This one came as a surprise to Her Outdoors the other day. “I want to find a new orchid”, she said to herself. Then looked into the woods and saw, not one of the orchids we’ve been waiting for, but our very own Greater Butterly Orchid:

I couldn’t wait for a Bee Orchid to show up. So I nipped across the road at the top of our drive and shot this one. I think it’s quite nice:

(Oh, I never explained the change of format for the photos.)

Been away from the confuser for a while, so these piccies are a little late.

To give you some idea how close to Orchid Central we are, this sign was nailed to our postbox a few weeks ago:

Recent additions to our own collection include the White Helleborine:

And the Pyramid Orchid:

We’re still waiting for two Her Outdoors remembers seeing last year. I’ll keep you posted.

The orchids are back. So far, between the tractor and the veggie patch, we’ve found these (shot like this for reasons that will become clear when you see the website):

Early purple orchid:

Lady orchid:

Fly orchid:

Burnt orchid:

I’ll keep you posted as the others come up.

Here they are:

And this is what they’re doing:


I took a camera down to the vallee this morning.

Everything seemed to be all white.

Yesterday, after my second full day of strimming, I lay in a half-damp hammock and realised I was too tired to walk across the field to retrieve an empty petrol can and a bucket.

But I did.

Because I also had to feed the chickens, put them to bed, feed the pigs, tidy up some electric fencing, and walk home, to cook dinner for everyone and I’ve forgotten what else.

Today, all I had to do was take a yurt from the trailer in the car park (trailer park would be more accurate right now) to the field at the bottom, by hand (you’ll know how far this is when you come), put it together, then have a meeting with the Entire Council, (more on this, later – I’m too tired right now), and feed the animals, put them to bed, walk home and cetera.

It’s Extremely Likely I’ll be in bed before ten for the second night running – and not for the right reasons – we’re both far, far too tired for that.

I just have the energy to leave you with the Monumental News that, finally, to the surprise of chickens, pigs, horse and, to a degree ourselves (although, to be fair, I’m only adding this, as you may realise, in a half-hearted attempt at creating a sentence with more commas in than others on this blog), there is a yurt in écovallée. It’s a beautiful thing.

Read a couple of amusing bullet points (in a very American book called: “You can farm”) the other day. They were, and remain:
o Unseasonably wet or unseasonably dry is normal, not exceptional.
o “Normal” weather is exceptional.

So I bring news that a period of normal weather has filled up a Very Deep hole on our land…

Showed us where the lower points are in the long field…

And identified a good spot for a ditch, which I will dig as soon as exceptional weather returns…

In other news, the mayor is coming to see écovallée on Thursday, so I’ve just booked two of the main benefits in having a job – days off.

The chickens have grown:

And happily free-range in the chicken run/orchard meadow:

Which comes complete with its own orchid:

(One of seven different types Her Outdoors has found in écovallée this Spring.)

The pigs have grown:

And still plough into food as though they’ve never seen it before:

The veggies are growing:

(These beds account for the majority of our work right now. It’s hard. But it’ll never be this hard again.)

And yesterday, we started our rainy day project, which involves turning this shabby old caravan:

Into a wet-weather heaven for kids.

Working with wood is a bit like reincarnation. If you don’t get it right the first time (and that’s assuming there is such a thing as a ‘right’, which I won’t go into here – it upsets people), you can always go back and have another go.

For instance, I put this gate up yesterday:

Looks OK from a distance. A bit of a gap on the right. But let me… No, I won’t even begin to tell you how much hassle I had with these hinges:

So today I went back with these hinges:

And had a much, much easier and more satisfying time:

The real beauty of it is, I know the next gate’ll be even better.

Even though we have nothing on paper, it finally feels like we’re going to get this project on the ground. Which means we haven’t been completely wasting our time putting up a polytunnel:

Digging our first veggie beds:

Thinking of a way we can use the water that appears at the bottom of Pepito’s field, flows along under the blackthorn, and disappears into a hole in the ground that, bizarrely, we don’t own:

Or getting a job. Like I just did (more on this, later).