Free-Range Living

What is Free-Range Living?

'Freerange' living might perhaps be described as the individual(s) aiming to lead an 'independent' style of life, thinking and deciding for themselves, determining their own values, along with aiming to live life in a naturally self and socially responsible manner.

'Normal Service -----'

June 9, 2020 ·


'Normal service ---- '

Now at the end of May and what's been just declared as the sunniest spring ever hereabouts, the sun still shines here at the eco organic micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK midlands. The crops in the veg growing area went in well and are looking, well - good enough to eat, and in fact salad stuff - lettuce, cress, radish and 'fat' winter/spring onions has been handily available for use throughout sunny May (early lettuce are grown between tomato plants in the top greenhouse; outdoor lettuce are now at the end of May, just about ready). The other crops are looking as expected well with all the sun, with broad beans nearly ready to pick - earliest ever - peas looking vigorous and in flower, potatoes coming on a-pace, the earliest now around a foot high, with other crops too such as beetroot, (never seen a bed of it grow so fast), runner beans, indoor and outdoor tomatoes, and particularly a near-ready bed of calabrese, all looking healthy and good - fingers crossed ----gorse


'Changing times --- ?'

Calabrese has been a fairly recent find - last year's crop was pretty useless in the poor growing season but the year before they were picked, courtesy of spaced plantings, from mid July to mid December -a handy crop particularly as they are a good cooked veg but also pretty good in stir frys and the like. This year hopefully it will be 'normal service' and they'll be available from, say, early June, along with a small bed of spring cabbage, filling the 'hungry gap' period. The sun effect in the surrounding fields has been marked- the rape crops flowered well but far more briefly than usual, and as farmer S up the lane said, the crop was responding to drought stress conditions, seeking then to get quickly to the seeding stage. The local cornfields likewise, the corn in ear before the end of May. Just round the corner and a bit up the lane is a small grass hayfield that was at seedhead stage looking as though it was ready for cutting before the end of May --- The winter cattle forage that is silage ('pickled grass') is commonly made in May, but haymaking is more like July-time. Changing times -- ?




'Water, water --- '

After last year's worst ever spring growing season, it's very acceptable to have experienced this year the best spring growing season ever. The crops have had to have quite a bit of water put on through the irrigator attached by garden hose to an outside water tap. The soil here, having been a cottage garden for probably hundreds of years, is a beautiful dark loam soil, fertile and easy to work, but the one area it doesn't do well is that of retaining water, which 'stronger' soils (i.e. with clay content), do do better (and which is why the raised bed experiment didn't work particularly well here - more suited to heavier soils - ?) With all the sunny weather, rainfall in May has been virtually non-existent, well below average, but the irrigation of the crops has done the trick, and it's satisfying to see a good display of all crops (fingers crossed - again), against, though, the drought-hit 'dead' appearance of the top lawn, looking as though it's August rather than early summer ----

Dry wood supplies ---

The bought logs portion of the main micro-holding fuel, wood, arrived in early May as usual in the form of usable logs. They're tipped on the driveway; the job then is to get them into the logstore in the 'logs-istics' centre, courtesy of the narrow wheelbarrow - five/six barrowfulls a day and, 'Bob's yer Uncle', in four/five days jobs done, no sweat. They're pretty dry on arrival to then spend the summer under cover in the woodstore with an airflow due to the open-ended centre, so come wintertime when they are burnt, it's pretty dry wood, especially as they then tend to spend a day or two next to a hot stove. Collected free wood is sawn about once a fortnight through the summer, which swells the woodpile and at some stage 'big D' will appear with his huge 'cuts-like-butter' chainsaw to saw up quite a bit of bigger accumulated wood pieces, to then make up the woodstore to quite a full level, always a heart-warming sight to see before the onset of winter.logs

 Some of the summer sawing sessions will focus more on cutting up 'smaller' wood sections, often say, soft wood from pallets and the like, which burnt alongside the hardwood logs, help to keep a decent fire going. Far more fuel activity then in summer than winter, when mostly all there's to do is bring in a daily burning supply, along with sticks and smaller pieces with which to to start the fire.

Mishap dramas ----

Although the micro-holding report this time all sounds 'hunky dory' (i.e good), there were a couple of dramatic 'negative' events that occurred in the last couple of months. The first was while trying to burn the considerable pile of brushwood built up in the burning area. Brushwood generally being of a 'springy' nature, is not always the easiest to burn, often needing helping along with one or two small applications of, for instance, waste engine oil. On this occasion the middle of the pile was lit, thinking some of the middle would burn away then fizzle out, but leaving then an 'easier burning' situation.

