Monday 31 October 2016

Vlog Episode 3 - Roof On

Catch my third vlog on youTube now!

This one is only short, just showing what I've been up to in the garden and the roof on the extension. 
Let me know what you think and what you'd like to see next time! 
Also please share it with your friends! 

Saturday 29 October 2016

Extension Progress - Roof On

Sorry it's been a quite week on the blog - I've been really busy! 
Managed to get the roof on the extension!

It's now felted and battened meaning that it's waterproof from the top and ready to tile! 
I still have a few things to do inside the roof (which I'll do tomorrow - Sunday). 
Here's some pictures of some of the frame work - 

Cuts on the jack rafters

Hip and jack rafters either side

Beams as ceiling binders but also to form a truss to support the purlins in the roof
Feels good to put a lid on the place and to be honest it's been one of the hardest little roofs I've done just because of how it cuts intot he old one and that it has purlins, I don't think I could have gone for a truss one just because of how complicated it is. 

I've also had a bit of help over the last week or so, so big thanks to Andy, Dill, Nick and Dave who've all come at different times to lend a hand, the days on my own always seem very slow by comparison! 

If I finish off a few structural things in the roof tomorrow I'll be pleased with how half term gone! Just the job of tiling to go on the roof then (as well as fitting gutters, etc) but that's not straight forward either! 

Thursday 27 October 2016

Look After Your Back

At the moment I feel about as strong as I ever have, I'm never going to be slim but I about the right size for my build and although my fitness could be better I still feel good in myself. 

Back in the summer I was mucking out a shed I'd used to keep sick sheep and lambs in during the spring when I was lambing. Whilst doing this I picked up too much on my muck fork and as I twisted to chuck it in the bucket of the tractor I felt my back twinge. This really knocked the wind out of my sails, for the next week or so it really slowed me down, everything was harder, I was hanging doors at work and I found lifting them difficult. 

This cleared up but then a couple of weeks ago I was loading out bricks on the the scaffold and had the same thing happen. It's better now but I've decided to get my back looked at. 

I always worry that I could have structural problems from a fall I had a few years ago (you can read about that here) and at 33 I need to use my back for a while longer yet so I decided to get it checked out properly by a chiropractor. 

We went through my history and he looked at my back and he thinks that my pelvis is out of line by about 3/4 of an inch, something that could cause me problems later on but it was probably caused by a fall or a knock. 

It's not going to stop me doing anything now but I am going to go through a course of treatments before it becomes a problem. There's always an element of doubt on anything like this as it's not something I can see, hopefully a few visits should start to put things back in line where they should be and I'll have no future problems. The downside of this was I had a treatment today and then was told afterwards I couldn't climb a ladder! I was gutted as I have so much to do on this roof, but I can get back up there tomorrow! 

I lead a very active life. I am constantly using my body and there's not many nights where I don't fall straight to sleep from being physically tired, so I want to make sure I look after it and deal with things before they become a problem, although I should have done this sooner! 

Do you look after yourself? 

What are you proactive about when it comes to health?

Sunday 23 October 2016

Extension Progress - Roof Carcass Day 1

We made a good start on the roof yesterday. 
Dill had got the brick work finished the day before (which is a post in itself that I'll do later) so it meant that Saturday we could start the roof. 
Andy, pictured above, came to give me a hand. He's the man that trained me to be a carpenter many years ago!  
The roof itself is quite complicated as it's trussed and has purlins so some head scratching in a few places but I was really pleased with the progress we made in a day. My brother came over in the afternoon to lend a helping hand.

There's still loads to do but by the end of the day we managed to get all the heavy and awkward timbers in, leaving me with stuff I can do myself. 
I need to now finish the rest of the rafters, support the purlins, install the ceiling joists, fit binders to carry the ceiling, fasica and soffitt to fit, felt it, batten it, line the chimney, tile the roof. I don't think my week without the children will be enough to get it all done but it's a start at least! 

Friday 21 October 2016

Busy Week

It's been a another busy week.
Bricks I loaded out during my youngest nap time - the trick is to hit the ground running if you want to get anything done! 
The build is still heading skywards, hopefully Dill, my bricklayer, is going to get the wall plate on today (Friday) so that tomorrow I can start to get the timber for the roof on. Unfortunately it's a complicated little roof and I think it might take a bit more time than usual, luckily my friend and mentor Andy (who trained me to be a carpenter) is coming to lend a hand on Saturday. I'm hoping to make a good start on it then and I've then got half term to try and get all the timber work done and get it felted and waterproof. The tiles are going to take a bit longer though! 
A few hours with the boy, while he happily chews on a apple I've got jobs to do! 
I've also been trying to get some other jobs done around here as well. I've managed to get my first vegetable bed prepared and planted for next year. This is a whole bed of hardneck garlic so I should have two harvests, the bulbs and the scrapes. I've also planted this through plastic to give myself a bit less work next year as garlic really hates weed competition. 
I've still got a bed of soft neck garlic to go in but I need to find space first. I might be going over the top with how much I'm putting in but we eat a lot of garlic and I can always sell the surplus! 
I hope he realises he's got to start pulling his weight soon! 
I've also been collecting up some apples from the cordons as well as harvesting some veg for tea, this week we've had a great mizuna salad to go with jacket potato, as well as leeks cooked in butter to have a long side salmon, my leeks this year are looking brilliant, big thick stems with long white "socks" just perfect really.  

