikido?

Within us all is a singular point of calm. Here we find we are relaxed, clear and sharp and time seems to expand allowing considered actions to follow. In this state we are strong, resilient and flexible and can allow ourselves to invest fully in our endeavours. This place is our ‘one point’ and the result of finding it is the co-ordination of mind and body.

Ki-Aikido is a fun and compelling way to help us understand and develop the one point through specific practice and dynamic exercise. It can be practised by anyone willing to learn, of any age, size, ability or gender.

Rather than fear, violence and hate, we learn calmness, tolerance and respect.
Ki-Aikido is the Art of Peace.
For more information visit www.setsudo-ki-aikido.co.uk

Dying matters day

As part of national Dying Matters week, Pentiddy Natural Burials and Confortia are offering a Dying Matters day here at Pentiddy on Sunday 19th May 2019, 11am – 3pm.
The day will be an opportunity for us to explore together our choices around death and dying with the hope of bringing death back into the heart of our communities and empowering us to make the most of our (finite) lives. View (download and share) the poster here.

Guest spot- A request from Lee Dodge

Lee Dodge
Lee Dodge

Six years ago I spent one glorious Summer doing an apprenticeship at a bakery in the woods near Wellington in Somerset. Since then I have dreamt about building my own wood-fired oven and sharing my love of sourdough. While I have the skills to make the sourdough my building skills fall into a very different category. So I am looking for people with building skills and experience to help me convert a field shelter on my off-grid smallholding into a bakehouse along the lines of a crowdfunding campaign, I am offering all-you-can-eat sourdough in return for helping me with the build/conversion. I could also offer some training in sourdough making for any budding dough-heads.
So come on and help me make my dream into a reality.
Thanks.
Lee

Lee lives near Liskeard on his off-grid smallholding which he shares with his cat Jelly, and lots of hens and ducks. Contact him on 07563 542274 if you are interested.

Internship applications

We have been advertising as far and wide as possible the opportunity for the next internship which will start in October.
We have had a flurry of interest and have had telephone/skype interviews with some applicants already.
If you know of anyone who might be interested, or indeed have a channel to advertise this opportunity we would love to hear from you.
More information available at www.pentiddy.co.uk/internship.

Products from Pentiddy

Over the last couple of years many aspects of our project have started to show the fruits of our efforts. From this point onwards each year should see an increase in diversity of products and an increase in the quality too.

The list below should give you an idea of what we will expect from the land here. We are pretty rubbish at marketing, so this is a little start at trying to let people know what’s available. Markets for these products is our next challenge… please get in touch if you can help.

  • Firewood- Alder, Ash and Chestnut.
  • Charcoal- for those summer barbecues.
  • Bio-char- as a soil improver.
  • Hazel poles- for hurdles, beanpoles, pea sticks, benders etc.
  • Chestnut poles- for fence stakes, hedge stakes, furniture.
  • Willow rods- for basketry, living willow structures and oven faggots.
  • Furniture, gates and other beautifully hand-crafted items from these materials- Heartwood Creations