Sunday, 18 April 2021


 #### This is a collaborative post ####

I take between four to five hundred photos a month. I take photos of everything, from the completely mundane to the occasional beautiful photo.

One of my favourite photo's I've ever taken

One thing I never get round to doing is changing them from digital files to something we can actually see on a daily basis! 

Thursday, 15 April 2021

April Weather

April has always been one of my favourite months, the weather is always impossible to guess!

On Monday we woke up with a good covering of snow and it made me thankful that I was so behind in the garden! Whilst I'd been feeling guilty everyone else had their potatoes in for me it was great to have that job still to do! 

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Planting Elm Trees

The other day I finished reading this rather excellent book called "Barn Club" about a community project building an elm framed barn using traditional methods. 

One thing that really struck me was how there was still lots of elm trees about if you knew where to look. Not that they get to a good size anymore, unless in a pocket that never got seriously affected by the disease, but there are still some that get to useful timber size. Also how much this timber used to be used. Many of the old carpentry books I've got talk about it's uses, from water pipes to coffins to the hubs of wheels! 

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Bird Box With My Middlest

I've been building a great project with my eldest after school and a few hours on the weekend - a spoon mule (a variant of a shave horse) but was aware that my younger children were also keen to build something with me. 

With my younger daughter (my middlest) I decided that a simple bird box might make a great little project we could easily complete together. I cut all the pieces ready and then got her to drill all the pilot holes to guide the nails. 

I think we could maybe do with a lighter hammer for them, but she managed to knock most of the nails in unaided. We used the vice in the workshop to help hold bits while she lined them up as well (not in any photos).

We put the hole in the front the right size for a sparrow, but that is suitable for other types as well. Top is screwed on so we can clean it out should we need to. 

Probably a bit late to be putting it up but better late than never! Last year we did one around this time and had blue tits in it within days! We placed this down in the coppice area, be nice to make a few more and have them all around the place.

What type of bird boxes do you have at your place - does anyone find a certain style works better than any others?

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Poultry Out Of Lockdown!

So this week the poultry could come back out and free range! Woop! 

It hasn't been too bad as I have lots of pens, but I was desperate to get the ducks out of the polytunnel! 

Sunday, 28 March 2021

6 Chicks Hatched

Now I would have preferred a better hatch rate but considering the incubator jammed and it was some days before I realised it wasn't turning I'm surprised we got any! So we had 7 hatch, one unfortunately had to be dispatched but the 6 that are left seem healthy and happy. 

No matter how many times we hatch chicks out I'm always excited. These are some pure breed Indian Game, after setting up the breed flock last year (and doing some miles to do it!). 


We'll have to see what we get from this batch. The hens they came from are mixed colours run with a dark coloured cockerel so it'll be interesting to see if there is much of a mix. We might put another set of eggs in the incubator straight away to hatch some more, as these are much slower grown than Ross Cobbs we will need to keep some hatching through the year to supply us with meat. 

Anyone else hatching eggs at the moment?

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

52 Weeks Of Carving

 I have kept my other blog sawdustinmysocks running for well over 10 years, sometimes I've put quite a bit on there and sometimes it's gone quiet.

This year I'm using it to document a challenge I've set myself where I'm trying to carve something every week to really develop my carving skills, something I've wanted to dedicate time to since I started to train to be a carpenter. 

I'm posting every week on there what carving and craft work I get up to and how I'm trying to learn the skills that I want. I'm enjoying the process and although it's a hard goal to set myself, I think that to do something like this every week is a great way to learn the skills and muscle memory needed. 

My new workbench is my latest project I've finished and I'm enjoying having it in my workshop - where I spend so much of my time! So if you're wondering what I do in the evenings my other blog has the answers - hopefully time better spent than watching TV. A few hours carving with a good audio book is sheer bliss! 

My workbench might be a bit over the top but let me know what you think! 

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Hedges Patched

 Good fences make good neighbours and all that. I decided that as I had a few spare plants left over it was worth just patching up the old hedge that divides between us and farm next door. 

Mainly hawthorn and I'll be honest and say I'm not sure how they'll be do being so shaded under the other trees. 

Hopefully enough will take that can be laid in a decade or so to help strengthen the hedge and fence line. A few hours well spent hopefully and a few more trees in the ground on our little smallholding! 

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Mothers Day Present

 I was really struggling with what to get my mum for mothers day last week. She had suggested something (some threads) but it seemed a bit flat so I decided to maker her something instead. 

