Photos copyright © Craig Mackintosh
The area around Zaytuna Farm recently experienced the worst floods for many years (since 1974 they say) – then it dried out for a few weeks. And now, over the last five days, it’s been back to raining again….
When the floods were on, people commented to Geoff, asking how he was coping with the power outages. Geoff was blissfully unaware that there had been any (since Zaytuna runs off grid with solar).
The property is buffered in another way as well – the swales are great equalisers when it comes to water. They keep water flowing from the taps and keep the grass green long after a drought has hit and burnt off the neighbours’ fields, and they also ensure that when a flood strikes, the water is slowed down and sunk – thus avoiding rivers of water carrying away soil and more. To a great degree, the earthworks here not only drought-proof the land, but also flood-proof it as well.
These things are well worth considering with the promise of more and more droughts and floods in the coming years….
Lots of rain has filled up all the swales at Zaytuna,
from where it will slowly percolate through the landscape
Today, because of the inclement weather, some of the team are doing work appropriate for the conditions – finishing off some cob rendering indoors, in the straw bale kitchen that was never quite finished before now. Here are some shots of the process:
Kevin shovels some iron-rich red earth into the barrow
Nadia adds some lucerne (alfalfa) to the mix
Kevin shovels in some sand
Then it’s mixed well, and some water added
Dave applies the resulting cob mix over a foundation of
dry bamboo leaves covered in chicken wire mesh
Later a chaff render made of sieved soil, sharp river sand and fine wheat chaff mixed with water will be added. Then a lime plaster goes over the top (made of slaked lime, silica sand, water and red volcanic soil for a nice pale but warm coloured finish).