I'm hoping once the extension is waterproof I can take my foot off the gas a bit but I doubt it'll work like that! 

Who else is having a busy time at the moment?

Wednesday 19 October 2016

£18 For 75kg Of Potatoes

"Why'd you buy 75 kg of potatoes Kev?" 
"Why not!?!"

Last Friday I popped over to a local farm after playgroup to buy some potatoes. I normally buy a couple of bags at a time, but this time they had three varieties to try out so I decided to buy a bag of each to compare. I'm the same when I buy flour - big bags are the only way to go.
Three bags like this will take us a long time to get through, but stored in a cold frost free place they'll last just fine. 
Buying direct from the farm is so much cheaper than buying from the supermarket and knowing that there is a few months worth of spuds ready to cook and eat is great as well. 
So far we've only tried Nectar, which is a variety I haven't heard of before, the sign on the farm office door was right though, they make a fine jacket (baked) potato and best of all they all seemed to be a good size (much easier preparing meals for me!).
I'm also thinking about pressure canning some of these potatoes as I think it would be great to have some near ready meals sat on the shelf waiting to go - I'll let you know if I do it. 

What do you like to buy in big quantities? 
What do you find is cheapest to buy direct?

Sunday 16 October 2016

Vlog Episode 2 - Extension Progress

My second Vlog is on YouTube now!
In this episode I walk you round the extension and show you what's been going on with the lambs and the chickens, as well as a quick look in the garden.

Let me know what you think! 

Friday 14 October 2016

Obsessing Over Bread

I love bread so much.
I was saying to my mum today that my house might be messy, but I get a lot done, we're all very happy and we eat really well! 
I've been making a lot more "free formed" bread lately. 
I was getting fed up of making a loaf in the bread maker and only eating 3/4 of it, instead if I make a batch of rolls I can pop what ever isn't eaten into the freezer for another time. Much better use of flour and electric. 
I've also messed about with other types of loaves, my friend was talking about fougasses and I thought they sounded like a great idea to add to the freezer as a lunch that my wife could just grab on her way to work. Each loaf has cheese, salami and sun dried tomatoes in and is then topped with finely chopped rosemary and see salt with an egg glaze. 

I also mixed up a batch of dough the other day and took it on a play date with me, a great way to get kids interested in what they're eating (although mine don't normally need much encouragement!)
My little baker making a loaf

Next year I'm going to make a real effort to grow some more poppies, they are simply my favourite thing to add to bread, as a topping or in the dough, they add such a great, subtle, flavour.

I have some great plans in the extension to make a "prooving cupboard" above the new fireplace (but accessed behind it) so I have somewhere warm to keep my bread while it increases in size. Has anyone else done this?
What's your favourite bread to make?
What ingredients to you like to add?

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Chicks In October

My girls were far more excited about this mishap that I was. 
A hen has managed to hatch out a clutch of eggs on the 11 of October - the Perils of free ranges hens I guess. 
Rubbish photo - I'll get some better ones later! 

Although it's always nice to have some new chicks this has given me some housing issues as there is no way free range chicks will last more than five minutes around here. So last night I gathered them up and put them in my broody coop. The young pullet and mother that were in there already aren't ready to go into the big wide world yet so they got shoved into my little greenhouse, problem solved - for now! 
If it doesn't go too cold too quickly these chicks have a chance but it's far too late for them really, I might add a bit of insulation on the pen they're in for a couple of weeks and make sure they have plenty of bedding.

What's the latest you've had chicks hatch and survive?

Monday 10 October 2016

Pasturella In Lambs

It's not been a great week as far as the stock is concerned. A bit of a disaster in fact, as I've lost some fat lambs to pasturella. 
I am a lucky guy in most things in life but not when it comes to sheep. 
If there's another way for one of my flock to die that I haven't seen yet then I should know it's only a matter of time. 
I vaccinated my lambs earlier in the year against many of the things that can get them as they're growing, one of the things they were meant to be vaccinated again was pasturella but obviously it isn't 100% successful, as I can prove. 

Taken from google:
 "Pasteurella pneumonia is considered one of the most important infectious bacterial diseases of sheep. It is usually caused by Pasteurella haemolytica, a bacteria that is a normal inhabitant of the upper respiratory tract of the sheep."

