Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Thursday Group - distant energy treatments

In between doing joinery work and generally helping out here on the farm I've been spending time developing this group. I started it a couple of years ago to explore the potential of distant energy treatments to help people. I had been giving one-to-one treatments for years in my therapy work with fascinating results, the group builds on that and explores two special areas: the possibilities of treating several people at once and of focusing on quite precise areas. It's free and open to all, do join in if you can, Thursday evenings 9.00 to 9.45pm.
Your feedback is very helpful to me in developing this work, please message me or post something on the FACEBOOK PAGE even if it's just a couple of words.
There's more about how to join in with the group, getting ready etc on a separate page HERE.
I like the balance of doing down-to-earth practical stuff as well as therapy/healing work. I think it was Upledger who recommended having "your head in the clouds but your feet on the ground" - sound advice I reckon.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Polytunnel, bio-dynamics, companion planting


We're really pleased with what we've achieved in the veg garden so far. There's been plenty of failures and difficulties but plenty of successes too, a good first year. Things that didn't do well were tatties, peas, mange tout, swiss chard and spinach amongst other things. Other UK growers we chat too have mostly found it a difficult year with the endless damp and we've had problems with eel worm or wire worm and also with rats and mice. The successes have been peppers, chile peppers, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, onions, celery, leeks, courgettes, beans and sweetcorn. It's nice to remember that many of the plants started off life on Ruth's windowsill back down in College Road. Well done us! 
Ruth's window-ledge nursery back in College Road

Ruth's tomato-polyculture: companion planting of toms with basil and flowers mulched with straw - great idea, easy to maintain and very productive

Chile peppers galore
Volunteers Ian and Alan working on the final, middle row of beds in the tunnel with Wes and I "helping"
If you plan and set up a good system of paths, gates, fences, raised beds, composting bins, polytunnels etc etc right from the start you will make life so much easier and more enjoyable for yourself. That goes for a hundred acre farm just as much as a back garden plot.
And if you're at all inclined to try growing some stuff yourself but haven't started yet just do it! I look back on all the mistakes I made back on my allotment and realise now that it was all a great way to learn, your garden soon teaches you if you're prepared to look and listen and it's really easy to research stuff via the internet now - above all, the greatest journey begins with a single step...

Some of it might seem pretty wacky at first sight but the more you look into it the more it makes sense. The cow horn procedure boosts all-important bacterial soil activity
This is one of the most interesting avenues we've been exploring in the garden here. It's about timing your gardening according to the phases of the Moon and the position of the planets, and much more. I know some people (who could well be a bit more open-minded for their own good) who dismiss the whole thing as superstitious nonsense but just think of the effect of the Moon on the oceans. Every drop of water on the Earth is being pulled and released in the tides so surely it follows that this will be true for water in plants and the ground just as much as the seas. I wonder if it's partly how water is drawn up into trees as I think I've read that this can't be fully explained by capillary attraction. My friends Steve and Caryn at Quinta Cabeca de Mata in Portugal have been working with Bio-Dynamics for years with such interesting results that they now do more and more in this way, even harvesting wood for buildings. We're going to need all the help and deeper and understanding we can get as we power-down from the Oil Age so lets check out everything that comes our way with open hearts and minds - maybe that's the biggest possible first step.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lovely fences and gates

