We’ve had a couple of boosts this last week. First, we seem to have found enthusiastic allies for the forest garden project; the manager of an award-winning and royally-patronised permaculture project in Burnley (and his wife) are secret forest garden enthusiasts and want to get right into our project. Apparently, when they teach permaculture, there’s a special section emphasising the match between this region and forest gardens. He didn’t have time, at our first meeting, to say why. My task, now, is to produce some introductory material that can be used to explain the project and get these and others engaged.

The other news is that the Earthship is taking off. The project folk and their architect have decided we’re their best bet and so have arranged a presentation session to the local council for three of us. We may actually hit the deadline for a plan by June.

Tomorrow, Kevin and I are making new, temporary doors for the barn. The final, beautiful entrance is still way over the design horizon; I just want secure doors that can be opened to let machinery through. Hence, these will be three-quarter ply over a timber frame and, at 3.3 by 1.2 metres each, I’m glad of Kevin’s help in making and lifting them. Trying to think of a paint colour that’ll look good with the blackened stone of the barn’s exterior, maybe a smoke grey. I suggested to Monica that we get Gary to paint a trompe l’oeil as if they’re half-open with boxes of tools and a bicycle just inside. My ear still stings.

Herself has just returned from a visit to Todmorden Bee Club’s hives and a couple of hours of Breton dancing with Kevin. They both have stiff shoulders so they were competing to be at the end of the line. I had a lazy afternoon tidying the shed and getting a keg of beer brewing.

It’s odd not to have tree planters here at the weekends; it’s quiet without them. Only one more session from them, when they’ll be tidying up and mulching some that the kids missed. There are still a few dozen trees in the back alley that should be planted out or heeled in. I’d hate to see them die so, when the doors are done, I’ll swipe what’s left and plant them as boundary and buffer trees.

Did I mention that the grazier has tried to swipe Ralph’s (and thus our) rights to EC grants? We put in our claim and were told someone else had claimed them for years. We have Ralph’s affidavit that he did not gift or lease them with the grazing and, after giving the guy a fair chance to put things straight, have asked the Rural Payments Agency to investigate. You have to be on top of your game at this farming lark.

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