It is half term and we have been hiding out at our cabin in the woods. We have been jumping in puddles, lighting candles, reading books, going on rainy walks and having early nights. It was good to be out of reach of the modern world for a while.
Eighteen months ago my sister and I had the opportunity to set up a playgroup on a local allotment site. Part of her job involves managing a community allotment and encouraging local community participation. We thought it would be fun to organise something that encouraged parents and pre-school children to play together in an outdoor setting, using natural materials and observing the seasons. So ‘Muddy Boots’ was created. We have met now for two years, twice a month from Easter to fireworks nights. We had our last session for this year on Friday. Our theme was pumpkins.
We had a story on the theme then the children went on a hunt around the allotment site for a pumpkin each which we picked and did activities with. We carved them, played with the seeds, drew on them, made pumpkin masks and did pumpkin ten-pin bowling! Each session ends with songs and a feast of fruit and veg to share. This is brought in by the participants and collected from the allotment. Our group is well attended, normally we have between 10 and 25 families (dependant on weather) with a ‘hard-core’ of six families who always brave it. We ask for a small donation to cover materials and resources and a hot drink, squash or water.
It has been a great thing to be involved with. I have met some like-minded parents who, like me want an occasional alternative to yet another playgroup in a church hall filled with plastic toys! We are hoping to continue running the group next spring, but my sister’s contract comes to an end in March, so we are currently unsure if we will have permission to use the community allotment site. Finger’s crossed!
When I did my PDC last year, my design was based on developing an education space in the community allotment for Muddy boots and other groups to use. I will post the design and photos here soon. I feel that the ethos of ‘Muddy Boots’ fits well with the ethics of Permaculture; Earth care, People care and Fair shares.
Baby boy is teething, poor little chap. He is chomping on everything in sight, dribbling loads and is not his usual happy self. Two tiny razor-sharp teeth have poked through now, so hopefully he should be feeling better soon.
One of the first things I learnt when I starting my ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ course was the ‘Hierarchy of intervention’ This grand title basically means a system showing when and how to intervene in a situation when you have noticed a problem. There are 4 levels of intervention;
1. Do nothing
2. Biological resources
3. Mechanical or physical intervention
4. Chemical intervention.
So for example, if you have noticed slugs invading your vegetable patch, you could
1. Do nothing. Observe the slugs and keep an eye on what they are attracted to.
2. Biological resources. Build a pond to attract predators to eat the slugs. Let your chickens onto that area to eat them or plant things that the slugs don’t like.
3. Mechanical or physical intervention. Pick the slugs off and remove them or use a deterrent such as crushed egg shells or copper strips.
4. Chemical intervention. Put down slug pellets (although this would not be in line with organic gardening principles so would be an absolute last resort)
So what has this got to do with a teething baby I hear you wonder? When I first heard about this system and applied it to my parenting, I felt rather comforted. Conventional wisdom tells us to head straight for the chemist as soon as our children have a sniffle. But sometimes I question this approach. A raised temperature is there for a reason, right, to kill off a bug and make our children better. So why do we immediately feel we should react by suppressing this temperature and interfering with the bodies natural processes? Obviously sometimes medicine is the best approach but shouldn’t we sometimes trust in nature a little more? This has been one of my most difficult parenting challenges, of course when your baby is ill you want to make them better. But I think by taking a step back and considering gentler ways of reacting, I have helped my children build their immune systems and recover quickly from minor illnesses and normal childhood ailments such as teething.
1. Do nothing. Notice signs of teething and see how he is coping.
2. Biological resources. Lots of breast-feeding, cold hard fruit and veg sticks to chew on. Homeopathic Camilila powers rubbed into the gums. These are made from the camomile flower so are a natural product that seems to help a little and certainly are a welcome distraction for a teething baby.
3. Mechanical or physical intervention. Extra cuddles and carrying in the sling to give comfort. Put on the amber teething necklace. The amber has properties that help relieve pain. I have no idea how this works but I do have faith that it does work. We have used this necklace for all three of our children and they have cut their teeth without too many problems.
4. Chemical intervention. Baby paracetamol such as Nurophen or Calpol given only as a last resort. We have managed to avoid this so far and S is eight months old now. I like the fact that I have lots of other ideas to try before reaching for the bottle of chemicals!