The main trouble with it is how fast the animals go downhill, I was talking to another Shepard and he said that after a cool evening we had the other night he found 7 dead the next morning and a friend of his found 10 dead in one field. It can happen over night and as I check my animals twice a day it's hard for me to accept that a healthy animal can just die like that. 

I managed to save one with a course of antibiotics as I caught it early enough but a few more have not been so lucky, the worst is I had been planning on selling them as store lambs a few weeks ago but I'd been working on the extensions so much I hadn't got round to it. As they had plenty of grass and they all seemed healthy I wasn't in too much of a rush. 

But, like with all things, I try to keep a positive outlook, but the sheep do make it hard for me sometimes. 

On a slightly crazy note when I've been dealing with these lambs this stupid song has been going through my head, only with the lyrics changed ever so slightly. 

Saturday 8 October 2016

A Spot Of Clay Shooting

A large portion of my spring and summer was spent working on a building a hotel extension just outside the village. 
This job was good as it was so close and there was a great crew of lads working there, one of the best I've worked with in a long time. The work was hard as we worked quite long days and I really put in a lot of effort to get my part (the carpentry) done as fast as possible.  I made some great friends and there was  real sense of camaraderie between our close nit group.
It's been a month since I've finished there (besides some evening work) so it was nice when Edd (the site manager, who also works on the tools as well) invited me to go clay shooting with the rest of the lads. My friends babysat the children and picked the eldest up from school whilst I went and busted some clays for the afternoon (thanks Brian and Sarah!)

It's been a while since I've had the gun out as I just haven't found time for it and I forgot how much I enjoy it. We split into small groups to go round all the different traps that simulate different types of game, I was with the experienced guns and we had a great time picking out the hard traps to make things difficult for us.

I have to admit my score wasn't amazing but it was great to be with a couple of more experienced guns so I could learn from them and I picked up some good tips. 
It was also good to get a bit of practice in as I have a days game shooting booked in towards the end of November. 
Anyone else enjoy clay shooting? 

Thursday 6 October 2016

For The Love Of Squash

I love squash, it's one  one of my all time favourite vegetables as I many of you know.
I love it almost as much as these guys! 

Let me know which veg you love so much you could sing about it (don't worry I don't expect a music video like these guys!)

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Extension Progress - Up To First Floor Joist

Things have been busy here. Dill got the brick and block work up to joist level by the middle of last week and I've been trying to get the floor joists in whenever I've got a spare few minutes. 
Luckily mum came over on Thursday to help with the children so I go a few hours in then as well as a full day on Sunday (I had to work on Saturday unfortunately). I've also stole a couple of hours whilst my girls have been at playschool and school whilst my baby boy took a two hour nap, I have to seize every moment I can at the moment and hit the ground running! 

I've still got some more to do on the floor, noggins to go in and hangers to be fixed, then I can fit a temporary floor (bought for £45 so it doesn't matter if the rain gets on it) so we can build the next level up. The scaffolders (an old building friend) came on Monday and installed the first lift of scaffold so once I've finished the floor I can start loading out all the bricks and blocks which helps save a lot of money by doing the labouring myself.

I've also installed a temporary hatch in the floor (in the picture above), the idea behind this is that I should be able to work in the upstairs of the extension before I knock through. That means that when the old bathroom is destroyed to make way for the the corridor we should have another bathroom ready and waiting! that's the plan anyway, we'll see how it goes!

Hopefully more brickwork continuing next week and I should have the floor all finished by then! 

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Stand Up

As well as crawling, the boy has decided to start standing up and he "cruises" around the furniture now! 
Very little is safe! He's getting pretty quick as well! 

Monday 3 October 2016

Sugar Is Not Evil

Someone I know had shared a great little video of someone making camp bread in a zip lock bag (a clever idea really) but with the following caption:
Screen shot from my Facebook
People commenting and posting things without doing any research is one things that really winds me up. 
I don't need to tell many of you, but a little sugar is often needed in bread, for the yeast to activate, for the crust and for the taste. Now American bread is certainly sweeter than English but most of us add sugar, I know some french breads and sour dough's don't.

When I pointed this out he then started to tell me that sugar is just "empty calories" with "no nutritional value". 

I think this idea of blaming sugar is wrong. 

What's wrong is people's inertia. If you're sat on your ass all day then it's easy to blame sugar for your increased girth. 

There's no such thing as empty calories, it's all fuel for the fire. If you've ever sat on a roof in the middle of a cold January with rain beating down on you for 9 hours a day, you will understand that that chocolate bar you ate at lunch is giving you the energy to get back out there and keep earning your living. Or that night your lambing and been up for hours, that sugary breakfast helps you get the kids ready for school. 

People love to tell us what is good and bad for us when they don't know what our bodies are going through. My whole body is adapted to my lifestyle, I eat a lot because I burn a lot of fuel, some of that happens to be sugar, I eat many other things that provide the other essentials for life, but sometimes I just need a bit of extra energy. 

What's your take on sugars current reputation? 
Do you eat much sugar in your diet?
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