This update on Fox Wood is long overdue - apologies! What has happened since my last update? A few things … and not a lot.
The thing that didn't happen for a long time was spring. Yes, shortly after I wrote the last update everything started to freeze up. The bluebells half-emerged and then stopped in their tracks. Winter weather returned and didn't let up for weeks on end. It even snowed! That didn't stop me doing some work on the field. I spent a couple of days planting trees with my daughters - fair wind or foul - although mostly foul.
I have also re-evaluated some of the things I plan to do with the land. This, in large part, is due to having been deeply engrossed and captivated by Joel Salatin's book, The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer, which a friend lent me.
Salatin, a self-professed, crank and lunatic, is one of the sanest people on planet earth! His mission is to heal the earth - well at least the bit on his farm, by a process of bio-remidaition. Eschewing most chemical and petroleum inputs, he has more or less restored the carbon cycle on his Virginia farm and is experiencing sheer ectasy in the process. I want to do the same!
But I have found out that Fox Wood is an island surrounded by plastic. Yes, almost overnight, all the surrounding fields, once the first crop of flowers had been harvested and sold, suddenly were covered in plastic. I took this picture - on the left is the Fox Wood future food forest field and on the right is the nameless agribusiness field suddenly covered with plastic. I believe potatoes have been planted underneath.
|The fields of Cornwall have been shrink-wrapped. It's the new agribusiness craze to get at least two crops a year out of the poor exhausted soils|
This stuff has appeared all over the countryside. It's reminiscent of the awful plasticultura landscapes of southern Spain. Fox Wood is quite isolated in the middle of all this agricultural abuse.
On a more positive note, I attended a talk in Penzance given by a fellow from Friends of the Earth and Brigit Strawbridge about bees. I won't go into details about the terrible plight bees are in, probably due in part to neonicotinoid chemicals, but it did spur me to at least do something positive. I went around the land digging out small islands of soil from the field and sowing wildflower seeds. When they grow it should be at least a bit of relief for the beleaguered bees in the area who have to deal with all the fields suddenly being turned to plastic. In the future I'm planning to turn some of the field over to being a wildflower meadow because a) It'll be beautiful and b) It will attract pollinating insects to my fruit trees. I also put a few bird boxes up to try and encourage avian friends - birds are welcome at Fox Wood!
As for Joel Salatin and his book, which I mentioned above, he's convinced me to not drill a well, which I had been planning to do. Instead, I'm going to dig a series of PONDS! Yes, ponds, with water harvested from the ample downpours that hit this area for much of the year, flowing down through my terraced hand-dug fields like a Spanish acequia. The soil I have excavated so far is rich and deep and full of earthworms. I'm not worried about its fertility.
|Only after I'd dug a few of these bee rehab wildflower mini-meadow zones did I realise that they could be mistaken for shallow graves ...|
BTW my large poly tunnel has arrived - 30ft long and 10ft wide - and I have plenty of plans for what is going to happen inside it. As have various hand-crafted tools, such as a Swedish axe, a hardened steel billhook - and the Spanish azada will be arriving soon (why use a spade when you can use one of these?). I'm thinking chickens and moveable electric fences, egg mobiles and aquaculture. I might need to borrow a couple of pigs to clear the underbrush in the woodland. My worm compost pile is back in full production now after the Danish vermicide episode and even my daughters' guinea pigs are providing some fine carbon-based enrichment for the land. Things are getting going - although the Fox Wood money fund is dwindling fast, so it'll be free and easy things from here on it.
Honestly, sometimes at the moment, I have so many ideas I can hardly sleep at night.
There's probably some other things too, but I'm going to work there tomorrow so will take some more pictures and provide another update sooner rather than later.
|I found this badger hole in the woodland - nice use of a tree root as a lintel over the front door|