Communal Seeds

Time feels like it’s gone so quickly, yet when I think back to the start of the year, it feels like a long month.

All of our chickens were killed and taken by a marten at the start of the year. We think it was a marten because there were no holes in the fence and the door was closed. There’s a large hazel tree at the back of the run which a marta could’ve easily climbed up to jump on the coop, decapitate the hens and flee. How it got out with one of the bodies each time though is a mystery.

cute but evil

We’re not sure whether to get more: as the run is on a slope it would be difficult to securely enclose everything in chicken wire. Also to maintain the level of space that’s currently there would be expensive, as it would use a lot of wire. As it turns out, keeping  chickens organically for personal consumption of eggs is more expensive than buying them. I’m not saying this as an absolute statement – there are many people who successfully use scrap materials for their runs or coops, and manage to get free food either from their own land, compost or food waste from restaurants. But for us, it ended up being the case that we spent a lot more on coop materials plus feed than our average monthly spend on free range eggs.

Another relevant factor is that if we were to rebuild the coop, it wouldn’t be an overly long-term investment that would eventually pay for itself, because we are planning to go travelling near the end of the year. We’re also a lot busier now since starting the market business, so wouldn’t be able to look after the chicks as much. We’ll see! The possibility hasn’t been completely ruled out.

so long chicas, we’ll miss you

As for markets, it has been going quite well. There have definitely been at least a couple of times where we’ve come home with less in the till than we started with, but we made a good profit over Christmas in Avilés selling crepes, and had another good day at Cadavedo near the coast.

Last weekend we sold tortos (Asturian corn flatbreads) with creamy leeks from our garden, local cheese and foraged walnut. It was so fulfilling to work locally, walking distance from the house, serving friends and familiar faces. We felt very grateful for the opportunity and for the community spirit.

Earlier in the month a couple from Hungary & Spain contacted us through the blog (so exciting!) to say that they are looking to meet like-minded people in Asturias whilst on the journey towards their dreams. We met up and later introduced them to the permaculture group. It felt good to know that these little things can and do make a difference – helping people on the same wavelength to meet, interact and eventually create together. This is the kind of community I believe in.

In our village, Nik & I started a seed exchange group with the intention to maintain local varieties and share seeds in general for free between us. We were pleased to see quite a few people turn up, both Asturian and International, with lots of ideas and enthusiasm.

There’s another meeting scheduled in a month and we’ve also connected with a seed association in Oviedo, where we’ve agreed to be guardians of certain vegetables like chard and peppers to maintain the seed bank.

looking forward to digging into these soon!

In other news, we finally turned the van into a sleeping vehicle!

Though I don’t feel like I have much right to take credit as we barely had to do anything… We’d decided to get it done two weeks ago so that it would be ready for summer markets, then it got to Thursday and inevitably nothing had been done. Delivering some organic sugar to a friend who’s part of the consumer group, he saw our van and said,

“Hey! Do you guys want a bed for your car?”

“Yes..” we both replied, as though he had read our minds or somehow magically heard our previous conversations.

“I used to have a Citroen C15 but I don’t use it anymore. I was about to get rid of the bed frame I made for it but if you can use it…it’s yours”.

In amazement and disbelief, we followed him to his garage and loaded up the new bed into the Renault Express! All that had to be done then was roughly jigsaw some pieces off so it fit to our slightly thinner vehicle, and saw the cushion with a craft knife. Winner!

fig. 1
fig. 2
fig. 3

It will be such a blessing to be able to sleep in it at far away markets, or when there are multiple days, or just for fun.

So next month we need to get sowing, find some good potting mix and make use of the greenhouse. I’m excited to get my hands back into the soil.

Museo Thyssen- Bornemisza
Georges Braque, 1906


How was your January?

Well wishes for 2020,

Peace and Pollen x

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