Friday 24 December 2021

Merry Christmas!

 Such a busy few days! It has been lovely and with the utter magic of Christmas with children. 

Today was spent looking at roof with a friend, then tidying the house before going round to the same friends house for a wonder Christmas eve tradition that seems to have started of fish and chips together. 

The children have hung their stockings, laid out a mince pie and a carrot, I've read them The Night Before Christmas and they're trying ever so hard to close their eyes tight and fall asleep.

Hope everyone has a great Christmas tomorrow! 

Sunday 19 December 2021

A five Year Old's Shopping List

 The other day my lad gave me a shopping list of what he wanted for tea the next night. 

Now, I'm not easily swayed by things, but this was pretty cute and we all love bugis (burgers) so I did pop to the shops to get what we needed. 

Thursday 9 December 2021

Ideal Christmas Gifts For Gardeners

I've been working as hard as one of Father Christmas's Elves these last few weeks trying to make stock to sell via Etsy and other means. 

I thought I'd put a few in a post here just encase people didn't know what I made or sold. 

My most popular item is my range of potting trays. Ideal for mixing up compost or filling pots and trays. I do four different sizes off the shelf and also make some to order (although not now before Christmas:

Medium - 40cm x 58cm

Large - 54cm x 58cm

Jumbo - 54cm x 78cm

Jumbo Shallow - 40cm x 78cm

I also make a range of seed boxes. Ideal to organise your seed collections in. 

For these I make some with new timber and hand carve the word "SEEDS" on the front of each one. I then cut the hinges in by hand and finish them with two coats of Danish oil. These are made in two sizes

Carved wood seed box Medium - 30cm x 20cm

Carved wood seed box Large - 40cm x 30cm

And I also make a range of boxes from reclaimed timber. I've been struggling to get this timber this year so it's really nice to be able to offer these for sale again. I love how different the timber is on these and it's great for it to have a second life like this. 

Reclaimed wood seed box Medium - 30cm x 20cm

Reclaimed wood seed box Large - 40cm x 30 cm

I do make many more items, I have some boxes painted with a traditional milk paint, and sometimes have odd sized ones to make the most of the timber, something that is only possible as each one is made by me. 

I also try to utilise every scrap of wood, my main reason for selling bird feeders, which are a really popular item. 

My can rotators are something I'm really pleased I invented. I think this will probably be the last of these that I sell since the increase in the cost of MDF has made them too expensive to make. These were made as kits before the timber price increase though so I'll keep selling them until I run out. 

And the ultimate gardening gift would be the hand carved tool box I made a few months back. One like this was featured in an article I wrote for wood carving magazine. 

Thank you to anyone who supports my small business in anyway, through buying one of my products, liking a post I write or sharing something on social media. It makes such a huge difference to the way we live. 

Tuesday 30 November 2021

Chicken Cull

 This posts contains pictures of dead animals, if you don't like that then please don't click to read more of the article. 

Despite the bad weather this weekend just gone we needed to prepare the chickens for the avian flu lockdown. This meant lots of shuffling of chickens to different pens and the processing of 6 cockerels.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Oak Floor For Mum

This weekend just gone I fitted an oak floor with my brother. It's for mum and dad in their dining room, they've lived in this house for nearly 40 years now! 

I prefer to glue these floors down rather let them float as it feels more solid. Mum wanted to bead round the skirting but when she left the room we took it off anyway - a much better job! It'll still need beading round the fireplace. 

Sunday 7 November 2021

Creative writing

Not sure what has happened but it seems like time has been sped up at the moment! 

I think I might be neglecting the blog a bit at the moment - I will try harder!

I like to find some time to write nearly every day and I'm still managing to do that, but I've been doing more magazine articles (which is great as it does mean some income) and I've been doing a creative writing course via zoom once a week, rather than blogging I guess. 

This course is for fiction writing, although I'm sure it will improve my non fiction writing as well, and I've been really enjoying writing some, to the point where it's all I want to be doing at the moment! I've written a few short stories and had some really good feedback so far, really makes me want to carry on and try my hand at some longer stories.

It's nice to branch my hobby of writing into something fun and creative like this. I've always wanted to do it but somehow never got very far with anything. 

I'm tempted to post some of my creative fiction writing on here or find somewhere to post it where people might read it. Of course I get imposter syndrome and worry about it though, and my favourite genres might not tie to my lifestyle here. 

