500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

The scythe experiment – the eco alternative to a decent mower

August30

One acre… the amount that somebody could plough in a day (with horses, not a tractor!), and about 4000 square metres (One hectare is 10,000 square metres). So… what is the area of nettles which can be scythed by one woman in a day?

We seemed to have some kind of mental block with clearing the orchard/garden between the house & barns. Mostly because I expected M to do it, and also perhaps because I was waiting for us to have more sophisticated tools to hand. As it is, our domestic lawn mower and strimmer clearly weren’t up to the job… we’d discussed getting a more specialist bit of kit (after seeing Jerry’s ride on mower & inch long lawn), but it’s kind of low on the priority list. In the end, I was driven to cutting the meadow (that sprung up in the mean time) using the scythe. Driven by apples… which have been falling for the last month.

After day 1 I was completely knackered… and the garden looked like it had been pushed through a hedge backwards. I then did a bit of web based investigation and found a video of scythe technique – obviously not exactly what I’d spent hours doing the day before. So, we watched, and practised, and the grass still looks like it’s been pushed through a hedge backwards. Luckily, we have ample opportunity to practice this skill.

Though my arms now feel like someone has dipped them in cement, I am sure this is healthy. On the plus side, the grass is now shorter and we can see the potential of the garden area. Also, I’m bound to have a tan (which is great seeing as we’re going back to the UK tomorrow).

I discovered a nest of sorts in a patch of nettles I was cutting down… 12 hen’s eggs courtesy of our neighbour’s chicken. I would like to invite her back, but now her hiding place is gone.  So, M has been making the most delicious eggy bread using potato bread (unlike anything I’ve come across in the UK, really lovely) and fresh free range eggs from our own farm.  It’s giving us ideas… I would love to have some chickens… perhaps legbars, and have also been investigating Alpaca. We have enough land to support a small group of Alpaca.  I need to work out how they would fare in the winter if there is heavy snow.

It has been lovely spending so much time outdoors… really not the same as working on the house inside with the windows open. I saw the most amazing caterpillar – really punk with 4 tufts and an extraordinary feathery fan:

whitemarked tussock moth

Obviously, the above is not my own photograph, which turned out like this:imag0703.JPG

Also – ever seen an argiope bruennichi? Well here’s one (my own photo!)

argiope bruennichi czech Also known as a wasp spider, it’s huge (at least 1cm body) and it’s awesome. I’m beginning to develop an appreciation for insects after seeing these two examples.

Anyway, I’ve cleared the fallen apples from the (at least) 7 trees in the enclosure. We need to prune them back quite substantially when we return. I’ve discovered that apples here are divided into summer, autumn and winter… with each having a different propensity for time of ripening, sweetness & hardness. I just need to work out what’s what. I only just caught the large white summer apples in time… they were delicious but turned floury and lost their crispness rapidly. Now the very small red apples are ripe – they don’t seem to keep for a long time either but don’t bruise as easily as the white ones. The pears are still a little crunchy, but sweet with it… and I quite like crunchy pears. I counted the number of pear trees lining the road between here and Tábor the other day – about 100 trees. I think my pears will be the next fruit in season so I’m keeping an eye on them. We have a good couple of tons of cooking apples here. We may end up with another strudel mountain – if I can figure out how to cook it.

At least now, I will be able to gather the apples as they fall ripe from the trees, instead of simply loosing them in shoulder height nettles.

I need to stop typing now because of my cement arms. But I think it’s been worth it.

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