Where there is a will there is a way

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just an observation

Just making banana cake today, and a stick blender, I was thinking about how much skill has travelled. We used to have to be very skilled users of simpler tools, and now the skill has shifted towards the makers of the tools. It's the same with movies, every area of our society-- watching a movie is very easy, and requires less imagination and participation from the watcher, but so much creativity and effort from the makers. I feel it all the time, driving around, watching my body weaken, and the bodies of others that are unhealthy at various degrees. We need exercise, and to feel proud of ourselves. People always dream of what they aren't getting enough of, wish for something different than they are experiencing. Island people want long for city life, English people want to experience tribal life. At this point in my modern, intensive-resource wasteful life, I wish for more effort and skill and pride.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Farm Through Time

I have wanted to blog about A farm through time for some time, illustrated by Eric Thomas, written by Angela Wilkes. I finally found this treasure again and scanned it in.

All the images are small "details", as I can't show the wide pages of the book here.

The book is meant to be about farming and how it has changed over time, but it has a very strong gleam of meaning about sustainable living. The book shows the same spot over the centuries, so you can see at a moment what took ages to experience. Some things are clearer at that speed as well. The first stage is "Clearing the land", 800 (England). We clear away forest to grow crops, and the forest provides building materials, fuel and many other things. We grow food on a farm surrounded by woodland. People rent land from a lord, who owns everything.

In the next stage, "Two hundred years later, the country looks much the same, but there are fewer trees." You can see stands of trees everywhere, and cleared areas. The lord cuts down trees at will to use. It's really interesting how they make their clothes from flax (linen) and sheep's wool and cook on a fire in the house. Lots of skilled work to do and everyone is working together.

"The farmer's wife spins the wool into coarse thread on a spindle, then weaves the thread into fabric on a big loom. The woollen fabric will make warm clothes and blankets. The girl is winding flax onto a distaff, ready to spin into fine linen thread. Underclothes are often made of linen as it is less scratchy than wool.

"Inside the house, a fire burns brightly on the stone hearth. The farmer's wife bakes flat loaves of bread for the family on the hot hearthstones. Meat and thick, filling soups are boiled in the pot hanging over the fire."

A few hundred years later, the men repair hawthorn hedges that line the fields, they've been there for hundreds of years but need to be reworked and repaired.

"The men are warm despite the bitter cold. Their homespun tunics and leggings are made from coarsely woven wool, held together with leather thongs. They wear stout leather boots and felt hats to keep their heads warm, and around their waists they carry leather flasks of ale for refreshment."

1300A new house is being built by the farmer, but unfortunately, "In the countryside beyond, most of the woodland has been cut down, but a few mature trees still grow in the hedgerows." So, what was once woodland remains in the cracks and grooves of the land.

Just that. A little gleam, the farmer becomes quite prosperous, the pages follow with illustrations of dairy farming, making cheese (in a press) and so on. Later with a soul-less flutter there is the tractor sitting there on the lonely farm and no more people. No community drinking ale and fixing the hedgerows!

Well, this is the way of life that our current way life is based upon. Just notice the trees.