On returning to the fire some minutes later, though, it had taken hold, to the extent that it had spread to an adjacent shed, housing a quite valuable model railway layout. A bit of panic set in but fortunately the day before the hose had been attached to the outside water tap, (lucky or what?), so with the hose extension quickly attached, and the tap turned on, a water jet was trained on the back of the shed, by that time burning brightly, but fairly quickly then dowsed effectively -phew, panic over ---

Not though in terms of drama in the same league as going down to feed the hens one morning only to find the door of their pen pushed open, the trap door of their chicken house lying in the pen ---- and the bodies of the three poor hens lying semi-eaten in the chicken house - a heck of a shock and fairly unbelievable, as the thinking was that they were 'safe and secure'. Not a great feeling, as their carers, to know that such a thing had happened, it felt like letting the poor creatures down ---- B, the relief chicken carer, suggested that it may well have been a badger attack, as a fox would probably have taken at least one of the chickens, and considerable force would have been needed to get the pen door open.

Would be good to be able to turn the clock back and take appropiate measures, but no such luck -- and life goes on. Have to 'take the punches' and get on with things, but for a few days the carnage and those poor chicks kept popping up in the mind ----
The rest of the considerable bird population that lives hereabouts seems to be doing not too badly, although those 'bird brigands', magpies, seem to be about a liitle too frequently --- A goldfinch couple are nesting in the Magnolia tree just a few feet away from a cottage window, giving a, erm, bird's eye view ----

(late news re the chicken debacle : a few hundred yards down the lane some folk woke in the night to a tumult of chicken squawkings and barking. On going outside (their hens were close to the house), they found a 'very big' badger in the chicken pen hemmed there by their two large dogs, with four slaughtered hens in the chicken house. So a badger has been the culprit, maybe of the 'rogue' variety as no badger slaughter tales have circulated before in this area. Also - driven to chicken attacks due to hunger caused by the prolonged very dry weather and hard ground - ?)

'Meaty fare ---- '

When you stop and think about it, human beings must be some of the most unique entitiies on the planet, each with a different package of genes, attributes, limitations,  motor skills and personalities. Each person will have had different childhood experiences, and different influences and conditionings throughout life, along with differing current situations, influences, relationships, conditionings --- Reminds a bit, then, of that old saying :'comparisons are odious'. A particular day in the back-along farm advisory life brought 'uniqueness' into sharp focus. Driving home after a taxing day on two farms and erm, ruminating over the events of the day, it suddenly struck quite forcibly that each rural business had had entirely the opposite advice given to them, and on reflecting, that the advice for each had been appropriate.

This in turn brought on quite vivid realisations that each situation is unique in many ways - the make-up and quantity of the resources involved, the stage of the enterprise's 'life', the degree of enteprise/business health/ill-health, the characters, abilities, motivations and energies of the people involved, and that to apply standard, formulaic, 'off-pat' solutions would then be inappropriate - each situation needed to be assessed as the unique entity it was and the appropriate level response/remedy found - a case of  'One man's meat is another man's poison'----

So, is there 'normal' -?

Such 'individualist' type thoughts cropped up the other day on reading in a paper that a term had been coined for so-called 'ordinary' people, and the term was 'normos' . Presumably there's always the danger that such terms can be perceived to have 'negative slants' in the forms of a 'disrespect', write off, disparaging sort of way, even if perhaps that is not the intention (and therefore it could be wise not to develop and use such populist 'generic' terms - ?) Another potential limitation could be along the lines of another old saying about generalisations being limited, with reference to the paragraph above outlining the case for 'natural bio-diversity' - ? The mainstream culture does seem to espouse the cause of celebrity, adventure and excitement, and 'flash, luxurious' living, which may be a reflection that modern western-style cultures tend to be 'young-ist geared' - ?

 The potential 'downside' though may well be that the importance and prominence of 'ordinary life' is downgraded, devalued and to some extent, even  disrespected - ? It may of course reflect that modern life could be somewhat lacking (say in 'meaning' - ?) which was probably the thrust behind that recent quote - 'we used to build civilisations, now we build shopping malls --- ', and that there's then 'displacement' activity to try to 'construct/replace' the missing element(s) - ? (the modern era has recently been called 'the Age of Distraction ---' ).

Those that are able to find meaning, satisfaction and pleasure in so-called 'ordinary life' could be on to something, and in danger of harvesting more 'goodies' from life (and with less effort and expense - ?) There is, for instance, quite a bit on the net relating to 'simple living' which in itself might well be a counter to the thrust, noise and bustle of today's world, which does though seem to deliver a few limitations and problems - ?

(recent report in a broadsheet paper, that the wealthy are stressing and seeking therapy over where they are in the 'rich list').

 The sage Lao-Tsu, a simple living advocate, back along a few centuries, as usual, seemed to have it covered :

  'If you want to be free, live simply ---- use what you have --- seek to gain contentment from where you are. Of course the world is full of novelty and adnventures. New opportunities come along everyday. So what?'

Quite a 'counter' take to modern approaches - but (and assuming conditions to not be desperate), maybe not being on the 'bigger is better', 'more, more' route could be an effective answer for more contented living - ? And a mode that quite a few (unsung) folk follow, to their own benefit ---- ? A bit in the style of the 'not chasing the dollar' mode - rather operating within a set income, to then have useful time to pursue the honourable activity of enjoying life in its more 'multi-dimensional', un-narrowly focused on money, fuller form - ?

Tags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living


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