Aha Me Hearties!

Today we had a pirate themed birthday party for Toby who’ll be 7 on Thursday. The kids all had a go helping to rebuild the pirate ship tree house that had fallen into disrepair since being built a few years ago.

Dave brought down a trailer load of larch off cuts that he’d sawn up for making Thunderbox Compost Toilets and we all set to work throughout the day to start the rebuild. It was great to see so many little hands on deck helping to create the structure in between pirate themed play – including voluntarily walking the plank!

I certainly learnt a bit about woodwork and construction and I think the kids came away with a good experience. Hopefully we’ll be able to finish it soon and I can post pictures of the finished ship.


Astrology Affects the Yield of Shiitake Mushrooms



Here at Middle Ruckham Farm we schedule tasks in the garden according to the Biodynamic Calender mainly as a handy way to work out what tasks to prioritise on each day. Dave has observed that cutting the lawn on a Flower Day means it grows back much slower than if it is done on a Leaf Day and that the bees here are much more docile on Flower Days than any other so there seems to be something interesting going on with this system.

I decided to do a little internet research to see if any observations or experiments had been done with Biodynamics and mushroom growing and came across a very interesting article that seems to give some strong evidence in favour of doing mushroom inoculation on Flower Days to gain an increased yield. So I am posting the link below for you to read and I hope to experiment myself over time to see what observations I can make.

‘Astrology Affects the Yield of Shiitake Mushrooms’ by Michael Barreto, Ph.D

Not to bee…

This morning whilst adding more weeds to the compost pile I heard a very loud humming that I quickly guessed was the sound of thousands of bees who had decided to leave with their queen to find a new home. The bees had become a swarm that was looking to start a new colony.

Me and Dave got some protective suits on and Dave set to work catching a group that had settled on a near by small Oak tree, that had been kept from growing by constant nibbling from sheep, in the hope of relocating them into a new hive. Unfortunately it seems that there was no queen within this relatively small mass of bees – it is possible that what I heard was the main swarm leaving to find their own new home and what we found on the little Oak was the last remaining bees who hadn’t left with the main swarm. So a short while later it was clear the bees that Dave moved had returned back to the original hive where they and a new queen should set to work doing what bees do best.

It is a little bit of a shame that we couldn’t catch the swarm but I like to think that as I write this they are settling in for their first night in a lovely new home as the beginnings of a wild colony.

Go well bees and I wish you all a happy life in the Devon countryside.

Here is a series of photos I took of Dave relocating the bees we found to a new hive…

A Sunday Stroll

This morning I left the farm to explore the wider world surrounding us at Middle Ruckham. The sun was smiling down on the earth and some old Oak trees gave me a little shade to rest under briefly. I waved and said hello to the few people I met who were all smiling as brightly as the sun and I watched a buzzard gracefully glide down into a tree top beside a field. I kept climbing higher into the landscape and after an hour I came to a low hedge and was presented with this beautiful view…

Devon Hills

Settling in at Middle Ruckham Farm


My first week WWOOFing at Middle Ruckham Farm has flown by and been thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve been helping harvest salad, clearing areas of jungle-like polytunnels and planted a new rose bush hedge yesterday which will be lovely to see when it matures.

I’ve greatly enjoyed spending time with the family here and meeting other interesting folk who work or visit here. I certainly feel I’ve found the right place to be where I can learn about so many of the things that I’m interested in at this stage of my journey and also feel that my contributions are valued.

I’m going to find my camera charger this weekend and start taking some photos of the beautiful land here as well as some before and after shots of some of the work I’m doing here. I look forward to sharing these.

My year is just about to blossom…

apple Blossom


This time tomorrow I will be settling in to my new home on the beautiful Middle Ruckham Farm in Devon. I see so many opportunities ahead of me and feel so grateful to have found this place and the people there. I look forward to giving my energy to the work on the farm and am excited about all the space I’ve been given to experiment with growing mushrooms.

It feels like my year is just about to blossom…


Reading The Landscape



I’ve just had a thoroughly wonderful weekend back at Ragmans Farm on a course with Patrick Whitefield called ‘Reading The Landscape’. I learnt so much about what plants and landscape features can tell the informed observer – from historical land-use to soil ecology and so much more. It was truly inspiring to absorb Patrick’s considerable knowledge on this subject and equally stimulating to meet and talk with the other course participants. Once again being at Ragmans felt like the place I was meant to be and seeing people who I met on my Permaculture Design Course with Patrick last year was like being reunited with family. Having now attended two courses at Ragmans and having lived there for nearly 6 months I feel I’ve gained a deep connection with the land and I look forward to developing that further in the future.

One of many fantastic experiences from this weekend was being asked to give a short talk about mushroom cultivation and having a number of people from the group telling me they are keen to give it a go. I look forward to helping them with that and learning from their experiences. Through my enthusiasm for talking to everyone about fungi (which I was encouraged to do I might add!) I earned myself the name “Chrishroom” which I was very pleased with.

Many thanks go to Patrick for sharing his knowledge, experience and passion, to Morwenna for keeping us all nourished with good food and to all the course participants who shared this experience with me. Lastly, thanks to all at Ragmans Farm for giving us the opportunity to learn in such a beautiful and interesting landscape. Blessings on you all.


Two short poems

Tracebridge wood

A few days ago I sat down to write a bit of poetry after getting a very positive response to my post ‘Observe and learn from the land’. I decided that I would use the Lune form which follows a pattern of 3 words/5 words/3 words or breaks down a total of thirteen syllables into a structure of 5/3/5 – which may make a lot more sense if you read what I produced.

I found having a short and set form to be a good way of focusing my energy and not getting lost in the world of a blank page. I wrote down quite a few but here are two I’d like to share and that represent the two different ways of writing a Lune I attempted to explain above:


Give your gifts,

Waste not your beautiful dreams.

You are rich.


The forest whispers;

“Come inside”

“We shall heal our wounds”


Love and Light-up

Hemp plant growing with a nitrogen fixing layer of clover beneath

The War on Drugs, or more accurately The War on People Who Use Certain Drugs, has and continues to destroy so many people’s lives – but it seems the situation is finally shifting. Cannabis legalisation is now a fledgling reality in two US states and in Uruguay and today many thousands of people will gather to light up together in public parks across the world in an act of super chilled-out civil disobedience.

The effort to control and conquer the use of drugs in society has resulted in criminalising millions of people and is perpetuating an ever increasing cycle of violence and suffering and I think its time to seriously talk about this and collectively find a new approach.

Here is an enlightened article called ‘Gateway drug, to what?’ written by Charles Eisenstein on this subject that I feel is an important contribution to a constructive conversation on drugs in society.

There is a Spanish translation of the article.


Observe and learn from the land

I’ve been thinking a lot about how doing more creative and artistic things could be a benefit to me. Writing some poetry is currently on the forefront of my mind especially after receiving a daily dose from Tigers Dancing. Then I remembered a poem I wrote whilst doing an exercise named ‘Listening to the Landscape’ during my Permaculture Design course last year. At the end of the session we were invited to do something creative inspired by an hour spent observing a particular piece of land.

Its not a masterpiece but it flowed out of me quite spontaneously after that session and invokes in me many of the feelings of connection I experienced on the course and I’d like to share it:


At first this land might not seem much

but look a little closer.

Clear your mind

like a long exhale

and breathe in slowly, deeply.


Absorb all this land has to show you.


From birds and bees

to plants and trees.

Many functions,

many features.


Take the time to really listen.

For this land has much to teach us.


View down to Ragmans Lane Farm