One of the things about working on the land is that the work is seasonal – that means that spring is about getting the ground ready and getting the seeds in; summer is about keeping everything alive and eating as much as possible and autumn is about preserving and tidying up for next year…..and winter is hibernation and a chance to catch up on things that I’ve let slip. This website and blog has been one of those things!
2012 was a really busy year with an astonishing amount of people coming into and out of our lives. We had loads of volunteers, lots of friends visiting and quite a few campers…and by the end of it, we were really tired.
We’ve renovated the barn which is now our summer living room and kitchen. It’s such a lovely space and we can’t wait to get outside and living in it as the spring progresses. It’s usually about the end of May before it’s really warm enough to live outside and in the autumn it’s well into October before we finally give in and go back inside with the fire on. Both of those moves involve a period of frustrated transition when half the kitchen stuff is in the house and half is in the barn…and its about 42 steps to walk from on pantry to the other if you forget something! But the living in the barn is just so lovely – the walls are all made of mud and plastered with cob and then gleena – a local name for the grey clay that we get from the river. That’s my favourite medium to work with – it needs to be super smooth and souplike before you can use it and the best way to get it right is to use your feet. That also means a lovely skin therapy for my feet..and they need it! I mostly wear flipflops or barefeet in the summer and a pedicure of any kind is more than welcome.
There is always more work to do and future plans for the barn include some kind of flooring – wood or bricks are most likely but they cost money so they’ll be further down the list. We’ve also got interested in Rocket Stoves – a great idea for mass thermal heating. We made a prototype in the barn and eventually we’ll have one in the house too….when we get the technology right!
We increased the amount of land that we use too – we bought a field just opposite and last year, I planted out most of it with corn, potatoes, onions, beans, garlic, pumpkins, peppers,carrots, beetroot, aubergines, tobacco and of course, millions of tomatoes. It was a bit of a practice run for us as we had never worked such a big piece of land. It wasn’t as productive as I’d like it to be so this year, we have set some bigger targets – I’m expecting the cellar to be full for the winter – especially with potatoes, onions and garlic – the basis of so much that we eat. Our friend Lisa came down from the next village with Sara, her horse, to plow the field – that was fun to watch but I’m glad i was just watching!
We also tried to have a Festival last year – it turned into a lovely free party which was disappointing after all the hard work but we ended up with a small group of people who want to do it properly this year and we know that the lovely site works brilliantly. A few people have already booked their flights for the Luna Dolina Music and Arts Festival in September 2013 – watch this space for more news!
We’re having a break from people this – at least from people that we don’t know. It does take a lot of energy to have strangers in your life for short intense periods and we seemed to attract some weird people last year – an Australian woman who was convinced that Cane Toads had invaded Europe, a Disabled Decorated Veteran of the American Military who expected respect for that, some odd Dutch people who just couldn’t cope….and probably some others but we also met some lovely people and made lots of new friends.
I had my 60th birthday (how did that happen?) – it was really good fun and a bit of dancing till dawn…I think….
We’ve got some great new neighbours in Voditsa now – some lovely people have been caught up in the spell of the village and recognised that life in the developed world of western Europe isn’t that wonderful after all – look forward to getting to know them all more next year.