Lime mortar is a magical thing, one part hydrated lime putty to three parts coarse sand is all you need to make this ‘old-fashioned’ version of cement. Add half a part of horse hair and it becomes base coat plaster, use water and lime putty and it becomes paint – whitewash. Put it in an airtight bucket and it’ll keep indefinitely as it only ‘goes off’ when exposed to the air.
This week we have mostly been re-pointing, this involves scraping out the mortar joints with a hoof-pick and then brushing down the wall and the joints ready to accept the mortar.
A lot of the joints in the bottom half of the wall appear to be mortared with mud – was the work of tree roots or rodents or a reaction to the rain coming in from the leaking roof? Strangely it was a work of fiction that answered this question rather than the old building reference books we had been looking for the answers in:
When their tender was accepted it was he who superintended the work and schemed how to scamp it, where possible, using mud where mortar was specified, mortar where there ought to have been cement…
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Robert Tressall
Sometimes re-pointing turns into re-building where we find stones loose or missing or, as in this case, whole sections of wall loose. what happened to the mortar? Did it wash out from years of rain or damp? Did someone else rake it all out years ago but never get around to re-pointing it?
January and the last of the willow is ready for harvesting. The magic of willow coppicing is that it will grow back again just as vigorously next year. Coppicing all the stems off a stump will give you willow for weaving, these will all grow back again and more in a year’s time. Here I am cutting off all but two or three stems / whips which will encourage the tree to put all its growth into the remaining stems. At between one to three metres growth a year these quickly become trunks and can be harvested for firewood in five to seven years. And then the magic still doesn’t stop, the bottom 10cm of the coppiced stems can be pushed into the ground where they will take root and become new trees, and the older trees when cut for firewood will shoot out 5 to 20 new stems and the whole process starts again.
Once I’ve finished coppicing, I’m then cutting off all the lateral branches to encourage growth upwards instead of outwards. Finally I push a bunch of the cut off whips back into the ground around these willows which will hopefully take root and expand the bio-fuel supply in future years.
”The soundtrack is a Pony Folk acoustic cover of an old electric Dogs D’Amour track ‘She Put It In Her Arm’. It only has three chords repeated throughout Em, C and D but the lines are short and the the timing of each chord is critical and It still catches me out sometimes. Ok, a lot.” ~ Pony Folk
Lampeter Seed Library was launched in Autumn 2017 after two introductory public seed saving workshops, and is open twice monthly at the People’s Market in Victoria Hall, Lampeter, Ceredigion. It is a free public resource run by volunteers who are all keen growers. Our aim is to build a stock of seeds for vegetables and cereals proven to grow well in our local climate and conditions, which anyone can use to grow their own food and hopefully learn to save the seed.
Our hope is that this will introduce more people to the fun of successful food growing and seed saving, broaden the range of food we know we can grow here, introduce people to new veg they haven’t tried before, and generally increase local food resilience and biodiversity.
This is a short film I put together to help spread the message, please feel free to share it on again:
When we first came
To the place of the high oaks
He was nowhere to be seen.
The turning of the soil
Summoned him, as if
The lifting of the first morning’s eyelid
Summons the sunrise in the East.
His sweet song serenaded us
Amongst the fallen trees
And I knew that he had come.
Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!