Monday 26 February 2018

Into The Extension Upstairs

I woke up his morning feeling like my body is a little bit broken.
My dad and brother both feel the same.
It's been a hard weekend!

Over half term I've been getting the extension ready for the big knock through. The idea being to have a big push with my dad and brother on the weekend to knock through to the top of the extension, removing the old bathroom in the process.
During the four days on my own I managed to get the bedroom ready, skirting on and all painted (Sean plastered it the weekend before), the loft boarded out and some of the plumbing sorted for the bathroom.
 Dad turned up on the Friday, he mainly concentrated on the heating and the plumbing whilst I got ready to knock through. The pictures show some of what we got up to!
Drain opened up ready! I'd left a bung in it until we were ready to connect everything up

We ate well for three days. Not for the ones worried about their weight but I think we burnt it off! We had to cook outside for the weekend.  

Dad in the old bathroom

My brother helping to break through, these bricks were so hard - even with the big breaker it was hard to do! 

Taking advantage of the bath outside as somewhere to lie for a minute...

My brother next to the last wall to come down - clinker block. Much easier to knock down! 

A little bit of mess in the old bathroom...

Plastic to try and stop the dust going downstairs

The bathroom on Saturday night. I couldn't help thinking I'd ruined my house! 

Getting the joists in the access hole that's been in the extension since I built it. I've been up and down here hundreds of times but it was good to see it blocked up. 

I lugged everything up that hole to make sure the extension was pretty much ready to go when we knocked through! 

Gone! Glad to see it boarded up and much safer with the kids! 

Finished bedroom. 

New corridor where the old bathroom was

New small shower room 

Coming from the other side. 
The house suddenly feels much bigger!
The kids were funny when they got back, My middle one wasn't even sure where her bedroom was even though it hadn't moved!
It's odd to get used to the new layout, especially when you need to go to the loo in the middle of the night, but I doubt it'll take long until i'm used to it.
Lots more to do up stairs yet though! Wiring and sockets, plasterboard walls, create a shower room, the list goes on! Then once that's all done I can start on the downstairs! Fun fun fun! Hopefully have a full day at it tomorrow when the kids are at school. Probably box in pipes around the toilet first to stop the kids standing on them!
Hopefully I'll get to the end of this extension one day, but it's not going to be for a while yet!

Thursday 22 February 2018

Rubbish Removal

This is a collaborative post

I've done pretty well for rubbish while building our extension. There hasn't been huge amounts of waste, we burn the wood on the fire and any hardcore has already been reused. There are certain items that are harder to get rid of though, things like plasterboard should be recycled and plastics if they can.

I drive what's classed as a commercial vehicle so I'm only allowed so many trips to the tip each year and when you do go they can be quite funny about plasterboard waste and I hate things going to landfill.

The other day I was saying to my wife that it might be time for us to get a skip. As well as the plasterboard, from the ceiling I ripped down, there is also a fair amount of plastic collected over the last few years. Things like ton bags and empty cement bags soon mount up, in fact I'd collected 4 bulk bags full.

The downside is our drive is quite tight so having to have a skip on it for a few weeks would be a real pain (no chance of having it on the field as it's far too wet at the moment).
 So I was chuffed when I came across clearabee and saw the services they offered.
I chose their "man with a van service" and a few emails and a couple of photos later I had a big van coming to pick up my waste.
There was three really friendly guys in the truck and they moved the rubbish in no time at all. I thought I was being a bit cheeky getting rid of all the ton bags but they took them without question, to be honest I don't think they would have fitted in a skip as they are so bulky but weigh very little.
 They also took all my plasterboard waste and some doors from a previous job that had glass in.
I know it's very sad to get excited about getting rid of some rubbish but I was so pleased to get it all from here. It's made the place look so much tidier and I hadn't expected them to take it all - I just kept grinning afterwards! It's the simple things that please me!

#### For this post Clearabee offered their services free of charge to me but the opinions and silly gleefulness once the rubbish was removed are all my own! ####

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Smalec - Polish Pork Dripping

There was a lot of fat on the pigs when we were processing them at the weekend, so gets added to the sausages but there was still a lot there. 
One of the guys was Polish and wanted to make smalec. This is basically like dripping but with pork fat instead of beef and the fat is flavoured. 
It was simple to make. We first minced up a good amount of fat. 
 It was then rendered it down on the hob until it started to separate.
 Then an onion cut in half was added to flavour the fat, he did this on sticks so he could stir it round.
 He took this outside to cool for a while then once it was cold enough to pour into plastic containers he broke up the onion and shared it between three tubs.
 Once cool it solidified.
 Apparently they spread it on bread instead of butter with a sprinkling of salt and fresh onion on top.
I tried it on some fresh bread (without fresh onion - no way can I eat that) and a bit of salt, it was lovely, a great alternative to butter and one worth remembering encase things ever got harder and dairy products were harder to get.