 Anyone else like to write? Probably a silly question to put to bloggers as I'm sure everyone enjoys it that does it for a hobby! 

Thursday 28 October 2021

Carved Seed Boxes For Sale

 I've just finished making a small batch of my seed boxes with the word "SEEDS" hand carved on the front. 

Normally I finish my garden projects with linseed oil but I decided to use two coats of Danish oil this time and I'm so glad I did, it really sets them off and holds the natural colour of the wood. 

Hopefully these will make ideal Christmas presents for gardeners - although I recommend early ordering as I predict transport issues in the busy lead up. I also can't see me having time to make any more before Christmas so once these are sold chances are it'll be the new year before I have more in stock (that said if they sell fast I might have to find time!). 

I find this a great way to practice my carving skills and keep my little business running. If anyone wants to make one themselves then I have just been published in Woodworking Crafts magazine with six pages of instructions on how to make your own! It's a fun project! 

Here's a link on where to buy them - Etsy Hand Carved Seed Box

Tuesday 19 October 2021

An 8 Year Olds Party

 My Middlest is 8 years old now! Can't quite believe it (I know it's a cliché thing to say).

She was sweet for what she wanted for her party, just a few friends, pizzas in the new oven and some Taskmaster tasks! 

If you've never watched Taskmaster it's a great show where a group of comedians have tackle different challenges. Ever since they've done a PG version we've watched it with the children and it's become a firm favourite, it really makes them think outside the box. I set up a selection of tasks outside (even got some red sealing wax to seal the tasks) and let the children have a great time tackling them! 

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Garden Club Talks - Back Up & Running

 It seems that garden club talks are back up and running - this is great news for me as it makes up some of my income and it's something I really enjoy doing. 

I've done quite a few over the last few months, one in a WI in my own village, which I thought was particularly brave of me - especially as it was on preserving!

Last night I drove to Bream in the Forest of Dean to give a talk and had a really enjoyable evening giving a talk (although my wife and I were like ships passing in the night, a kiss on the doorstep as I headed out and she headed in). their garden club has been running for an incredible 156 years!

I got some lovely feedback which I thought I'd share with you from their facebook page:

Jennifer Lang - "Kev Alviti of An English Homestead was our speaker last night. He is a stay-at home dad/part-time carpenter. His wife works full time and they have three children. They have 52 veg beds, chickens, an orchard and a coppice. What an interesting and informative evening it proved to be. This is definitely “The Good Life” in action, though one that actually works. Kev is knowledgeable about all types of preserving and proved to be a very enthusiastic and entertaining speaker. It was great to hear his children are being taught to process food, which will be very useful to them throughout their lives. Hard to believe two girls under the age of 10 can pluck, dress and freeze pack chickens so efficiently and love doing it. I was reminded of all those old American films which showed the whole family being involved in homesteading. Kev has a website you will find interesting This is the place to visit if you want to learn more. For those who couldn’t come, you missed a great evening."

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Earth Oven part 5 - Building And Drying

 It feels like this project is nearly there now. Still quite a bit to do. 

We built the sand former and covered it in a good layer of mud. I then got brave and a few days later I took the sand out and had a little firing to start curing it. I plan to do another post on this soon, but I'm going to write a magazine article as a how to first.

the children were so proud when we fired it up. I wored well to the weather and managed to build a shelter around it before all this bad weather we've been having. Good job as well, I thin it might have washed away otherwise. The shelter was built from reclaimed materials and I got it up in a day. 

Thursday 30 September 2021


I was lucky enough to be at my friends the other day and snuffle some damsons - one of my favourite fruits! 

We all love their tart sweetness here so the kids were excited to eat some as well. 

Monday 27 September 2021

Small Batch Preserving Is The Way Forward

 I love just canning a few jars of fruit on an evening, often when writing in the kitchen. 

I know I've said it so many times before but doing it like this, little and often, really does fill up the pantry! 

Sunday 19 September 2021

Baking Before School

Sometimes I get silly ideas in my head - like making bread before school! 

To  be fair it was only the dough that they were making. An enriched one to make apple buns for a bake sale at school.

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Brick Arch Former

 It's not been dry enough to do much on the cob oven, it needs more time to dry out (although I have done more since the last post).

