Farkling and Fun

One of my favourite permaculture books, Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemingway, tells a story about three brothers who create a natural edible space.  They build a pond and it soon becomes productive with edible cattails.  But the wildlife moves in and soon something is eating their beloved cattails.  I forget what rodent they identify as the culprit, but they wait and let nature do its work.  Soon, the cattails come back again and they have a healthy harvest.

Any ideas why?

The cattail eating rodents make a fine feast for otters, limiting their numbers and hence the rise of the cattails anew.  Imagine creating a pond that houses otters.  What a dream!

Here’s one of the brothers giving a tour of their project which gives a flavour of the brothers’ philosophy and approach to farming.

And an update on our dream:

We’re discovering first edition books and other eccentric items in the nooks and crannies of the old life to be added to the ever growing eBay list.  It’s now a full time job.  Less valuable items are creating entertainment and trip funds at car boot sales at the weekend.  A tiring business when you’ve decided not to drink caffeine anymore.  They require wake up calls of 4-5am.

We like the car boot sales.  We attend one in the small town closest to us and there’s a great atmosphere and good sense of community.  The diversity of folk who come to visit – there’s many regulars and die-hard early risers seeking the best pics before they’re gone, passers-by, hagglers, price-accepters, treasure hunters, and those looking for something specific they can’t get on the high street.  People are friendly and amused by this odd couple selling all their stuff for life on a bike.

We’ve drawn a line at the end of the month for whatever is left will go to charity shops.  Being older and wiser, we’ve decided to hold on to the house for an extra month.  This month will be FARKLING month.  Yup, it’s a thing.

I’ve done a bit of farkling.  It involved installing a tank bag, new foot pegs and comfy seat.  I’m quite pleased with my efforts with the tank bag.  Instructional photos were poor.  BMW needs a better photographer.  The seat was bought secondhand, and I think the last rider was heavy, or I’m heavier than the last rider, ‘cos when you sit on it, it pulls away from the surface of the bike.  I’ll have to farkle it in place.   Verd’s more ambitious than me, he’s talking new bike rack and soldering job to fit a Pelican case he wants for the technology.

I’m beginning to worry we’ve run out of space.  So hence June farkling and practice runs to make sure we’re really good to go.

Remember the snuggle sofa?  We’ve tried it out – more on this in a later post!




How to Provide

One morning, I travelled to work and read the Metro, a free newspaper that is distributed on public transport.  I read about the stabbing of a teenager, in broad daylight, on the platform of the railway station closest to where I worked.  The boy died in his friend’s arms before the ambulance could arrive.  I read the name of the deceased and for a long time I couldn’t accept that I knew him.

I arrived at work and the grief was palpable.  The sixth form community had lost a vibrant, sociable and gentle spoken soul.  His friends were with him when his own confusion about what had happened to him was expressed.  He wanted to stand up, he was alright, he said.  He didn’t see the blood that was pouring from his back.  Imagine the grief of the girl who’d cradled him as his life slipped away.  For the two years that I taught her after, it was as if her own life had been taken from her too.

We talked about it a few months after.  I expressed how worried I was.  She felt like she would never heal.  She also felt that to feel happy again would dishonour him.  I told her of a friend of mine who’d died very young and how I had grieved for a long time after.  But one day I woke up I realising that I had a duty to live as he could not.  Would he not want her to remember the joy he brought?  Would he not want her to live her life as fully as she could?  Would he not want her to be happy?

I knew that I hadn’t helped her deal with her pain.  The same disengagement with life was evident in every lesson she attended.  She attended counselling, her mother had brought her to the doctor, but in truth it was only Time that would help her.

A couple of months before her exams she asked for help.  She’d thought about what I’d said and she’d made a decision, even though she didn’t feel like it, she was going to get herself to university.  One of them at least should get to study law like they’d planned.  After a long hiatus, she worked hard and was rewarded with several offers.

I’m not sure who said it, but Verd often quotes: we have an obligation to be happy.  I’m reminded of that again today when visiting Rachel Falco’s blog “How to Provide”.  She opens with a Thoreau quote:

“I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear…”

I think I’ve featured Rachel‘s blog in the Knowledge Cooperative before, she’d written an article on how to deal naturally with all the pests that plague us.  Still, I think she deserves another slot.  From raising to dressing chickens, from pests to herbal remedies, from designing a vegetable plot to food preservation, from post-war survival to surviving a siege, Rachel offers extremely practical and accessible advice on Community Supported Agriculture, self-sufficiency, farming humanely, and providing for a family on a homestead.   How to Provide is often my first port of call when I have a ‘how to’ question.  For instance, I have a friend who makes amazing fresh pasta and serves it in her own pottery.  She manages to convey the idea it’s easy, but I’ve never tried it.  So I look it up and guess what, Rachel knows how!

Even if you don’t have a homestead, you’re likely to find a practical tip that’s better for your budget, health, and life.

Reviving the Knowledge Cooperative

The Knowledge Cooperative was intended to be a weekly feature of permaculture-related blogs, the aim being to establish connections, share how huge the movement is and engage in some bloglovin’.  There’s a few that I’ve been meaning to share, so between efforts of reducing life to panniers and a top box, I’ll attempt a catch up.

