13th November: REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY
Today, alongside the sober duty of remembering our war dead, we’ve just had a useful and enjoyable treat: going along with Wayne, the Frei Compagnie Secretary, to visit our local Pennine Community with a view to doing an event there next summer.
Pennine is an independent specialist college, part of the Camphill Movement which creates community settings where people with learning disabilities can live, learn and work together. Inspired by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, the movement was founded by Karl König, and is based on principles of respect and dignity. The 57-acre site is c. 50% self-sufficient in providing food for resident students thanks to its farm with 25 acres of pasture for livestock and 3 acres for fruit and vegetable crops; Pennine also has craft workshops (pottery, woodwork and weaving), and an indoor riding school used by Wakefield Riding for the Disabled (the large structure in the photo on the left).
Altogether it’s a very impressive operation in a picturesque setting on the edge of the Newmillerdam conservation area – and has a perfect field (the area Wayne and Mick are checking out in the photo on the right) for the Frei Co to set up camp and offer have-a-go archery as an added attraction at the Community’s annual Summer Fair; and for once, we could still do archery if it rains, because we'd just move into the indoor riding school and shoot under cover! There's also the possibility of working with our own horsey members and folk from Riding for the Disabled to build in an equestrian element, which would add interest and create some wonderful photo and publicity opportunities for the site. So we’re just awaiting confirmation of the date – then it’ll be an honour to add such a worthy event to our 2017 calendar.
We also took Wayne to Beckside and I think managed to sell him the idea of bringing the Frei Compagnie to do some private events there - maybe the close proximity of the Dam Inn, where we went for suitable refeshment (I can recommend the salt beef ciabatta), had something to do with that!
Normally by now, Hubcap and I have used at least one fine autumn day for apple-processing - but this year we've been rather remiss (plus not so much fruit has come our way). However, since the weather was set fair for Saturday and we had (I thought) a couple of bucketfuls to use, I suggested we had a little juicing session.
Although the morning was cold and showery we decided to press ahead (if you'll pardon the pun) - then preparations were interrupted by a drama between our local Magpie Mob and Crow Clan. Corvids do well in this neck of the woods, and the two thriving families are at constant loggerheads, with the magpies forever ganging up on the crows and trying to pinch their food. But amid an enormous commotion in the trees, we witnessed an act of revenge: a magpie caught and dangled upside down while a crow stabbed viciously at its belly, and others of both species flocked round shouting and trying to help. It was a brutal, if compelling spectacle, and amazingly the magpie
eventually broke free and flapped away - we'd thought it would surely become the Crow Clan's breakfast, but it had a lucky escape.
After that brief excitement we cracked on with the work. I was surprised and a little dismayed to find that Mick actually had several stashes of apples, some home-grown and some given by customers - altogether enough to pile high in the 100 litre bucket you can see left of centre in the photo above - all of which had to be chopped, any bad bits discarded, and then stomped to pulp in a barrel to make them ready to go through the fruit press. It's a long, laborious job even on a fine day - and alas, this particular day wasn't as fine as the forecast! It rained several times, and stayed so perishing cold that we had to wrap up in multiple layers (that's me on the right, under all the scarves, fleeces and overtrousers - and I was STILL cold!); it was hard to keep things clean because the garden was all over mud; and once we'd started, we had to keep on to the bitter end otherwise everything would have been wasted. It took about 6 hours from start to finish, and I can't honestly say that I enjoyed it; but it was satisfying to end up with two gallons of delicious cloudy apple juice for drinking and freezing, a gallon for making cider, a big container of pressed 'cheese' to feed a neighbour's hens, and the knowledge that so much good quality fruit had been well used.