So my eldest daughter and I decided to make a wooden former for the arch over the entrance, a nice simple project we could do together. 

Sunday 12 September 2021

Blighted Tomatoes - Green tomato Ketchup

We've avoided blight the last few years here, but this summer when we got back from holiday it was waiting for us. 

The girls and their mum ripped out most of the plants and seperated up the tomatoes into ones that would ripen and ones to use green, then they sat there staring at me until I did something with them. 

Wednesday 8 September 2021

The Base - Earth Oven Part 4

Although we had some cob bricks made we had nowhere to put them!

I had dug out an area and filled it with hardcore but as I knew the oven would weigh a fair bit I decided to use some concrete here - hopefully the only bit. I lined the bottom of the footing with some left over plastic from our polytunnel and made a frame out of some left over fencing timber from earlier in the year. 

Monday 6 September 2021

Cob Party - 12 Children And Lots Of Mud - Earth Oven Part 3

 I'm a big fan of learning through doing - I'm very much a kinesthetic learner. So the idea of making this earth oven harder for myself doesn't really phase me. Maybe it should though. But I've decided to make the base out of cob as well! 

Then the other day a couple of friends were struggling with childcare (school hasn't started back yet but lots of holiday clubs are already finished), so I said I'd take them all in. And, with my wife, my friend adn her 4 children said they'd come over for a bit of fun.

So at it's peak we had 12 children here for a bit of cob making! The base wasn't ready so it was just for learning to use the materials. 

Saturday 4 September 2021

Apple Cinnamon Buns

Last weekend we went to a food festival in Oxford. The whole day was really great, and a particular highlight was one of the talks I managed to sneak off to without the children. 

 It was with a man who has a company called "Bake with Jack", apparently he's on the TV but I've never seen him (not that I watch huge amounts these days so that's nothing to go by). 

He did a demo where he made some apple cinnamon buns, he was a great speaker, really engaging and funny. I also picked up quite a few tips with baking. 

Thursday 2 September 2021

Trouble With My Damson Trees

 So if you have read this blog for any length of time you'll know that I love damsons. When ripe they're up there with some of my favourite fruits. One reason why I put about another 14 in this year in our new hedge in the second field. 

Unfortunately, other than the one in the photo above (a Merryweather - my favourite as it is a "freestone" damson), the others don't seem to be doing so well in the orchard that I planted 8 years ago

Tuesday 31 August 2021

Yellow Egg Plums Don't Grow True From Seed

When we lived around Evesham someone once told me that yellow egg plums grow true from seed. That's one of the reasons there are so many around that area, they'd often grow them around the outside of the market gardens as an extra cash crop. 

Well even though I know the science of why it shouldn't be true I took a punt and dug up a seedling from mum and dads farm. I planted it about 8 years ago. 

Sunday 29 August 2021

New Quay To Aberaeron Walk

Always on the look out for mini adventures with the children, we decided that even though the weather looked a bit iffy (like 80% chance of rain at lunch time) we would go for a nice long walk. 

The route to Aberaeron from where we were staying in New Quay looked nice and we knew we could get a bus easily back at the end of it. 

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Pottery Throw Down On Holiday!

We go to the same place on holiday every year at the moment and absolutely love it. We go to the little town of New Quay in Wales, it has beautiful beaches, rock pools and doesn't get too busy. 

I'm very aware that I want to keep it interesting for the children (and for us adults as well) so always looking for something different to try. 

The children have a few programmes they love on the telly, Bake off, Sewing Bee and Pottery Throw Down. These are all crafts and activities we try to do at home. With the pottery I often buy a big bag of air dried clay and let them make items, or watch a video on how to make something and set them to it - but the children have often mentioned how they would like to have a go at a potters wheel to really let their creativity out! 

Thursday 19 August 2021

Team Freezer Prep

 The other night, while I was making tea I picked half a bucketful of French beans. With a quick shout to the living room two helpers appeared to help me prep them (the eldest went off to pick tomatoes). 


In fact I didn't do any of the French beans, instead leaving the youngest two to top and tail them, then weigh them out into freezer bags for use later in the year. 

As well as leaving us enough out to steam to have with one of our beautifully roasted Indian Game hens and rice. 

They love helping put food down for winter - good job as well otherwise it can get a bit overwhelming! 

Anyone else make use of their helpers when it comes to food prep?

