Our latest volunteers, Locke and Jessy, were two delightful eighteen year olds taking a discovery summer before embarking on further education. They hailed from Missoula Montana bringing tea and news of freedom from the land of freedom. The tea was delicious; the news, bitter. A much contested word finds new play as defenders of oppressive legislation (like the homeland battlefield act) bandy about the slogan ‘freedom isn’t free’. Orwell’s famous slogan ‘freedom = slavery’ is bubbling dangerously close to surfacing without irony. It seems the elite is aware a confrontation is growing between them and the people. The tea was a delicious blend by a Missoula merchant; they left a little behind so future visitors may be free to taste it.
Apparently our standards of visual presentation have declined. On a recent trip into town one of us, in dirty work overalls, surrounded by bags and clinging to Unnarr’s lead, was charitably given a 20 centimos coin while waiting outside the supermarket for the other. Paris’ last pair of trousers (of dubious quality) had ripped up the leg to an unwearable point just the week before necessitating wearing either the dirty overalls or the pyjama bottoms into town. A nice new pair of sturdy work trousers is on the way and our newly built outdoor shower with a view will hopefully preclude such unsolicited acts of charity. We are free to face the consequences of our appearance.
Powering hot water for the good-view shower is our first experiment in rocket stove construction. Rocket stoves operate on the principal that, by not allowing the gases to escape the fire instantly and disappear straight up a chimney they can be reburned, extracting much more heat from wood. A small bundle of sticks can heat a tank of water for hot showers. It is possible that rocket stoves will play a big role in our home and our first attempt has been a qualified success with some lessons learned for the future.
In addition to the wwoofers we have also had Andru’s father and sister on a quick visit and also Adam stayed on for over three weeks growing into the place very well and becoming the first person other than the two of us to build an unreserved bond with Unnarr, our difficult dog. Adam’s girlfriend Sally also came out for a flying visit over Adam’s birthday and we begrudgingly sent him back on his way, though we hope to see him again very soon. So with all the extra help we have progressed much in building the garden. Not only is it becoming a beautiful and tranquil place to be but it is laden with another round of plants, in addition to last blog’s list we now have Aztec broccoli, two types of peas, sweetcorn, soy beans, local white beans (big and small), pinto beans, sun-flowers for seeds and green manure, tomatoes, sweet peppers and summer cabbage. The next round of plants are gestating in the yurt. We’ve enslaved them in tiny cut up milk cartons, snapping at them to grow each night.
We aim to trap more slaves for our farm. On the dry, rocky hillside hanging over the garden we have placed two bee hive filled with frames, two of which are already dripping with honey. Hopefully these hives will attract some neo-colonialists looking to expand their empire and we shall entrap a new queen and entourage for our own greedy consumption. We sit and wait.
Another wait is over. With much held breath a wondrous hand cranked machine finally arrived in the post. We are now the proud owners of a manual grain mill that produces beautiful fine flour from wheat, oats, rice, lentils, beans and anything else Andru can get his hands on. We can now begin breakfasting on cracked wheat cereal saving an enormous amount on little plastic packets of prettily rolled outs. Hopefully soon, with an oat roller we will have a selection of breakfast grains.
On a walk to the abandoned villages with Locke, Jessy, Adam and Sally we stumbled on a pitiful sight. Locke and Jessy in their travel blog describe it well.
Along with other things overgrown, on a terrace, once played on by children and grown on by grapes, we found a young, malnourished horse, who appeared to be overgrown by bramble as well. He was completely surrounded by the thorny vine, and by the sight of his ribs, had been so for some time. He must’ve fallen in to the trap, as there was no other way in, or out. He refused to eat at first. We soon realized that we were his only hope of survival, and began to hack away at the bramble.
Our better instincts kicked into action and, after much hacking at thorny bramble, we left the wild horse freer than we found him. You can follow Locke and Jessy’s adventures on their travel blog the oat.
We are very aware that our freedom in the valley comes because we were lucky enough to be able to bundle some money aside for a small piece of land. Many people we love, and many more besides, could never dream to do likewise. Freedom isn’t free. Voters in Greece rejected the austerity foisted on them by the central banks and global financial institutions. The Greeks decimated their two monolithic central political parties and catapulted the far left coalition Syriza into the foreground. We now face another round of elections; we shall see how it unfolds; wheels are in motion by the capitalist class to define freedom in such a way that it does not include the right of the greek people to determine their own future. The leader of Syriza summed it as ‘a war between capitalism and people’. We aim to build a project that helps people to the land and we support the growing movement in Greece struggling to define freedom as freedom for people, not freedom for markets nor money. Locke and Jessy brought more than sweet tea and bitter news. They told of us projects, movements and plans to help change the world. We send Locke and Jessy off with best wishes for their personal future and our collective global future as we struggle to create eco-socialist alternatives from vastly different countries and continents.