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We’re slowly turning the Very Smallholding into a place we can grow food in, invite people to, maybe even run some workshops in at some point. At the moment we’re trying to solve the mystery of the Shed.
There are rumours amongst the locals that the shed was built some time ago with planning permission, which could be very handy: it’s quite large, and to get planning permission for a comparable building now would require a sewage line to be fitted at enormous cost. Unfortunately it has a roof made of Asbestos (and leaks) and the shed is currently leaning forwards, possibly because it is losing the battle with the hill and will eventually become an avalanche, or possibly just from age: I haven’t got around the back to find out yet.
If we find out that the building is ‘legal’, and we renovate it, we have to be even more careful because apparently if we knock too much of the old building down we lose the ‘permission’ to have it there.
I’m currently trying to contact the landowners to get hold of paperwork.
Or maybe I’ll just make a yurt.
In the meantime I’m working on the compost bin. It’s less exciting but at least I don’t need planning permission.
An Xtracycle is very useful when, for example, having worked late last night I wake up at 07:30 and realise it’s not a school holiday as I thought, but that Eldest Son is supposed to be breakfasted, dressed, and ready for his first lesson in the school on the other side of the village in fifteen minutes: we can load his bag on to the Xtracycle while he cleans his teeth, have it by the door for him to jump on, ride up the traffic calmed at *cough* km/h over ‘walking speed’, race through the large housing estate the other side, ride through the school gate, across the playaground, and drop him off at the door just as the bell is going for the first lesson.
Okay, it wasn’t exactly Thunderbirds, but it was very satisfying, especially as I made it back and dropped the smaller boys in Kindergarten just before we had a whomping great thunderstorm.
I promise this won’t become a political blog, but this is priceless. A comment from the new State Premier, Winfried Kretschmann of the Green party in an interview a couple of weeks ago :
“Fewer cars are of course better than more. We must sell mobility concepts in the future and not just cars. That includes walking, bicycles, cars, trains. We must join these up so well that one can travel easily and protect the environment,”
“If the car industry does not manage to become greener, it will have no future.”
““Porsche and Daimler should not have their names tarnished. Both companies build environmentally friendly cars and sell them not only in Germany but around the world.”
Of course, and this will never change: infinite growth is possible on a finite planet and we’ve got lots of oil.
It must be tough to wake up one morning and find the politicians aren’t going dance to your tune any more…
By the way, some of you may have noticed the posting rate on the blog has increased rapidly this week: I’m experimenting to see if writing more frequent, shorter posts works better than one each week. Picking a week when I come down with a cold and cough probably wasn’t the best timing for this, but there we go.
I’m beginning to see all cardboard as potential mulching material: yesterday the local Aldi was selling large activity sets for children and my immediate thought on seeing them was: that box would cover half a vegetable bed.
Fortunately the patio in the Very Smallholding (above) is now hosting lots of very large cardboard boxes from the bike shop . This came about when someone asked the boss if they could use his aged van to engage in frenzied consumerism in the next town. The van doubles as a cardboard dump, so I suggested they chuck the cardboard into our garden, which made everyone happy: The Boss can forget about the boxes, the van was free to be filled with semi-disposable furniture and I have enough mulch material that even my megalomaniac plans are covered, as it were. These will now rot into the ground over the next year, hopefully leaving a clear pattern of beds for spring, and save me several hours of digging.
The boss was planning to throw them all on a bonfire.
Spring is here, so naturally I picked up a bout of man-flu but I need to keep working on the very smallholding. One urgent item on the jobs list is to find out exactly what we are (and are not) allowed to do with the land, which meant calling the local government office.
Why I thought that trying to talk coherently to people in my second language was a good idea when my head was working like a bowl of damp spaghetti I don’t know. I probably should have given up after dialing the wrong number and nearly booking the town hall for a conference, but by the time I realised the nice lady had connected me to another nice lady who connected me to the secretary of the planning authority (Baurechtsamt) who told me to call back that afternoon.
That afternoon I called again, this time without any long discussions with the booking secretary, and spoke to one Herr Schmidt who couldn’t help. Apparently each piece of land has a number and without that number they don’t know where it is, and if they don’t know where it is, they don’t know what they have decreed we are allowed to do. Or not do.
Which raises the question: if they don’t know where the land is, will they notice what we’re doing?
Anyway, I emailed the Landowners son, M, who fortunately speaks fluent English so I was at least spared the trauma of writing German.
It took me three attempts to write an coherent email in English.
At this point I decided to go back to bed.