Hello...

Hello.
I knew at the beginning of the year that I wanted to let go of the blog. I am in a different place now and I need the space to work through a great many things. I intend to keep the archives up for a time, although I have removed the comment function.
If you have landed here - welcome and feel free to dip in to what was our life - once upon a time...
J xxx

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our Crofting Year: January










One of the first crofting tasks of the year is to collect the seaweed that has been washed up by the Winter storms and tides. There is certainly plenty on our shore after the wild seas we have seen recently. It has been a joy this week, to have a wee run of settled weather and to be able to get on with some long overdue  outside work. 
We headed off to the shore, and backed our old trailer down the slipway. Then it was straight to work - hauling up forkfuls of the tangled slippery seaweed. Filling and emptying 4 trailers full of bladderwrack is  quite the workout, I can tell you! I am still feeling the effects a few days later.
The shore was so thick with seaweed, that our harvest made little impression on the amount. Some local people still collect some for their gardens, but in the past, collecting seaweed would have been a community event. In living memory, everyone grew corn (oats and barley) on their croft. I have heard about boats piled high with seaweed, the rower barely visible, as they gathered as much of this valuable crop as they could; of women carrying their bounty home in large baskets (creels) on their backs. Then it would be combined with manure and the soil from cleaning out the ditches, before it was ploughed into the land.
We stacked ours up in a corner of the vegetable plot, next to the manure pile, and they will be mixed together and spread it onto the raised beds. Hopefully this will be a recipe for some fantastic crops in the Summer. 

Our garden robin is certainly interested in the contents of the seaweed pile - lots of interesting bugs to keep him going!

After what seemed a long while of relative inactivity, it was so good to get outside, tasting the tang of salt in the air, feeling the sunlight on our faces - still weak, but holding the sure promise of Spring, and shaking off that post holiday lethargy with some hard physical work. I am glad to have started off the new year like this - connecting to the seasons and place - feeling the rhythm of the crofting year beginning.  It is a dance where the steps are becoming a bit more familiar. We recognise the tune and remember how to move with it - and hopefully the stiffness will soon wear off. 

19 comments:

  1. Your photos are wonderful and have brought the sea to me this morning - thank you. Everything about seaweed, for me, is comforting and somehow relaxing. Jo

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    1. Thank you Jo - I am glad you enjoyed this xx

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  2. This is fascinating, especially your comments about how attitudes to the seaweed have altered. I wonder if we will see them change back. Your headline is promising - hoping you are planning to blog regularly about the crofting year!

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    1. Yes i am hoping to make this a regular feature, Joanna xx

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  3. There is so much of your world that is so new to me, yet an integral part of your life. Case in point: seaweed gathering for the nurturing of soil. And what bounty will come of that replenished soil come summer.

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    1. I love using nature's bounty to nourish the Earth, and ourselves, nancy - thank you xx

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  4. Great post. I never realised this was done either. Great idea. Our beaches look a mess as the seaweed has been brought up all over the roads and fields because of the high tides- I wish someone wanted to collect it. I hope we get stable weather soon to do more outdoors too. xxx

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    1. I hope your weather improves, Claire - why not collect some yourselves? xx

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  5. I remember my husband's Irish family used to make a dish from seaweed - carragree or something like that? It's also used in making ice cream I believe? A very useful "gift from the sea". Great that you're making use of it.

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    1. Carragheen - yes, Christine. I make it here and it is delicious (I even served it at the Communion social!)

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  6. Hard work - but good work. It’s what our bodies are made for.

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    1. It felt so good, Lizzi - you are so right xx

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  7. Is collecting seaweed an annual thing or do you do it every time there's been some stormy weather? Or is it a new venture?

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    1. Hi Mel - we do it at the beginning of the year, after the winter storms. later on it starts to dry out on the shore and is not so useful - also there are many more creatures living in there than are present in the Winter.

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  8. I loved this...just discovered your blog...it makes me nostalgic for times I have done the same. Now I just collect it to eat...dried by the stove and cooked up with grains and soups...

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    1. Hello Henrietta - thanks for being here. we do eat some seaweed, - carragheen and dulse, mainly although I am always a bit nervous with my identification. xxx

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  9. This sounds so refreshing! I love the old ways and so glad you are continuing this. I used to live in a hamlet and the older generation would teach us what to do in each season to get the best out of the land and the surroundings. I hope your crops are really successful this year. xx

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    1. Thanks Chel - it feels right to continue to do this sort of thing - thank you xx

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  10. What a refreshing, satisfying post to read as I sit by the fire. : ) But it would truly feel so good to work like that. We have no sea nearby, no seaweed, but I will be pondering what the equivalent might be for our land-locked, gently rolling, green-hilled and wooded place...perhaps simply getting to building that compost corner I keep imagining.

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