I love the idea of a “smallholding.” It’s a term still used in England, one I re-discovered while leafing through a favorite book the other day, The Freedom Manifesto by Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson (also love The Idler…). A smallholding is a modest parcel of land, usually just one-family’s-worth, that supports some farming and other self-sufficiency practices, perhaps a cottage industry, and–ideally–joyful, creative family life. “Smallholding” could easily be applied to a nicely-tended urban parcel. Here’s a bit of what’s going on at our smallholding this autumn.
This year’s cold summer didn’t deter the columnar apples. We’re having our best harvest ever from these funny little trees, and Claire has fun going out to pick the fruit for her lunch each morning:
Remember the Bicycle Pea Trellis? It is now surrounded by broccoli, and a few sugar pie pumpkins. I should pick the pumpkins and cook them up, but they are so pretty and look so autumnal out there, I just can’t quite bring myself to do it yet.
In another trellising experiment, this one feeding our souls rather than our stomachs, the passion vines we planted from seed took over the corkscrew willow branches (see link above), just as I hoped they would.
A late-but-plentiful blackberry season brought plenty of foraging, jam-making, and pie:
Among our new batch of young “spring chickens,” Ethel the barred rock was the first to start laying. They start with little tiny “beginner eggs,” very cute:
We continue our habit of sleeping outside through the summer and as far as we can into the fall before getting cold and miserable. The last couple of stormy nights have been a bit eventful, and we’ve had to put the rainfly on (so can’t see the trees and stars), but we love it out there:
There seems to have been a bread-baking hiatus over the summer, but we’re back to our good old Deep PB&J with walnut cider bread for school lunch:
And in the “merry olde England” spirit of a smallholding, we’ve been busy making our own fun. This summer Claire crafted a rather fancy hoop of PVC pipe decorated with colored tape, and all of us have been working on our hoopster moves:
I am writing with a light heart, but am feeling keenly that it’s no coincidence–is it?–that the call in our lives and communities to simple living coincides with a crisis in the industrial-economic-corporate complex. We join so many who are seeking to create and re-create ways of living that make common sense, and draw out our innate enthusiasm, vitality, and delight.
Anyway–that’s a bit of what’s going on around our place. We’d love to hear what’s happening at yours. What are your autumn pleasures?