No meeting in Carmarthen this month, but a couple of great social events. We’ve got the Dyfed Permaculture farm walk on the 14th of July, followed by the DSA BBQ on the 10th of July. Details for both can be found in the June and July newsletters. Look forward to seeing you there.
May’s talk on Tipi Valley by Rik Mayes talk was fascinating, and helped challenged some of the stereotypes and stigma faced by those who choose an alternative lifestyle. Rik is a self-confessed hippy, and for him, big events leading to the Hippie Movement were Rachel Carson’s book the Silent Spring detailing the detrimental effects of modern life on the natural environment, and the terrifying events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the world seemed to want to destroy itself with 4 minutes warning. Hippies started appearing, and really took off in 1969 – the Summer of Love, with the Woodstock Festival. Unfortunately for the hippies Margaret Thatcher’s government brought the festival culture to an end, and Rik and his friends wanted somewhere they could live as they choose.
Andrew Cripps at Cwmann nr Lampeter was the first to have a small Tipi village- there were 8 Tipis with a larger Communal Tipi in the centre. Capt Blunt (nicknamed Old Nab) had the land in Cwmdu that was to become the Tipi Valley that we know today. The residents negotiated a deal with him that still holds today whereupon, as the residents could afford, they would give £5 a time to Capt Blunt and he would give them receipts for the very gradual purchase of the land. When Capt Blunt died, Mr Bill Busk bought the farm and was very happy for the situation with the hippies to continue. It is he who completed all the conveyances. In 1979 they set up a Land Fund whereby, although they owned the land,they owned in common, so no-one had their own particular little patch to get squalid and muddy, and they could move their Tipis in winter and summer, to give the ground a chance to recover.
Tipi Valley’s residents class themselves as a ‘village’ rather than a commune because they all earn their own money to survive and don’t pool it. There are a lot of Tradespeople amongst them eg. Beekeepers, a sawmill, treeplanters for the forestry, artists, complementary medicines, childcare, teaching, carpenters and Rik himself is a minister for the Anglican church.
The residents of the valley don’t charge anybody to visit or stay there. In 1985, they had a lot of the New Age Travellers staying there as they were banned from settling anywhere and kept getting moved on. It was in 1980 they first had contact from the Planning dept. wanting them from Cwmdu and in 1984 they were issued with an Enforcement Notice. In July 1985 there was a public Enquiry but the Local Authority couldn’t get any public support – their complaint being that 24 Tipis were ‘detrimental to the visual amenity of the countryside’. The residents lodged an appeal in 1987, by which time they had bought more of the land and were able to move onto that which wasn’t covered by the Enforcement Order! The surveys that were done showed 100% public support that the hippies should stay.
There have been over 100 babies born in Tipi Valley as home-births, where usually a midwife is in attendance and any other helpers the mother should want. Some women come to Tipi Valley just to give birth. It is reported that the county with the highest level of successful home births in the UK is Carms, and it is Tipi Valley that helps get it there. All children used to be educated at home too, but when Cwmdu school was closed due to lack of pupils, the parents decided they should support the local schools so all infants go to Talley School, then onto Tregib for their secondary Education. There are now about 80 to 90 permanent residents of Tipi Valley- they find that the welsh weather is good at reducing the resident population there, otherwise it could be nearer 5000!!!
Thanks to Claire Beddoes for this report.
A good turnout of members enjoyed a very interesting few hours at Jon and Amanda Bayley’s holding, culminating in a very social lunch where everyone had lots to talk about. The farm walk had us all stretching our minds as to our level of knowledge or experience when it came to what best to do with very horse-sick wet land. Previous to Jon and Amanda purchasing the holding, there had been excessive amounts of ponies grazing along with nil grassland management and some very bad drainage work that had exacerbated rather than cured the problem.
Some of us suggested wildlife corriders, while others said graze with Dexters because they actually like eating rushes!! Others said wildflower meadow and another suggestion was grazing with lightweight (up to yearling size) youngstock- the only big drawback with that of course would be Liver Fluke.
I did notice a super amount of natural shelter though which is something my own place could do with more of. All in all, as you see, a good time was had by all. Thank you very much Jon and Amanda for showing us around your holding and for your second– to–none hospitality (and your exceptional cakes!!!), and I know this is echoed by all who attended.
May the 18th dawned warm and fair for the annual St. Clears Show, organised in association with the St. Clear’s branch of the Young Farmers’ Club. The DSA attended as normal, and a very successful day it was too! the DSA marquee looked great, and had a variety of exhibits, including bee-keeping, a variety of plants for sale, woodland products, wool products, bantam hens, and various information boards on what it is the DSA does.
There was a a lot of interest from prospective members, and it was also great to see some ex-members who want to join up again. The Association just missed out on the best stand award, we managed to get into a short list of 3 out of a total of 41 stands, before just being squeezed out of first place. Ah well, there’s always next year…
Thanks to everyone who came along and gave their time and effort. The DSA exists because of its members, and so it was great to see so many of you there to support the Association. Thank you all for a thoroughly enjoyable, and successful day.
Talk by Carmarthenshire Spinners and weavers Association
A very humorous and interesting talk was given by Sheila and Ann from the Carmarthenshire Spinners and Weavers Association. Between them they gave demonstrations on their spinning wheels and weaving looms that were incidentally, made in New Zealand. There is only one manufacturer of spinning wheels left in Britain but they are the old traditional style which are really too cumbersome to lug around the shows.
Sheila said she started with a few in- lamb ewes and asked a neighbour what she had to do next, “Feed them cake”. Her reply was that she had some Fruit Cake- would that do!! Then she wanted to know what to do with the wool, and as she hadn’t a very high opinion of the Wool Board, spinning was the next option.
What do you do when it’s spun? Weave it or knit it. Over the years when Sheila saw sheep of varying colours that she liked, she bought a few. Sheila now has 3 looms and a couple of spinning wheels, and a lot of stored wool. Interesting to note she doesn’t get a moth problem although the fleeces are only washed but not treated with anything. She stores the wool in pillow slips.
Some beautiful garments were on show and for sale, as well as bags and shawls. Sometimes a mix of fibres is used and although dog fur makes a nice weave, it isn’t used because the smell of wet dog never goes away! Sheila belongs to the Guild of Spinners and Weavers and they go to many shows in Britain, Ireland and France. Most of the time we were all in fits of laughter because of the way Sheila told the stories…
all in all a great evening.
Dyfed Smallholder’s AGM was held last month on the 13th. Considering AGM’s don’t tend to be high interest events, it was fairly well attended, and everyone seemed in high spirits and full of enthusiasm for the future of the DSA. This year’s committee was selected with relative ease. Members offered their services without the usual arm twisting and gentle persuasion!!
One important resolution which was proposed and carried unanimously was to increase the annual subscription to £20 per annum. This rise is driven by increasing costs including, printing, postage, speakers and room fees to name but a few. Still, at £1.66 a month for the whole holding, it’s a bargain!