Sunday, 27 April 2014

On stopping haivering. (Subtext - Aye right, like that's an option)

I don't take my dog by rail, but I do often take him to work. He's well versed in flowers after all.
A happy good day to you. Its been a pondersome week in the McFlowers household, so you'll excuse the reflective thoughts, but you might be surprised that I do have them. I've been pondering the fate of my blog and haivers once we've flitted 'sooth' and things like 'taking your dog on a train' becomes an actual option. 

Regarding the blog, do I keep going, do I stop, do I restart a new blog or do I just abandon all heart and give your poor eyeballs a rest? I just don't know. Now those of you who are fortunate enough to have only recently discovered my haivers, may not know that this blog use to have a different name. It use to be called 'The Wind and the Willows', no offence to the original fine book by Kenneth Grahame, but I use to work in a willow plot and its a tad windy up here. Hence the play of words. So in a ponderous mood, I took myself and the hounds up to the plots where I spent many a long hour for 4 years doing researching the botanical, environmental and practical merits of willow (Salix sp.), all 13 hybrid clones of them, were indeed a viable SRC biomass fuel crop for Orkney.
SRC willow bundles and crop in Orkney.
It's funny going back into an 'old' part of your life isn't it, its like a dream somehow, whilst I have a lab coat and everything, so I know I didn't make it up. The children also shudder when the words 'can you help in the willow plots today' is mentioned, so I guess it was a real 'family' experience! Whilst the willow crops aren't having so much active research at the moment, they're still there sitting overlooking Kirkwall growing away being measured and recorded and pondered still. These particular plots are cut on a short cropping cycle, (hence the name) so it gets from ground level (10 cm) to 5m in about 3 years, multiple stems mean that you get alot of 'wood crop' from a small area, in America is has the nickname 'Silage wood' which is kind of appropriate I think. In fact they reckon the average UK household's entire energy use could come from a 0.7ha area, although in Orkney and the windier isles of Scotland, that's more likely nearer 1 ha, due to reduced (but remarkably good) yields and increased need for heat in more isolated households. 
SRC willow Kirkwall, Muddisdale.
So those of us who have solid fuel stoves would also do well to grow some around the edges of our plots to supplement the fuel we use quite nicely. I think realistically that's how it will work best in Orkney where wood is so scarce, its like, erm, well, wood really. And, to be honest in many other gardens I think the addition of a wood patch/willow or other suited species coppice would really help reduce our dependency on external fuels if you have a stove. Its also a rather brilliant windbreak and establishes quickly in even the windiest of spots. OK so the yields aren't as good as some more sheltered mainland areas, but lets face facts, Orkney isn't exactly forested is it? So a quick growing wood crop which is good for birds, wildlife and warms your toes, gets my vote for small scale production. Peedie of course concurs, he's a solid botanical research sort (in more ways than one) but he doesn't like to talk about his ACTUAL research much, people tend to glaze over when he talks about plants (again) and how fabulous they are (again). I know that feeling well!
Three year old SRC in Orkney, around 5m tall.
Its also quite nice to be able walk about thinking and also to get under a canopy too. Doesn't happen here that much. Whilst I pondered on and said hello to all 13 hybrids, yes by name, I still rather remarkably know them all, the hounds plodded about. Peedie (a much experienced SRC biomass research hound) was not as excited as Haggis, this being his first time to a full sized research plot. However, they both agreed that whilst they liked the taller willow, it was much easier to chase rabbits and voles in the newly cut back plots and oyster catchers and bark at noisy skylarks. 
Hounds of biomass research, chasing rabbits and the indigenous Orkney vole.
They chased and I pondered some more. I began writing this blog, on finding out I was diagnosed with dyslexia, it was a bit of 'therapy' during my thesis writing (yes it exists, not for the faint hearted but an excellent sleep antidote) to help me just write and to come to terms with things I'd not quite fathomed, like why I haivered (yes really) and why I couldn't really read very well outloud, so I 'came clean'. Yes poor reader it was 'recommended' that I write to help get the word out, which as it proved was a great therapy for me, not so good I'm afraid for your eyeballs. So whilst it began as a 'Wind and the Willows' it mutated happily into 'The Wind and the Wellies' as more of our home life was nattered about and wellies feature as prominently as the wind here. 