Stores for a long time as well as fat is basically a preserve.

Apparently they sometimes flavour the fat with apples instead of onions. I think I still prefer beef dripping but this is genuinely good to eat. The girls liked it as well!

Who else has tried this or something similar?

Monday 19 February 2018

Pig Butchery Weekend

#####This post contains pictures of dead animals#####
I received a message the other day from a group I'm a member of asking me if I'd be interested in attending a butchery weekend.
The idea of the group is a great one, to share our skills and help each other learn to become more self reliant. 
The weekend would consist of butchering two pigs, one roe deer and some pheasants, we'd be shown how to do it by an ex butcher who grew up doing it, with lots of hands on experience for everyone as well. 
The amazing thing was that the only cost was for our share of the meat that we got to take home at the end. 
The pigs were some beautiful rare breed Berkshire pigs from the smallholding we were staying at and the deer from a local game dealer.
 It was amazing to get some hands on experience, I do a fair bit of butchery but to do it with someones guidance was so much better than a YouTube video.
 I particularly enjoyed the deboning of joints, such a handy skill and so hard to do to start with.
 I also managed to do the butchers knot. Something that I've never been able to do! I must make sure I practice it now and keep the skill in my mind!

There was such a lot of meat on the pigs and plenty of opportunity for us all to have a go. It was also with a great group of lads, lots of laughing and joking around.
We were set up in army style tents and did start to loose light. so we moved outside and then on to using a tilly lamp (I was impressed with how much light they give off!) Here we did the roe deer and the pheasants.

We had a feast that night of meat cooked over a BBQ and then Kevin (the host a different Kevin to me!) made two stews, one pheasant and one of deer as well as a huge tray of crackling! I was stuffed and went to bed full!
Our accommodation for the weekend was the same tents that we'd done the butchery in.
I was surprisingly warm the whole night, although I was the subject of much Micky taking when people realised that I had taken my pillow with me! I might be outside but I will have some comfort!
The next day we went on to sausage making, but I'll leave that for another post!
A great weekend though and I made lots of friends.

Monday 12 February 2018

Eating A Frozen Chip

I had a moment of sheer revulsion this weekend.

And that's not easy, I'm not a squeamish person.

But watching my friend eat a FROZEN OVEN CHIP (fries to the Americans on here), straight from the bag, like it was the most normal thing in the world turned my stomach.

What's worst was he was surprised that we didn't all do it! He was convinced that his wife would think it was normal as well, but she was as disgusted as the rest of us.

Do you think it's normal?

What do you eat that everyone else finds disgusting?

Friday 9 February 2018

Repairing The Shared Drive

We share our short drive with four other houses. For the last few months it's become a bit like the end of a 4x4 trail course. 
The ruts were so big that normal cars would just bottom out on it. So my one neighbour and me decided to just get on and sort it our. We used my dads digger, some hardcore and road planings. 

We scraped off the high spots then added 4 ton of stone to make a new surface. 

It's made coming in and out of our drive so much easier and better. The only downside was when my wife came home from work she didn't even notice! It was lovely to do the job with my neighbour and friend, it's nice to be able to work together like this. Here's to good neighbours!

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Selecting Carrots For Seed Saving

So the seed saving bug was strong on Sunday after the swap!
Pulled up all my Heritage Seed Library carrots, Red Elephant, today for selection. Some are real beauties!

I laid out the 70 or so carrots and then selected the best 32 of the roots for growing on for seed. I could get away with about 20 but more gives them a bigger genetic pool and prevents inbreeding depression. I would have liked to have selected from a bigger group as well but we've eaten quite a few! 

These will get planted in a bed in the spring, quite close together, to flower and pollinate each other.
This will hopefully give me plenty of seed for next year's swap and to send back to the heritage seed library, as well as leaving me enough to feed our family next year. Believe me when i say we eat a lot of carrots!

Anyone else saving carrot seed this year?
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