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Hay with hand tools….

Making hay from the burial site with Scythes, rakes, forks and sweat!hay7

A whole host of things happened earlier in the season to conspire against us mowing the burial site in the way we have previously with the ride-on mower.

Our aim has always been to try and use more sustainable methods to manage the grass so this year we fenced the site and put our sheep in to graze for a week or so. Unfortunately the grass was already too long for them really, and they seem to like eating memorial flowers which is not overly popular as you might imagine.

Our next decision was to make hay.

Well, a few years back we bought some Austrian scythes, and have used them a lot- in fact my strimmer has not been used since purchasing the wonderful tool. So Tim (who is here with us for a year or so…) Adeon and myself launched ourselves at the grass with enthusiasm. Wow! hard work! The first bit of cutting was really wet, heavy and with the grass laying all over the place thanks to some bright spark putting sheep in to squash it down, was not a joyous process.

Things gradually got easier as the grass lost the water sitting on it, we peened our scythe blades and refined our mowing techniques. The weather got hotter, and hotter so we made a few dawn starts with the mowing (5am – too hot by 7am!)

hay3The Hay making was also something we got better at as time progressed. We also improved in the art of spreading the grass out which Ele, Elowen and Sesame (the little black lamb we’ve been looking after) all got involved with (apparently the machine they use is a tedder/fluffer, so could we say tedding?), windrowing, turning, and a process we called hoovering which involves either a rake or a pitch-fork placed at the top of a windrow, then racing down the row building up a pile of hay as you go, the movement a little like hoovering (apparently, whatever one of those is). Great fun!

hay6What does one do with nearly an acres worth volume of hay?

Well haystacks- or ‘ricks’ seemed worth a go so after a little research we mounded a load of hay up on a makeshift platform and send a small child or two up on top to bounce around and compact it.

We also decided to try making bales and pressed our worm bin into service as a former. Running strings down into the bin, we shoved as much hay as we could into the bin and stood on it. Tied up the strings and voila! a homemade hay bale. Tim streamlined his technique and was making one every 6 minutes…..hay2

We have mountains of hay now- and only 7 sheep (8 including Sesame) so though we’re not 100% sure on the logic we’ve decided on getting another 4 ewes to eat it all!!

In conclusion the process was labour intensive, but a lot of fun. Next year we hope to offer others to come and get involved- and intend to run a mini scything course. Please get in touch if you would be interested. Also please subscribe to this newsletter if you have not done so already….

 

The all new Pentiddy newsletter!

So…….it’s been a long time since we last wrote. We hadn’t realised how much of a toll the house build had taken on us all so it’s felt very necessary to just be here in the house, together as a family which has meant that we have been a little out of touch with the outside world. However, the coming of Spring has led us to a place of renewed vitality and exciting visions for the future of Pentiddy.

Whilst trying to remain realistic of our capabilities and energy levels, we feel ready to start a new phase, to include much more interaction with our community offering opportunities for learning, volunteering and enjoying what has been created here.

Jane has taken up temporary residence in her caravan as a part-time WWOOFer whilst continuing with her work for Nature Workshops. She has proved to be a great stimulus to getting us back on track with ideas for courses and events and is hoping to run botany courses from the roundhouse during the summer.

We are making plans to run a series of workshops ourselves from here next year to include everything from  outdoor cookery to build-your-own mini septic tank system, using working examples to inspire.  2018 will see the return of Anthony’s popular green wood-working courses following a revamp of his workshop space.

Following my participation in a course last autumn entitled ‘an introduction to nature connection and the the Art of Mentoring’ I have become involved in an amazing network of people working to reconnect people to themselves, to their community and to nature in readiness for returning to a way of life that creates whole people in functional communities living lightly on the earth – inspiring stuff! We feel honoured that the summer gathering for the South West will be here at Pentiddy (date to be confirmed) and look forward to increased involvement as a family. Adeon has signed up for a Right of Passage series that will prepare him and a group of similarly aged boys, for entering manhood. Men from the SW Art of Mentoring network will be running this with assistance from the boys’ fathers. It feels so right to be reintroducing such an vital part of community life.

It seems more important than ever that communities learn to work together and to that end, we have decided to make a start at developing more community links by running whittling evenings, probably once a month, giving local people the opportunity to sit round an open fire together shaping wood and drinking tea whilst allowing conversation to flow.  We will announce that start of these in a later newsletter.

On a woody note, we have felled another section of hazel coppice so have large piles of straight-ish poles of mixed diameters available if anyone can make use of them. Due to it being a first cut and a fairly small area there are not really enough quality poles to try and market but we’d love to see them used. Please get in touch if you’re interested.

For now we need to get back to preparing the garden for the growing season and completing the winter work job list.

Very much looking forward to Spring and being back in the loop!

Ele