We have had a really productive week this week. A week ago the shepherd gave us the key to his corral so that we could collect the sheep dung from there. We went up there 3 days this week, with the car and loads of bags. We filled the bags and put them in the car. We have used it on a lot of the vegetable beds and still have a big pile to work with. He has left the key with us hoping that we will clear the whole area...may take a while but we are on a mission. 

It has all broken down and so is like a very rich soil. 
Last week I was explaining about using straw as a mulch for the garden to keep the water from evaporating. This week I started to clear the front bed in order to mulch it. I found carrots still growing, mustard plants and even a tomato plant with tomatoes on it! The bed has now been covered with straw ensuring the roots of the tomato plant was covered up.

The mustard plants

The tomato plant...as you can see it is still producing flowers! 
In the week I set about developing the idea of using permaculture to help us grow our produce this year. I set about building some trial beds in different areas of the garden. These are not square beds, like the normal garden. The idea is that they are self feeding and conserve water. The first one was a horse shoe shape...a trench is dug out around the outside and the soil is piled up onto logs placed on the ground. The logs will rot down over time and feed the plants.Over the top of the soil I put a layer of sheep dung and then covered this with straw. This does not leave the soil bare and hopefully will keep the weeds at bay until we want to plant it up. 

When it rains the trench will catch the water and it will slowly seep into the mound. On the inside of the mound we are going to plant strawberries, with spinach, lettuce and onions too around the mound. We will keep you updated about how well it works as the Spring comes and we plant out.
I also built another shaped bed...a long oval mound with a trench in front. We had to look carefully at the water movement across the land to ensure that the trench (they are called swales) was positioned correctly to catch as much rain water and runoff as possible. 
 
This runs at an angle across the large terrace. There is bedrock directly above this swale and the water runs straight off of it. This mound will also be planted up with a range of vegetables and herbs too.  I am going to build another one, but longer, at the side of this one...we are hoping to be able to store the water in the terrace area for longer. This should, in theory, allow us to water less.
Saturday morning the shepherd turned up with the view of helping us build something for the poultry. We love this man, there is no rhyme nor reason to his actions but he is always trying to help us! So in the rain, Kev was taken out onto the land and a construction was built. We didn't have the heart to tell him it was facing the wrong way...as in the height of summer it will be in sun all day.

As for what it is...we really don't know...we will have to wait and see how the animals decide to use it!
This poor man is having a real stress about what we are doing. According to him we are doing it all wrong and his favourite words are "that'll never work!" As for using straw on the garden! We are hoping this year to be able to grow a glut of veg and that way we can prove our ideas work and give him some too.
Sunday, he turned up with a cockerel. He said it was a present and that he was trying to help us out. The cockerel looks young but is already bigger than any of ours. Now we have to move him and 5 or 6 hens into a run to make sure he doesn't have to fight for his little harem.

Sunday afternoon was spent collecting plastic drip feed watering pipe. One of the fields up the road has just replaced all theirs with new. We went and collected the old stuff. All we have to do now is install it!!!!!