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Mechanical Thinking

 It's funny, my dad always sees me as non mechanical, mainly because I chose to work with wood rather than metal. But, looking back, I'm always fixing machines or maintaining them, changing batteries or topping stuff up, there is always something breaking and although I do phone dad for advice I quite often get things going again myself. 

My little old blue digger is a good case in this one, I've bled it numerous times when there has been problems with the fuel line, replaced pipes, and now dealt with the track coming off. 

Sunday 15 August 2021

Frist Failed Cob Oven! - Earth Oven Part 2

Once we got to grips with the cob as a building material and found a better way to mix it (Using the paddle mixer I use to mix plaster and plaster board adhesive) we set about making a test oven. 
This was just to be a test oven and see if we could get the materials to work for us. 

Thursday 12 August 2021

Chicken Butchery - Indian Game

Obviously this post contains pictures of dead animals so please don't read if that kind of thing upsets you. 

I had planned to process a batch of Indian Game chickens for the freezer this week. I was then disappointed when I found out that the day I had planned to do it the children were going for a sleep over at my mum and dads. 

This is how far things have come with the children, it's so much easier with them that I now plan to do it so they can help. So I made sure we all got up early that morning and got cracking before they had to go!

Sunday 8 August 2021

Messing About With Cob - Earth Oven Part 1

 For a long time now I've been saying how much I'd like to build an earth oven. The trouble with saying it lots, that doesn't mean it happens! 

So yesterday each of the children had asked to do something with me (eldest wanted to do green woodwork, middlest wanted to use my pyro pen to burn some pictures onto wood and the youngest wanted to carve some dinosaurs) So I thought maybe we should do something we can all be involved with. 

Thursday 5 August 2021

Canned British Apricots

 I've been teaching a friend preserving and this week we got to can some apricots!

I just realised I didn't do a post about the cherries they grow so will have to do one soon, but these guys are expert fruit growers and as well as growing cherries they also grow apricots. But some of these had proved to be a bit like avocados to ripen. They were either on the tree hard as bullets or on the floor. For me it was a massive first, I don't think I've had many British Apricots let alone seen enough to do some preserving with! 

Sunday 1 August 2021

Odd Drawer Unit Painted

 I didn't realise that I never got round to adding a picture of the finished Odd Drawer Unit I got commissioned to make from my mum last year. 

So here it is in mums sewing/craft room in all it's glory, with the wonky walls that surround it! 

I love seeing things I make in use and this one is full to the brim! It took a bit of making and messing about with but it was a project I enjoyed. You can watch the video of how I made it here. 

What do you think? Like it or not a practical use of space?

Tuesday 27 July 2021

12 Years Married

12 years ago this weekend we got married (together 20 now)! Over half my life with her and I still can't quite believe how lucky I am that she puts up with me and what wonderful mother and wife she is. Had a wonderful day at Cotwold Wildlife Park to celebrate!

Life is good.

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Dehydrated Gooseberries

The other night my younger daughter came wondering up from the garden without her skirt on. 
She'd taken it off to carry all the gooseberries that she had picked from the one huge gooseberry bush we've got that's producing (we have ten young bushes that aren't quite there yet). 

 I thought that was using her head, but also thankful that the neighbours couldn't see! 

When I planted a lot of soft fruit last year a big part of it was thinking about more dehydrated fruit. I love having it on my breakfast and last years damsons and plums has been incredible and so full of sharp flavour.

So I'd planted 10 gooseberry bushes without really checking to see if they dehydrate very well! Luckily this little experiment confirmed what I thought - they are awesome. After 24 hours at 57 degrees they came out every so slightly chewy and tasting like one of the best sour sweets you've ever eaten. They're almost too sour, but you have to go back for more! 

I imagine in my breakfast these are going to taste ace! 

While the dehydrator was on I also did about 4 trays of cherries and one with some bananas that were going over. 

Anyone else dehydrate gooseberries? What's your favourite dried fruit/treat? 

Sunday 18 July 2021

Everything is Breaking!

 Argh, it's been one of those weeks! 

Frist the fridge freezer decides to pack up. We;ve had it just a little over 2 and a half years, guess how long the warranty is?

Yep, 2 years. It's a large American style fridge freezer and was about £700, a replacement cost we could do without! It wasn't totally broken though, things at the bottom were frozen (both sides) and at the top was about 17 degrees. 