Ha ha... cows' trampling thwarted by gate
Gate equally beautiful from the opposite direction
Our plot here has just been fenced off which is brilliant as now the cows can’t wander through it, trashing stuff and trampling the ground into a quagmire – it’s still very, very wet underfoot here, thick clayey goo that you can barely walk through. But now we can start channeling some of the water, doing some planting and carry on putting our low-impact ideas into practice. Reading about the march of the landless people in India and about the poor harvest around the world has reminded me how lucky we are to have access to this plot. It’s about a third of an acre so a very useful size when taken as an addition to the farm’s orchard and veg garden.
Lovely new gate leading from our plot into the orchard
We’ve made a good start all ready to dealing with the waste we produce and by getting a massive wood-burning stove fitted. It’s been really interesting to see just how much of different kinds of waste we do produce, plastic, metal, paper & cardboard, grey water from washing etc and of course the good old pee and poo. The real shocker is the plastic... I remember a book from the seventies, “The Waste Makers” by Vance Packard – we’ve been aware of the global waste problem for decades but it’s just got worse and worse since then. No doubt you’ve noticed how everything you buy is packaged at least once and no doubt you’ve read about the vast floating mass of plastic that has gathered in the North Pacific, reportedly the size of Texas. At the moment we’re using our own plastic waste for insulation by stuffing milk cartons with it and packing them beneath the caravan. I’m not quite sure what we do with the stuff after that but by then we’ll hopefully have reduced the amount of plastic we bring on here, reduction has got to be the general answer. Where does the plastic come from anyway?...largely from fossil fuel materials and fossil fuel energy. And there’s lots of other things to do with it like the plastic bottle greenhouse we made at Cwm Harry.
The first thing we did when we got onto the land was to fit the caravan with a composting toilet. It’s easy and simple, smells less than the old WC and will provide valuable compost for the heavy clay soil. In fact, the nitrogen in your pee is so useful in helping other things to breakdown that it seesm amazing that we ever flushed it down the drain. (Don’t worry if you’re visiting, it’ll be going into land for fruit bushes and small trees not for veg.)
I had hoped to make a rocket stove thermal mass heater instead of the wood stove which would have burned the wood much hotter and without the toxins released from smouldering logs but we’re always short of time... feeble excuse, feeble excuse... Anyway, we’ll rig the stove, which is a monster, like something out of the Queen Mary, so that it burns hot and has plenty of thermal mass in and around it. Fuel for the stove comes from trees that have blown down on the farm, plenty of those so far - though we're using chainsaws and a tractor powered log splitter to harvest them... nothing's ever just totally simple is it?

Friday, August 03, 2012

"Six Degrees" - four years on

A highly recommended read
I read this book back in 2008, it details the likely world changes from global warming, degree by degree, based on a wealth of scientific papers and on computer models. It was terrifying enough back then but with recent news from Greenland and drought-struck mid-west US, following predictions in “Six Degrees,” combined with the CO2 figures and 1.5 degree global warming figure it's even more so now. Gloom and doom it may be, but it's been one of the things that spurs me on to get involved in looking for eco-solutions. We may not even have decades before we slide the past the point of no return towards mass extinction. What will it take to make us change the way we live? I never had any hope that there would be top-down solutions from politicians and multi-national corporations - the real power is within each of us waking up, reading, thinking, talking, making new friends and acting wherever we find ourselves.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Greening the desert - amazing!

This is a film that Steve Jones often shows on permaculture courses, it never fails to get a few jaws dropping. Geoff Lawton shows how Forest Gardening and permaculture principles were used to create lush vegetation in a dry, salty and very hot situation.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weeding fields and orchard care

Wes, Ruth, Tom and Bob on the tractor weeding the meadows
 A shot from a few weeks ago - weeding Treflach's meadows by hand before the harvest. There's a huge variety of plants in the fields which makes for rich haylage for winter feeding. There's also docks, thistles, ragwort etc which we don't want, very satisfying to remove these by hand rather than by spraying. Fortunately we've had a few rare dry days here and the harvest is pretty much in after much frantic activity.
Ducks enjoying our work in the orchard
We've also been busy in the orchard looking after the trees and also the forest garden edge planted during previous Forest Gardening courses. Very interesting to see how much the ducks are enjoying rootling about in the fresh mulch - I hadn't thought of them as woodland creatures at all.
Starting a bed for perennials around the base of one of the apple trees. 
This is an experiment we're trying, making a bed around the base of one of the apple trees for perennials starting with cardboard and horse manure. We plan to plant it up with herbs, maybe a small bush or two and also a climber, kiwi fruit perhaps, to build up diversity and yields and also to help to feed the tree. I'm wondering if this could apply to Janet and Clive's olives...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Courses and Events here at Treflach Farm

Lots happening here on the farm... I'm very excited to be teaching our first Forest Gardening course here, packing it full with talks, slideshows, film clips - including some jaw-dropping stuff on Forest Gardening's powerful application worldwide. Lots of hands on practise of the skills you need as well as observation of a wide variety of woodland here, from ancient Bluebell Wood to the orchard we are renovating. Not to be missed!
Also check out our ENERGY DAY - energy descent, solar, thermal, small scale hydro and an on site demo of anaerobic digestion by Methanogen AND our mini festival, FANDANGO FARM, if you've been rained off other festivals come here for family fun for all - hopefully in the dry!



