The snow a few days ago didn’t lend itself to photos. This morning was different, though. Everywhere looks beautiful:

snow branches

snowler shower


toilet & shower


play yurt


snow yurts


snow yurt


snow path


There are a few more on a facebook album, with captions.


Like many people across Europe, we’ve had some snow. Which means work on the tree bog has stopped for a few days (the uprights are cut, stripped and ready to go in)…

…and work thawing out pipes and carrying water for animals has started. Here were the pigs this morning:

And the chickens, who are naturally too chicken to come out:

And here’s a long shot of Pepito:

Not sure what the snow will do for the crop we’re growing…

…we’ll have to wait and see.

I nearly always forget to take proper “Before” shots before (ahem) starting a new project. But I always, always regret it. “Before” is not a moment that can ever be recaptured in all its natural glory.

For example, long-term readers may remember this shot from way back in November 2007, nearly before work on the orchard began:

Here’s the orchard today (“After” shots are easy):

Complete with new dividing fence which means we can rest the ground every six months to help keep the chickens healthy:

More recent readers may remember this shot from last November, almost-before I let the pigs into a new piece of woodland:

And here’s what the pigs have done to it after almost exactly two months:

Even more recent readers may have seen this shot of the field from just over a month ago, not very before the triticale we hand-planted started poking through the soil:

And this is what it looked like shortly after noon today:

But this is the reason for today’s blog post – a genuine, bona fide “Before” shot of the new Tree Bog:

Now all I’ve got to do is build it.

That Was The Week That Was…

A week for making a tyre swing (US: tire swing):

Some planky bits:

Stepping stones (made out of wood):

A climbing frame-ladder-thing:

And a very long trench in very dry ground for water access to, and waste water from, the soon-to-be-installed solar shower:

This will be the week that will be installing that solar shower and doing some more filming with itv. Did I tell you we’re going to be on the telly? Can’t say much right now except I interview very badly. I babble. Who knew?

We’ve had some new arrivals this week. Nine babies in the bunny ward:

Eight chicks (with more on the way) on the other side of the orchard:

And these little pigs born off-site and safely delivered to the woods:

Note the high security fencing here, outside of which three strands of electric fence, outside of which will be stock fencing. We don’t have time to run through the woods chasing piglets this year. I would tell you more, but I don’t even have time to do that.

I’ve got to go and make dinner in a minute, so I’ll make this quick.

Here’s a shot of the treehouse I’ve been working on in the last couple of weeks for our kids:

Here’s a detail of what you can do with mid-20th-Century coping saw and absolutely no training ever (in the background you can see our straw-bale grey-water system for the kitchen waste):

This is what the sand filter looks like this evening:

With mud taken from what will be a reed bed, above the willow trench, for the soon-to-exist solar shower:

Overlooked from a distance by some Lady Orchids:

And from a longer distance by a bunch of Early Purples (that I keep calling Purple Sprouting) by the veggie patch:

At the opposite end of which are some of those Burnt Orchids “anonymous” was interested in:

Round the corner from a field Her Outdoors has hand-sown with animal-feed crops for the coming winter:

Here’s Luna, our probably pregnant bunny:

And Starsky, whose the daddy:

Near some guinea fowl you haven’t seen yet:

And it’d be rude not to publish a cheeky photo of my Silky cock:

Right. That’s it for now. Bye.

This is what I’ve been doing for the last two days with our new HelpXer:

I call it: “A path”.

On July 11th 2010, écovallée was open at last.

There’s that tractor I killed:

That mirror used to be in our yurt:

This guy can hardly draw at all:

Wait until you see the compost toilet. No, I mean it.

Here’s a shot of me just before the guest yurt arrived, preparing the site:

If you’ve read “Mongolian Cloud Houses” by Dan Frank Kuehn, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it bears a passing resemblance to page 62:

I forgive you. (See?)

Credit going where it deserves, I’d like to thank Dan for saving us hundreds of euros we don’t have, by demonstrating how a yurt platform can be made from earth. (I am convinced this is the building material of the future.) We did splash out a few euros on some sand to make it super flat, and we’ve topped it off with a plastic vapour barrier and some carpet, neither of which you can see in this shot:

Thanks also for giving me permission to use the image from his book. A bottle of something special will be waiting for you in écovallée any time, served in the kitchen on the right of this shot:

I love how the yurt sits into the hillside from this angle. Even though I say so myself, it’s superb.

The chickens have noticed a few changes since we moved onto the land full time. They enjoy even fresher cuisine.

Free range even more freely.

With access to ball sports.

Spend time with the dog.

Sleep in a newer, bigger, nearly finishter chicken house.

Just up from the chicken nursery.

Where five fluffy chicks (and hopefully more to follow) are now going cheep.