Dear friends near and far away,
We have had a few months all to ourselves to enjoy the slow living and prepare for 2020, which has a lot of promises. As we started writing this letter of 2019, we were hoping for snow and even rain, we have had the driest year in the last 8 years and an unusually warm October and November. Now it looks like we are snowed in! Luckily we have enough homemade preserves from the garden, and whiskey and wine to keep us warm throughout the winter, thanks to dear friends who didn’t forget about us.
We tried to take things slowly in 2019 and focus on personal projects. We are grateful and content with how things went. Zsuzsi was in Finland until the end of May. Despite this we still had a very productive and beautiful garden, but much smaller than usual. You can take a glimpse at it here. We had less produce because of this, so we had to rely more on non-monetary exchanges with the neighbors and on foraging; this way we learnt more about wild edibles in the area. We experimented with a new type of corn, which wasn’t succesful, but we had succes with growing an old heirloom variety of green peppers. The lower garden was left to rest for the second year in a row, but thanks to very hardworking and determined volunteers, it is now ready with manure, mulch and compost, ready for the upcoming season. We experimented with new local mulching material, sheepwool.
The biggest project that we finished in 2019 was the new roof of the Little House, which we covered with recycled, handmade clay tiles that have been used on the tower of an old church for the last 100 years. They sound really old but they should last longer than the new factory made tiles. We will see. We also finally have a glass greenhouse, where the tomatoes can grow as tall as they want. We built a garden pond this year, which is connected to the greenhouse for watering purposes. We didn’t add any life forms or plants to the pond, but it got populated very quickly by toads, dragonflies, diving beetles and waterplants. We enjoyed it during hot summer days, as you can see in this video.
2019 brought a lot of visitors once again, our first volunteer from Hong Kong and from Mexico. We continued our Herbalism Workshopthis year too and we also started shorter one-on-one courses. It always makes us happy to meet others who show a genuine appreciation towards what we do, and who we can inspire even in a small way. We organized twice traditional Scottish folk dance nights, Ceilidh Dancing Weekendsthanks to Rowan and Anna, and we hope to have them again. We were happy to host Alicia Adelweiss through our artist residency program, a unique musician, songwriter and accordionist; you can buy her new album here. We also enjoyed many summer evening jam sessionswith traveling artists.
This year we have decided to launch our page on Patreon, where you can access various online content. We have documented a lot of projects this year and made them into informative videos accompanied with recipes and tutorials that you can download on Patreon. The videos include for instance how to make butter, how to ferment foods, and also unique recipes and tips about wildcrafting, herbalism, guidelines on traditional as well as innovative homesteading practices. This is a great opportunity if you cannot come to one of our workshops but you would still like to learn some traditional skills. If you become a Patron of ours you can find fun updates about what’s happening at the ranch as well as exclusive video updates about events, the garden, nature, and the surrounding, featuring some seasonal activities. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube Channel, where you can see for example Zsuzsi’s video capturing the four seasonsat the Organic Art Ranch.
We are in the dark season of the year, but surrounded by light, as Chris Stevens, a character from Northern Exposure recited over the airways through an array of quotes:
“Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home- Lead Thou me on!
Arise, shine, for thy light has come.
Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light.”
Wishing everyone happy holidays and a successful upcoming year!
Roger and Zsuzsi
The Organic Art Ranch
Our Instagram: www.instagram.com/organicartranch
Our website: www.organicartranch.org
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