Llama, Moo and an Awful Lot of Windows

Last weekend there was a workday for the Carmarthenshire Permaculture groiup at Llama and Moo’s plot in the South of the County. And, No, neither of them had really weird parents who gave them those names – they are nicknames which have stuck. Llama’s came from something on the radio which he and a group of mates were listening to and Moo’s is a shortening of her surname. They are a really lovely couple and if you also read my blog ‘Going Batty in the Woods’ you will have met them here (https://goingbattyinthewoods.wordpress.com/2022/04/07/a-last-hurrah) making gates and a shavehorse for their plot.

A few years ago they bought a gently sloping field graced with 2 dilapidated static caravans and a lot of grass on the outskirts of a large village and began the process of applying for One Plant Development Planning permission, a planning consent unique to Wales which allows for a house to be built in an area not designated for housing if the owners can demonstrate that they will build and live sustainably including obtaining a lot of their needs from their plot. You can read more about it here (https://goingbattyinwales.wordpress.com/2018/08/11/the-power-of-a-good-planning-policy). Permission was finally granted just over a year ago. Whilst they were waiting for it they did a lot of work designing what would go where, planting trees and a garden, and accumulating scrap materials with which to build a home and outbuildings. They also clad the better of the 2 caravans with wood to make it less of an eyesore and they use it as their ‘site office’ – somewhere to shelter from showers, have a cuppa or their picnic lunch, and to store materials which cannot tolerate rain. For now they are living in a house in the village until they can build their dream home.

The advantage of being near the village is that there are a number of industrial units in it and these have proved a fruitful source of waste materials. One double glazing firm must have had a contract to replace all the windows in a big building or housing estate because Llama and Moo relieved them of over a thousand UPVC framed, single glazed windows and some double glazed ones which would otherwise have gone to landfill! The best ones will go in their new home. There were several huge ones with blinds between the panes which will make a wall of windows on the South elevation. Some have been carefully split apart to glaze a huge greenhouse on the back of the wood clad static – the greenhouse frame is made of scrap wood too. And some have been joined to make raised beds – now that’s a new one on me! They have also discovered a lot of materials in skips outside houses which are being refurbished. I was quite envious – around here I rarely see a skip and if I do all that is in it is rubble!

I missed the tour because I had to walk Roo before setting off so that when we arrived she was less energetic. But I was in time for the first task which was to form a human chain and move timber from the poorer static which Llama uses as a workshop to another shed and then sort stones, which will form the base of the greeenhouse walls, from lumps of concrete block which will be saved for another job. Then it was time to stop for lunch. We always have a ‘Bring and Share’ lunch and we take our own plates, cutlery and mugs so that our hosts don’t have to provide them or wash up. It always proves to be a feast with masses to eat and time to sit and chat so a lovely social occasion.

In the afternoon we laid cardboard around newly planted Kale which is being grown primarily for seed although any poor specimens will be eaten! A group of smallholders have organised themselves to grow different types of seeds and sell them through a co-operative organisation. You can find them here (http://www.seedhub.wales) The cardboard was then covered with a layer of chipped wood – the way they use any scrap wood not worth saving and deadwood from their field. This mulch will reduce the amount of weeding required and eventually rot down and enrich the soil.

We all left at about 4pm, tired, but having had a lovely day with friends and with plenty to show for our efforts.


12 thoughts on “Llama, Moo and an Awful Lot of Windows

  1. onesmallstitch.wordpress.com June 18, 2022 / 6:06 pm

    what a tremendous amount of hard work, love the way they used the windows to build the greenhouse, Hope they can start the house building soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going Batty in Wales June 19, 2022 / 9:32 am

      I think they plan to begin that next year. Under the terms of the planning permission they have to earn an income from the land quite quickly so that has to be their priority.


  2. Anne June 19, 2022 / 5:30 am

    This goes to show how much perfectly re-usable material goes to waste. Well done to this couple for what they are doing, and well done to the rest of you for assisting where you can!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going Batty in Wales June 19, 2022 / 9:34 am

      Apparantly it is often not cost effective for companies to recycle waste or even sell it on. Even taking it to landfill costs them money so if someone offers to take it away for them they are delighted. But it take simagination and crativity plus a willingnes to be ‘not normal’ to find a use for it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Laurie Graves June 19, 2022 / 12:07 pm

      Well done is right! What an excellent use of reusable material. The notion of a human chain for moving things really tickles me. A simple but effective solution. Also, love the idea of everyone bringing their own plates and cutlery. Cleaning up after a gathering can be such a lot of work. Sounds like a great group doing wonderful things.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Going Batty in Wales June 20, 2022 / 9:47 am

        One of the principles of Permaculture is to use brain power in preference to muscle power and muscle power in preference to fuel power. We shifted a heck of a lot of stuff very quickly and there were no traffic jams as the people returning met those going.

        The original group were bvery concerned to be as inclusive as possible and not everyone has enough crockery or cutlery for a large gathering and maybe not enough food from their plot or money to buy more to feed them. This bring and share lunch and bring your own plates etc. means everyone, however constrained can ask for help from the group. The hosts usually supply hot drinks but a discreet word with the organiser would ensure that flasks and tea bags would be provided for them.

        Although we do work hard I learn a lot from every plot I visit and the fellowship is wonderful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie Graves June 20, 2022 / 12:02 pm

        What a great way to get together! Especially as food has become so very expensive. Sounds like a wonderful group! Loved reading about them and all that you did.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Going Batty in Wales June 21, 2022 / 9:23 am

        Thank you Laurie. They are a very interesting group of people and I always enjoy meeting up with them.


  3. nanacathy2 June 19, 2022 / 12:03 pm

    I’m sure Ben Foggle did a programme on a family doing the same thing in Wales. Fascinating read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going Batty in Wales June 20, 2022 / 9:41 am

      Although tehnically you can apply for One Planet Development anywhere in Wales (but not anywhere else in the UK) it was devised by the group which wanted to establish an Eco village just over the hill from me in co-operation with Pembrokeshire County Council, so this area in the far South West is the hotspot for it. The fact that land is relatively cheap here and there are still small (in farming terms) plots for sale also helps. I know several of them – all different but all fascinating.


  4. anne54 June 19, 2022 / 10:36 pm

    If I could live an alternate life it would be something like this! Maybe that’s the hippy in me coming out. However, it is a great way to live more lightly on the land, and build community ~ both so essential. Can you keep us updated on their progress?
    As for names…Many years ago I did hear of children being called Zero and Chaos, but it could have been an urban myth. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going Batty in Wales June 20, 2022 / 9:50 am

      When we were young John and I would have leapt at the chance to do an OPD too if we could have raised the money for the land. There was no such policy and we didn’t have the savings but I have tremendous admiration for the ones doing it now and do my best to support them. Llama and Moo have had several workdays but this was the first one I was able to get to. I am sure they will have more and I will try to remember to post about their progress.

      Liked by 1 person

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