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Earth Sheltered Caravan - suggestions please!

EarthVan - warm air ducted from polytunnel/conservatory to heat sinks beneath caravan
We are hoping to get our caravan out of the barn here soon onto a patch of land beside the orchard. Then we are planning to use some of Mike Reynold's Earthship ideas amongst others to keep warm - it's the EarthVan. The ground will have to be levelled anyway so we thought we could do a bit more digging and make heat sinks to store warm air harvested from a polytunnel/conservatory/greenhouse structure to the front of the caravan.

How big should we make the heat sinks? And what's the best material to use for them?  Rubble? Bottles? If anyone has any experience of anything like this any tips would be welcome.

Also, we are planning to use fans to duct the air from the top of the polytunnel section down into the heat sinks, powered by a PV panel - any tips on what specifications for the fans, panel and ducts would work best would be greatly appreciated.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Treflach Polytunnel Renovation

Amongst many other jobs here at Treflach Farm, we've been really busy in the polytunnel. Back in January it was beginning to look as if "it had seen better times" as my folks would have said. We put on new doors and took out the old sleepers which gave off an over-powering smell of tar in any heat let alone any leaching. We're making the new beds so that they sit level on the tunnel's 1:10 slope in a kind of cascading terrace arrangement. Lots of stuff growing already...

"seen better days..."
New doors...
...and out with the old creosote-minging sleepers
Bye for now old creosote-minging sleepers - a new role awaits you in the pig field
The first new bed, much narrower for easy access
...and in a cascading terrace kind of arrangement on the 1:10 slope
It's always nice to get another use out of something - here an old drawer front fills up a gap
Lots of stuff growing already
with plenty more seedlings waiting for space
Wes and Ruth celebrating the first completed row

Orchard Renovation

 It's lovely to see the blossom coming out in the orchard and especially pleasing to see the tree in the middle of the picture below sprouting away happily as we gave it a radical prune in the winter and wondered if it would come away at all. Well done that tree!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Life on the Farm...

Here's a few photos of everyday life on the farm, (one of them has been photoshopped a wee bit, I wonder which one??)  Living and working on the farm is going really well, above all it's a great bunch of people to be with... with or without Billy Gibbons...
Billy Gibbons looks in at the farm butchery to give advice on how to make sausage rolls and wear two hats at once
Settling in to the caravan...
...and very comfy it is too
We've been spending time getting the polytunnel and veg garden going again
Polytunnel with its new door fiitted
Fixing up the gate into the veg garden... it's a bit different to repairing guitars
Ruth's been very busy working on the veg beds
Ruth's helpers
Great to be renovating the orchard...
...high level pruning by Wes
The oldest part of the farm, the farmhouse itself, dates back to the 1600's or earlier and the rest of the farm has been built up around it since then, so there's endless repairs to be done as well as new work re-rigging the farm for the transition to sustainable living
The endless repairs leave us with this kind of multi-material situation
Collecting sticks from around the edge of one of the fields so that they won't damage the grass cutters - just a few issues to think about there...
The guys putting up the massive solar array on the roof of what will be the bunkhouse - now generating about 17kw on average, about a third of the farms electricity usage
After all the work time for a party in the newly refurbished collecting yard/surf shack - thanks for the beer Ian :-)) !!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Permaculture Design Course, Treflach May 2012

We're hosting the fourth full two-week residential Permaculture Design course with Steve Jones and the Sector39 team here at the farm 13th to26th May. The Treflach PDC's have all been brilliant, spaces are limited though so check it out and book soon!


