Life aquatic at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason

Meeting the team, forest walking, rescuing chickens and weeding

The full Henbant team met each other for the first time this week. We had a walk around the beautiful and diverse land at Henbant, weeded the market garden, rescued a few chickens and re-created Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic.

Meet the team!

Life aquatic at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason
Jessica, Tom, Matt, Meryn, Jenny, Esme, Julie, Calum, Inger, Karl, Wayland and Olivia in Life Aquatic hats (c) Rianne Mason

I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan so when this bounty of red hats emerged (à la Life Aquatic) I was pretty excited. It was the end of our first week together and we were eating a chilli I’d made. I’m just about getting used to cooking for everyone and feel very grateful for having the opportunity to practice my skills and play host after a year of not seeing anyone.

Why did Matt have a huge supply of Steve-Zissou-style red beanies? I guess that’s another story.

Walking the land

  • Walking through Henbant (c) Rianne Mason
  • Walking through Henbant (c) Rianne Mason
  • Outdoor lunch at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason

Learning about Henbant and a welcome lunch after our walk (c) Rianne Mason

We kicked off the week with a walk around Henbant to understand the landscape. There’s a natural spring and several ponds/small lakes that I’d never seen before. We learnt about how to pasture the grass to keep it healthy and the history of acquiring the land at Henbant.

There were probably a lot more lessons being taught but I was too lost in the treasures of the forest and sinking my hands into big mounds of moss.

It was a pretty long walk so we were all eager to get lunch and we sat outside to enjoy the sea views. We also had cinnamon swirls for desert – thanks Inger!

Patterns in nature

Patterns in the forest (c) Rianne Mason

As we walked through the forest there were so many shapes and forms that caught my eye – the first buds of the willow, mushrooms, lichen, moss, catkins, buttercups, horsetail, tree circles and bark.

Designing from patterns

All of the natural shapes in the forest reminded me of the patterns I learnt about on my Permaculture Design Course. In nature we see patterns all around us – spirals, hexagons, waves, cloudforms, flow, overbecks, lobes, scatters/patches, explosions, webs and fractals.

How many can you see in the pictures above?

In permaculture design we can draw inspiration from these patterns for effective use of space and energy. A common example is a herb spiral – which allows you to grow a number of herbs (requiring different light/moisture levels) in a small space.

We also have patterns in social/cultural design, such as the web of a community/business to maximise connections or the fractal village designs of Africa which reflect hierarchies.

Learn more in the links at the end of the article.

Chicken rescue

Rescued chickens at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason
Rescued chickens at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason

Last weekend some people dropped of 6 chickens that they’d rescued from a different farm. These were free-range chickens and I was keen to see the differences between these and the pasture-raised chickens here at Henbant.

Physically the differences are obvious – their combs are pale and flopped over and they had bare patches of skin from pecked-off feathers. Their behaviour is also different as they’re constantly pecking at each other – I assume this is from stress or boredom.

We gave them a good feed and kept them protected on a patch of grass so hopefully they’re a bit happier now.

Sowing seeds for the market garden

  • Sowing beetroot seeds at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason
  • Adding vermiculite to sown seeds (c) Rianne Mason

Sowing beetroot seeds for the Henbant Market Garden (c) Rianne Mason

I got to spend some more time sowing seeds this week, including beetroot that we’re grouping in ‘clumps’ of 3-4 rather than individually. I’ve never done this before so I’m looking forward to seeing them grow.

Weeding the market garden

  • Weeding the Henbant market garden (c) Rianne Mason
  • Weeding the Henbant market garden (c) Rianne Mason
  • Weeding the Henbant market garden (c) Rianne Mason

Weeding the Henbant Market Garden (c) Rianne Mason

We spent our first weeding session as a team – which was a taste of things to come I think. There are a couple of useful tools that I learnt about, including a broad fork for aerating soil and a Korean hoe that allows you to weed out roots without disturbing the top soil too much.

One of the keys to successful no-dig gardening is to leave the top layer of soil as un-disturbed as possible so that you’re not releasing the weed seeds that are laying dormant in there. This means being a little bit more careful when weeding but you reap the rewards later.

Painting, painting and painting again

Painting lime wash at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason
Painting with lime wash (c) Rianne Mason

We’re getting a new room ready for egg packing and I was tasked with painting it. First we went for a lime-wash but we would have needed quite a few applications to cover it. So we went for paint instead and found a tub of magnolia – but we didn’t really like the colour!

As we wait for the new white paint to arrive I was asked to gloss the kitchen area and against my better judgement I glossed the wall – later discovering I was meant to do the wooden unit. It turned out to be a happy accident because the gloss has covered all the damp patches well and will hemp prevent more in the future.

I did gloss the unit as well by the way – so 1 out of 4 painting sessions was a win 🤦‍♀️

Celebrating Olivia’s birthday

  • Triangle sushi at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason
  • Making vegan sushi at Henbant (c) Rianne Mason
  • Selfie at Henbant sushi party (c) Rianne Mason

Making Vegan sushi at Olivia’s birthday party (c) Rianne Mason

I couldn’t end the post without mentioning a little party we had last night for Olivia’s birthday. Wayland kindly hosted a vegan-sushi-making workshop and it was absolutely brilliant. The prepared vegetables were delicious – miso mushrooms, aubergines, roasted peppers, lemon and ginger carrot, avocado, sweet potato wasabi and pickled ginger!

I wish him all the best for his new business venture in a vegan sushi food truck when we can all be sociable once more – if his workshops are anything to go by I’m sure it will be a huge success.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m very lucky to be in this wonderful social bubble and have people to drink whisky and dance with at the end of the week 🙏. Weekend social gatherings – remember those?!

More information

Visiting Henbant
For camping, glamping, veg boxes and getting involved.

Designing from patterns
For more information about fractal village design.
For understanding patterns in permaculture design.

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