One of the things we are most proud of here is our Wombleness. Our ability to turn things that the everyday folk leave behind into something useful. We arrived here on Rum nearly 2 years ago with just a horse box towed behind our car containing everything – pots and pans, mugs and plates, clothes, towels, bedlinen, toys and books. We have certainly accured more stuff over the last two years but the simple logistics let alone the cost of getting things to Rum means you tend to look to the island first to provide before turning to amazon or ebay.
The island itself is abundant with free resources to redistribute and make use of – from the nice straight regrowth from coppiced and pollarded willow, hazel and alder trees which I have used to make supports for my netting over my raised beds and stakes for my peas to grow up to the stones we dig up on the croft and make use of for paths, low walls and other building projects, to the reeds and rushes which cut and dried out in the sunshine make perfect animal bedding. We can learn so much from our ancestors and even more from the folk who lived on Rum in days gone by about making use of what is already here naturally.
We have also been really fortunate to be gifted materials which are no longer useful for their original purpose but perfect for re-use on our croft. We have a pig house made from the cover of a 4×4 vehicle, off cuts of wood from various building projects made into raised beds, old metal sheeting from shed roofs long since dismantled repurposed as animal shelters and wood stores, a disused fridge is our Honesty larder to sell eggs from at the croft gate and an old tyre stops my firewood from cannoning off everywhere when I split it with an axe. Our fruit cage is old screening panels and we have old pallets put to use everywhere from bridges across ditches and muddy areas to decking around the caravan, supports and divides for the woodstore and makeshift fencing around pigs.
Today I have been dismantling some old pallets and carefully removing nails from some offcuts of sarking roof boards then nailing them all back together again using the nails into different shapes and sizes to make another run of raised beds, bringing my total to 12. I’d like 15 and I think I have sufficient wood to do another 3 which gives me an allotment sized growing area for this year. Our climate here, along with the ongoing battle against the wildlife and our own animals to keep our crops safe means large scale growing is simply not cost effective – the amount of soil conditioning and protective areas to save things from deer and chickens would far outweigh the saving of growing our own even if we had surplus to sell. I think more plastic is the answer, something I am not usually given to saying! Another polytunnel, or possibly two, would be perfect for giving us a safe, weather proof growing area to fill the hungry gap through the winter. Definitely a next year project, but one I am considering trying to make happen in the same way as our fruit cages and raised beds. There must be a way of turning waste into resources to create a growing area under plastic.
Meanwhile I will leave you with this image today and update later in the week just what I did with it next.