Seemed to make sense, as chooks and cooking and other life surprises emerged, happily chittering about them on here has become a way of life. So does that stop when we move? Does the blogging stop when we move? I hope not. Its become a nice way of documenting things and a lovely way to connect with people.
Einstien and the lasses
Like I say its been a reflective week and often I get the chance to go and say hello to my chooks, who now live over in a large garden in the west mainland of Orkney with a friend. 
The flock and a runner duck, runner not rubber.
There is no garden at the current wee house (which I know is a travesty, but needs must when young ladies need access to school buses). I also do a fair bit of gardening through work so it wasn't all sacrifice. However the chooks did go and live elsewhere and whilst I know they are happy, I miss them and try and peek at them (like a mad chicken stalker lady) once a week or so. Einstien (probably the daftest cockeral in the world) still guards his ladies, and tips his head in a wee nod when I pop by.
 
As you can see they're very happy, they've inherited an Indian Runner duck as a chum and clearly like a good game of footy too. I'm glad to see them so happy, whilst we'll have new chooks when we relocate, these are staying here, happy in their lovely home. And I know one day we'll get back to our own version of 'Free range living' which is just great. Whilst I'll miss Orkney dreadfully, and our adventures, I'm looking forward to hens and a garden and beaches and all the things we have here, just closer to family and some old friends.

Enough of these haivers and my revisiting old haunts and chooks, my main thread of thought, was regarding keeping the blog?  

I'm swapping one set of coastline for another. One part of windy Scotland for another equally windy region. One set of living for another, which will have an ample garden for frolicks and exploits, a kitchen to cook in and a fire to feed with wood. And of course, there will always be wellies.

As we've just put in an offer on a wee hoose, in the East Neuk of Fife, (home to fine beaches, food (the best fish and chips in the UK) and many bonnie gardens) I hope the answer is yes you'll join us on that particular adventure too when it gets finalised? I hope you might.

In the mean time, its a packing and working and decluttering frenzy here. Who'd have known I was so good at yielding a cloot when I needed too? And I could actually take the lid off a tub of brasso if needed? Not me. But I won't be adding handle polishing to my CV anytime soon, its hard work!
A handle from an old 14 drawer dresser rescued from The Commercial Hotel, Stromness which might have been a 'sweetie' cupboard a long time ago in a sweet making shop.
Newly polished handle, awaiting removal so I can sand the drawers (did I say there are 14 of them?) - I may be some time.
And, so if none of you object, I've a mind too, if I may, to keep on going and keep on haivering? There is likely to be more gardening right enough, but the same amount of stomping on beaches and frenzied scoffing I'm sure.

I've met some fabulous friends doing this haivering malarkay and quite frankly I'd like to keep them.

Anyways, as if I'd be able to stop. 

Haivering that is.

29 comments:

  1. As a haiverer-in-training, I can only recommend that you continue! During our move in the opposite direction, I found that posting was useful in organising thoughts that were otherwise frazzled by the uber-chaos of transplanting our lives. And though Our Lass was 'conveniently' absent for all the packing, our girls were a great help, making sure their old dad was ok. And this despite all those years of "Are you coming to help on the allotment?"

    I really appreciated the willow facts, many thanks, as it has dawned upon me that planting a bazillion willows in the garden is only the beginning. There's all that maintenance and coppicing to consider. Eep!

    Good Luck with the move!

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    1. Depends on the willows you've got (I think you've the bonnie 'hookers' Salix, which is slower but robust. Should you ever wish to be thoroughly put to sleep and consider energy type hybrid clones, there's a few decent thesi (theses? or is it more like 'mice'?) about on the subject/spacing etc in Orkney. I'm not sure if you've a stove or not but tis a guy useful crop. Thank you for the kind words, from my own point of view, the consistency of 'life' is important ( just like children will always have chores.)

      Thank you for those words, and the good luck. There's absolutely ages yet.

      At least a month.

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  2. Don't stop! I don't often comment but I love following your blog. Karen x

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    1. Aw thanks Karen that's lovely. Nice to know you're reading my haivers.:)

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  3. No you cant stop! I dont get you into my feeds now but I often come a searching.

