March 13, 2013

Hello Sun!!

Briefly, oh so briefly, we saw your face and how we enjoyed your warmth and light! 

Sadly, the moment has passed. 

This has apparently been the dullest winter on record for over 60 years. They say this is not normal. We live in hope. 

Or at least we did...

Last week once again gave us a tantalising taste of spring – mild fresh air, bare ground with just a few traces of snow skulking in the shadows and that smell of earth, growth, the promise of life...

Now, everything is once again white, nearly a foot deep in parts.

On the plus side, the chickens are at least laying in one place. But that is the only plus I can come up with right now!

Downstairs, the tiling is now finished above our stove and another glass jar window seals the granite frame between office and kitchen-to-be. This time it is much bigger – nearly fifty jars (we have had so many traditional preserving jars donated that finding enough of the right size was easily done and it feels only right that the kitchen should make double use of them). To vary the theme, some have been painted with red glass paint. There is something of a stained glass effect that is particularly good in the evening with light shining through from the office.

It is empowering to create an entire window from recycled jars, particularly when examining the cost of windows built to measure. We wait with baited breath for the two that we have ordered for the kitchen - a job that we are simply not skilled enough to carry out ourselves. One will fit in the existing window frame on the north side, just slightly narrower to accommodate the height of work surface and sink. Opposite, on the south side, will be double balcony doors. As soon as they are ready, we will need to break through the wall into the yard, to then forever have direct access from the kitchen to the outdoors.

Upstairs, Saskia's room is now considerably warmer with the floor sealed and insulated: an old foam mattress, discarded rockwool insulation and some hemp found in the attic snugly fill the cavity, and rolls of off-cut carpet left on the roadside make for an almost new floor cover (the joins subtly covered by rugs).

Outside, we made use of the brief show of sun last week to measure out the big field, now looking a lot more inhabited than the strips either side that have once again had their weeds killed off. Using a 15 metre-long rope with a stick at either end, we leisurely covered the ground with Maia proudly carrying one stick to the other whilst repeating the number of turns we had made. With these figures we can begin to shape a clearer picture of how much fencing and hedgerow plants we will need to prepare.

Whilst doing the round we looked up once to see two small animals just below the tree line that were certainly too stumpy and not nearly elegant enough to be the customary deer that cavort in the fields above us. After a while, we recognised them to be wild bore. We have often heard of them being in the area, but it was the first time we had actually spotted them.

The chickens have been escaping over to a neighbour's compost heap, so our latest project is to make their enclosure bigger, more inviting and also more secure. Extending it down to the stream to include the wooded area will give them far more variety and make use of what is otherwise very underused territory. We hope that this will satisfy their need for adventure and thus also secure the future of the fledgling plants that will hopefully, soon be planted out.

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