So summer 2019 has come around very quickly and here we are at the midsummer solstice. Although my schedule is behind, I am making progress. We grazed the new forest garden field right down with the horses, and then seeded the areas that are due to remain as tracks or open areas when we replant next winter. The horses will be going back in to keep the tree planting areas well grazed in the meantime.
We’ve also implemented a managed grazing programme for the horses, and rehomed Rain the horse so that now we are down to Mel and Paddy, which has taken some of the pressure off the land. The fields have been divided into smaller areas using semi permanent electric fencing, and the horses are grazed for short periods on each section before moving on. The grass is recovering well, and the horses don’t return to that area until it has put on sufficient growth.
Something we’ve done this year is intervene less. Generally now the rule is that we’re only maintaining clear areas where there is a need for a path, or where fruit bushes or trees need to be kept clear. Once they reach a certain size, the system balances itself and there generally is no longer a need to interfere. This means we’re disturbing as little habitat as possible.
Since midwinter we have had a period of reflection and feedback about our time here at Lackan, and we came to some quite specific conclusions, based mainly around the need to reduce the amount of manual labour involved in heating and cooking, as we grow older. This has led to the following changes and improvements around the place –
Installation of an additional 4kw of solar PV, and a system to divert all surplus power to water heating. This is already saving a significant amount of fire lighting, and we hope will continue to reduce wood consumption in the winter months.
Replacing our regular hot water tank with a more efficient thermal store. This utilises the sources of heat that we have better, and allows us to heat the cottage when the fire isn’t lit, using the store as a ‘battery’ to store heat energy for the times when we do need it.
Building and installing a ram pump to provide additional water for the garden. We are conscious that our rainwater store is increasingly precious, and so the ram pump provides a valuable additional source of water from the small stream that passes behind the tunnels.
We’ve also installed a gas hob and oven in the kitchen, alongside the wood range. Currently we are using bottled gas but are undertaking to build a biodigester this summer in order to provide our own source of gas. If successful this will further reduce our wood consumption.