I rummaged through the blogs I’m following and came across Huddersfield Greens by Plastic is Rubbish, who I don’t remember ever following, so I clicked.  I live only 6 miles from Huddersfield and I thought it would be good to start local and journey outward.  They have only 1 follower, who must be me, I’m intrigued – Plastic is Rubbish definitely needs some help.  However, the blog no longer exists, and I’m teased with the first 100 words or so of several posts that looked like they’d be quite interesting to read.  No wonder it’s just me!  I Google explore to see if Plastic is Rubbish has gone elsewhere.  It seems that Plastic is Rubbish is more popularly known as Polytheen Pam and her blog has won awards and even been featured in The Guardian, the pinnacle of blog success, in my eyes!

Polytheen Pam is leading a boycott of plastic.   Her blog is guide to living plasticless and she goes beyond recycling to the challenges of zero waste households.   Want to get started?  She has offers some superfast ways to get going with your plastic boycott.  One suggestion is to spend an hour or so with Jeremy Irons.  Who can resist?

Plastic is Rubbish is now part of a wider effort to make the UK plasticless, being a contributor to a national directory of plastic free organisations and individuals.

Are you part of the change (I KNOW some of you are)?  Would you like to be interviewed either by email or Skype (or similar) and featured in the Knowledge Cooperative?   Get in touch: safarfiertze@gmail.com.



Which fiction book are you reading at the moment?  Are you enjoying it?  If so, why?  Why is that some books you can’t put down, and others you labour through with difficulty?  You could also apply these questions to films or TV series.

Personally, I like to be transported to a different world, perspective and out of my reality.  I find myself hooked when I’m not sure what to expect, when I’m feeling suspense.   I’m held by something that makes me think and often appreciate the magical work that some people achieve with language.  Sometimes, I just enjoy a novel concept.  I know it’s working as I become fully immersed and get cross when I’m pulled back to the here and now.

At the moment I’m reading Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.   I’m in love with the idea gods can’t exist unless there is someone to believe in them.   I relish the time I’m reading it, and find it hard to put down.  It’s funny, but I’m also pulled by the dilemmas facing the most unlikely of protagonists and I occupy a very different realm when I go there.  After all, we don’t live on the back of a turtle.

coa_illustration_elements_tool_hook-svgNow, think about what you’ve learned by answering the questions for your own writing.  How much of it do you apply to hook your readers?  Kirsten Lamb, an author guru here in the blogosphere, suggests three ways to hook your reader and not lose them half way through your project.  Applying it to the films, tv series and books I’ve read recently, I have an aha moment – of course, it’s so obvious once someone else has said it!


Why not pay Kirsten a visit?  

3 Tried and True Methods of Killing Insects

I haven’t added to the “Knowledge Cooperative” in a while, but I just love Rachel’s blog, it’s chocker full of practical homesteading and small holding advice. This article offers great tips for dealing with your pests. Have to vouch for Peppermint oil for discouraging rodents from your house too – although, can be a bit headachy if you are too lavish with it. I can never get enough of lemon, sandalwood, and cedarwood though.

How to Provide

We have reached that time of year when we thank God that the onslaughts of summer stinging, biting and swarming insects have ceased their stinging, biting and swarming. Phewwwwww….

Oh wait, here come the fall insects! Ants, Lice, Mites, Fleas, Asian Beetles, Boxelder Bugs, Bedbugs, Earwigs, Millipedes, Centipedes, Cluster Flies, Silverfish, Cockroaches, Worms, Squash Bugs and Stink Bugs…. to name a few. Yuck!

A Flea A Flea… It gives me the willies every time I see it!

No, we are not out of the woods. They are in wait to storm our castles and wage war for our territory. Some of these invaders; bite, sting, stink, eat, destroy, spread disease and some just invade in droves.

Never fear!   And take heart; there are all-natural solutions which do not poison your family while killing these invaders – dead, dead and yes, dead.

  1. Diatomaceous Earth: is brilliant stuff! D.E. (as many call it) is…

View original post 346 more words

‘it seems to me that we look at nature too much and live with her too little’

When I was about 11, I have a memory of being with school friends in a sloping meadow, and growing in the meadow were these tiny wild strawberries and we loved picking and eating these delightful treats, like sweets to us. Early autumn we’d pick blackberries and foist them on our mothers to bake us apple and blackberry crumble or pie. When a little older, after sheep had left the nearby fields they’d been grazing, we’d pick the field mushrooms that would shortly follow and my children in turn loved the bilberries that would appear on the Yorkshire moors. But yet I’ve observed mothers discouraging this ‘dirty’ practice. Heck – I’m sure we swallowed a maggot or two along the way. I really enjoyed this post by Liz Knight at Forage Fine Foods – not least as I’m an Oscar Wilde fan. It’s where I want to be, back, living in nature, rather than watching.

Forage Fine Foods

FORRAGING_048‘It seems to me that we look at nature too much and live too little with her’ I’ve just heard this Oscar Wilde quote on radio 4. His words set my hairs on edge. Was Oscar a forager? I’m not sure and to be honest I’m such an uncultured type I don’t even know what it connection to the wilds was (apart from lying on grass with a cigarette in his beautiful mouth) but he put his refined finger right on the button in this statement & in a way that’s utterly apt 130 years later. Lots of people in our country have nature disconnect – that’s a fact. Lots of us try and reconnect with nature by looking at her – we go for woodland walks, climb mountains, gaze at the stars but not many of us live with her. Our culture has become so distant from the notion that we belong to nature: in fact, since…

View original post 512 more words