I decided to do some googling of common faults and then set to work with a multimeter to see if I could find a fault. Luckily I did!

The fan at the back of the freezer used to make a noise at times, and no longer was. So when I tested it and no voltage could get through this bit I thought I'd found the problem. 

Unfortunately the part number on the fan didn't match with anything, so I had to order one that looked like the right part! Risky at 45 quid, as it could be throwing good money after bad. 

Luckily when it turned up, I changed out the old unit and by the end of the day the fridge freezer was acting normally again. I'd honestly be willing to pay a lot more for appliances if they'd just last a bit longer. Imagaine this going to landfill for the want of a fan!

Then I flooded my boys room out by leaving a valve open. A silly mistake and one I won't be making again! 

Thirdly my (very expensive) sander broke this week. Again I was annoyed, but could soon see what had broken luckily. I ordered the part at 1pm on Friday and had the new bit by 11AM on Saturday! Talk about good service!

This tool gets used a lot and has a hard life so I'm not mad that it broke in the first place, being used for hours at a time can't be easy on something like this. 

Replaced it and now working fine and will hopefully provide many more years of service! 

Anyone else been fixing things lately?

Wednesday 14 July 2021

A Lesson Learned The Hard Way

 It's worth popping over to my other blog to see what I did here.

But lets just say I'm very annoyed at myself and felt like quite the fool for quite a while. A lesson learned the hard way, especially as it's all carved by hand! Full blog post here. 

Anyone else made a mistake like this?

Monday 12 July 2021

Garlic Harvest

Every day last week the boy was asking me when we were going to harvest our garlic. He had even taken to carrying some garlic around in his pocket as he wanted to plant it! 
I didn't want to do it without him so waited until the weekend when we could dig it up together. 

Monday 5 July 2021

Purple Pea Water

The toehr night I had quite the shock when I took the steamer off the top of the potatoes!

 It was like I was cooking them in ink! 

Above the potatoes I was steaming both Victorian Purple podded peas (but as mange tout) and some broad bean tops (easily one of the most underrated veg out there), both of which must have imparted some of their colour into the water. 

I used to work with a Bulgarian guy who used to moan about how the English cook. 

He used to ask "Why do you chuck the water away? All the Goodness there." 

Then he'd eat the water from his boiled runner beans like a soup as a starter. I think he was probably on to something. 

Other than making gravy from this water though I'm not sure what else to do with it? I suppose it could be saved as a light stock for a soup? 

Do you save the cooking liquid from things you cook?

Sunday 27 June 2021

Jelly Bag Stand

 A while back I wrote an article for an online friend, Rosie who has a brilliant website for preserving. While we were chatting she asked if I'd be willing to make some items for her to sell as it can be hard finding people to make specific things. 

The item in question was some jelly bag stands, made from wood that could be easily assembled. 

I really like it when small businesses can work together so it was really nice to be able to make these things for Rosie and I hope they sell well for her. you can find the listing on her website here and the rather fetching picture of me!

It's always nice to tie two of my passions together and this certainly does that! 

Thursday 24 June 2021

Hand Clipping Sheep

It's been a while since sheep have featured on the blog and I should say that these aren't mine! 

Some smallholder friends were struggling to get anyone to shear their sheep. The trouble is they only have 5 pet sheep. I lent them some hand sheers but I think a mixture of worry and lack of experience put them off. 

Sunday 20 June 2021

Larder Unit

Yesterday we visited my brother and sister-in-laws place for the first time in ages. It was to meet their new baby (A tiny baby girl) and was lovely to chat and catch up. 

It was great to see the kitchen I built from scratch in use and full of produce! It was a monster of a unit with huge doors and drawers.

The can rotators inside the unit are available via my Esty store or you can email me if you'd like any!

I think they picked a great colour and the whole kitchen really seems to work with the central island. I've asked them to send me some pictures of the whole thing when they get chance so I can share it on here.  

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Hellen's Garden Festival 2021

 We look forward to this weekend every year since we first went in 2016.

They asked me to do a talk again this year and luckily for me it was at 12 O'clock which meant that it was out of the way early on and I could then just relax and enjoy my day once it was over. When I'm doing lots of garden club talks I don't get nervous, but it's been well over a year since my last one. 

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