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    1. Thanks Cheri - the feeds thing has gone a bit bonkers eh?

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  4. I don't "follow", am not a "member", but I check in (virtually) every day, to see if there's a new post. I really enjoy your words. Please don't stop.

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    1. Helen how lovely and so nice of you to say. I'm glad you enjoy the haivers. Nice to meet you on here.

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  5. I only found you about a month ago - but I don’t care whether you are in Orkneys or Fife.(I love the East Neuk) You write well and have something to say - in my book that is worth reading.

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    1. Thank you Lizzi - that's lovely of you to say too - what a kind bunch you are. And, if I'm writing on here, I'm probably letting my poor families ears be.

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  6. Definitely continue. That's the great thing about a blog, it moves and evolves with you. Good luck with the move.

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    1. Jo (my and my daughters middle name after my dear Grannie too) - it does evolve doesn't it. We have a house offer in and are awaiting with trepidation the outcome. Won't it be fun if it all comes off?

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  7. Don't you dare stop blogging, how else will I know what you do with your new garden and how quickly you get hens and whether you grow willow, and what the new local beach is like... Love the shiny handle.

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    1. I do like a shiny handle - remind me never to renovate an 18 drawer dresser again. So much brass.

      There will indeed be willow, there are a cluster of several magnificent beaches around the East Neuk (nearest one to the potential new house, 2.5 miles) hen house been donated for my birthday (YAY) and hens will be moving into it as soon as we have the keys.

      So far I can report in pots waiting to move we have

      a walnut
      A pink berried rowan
      several bare rooted canes of autumn fruiting rasps (see next post)
      Alpine strawberries
      Gingko tree

      :)

      2.5 miles inland is a saving for the garden and the salt winds and gives us a radius of several beaches to choose from

      :)

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  8. You must carry on I would love to see that area again. Having spent two weeks there with friends, near to Pittenween. In anycase you could always send the girls to St Andrews and maybe they would meet a Prince.

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    1. Peedie (the elder hound) has a posh name of 'Prince Broon Tam o' the Isles'. So we DO have a Prince in our family already :)

      Pittenweem is one of the nearest villages to our potential new house. So bonnie.

      St Andrews a favourite haunt from childhood where my Grandpa kept his boats.

      When we've moved I promise to show you more of it.

      Thank you for posting.

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  9. Please don't stop blogging; I wholeheartedly enjoy your writing. It is so real and full of humor and honesty. As you know, I have just done a bit of soul-searching on this myself. For myself, I have benefited greatly from a healthy dose of encouragement from fellow bloggers and I hope the same will be for you. I am impressed with your polishing abilities and think the cupboard handle looks fabulous. I wish you luck with the remaining ones. and please keep writing. :)

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    1. Thanks JTS - firstly the polishing - a fine way to start a saturday night! The blogging - its funny isn't it things change and you don't know quite where you'll go next. Some feedback at interviews recently told me I was 'not as horticulturally focussed as I could be'. Whilst I know I don't write that often these days on here about plants and growing its in my core - so I think that has really made me think. Thank you for taking the time to pop by I know we're all busy with our lives buts lovely when we can. You'll LOVE our new area - so many beaches and interesting parts to it - my first purchase is a large OS map of the area and to start exploring.

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  10. I commented on another of your blogs about also moving house and garden shortly, and wondered the same thing about my blog. I am going to keep going, I enjoy it. I will change the name slightly, but by moving to a new garden it will give a wealth of new subjects to post about. I hope you will keep going too, I enjoy your posts, blethers and insights :)

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    1. Thank you QB and I hope you have a good adventure and safe move too. Looking forward to your new chapter.

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  11. You must continue. Think of all the new adventures that we need to share! Love your blog :-)

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    1. Aw luffy - your blog greets my eyes most mornings with delish treats - promise me you'll not stop either!

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  12. Late to the party here, but just remember, I know where you live (Yes, and where you're GOING to live), and if you seriously contemplate stopping blogging, I can come right up there and superglue pens to your fingers until you look like a rather more inky version of Edwards Scissorhands! ;-)

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    1. Oh dear to inky edward paws. I'll set the Haggis on ya! And thank you. Not long til your adventure to the lands of the western isles too - looking forward to the posts.

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