Progress! Purrs and Preserves

Autumn deepens.  It has threatened us with firestorms that we smelt over the ridge and battered us with rain and a fierce wind that blew all away our many coloured leaves.  For Samhain we played story-telling games into the night and solemnly remembered the dead we have loved the next day over delicious almond tart.

Andru’s mother and brother arrived; we can now accomplish much more than we could alone.  The dirt-floored one-roomed cottage, peacefully unmolested for a decade or two is now being rapidly partitioned into rooms with tidy brick walls and cardboard flooring.  At it’s heart lies a squat black wood-burner for heat that is eating many of the trees we steadily hack down.  For this job we’ve acquired a large bow-saw; a felling axe and an old two-person cross-cut saw that needs much sharpening attention.

A small grove of unproductive willow has been sacrificed to these hungry tools to let some light in for a few patches of raised bed gardens by the side of the cottage.  In the wood behind the cottage we’ve inoculated two logs each with shiitake, oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms.  With chicory, onions and strawberries in the soil we are proud and pleased to become producers of food.  Food that came from our thoughtful and sharing neighbor, Pedro, who not only gave us many potatoes, tomatos, peppers, honey and herbs but also the plants now extending their roots in our gardens.



Another unexpected gift made it’s way to our door from Felix, who sold us the land, two little boxes with holes cut through the sides for the kittens to breathe through.

Lokí and Trýxe now join Unnarr as our menagerie blossoms.  Unnarr, still shy from the kennel, is in danger of being dominated by the rapacious kittens whose primary duty is to molest our mice, not our dog.   Hens will wait until springtime when we have moved the toilet indoors and built a house for them on the lovely stone terrace that the toilet now tops.

In fleeing a society fully transformed into throw-away consumerism-bots where decent things are thrown away for this season’s new models we fled to a place where things are still valued and held onto for as long as they function.   What enfuriation!  It is exceedingly difficult to find good quality things second-hand here; we crave the thrown away junk of consumerist Britain.  Anyone have any good carpentry workbenches lying around?

We face the growing darkness now.  The last of our Autumn harvests processed with jars of apple and tree-strawberry jams, syrups and cheeses, tangy green-tomato chutney and dried parasol mushrooms stored away.  Our days short, our electricity limited and our projects many but our happiness grows.  The darkness of winter is a good time for laughter and games:  a good time to visit.

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17 Responses to Progress! Purrs and Preserves

  1. liesl says:

    Thank you for the warm read! It furthers my plot to be an urban farmer and femivore. One step at a time. Thank you for sharing.

  2. So happy for you Andru x Beautiful to hear that your ‘happiness grows’ .. and so deserved!
    We have beavers now… (yes, really! – not crude anaology!… real ones… for the first time in 400 years in Wales -) all is perfect, honorable, controversial and vibrant….. only thing missing is someone to cuddle at the end of the day… any ideas? x x x Give everyone there a huge and excessive sloppy cuddle on our behalf angel man! x x x

  3. darren whitworth says:

    Looks incredible guys, your drive, creativity and deteremination is an example to follow, hope it continues to progress well, im sure it will. All the best, Darren, Emz, Ceejay

  4. Marco says:

    Hey boys, looking great! Love the kittens and the dog. Looks like you made yourselves a lovely home in a short amount of time already. I’m impressed- keep it up! Marco

  5. Thomas says:

    You’ve worked so hard! BTW, we are drying macrolepiotos too. Could you give us the recipe of the green tomato chutney? Cheers,

    • Paris says:

      The green tomato chutney was much of an experiment as I’ve never made chutney before and I can’t give you any precise measurements because I didn’t really measure anything but..
      First I spiced about the vinegar, as I was going for a sweet chutney I used cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and peppercorns. (spicing the chutney by soaking for a couple of months or by cheating (vinegar and spices in a jar surrounded by boiling water then cooling for a couple of hours)).
      Then I cooked my large bag of green tomatos down with about a third their quantity of onions throwing in some chopped peppers, plenty of garlic, some rasins and finally covering them in the spiced garlic. This cooked down to a thick paste which made three large jars of delicious and very tangy chutney! A great way to use the green tomatoes that often just get missed out.

  6. Paul Gibbons says:


    I trust you are planning loads of variety in the planting. Nothing worse than having dozens of courgettes all being ready at the same time and having so many that you get sick of them.

    Sorry it took me a couple of months to spot the blog.


    • Paris says:

      At the moment we have winter greens that get continually picked for eating, onions that store well and strawberries (of which no one can have too much!) so we’re ok for now. getting the quantities right will be a fun game though.

  7. Julien says:

    Any chickens yet?

  8. Julien says:

    It looks marvellous.. I can’t wait to visit..

  9. Jerilyn says:

    I am so thankful that you two are staying healthy and that reinforcements have arrived! Paris, I love the photo of you working with kitten on back. Blessedness. I’m amazed that you have been able to invest any energy in canning with so many big construction projects also in the works. How sweet those preserves must be!

  10. CëRïSë says:

    I love reading about your adventures! Keep the posts (and pictures) coming!

  11. j. west says:

    Very impressive. So few actually have the determination to attempt what you’ve done, and only a sliver possess the fortitude to see it as far as the both of you.

    We may be a world apart, both in location and opinion, but that only increases my level of curiosity to see where your journey leads.


    • Paris says:

      Thanks John,
      Nice words. In terms of being worlds arpart in opinion… we’re always open to a good genuine and open hearted discussion. Perhaps you could even come and visit sometime!? It’s been a long time old friend.