Thursday Group - Meditation, Healing, Global Awareness

If you don't already know it, I started this group a while ago now. I host it every Thursday evening from 9.00pm to 9.30pm, it grew out of my own extraordinary experiences of giving distant therapy treatments which I couldn't explain with current science and would often frustratingly be dismissed as "woo-woo".
The group sessions are a time just to chill out deeply and meditate or to receive some healing energy. Also, I want to explore the realms of intuition, global awareness and the evolution of our consciousness. I think answers to our world problems are most likely to come from each of us tuning in to an inner intuitive space where we are all connected. 
The group sessions get more interesting all the time, more about it all on the Facebook Thursday Group page. And have a look at the separate page for the group here on this blog. There's suggestions there of how to get ready to join in with the group.

Today's woo-woo is tomorrow's technology...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good news at Lammas re building control

from the Lammas newsletter:
It seems that there may be a solution emerging in the stand-off between Tir-Y-Gafel residents and Pembrokeshire County Council Building Control department.
Following much work from both sides, on Monday 23rd January at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court the Council agreed that Paul and Hoppi Wimbush (of plot 6) were now fully compliant with Building Regulations and all charges against them were dropped.
Schedules of works for the other two plots with legal charges against them (Simon Dale and Jasmine Saville of plot 7, Katy Taggart and Leander Wolstenholme of plot 2) have been agreed and should residents adhere to the timescales (aiming for resolution of all outstanding issues by May 2012) then the Council has indicated that charges against these two families will also be dropped.
It was recognised in Court by the Council that the Lammas project is pioneering new ground and that special consideration was required in how Building Regulations were applied to low-impact development given the use of raw natural materials and innovative solutions being adopted by such projects.
Great! common sense at last...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Gentle Revolution

"Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong." (Lao Tzu)
Amidst all the trouble and turmoil in the world, there's a gentle revolution that’s been growing for a long time.  I guess it’s a personal individual revolution for all involved, for me it’s about:
Respect for all life and all things.
Developing our intuition, thinking for ourselves and making our individual choices inspired by a global understanding – no more “us and them”, just “us”.
Going against the flow, peacefully: giving as little energy as possible to all the top-down power structures we have allowed:  the corporatocracy, the religions and all those authorities who tell us what to do, to think, to buy... The only sensible progress is going to be made from the roots up. 
Earth profit, does the Earth profit in anyway from having us humans around?
Frugality – there’s an extraordinary period ahead as we move into a world of less and less abundant and more expensive energy and materials. The more frugal we are the more resilient we will be and the easier it will be to recreate local abundance and share our Earth’s resources fairly.
Access to land – you don’t have to own it! Farmers and growers, particularly those operating on a small scale, really need your help and you can share in the harvest. Or do some guerrilla gardening on your local waste land.
Quality – and another thing... here comes a rant... I’m so fed up of the general poor quality of the stuff people are conned into buying, eg furniture that is made so shoddily out of such poor materials that it can barely hold together long enough to be taken to the skip. I fixed up a chest of drawers yesterday that was probably made fifty years ago and is now good for another fifty – how much of that chipboard and MDF rubbish will last that long? It just isn’t repairable or fit for its purpose, in fact its just crap.
Open mindedness – looking for the potentially positive in unexpected places – I’m surprised at how dismissive some people are of some of the phenomena I’ve experienced myself, energy work such as homeopathy, distant healing, working with the body’s energy, chi kung and so on. Our understanding of the world is continually developing, nothing is fixed, yesterday’s magic is tomorrow’s technology.
Working together effectively involves a deep inner journey towards a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we relate with others, understanding the influences that shape our lives, family life, astrological influences. If you have the opportunity to do any inner work, like CranioSacral Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Shamanic work - grab it and grow.I've seen enough projects flounder because of clashing personalities.
And don't forget to have fun!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I’ve realised recently what good advice my intuition has been giving me all my life, a shame I haven’t listened to it very often. It’s as if there’s been two forces acting on me, the pressure to conform to expectations and the status quo’s definitions of success, worthwhile ways to spend your time, the world of competition, materialism and consumerism – the other force is that inner voice gently insisting that all that stuff is bollocks. Now I’m wondering if intuition and the development of a global awareness go hand in hand. I have a vision of a world where we have an intuitive insight into what’s going on for everyone in the world and for all forms of life and make our own decisions about what to do with our time based on that global understanding.
If you feel something similar why not join in with the Thursday Group this evening.