Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Walking The school Run

Now things are starting to dry up we're going to try walking the school run down the footpaths when we can. The road by us is just not very safe for walking with little ones.

The boy is just old enough now so I don't have to carry him the whole way, although he's not as fast as the girls (he only has little legs). It's just under a mile each way and the only bit of tarmac we touch is to cross the road from school. 
It's great fun to do some plant spotting and have the girls ask me questions about what they see. Although today I was having to answer questions about pilewort...

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Breech Lamb Being Born In The Field

Bit of a long video but a lamb being born a few minutes ago. 

This was her second one and i was just too slow to get the camera out for the first! 

I decided to pull him out the last minute just because he was breech. I was worried if she didn't push him out with this round of contractions and the umbilical cord was broken he could easily drown or breath in fluid. If he was the right way round I would have probably just left her too it. 
I didn't approach her sooner as she was a bit flighty and I didn't want her to run off or to cause her unnecessary stress and affect the birth. 

You can skip to the good bit at 2.50 if you want and I can only apologise for how Herefordshire my accent is!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Composting Toilet Built From Scratch For £26!

This weekend I completed a project I've been thinking about for a long time! I finally built a composting toilet! 
 This is project I've been thinking about for years. This place is really lacking an outside loo and it makes it such a pain when I'm outside to have to come in and take my boots off. I really needed an old school brick outhouse but I haven't the time or the money to do it. So I looked at what I've got and what I could do with it.

I thought it would be good if the toilet could be moved around using the tractor. That way I could keep it by the workshop most of the time and then if I have friends camping I can move it down to the field.

To have a movable system I decided that a bucket system using sawdust would work well. I could compost the "waste" elsewhere when the bucket was full and use it on trees etc when it had composted completly.

So using a Euro pallet, like I did with the Movable Firewood Stores, I worked out that it would be big enough for a toilet. I then started to build it up with pallet collars, I get these for free.
 Once I got so high I added the corner posts so it could all be fixed. The posts allow for a slope for the roof.
 It was easy and fast to build up using the collars.
 The last few were cut the same angle as the roof using the jig saw.
 To create the door I just cut down the hinge straps along the one side with the grinder.
 This then meant the other side could be used as the door hinge.
For the roof I used some old perspex sheeting a friend saved for me when he was taking down a lean to years ago. Works well as it lets in plenty of light.

The floor was just some old ply I had left over from the extension. I brought this stuff second hand anyway and it's been used quite a few time already!
 I built the toilet around a B&Q plasterers bucket (£6.99), it's a little high but I'm quite tall anyway.
 I found an old loo seat we had left from a previous project. It had no fittings though so I glued it to the ply and made some dowels to hold the lid on.
 The ply over the toilet lifts up to allow access to the bucket.
 I divided off the area either side was partitioned to hold the sawdust needed for the system to work.
The picture above is the system all in place and finished.
The toilet certainly doesn't look pretty but it is practical and hopefully will save me a bit of time and helps me close one more self sufficiency "loop" on our little homestead here, more nutrients trapped here and not leaving system.

I'll use a biodegradable bag in the bucket to make cleaning easier. Sawdust is no problem with all the woodwork I do so it should be incredibly cheap to keep it running.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this system works in practice and I'll report back in a few months and let you all know! Silly to get excited about a toilet but I'm so keen to see how this works!

Anyone else use a composting toilet?

How would you build one?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Lamb By The Fire

One lamb hasn't fared so well in the weather last night and I don't hold out much hope.

Got him by the fire warming. My youngest thinks this is incredible and we're struggling to get him to leave the lambs side.

I'm annoyed at myself as I noticed him being a bit doppy last night but when I lifted him and saw he had a full belly I just assumed he was kind of "milk drunk" as he was lay next to his mum and still walking around when I put him back. Noticed this morning the ewe was over the other side of the field while he was still lay where he was at 3 this morning when I did my checks. The constant wet weather has made him go down hill fast. 

Fingers crossed a bit of a warm by the fire might help him. He hasn't got his head back so that's a positive.

*lamb update*
I'm afraid the lamb hasn't made it.
When I brought him in the house I knew his chances were slim. You develop a sixth sense of when something is going to survive or not but you always try no matter how rubbish the odds.

I could hear that rattle on his chest, the tell tale sign of pneumonia. I gave him the right antibiotics and plenty of warmth and comfort but unfortunately I just didn't catch it soon enough.
Now I have to make sure the ewe doesn't get mastitis, as sometimes twin lambs have a side they drink from so the other lamb will only be pulling from the one.
Never sure how much I should share on the blog. But it seems right to share the lows as well as the highs, to save looking at it through rose tinted glasses.
It does leave you feeling shitty no matter how often you deal with these types of things.

I can remember spending hours in the lamb shed trying to get sickly ones to drink or pull through when I was a child.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Movable Firewood Store

Firewood storage is still something I struggle with here. I can fill up our old tin shed with dry wood but it won't season in there as there's no air movement. The other lean-to part of the shed has been filled to the brim with wood to season but I still have lots to store. 

I have messed about filling up pallets before now with wood to season, using collars to make them stackable. This really didn't work as the air couldn't get to the wood and it made it sweat and then go mouldy. 

I needed a different approach. 

Dad suggested I should use pallets but space the collars apart somehow. I thought he might be on to something. Ideally I wanted it to be open sided with a sloping roof and easy to move with the tractor. That way it could be seasoned anywhere on the smallholding and moved up to the house when it was needed. 
I based the design on the Euro pallet system, I can get loads of these and the collars that go on top for nothing.
Working out the height I placed four posts in the corners, one side higher than the other to form the slope of the roof, about 6ft at the front (so I can get in there easily) and about 5ft at the back. I then lifted a collar to the height of the back pieces and fix it in place.

I cut the front bit off the collar and fixed it higher so it holds it all rigid.
 Between the posts I fixed pig netting on three sides, leaving the front open for access. The wood could then be stacked against it without falling out.
 I then ran in a few battens to hold the roof and fixed some old tin down to it using tek screws.

 Picking it up with the tractor was easy, I took it straight to where I'd been splitting the wood.
 I was careful to stack the wood properly in the movable stores, it won't work it it's just chucked in.
 When full it's a little wobbly but moves easy enough if you're steady with it. I could strap it to the forks if I was worried.
The idea worked great, I loved it so much I went straight back and made another! 

The two stores are now sat at the bottom of the garden to season for the summer, I think they might act as huge bug hotels as well to be honest!

I'm going to make a few more of these for the rest of the wood I have lay around the place. I just love the idea of bringing it up to the house when we want some more wood! It also looks like it'll season really well with air flow to all four sides. They also cost me nothing as I just used up scraps I had lay around along with the pallets and collars.

What do you think?

Do you like the idea and think it'll work well?

How do you season your firewood?
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