Thursday, June 16, 2011

Around the croft.


Most of our energies this week have gone into potential plans for new livestock, and spending some time with our guests.  The weather was quite mixed at the start of the week, still lots of water lying around, but the wind soon dries everything out.  Behind it all, though, we are, slowly but surely, plodding on towards Summer, in that determined way that the seasons move along.
Down at the croft we have the first of our raised beds in the growing shed, planted up with peas and a couple of wonky rows of broad beans,  Rainbow chard and beetroot are waiting to go in too.  These are my most favourite vegetables, so they have been given priority this year.  Bulb fennel has sprouted and the parsley and salads are growing well.
 During the spell of really bad weather, I was growing quite despondent about my lack of sowing and growing.  Looking back at older posts from the last couple of years at my lush and productive garden back on the mainland I did wonder if we had made the right decision.  Then John reminded me that until 51 days ago, this land had been pasture and that it took 3 or 4 years to bring the last garden into production.  Breathe and let go....


Our other priority this week has been getting back to the peats.  Like many other crofters, we had started off well, beginning to cut the peat, but then the weather made this task impossible.  Now we have been able to get back there and how lovely it is.  Working in the fresh air, the sound of larks singing and the wildflowers all around is a tonic for the soul.
I described the beginning of the peat cutting in a previous post.  Now that peat has been drying out for several weeks as it lay on the moss, and the next task is to begin to "lift" the peats to dry our further.  The traditional way is to pile it up into little 4 sided tent shapes called "rùdhan" (pr. roo-ann).  After a couple of weeks these small rùdhan will be piled up into larger rùdhan mor, and when fully dried will be taken back to the house and stacked outside.
We still have a lot of peat to cut, to see us through the winter, so we will be spending as many dry days at the peat bank as we can, until this task is completed.




As we worked I couldn't help but notice the mass of bog cotton waving around in the breeze. In older times, this was harvested and used for stuffing pillows and also as candle wicks. it occurred to me that it might be good for toy stuffing.  Hmmm, I might one day get round to harvesting some of this - maybe it is a job James could do to keep him occupied next year!

25 comments:

  1. Breathe and let go...

    Words to live by. Your garden is lovely. I'm really longing for your young greens.

    Blessings, Debbie

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  2. So great to follow your progress- I was so interested in the peat moss 'harvest' as I have never seen anything like it- your garden looks lovely.

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  3. Lovely, beets are one of my favourite crops to grow too - have lots growing this year. And John is right, patience is key on a new project for growing, your bringing new life back into ground that has sat still for a while.

    Wow, the bog cotton looks lovely, potential there definitely and I'm sure James would be a willing cotton collector x

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  4. Everything is looking good for the rest of the season. Enough to keep you occupied, I'm sure! We both well remember the peat cutting, stacking etc, when we lived on Skye. J was pregnant at the time and though it was tiring at times, she enjoyed the task. And there is always the satisfaction when using it on a cosy fire over winter when the wind is rattling the windows and the rain drumming on the roof!

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  5. You write about plodding into summer while we are well into it. I save beet planting for a little later, when they will mature during cooler days.

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  6. You write about plodding into summer while we are well into. I wait to plant beets until later, when they will mature in cooler days.

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  7. Sorry about the double post. The post window came back up and I thought it didn't work.

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  8. Your place is beautiful! Makes me want to jump on a plane and come visit. I love the bog cotton plant...I've never seen or heard of one before.

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  9. Hi Jacqui

    I too have a row of Rainbow Chard. Very tasty to eat. I think I really only plant it as it looks so colourful.

    I notice that you've got planting against some walls. Is that due to the high winds you must get up there?

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  10. wow! Absolutely beautiful. I read about the peat bogs in a great book called White Goats and Black Bees. They were in Ireland though but same concept. I have never looked it up but now have a great mental picture of this processs!! Thank you!

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  11. I fell in love with Dexter cows the first time I saw them....fingers crossed that they come to live with you :~) Your garden is looking so healthy...for 51 days that is quite amazing....bravo to you all.

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  12. Livestock! How wonderful, I hope to someday!

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  13. I have always been curious about peat and never knew exactly what it looked like or how it is harvested--thank you for sharing on this topic!

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  14. Wow. How different your life is to mine. That peat getting looks like heaps of hard work that would warm you twice, once getting it and once burning it. Your garden is looking lush and productive. Have a wonderful week, Jacqui and family.

    Deb

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  15. Wow. I look at all that and feel my dreams.
    Beautiful.

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  16. i agree with no spring chicken that breathe and let go are good words to live by. just today i was nattering on at someone about something that didn't come by email and i was reminded to breathe and have patience. life is too short to get all bent out of shape. it's great to see the peat pictures again. thanks for sharing before on how you cut it.

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  17. Thank you all for visiting.
    Chris - Hi - I am growing in a roofless lambing shed - yes for wind protection, but mainly because we are waiting on our drainage ditches being dug out, and i didn't want to plant in the intended growing space until then. Also we are still playing around with the land, and may decide to grow in anther area. Also - I did want to grow something...
    The peat is hard work, and quite time consuming too, but it will be worth it in the winter.
    Thank you for the company. xx

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  18. I can imagine your frustrations, but gardens and land are a labour of love, and they don't just happen overnight. You know that though ;)

    Wishing you all a lovely dry spell so you can get done everything you need to and also a little time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

    xx

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  19. In spite of slow growth in your beautiful productive garden, you look well on the way to fulfilling your "barefoot crofter" dreams. We collect wood for the woodburner, which also give one 2 warms! Does peat burn more slowly than wood? We visited the blackhouse at Arnol where a peat fire was burning and it looked really good (we came away smelling of smoke though! James would be good to pick cotton grass as he is so much nearer the ground. Don't get discouraged with slow growth though, as gardening hones one's patience. At least your plants won't die from lack of water!

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  20. It looks wonderful, definitely worth moving away from the mainland for, love the idea of using the bog cotton for stuffing pillows and cuddlies :)
    Sue Xxx

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  21. I am full of questions about the peat as well! Very foreign to those of us here in Canada. Everywhere you turn here there is trees, trees and MORE TREES! so most people burning something utilize wood. How do you get it to start? does it burn cleanly or cause a lot of build up in the chimney? How does the area rebuild itself after you harvest it? or is this a process that takes a few generations? sorry! as you can see I am very intrigued!

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  22. Aah, this reminds me of Elsa Beskow's book Children of the Forest, where the little elf children pick cotton for mom to knit them woolly things for the winter... so sweet. You have pretty pictures here in your blog!

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  23. We have lots of bog cotton round here too. I am hoping summer is just around the corner....

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  24. CW - Hi. There are a few trees here, but not so many. Climate change thousands of year ago meant that the peat formed, and trees will not grow in that environment. We start it with kindling wood, but it can be started with any dry material - heather, bracken etc. in fact, traditionally, the fire was kept burning all the time and was never let out. It burns fairly cleanly - we sweep the chimmney twice a year, and it burns down to a fine yellowish ash.
    When you take off the turfs to start digging the bank, you put them face side up into the part of the bank that was dug the previous year, and it regrows that way. it is constantly renewing as it is being cut. I am conscious that I am not explaining this at all well, so i may try and do a picture post to show you. I really appreciate your interest. x
    I have to say that i went back to the mainland a few weeks ago, and really missed the open space - the trees looked so "messy"

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