We both enjoy having birds visit our gardens so I made up a couple of robin nest boxes for her - especially as last year she had one nesting where she stores all her garden pots and tools! I thought two would really increase her odds of getting one used. Made in my usual style with the reclaimed wood. Hopefully an animal will find these useful. 

I'm now tempted to make up some more nest boxes to put up around her, it was lovely seeing bluetits nest in the one I made last year on the side of my workshop. 

What type of nest box do you like to put up?

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Over 500 Trees Planted!

I'm so pleased with the last week - we have a new fence and hedge in! Woop! 

We did this years ago with the first field nearest the house, to separate off the footpath from the field and make things more private. We kept thinking about doing this with the second field as well, but it was during lockdown and seeing how few people kept their dogs on leads and could control them that made us decide that this was the right thing to do. 

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Eggs In The Incubator

 So my two breeding pens of chickens have started laying well it's time to put them to the test! 

The "P" stands for purebreed Indian Game and the "X" stands for crosses where we have an Indian Game Cockerel with Columbian Plymouth Rock Hens. We have just butchered the crosses we hatched out last year so I'm hoping the fertility stays the same. I'll candle these in a week or so. I'm already saving some eggs now for a friend to hatch and and I'm tempted to list some on eBay once I've proven they will hatch! 

Anyone else hatching eggs? I feel I've started late this year! 

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Butchery Day

 This post contains pictures butchery of poultry, so if you're not someone who wants to read about that then I'd suggest you skip this one.

Theh boys from our Indian Game x Colobian Plymouth Rock crosses we hatched out last year have reached around 24 weeks of age and it was time for them to join freezer club. 

Monday, 1 March 2021

Homestead Maths

I put this on twitter the other day so apologies if you've seen it already. 

This morning she was frustrated trying to figure out Greek gods from a poem and 16 pages of maths.

This afternoon building a chicken coop, marking up parallel lines, taking measurements &first time using the jigsaw on her own. Perfect apprentice.

I love how useful they've become and how they like to help. I can now set her to finish putting in screws or mark up timber to be cut. It's a lovely way to spend time together. Carpenters daughter. 

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Growing Perches

About 6 years ago I started to plant up some patches of willow. It's grown well and I just love standing in the little coppice in the summer where the young trees tower over me. 

When I planted it up most was planted for short rotation  firewood for a wood stove, but it has been really useful for other things. When ever I've done bushcraft lessons I've harvest poles for use for cooking over the fire, last spring we started harvesting bean poles (which we stripped the bark to stop them growing)

I think firewood should always be the last thing wood is used for, so any other uses it has first is ideal and I need to start doing this more. The chicken coops needed some new perches and I'm automatically thought I needed to buy some batten to do the job. But then when I have a large patch of willow with lots of the wood being the right diameter, it seems daft to use anything else.  

So I rounded up the children and went to coppice a few trees for what we needed (my daughter also wanted to make some wands!). I know willow isn't the most durable of timbers but it should be fine for a few chicken perches and when they break they can then be burnt! 

The wind was really blowing as well so the children tried to fly their kite - a great way to wear them out!

I've ordered a few more different types of basket willow cuttings to add to what we have already. I plan to pollard these rather than coppice them, who knows what use we'll find for it in the future! We might cut down a few more rows of what we already have (it'll come back stronger) and use it to weave something as a great activity to do with the kids. 

What material do you grow for use in the garden or the smallholding?

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Throw Back To Chickens in 2009!

These photos popped up on my timeline today and I thought I'd share them with you all. 
Some earlier chicken keeping. 

After I had left the family farm and my wife and I we living in a little village just outside Evesham. This was a time before children and I honestly have no idea what we did with out time! 

We had a good sized garden that I was slowly turning into a farmyard! The rescue hens we originally got were in the small movable ark (the one I fixed up last year in fact) but were slowly destroying the lawn daily. 

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Straw For The Chickens

With this Avian Flu lockdown we've been having it's been tricky to keep the chickens clean with their much reduced pens sizes.

I've been using my wood shavings from my carpentry, but I only produce so many and they do soak in far too easily with all this wet weather we've been having. 

So I put in a message to a farming friend to see if he would be happy to sell me a few bales of straw.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

valentines Upside-down cake

My wife and I don't "do" valentines but today our middlest child made us a lovely valentines pineapple upside-down cake. 

 It was lovely! She even tried to trick me into thinking it was just a sponge before it was put out! 

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Medium Wooden Potting Tray - New Timber

 So I thought I'd do a few posts with some products I currently sell online.

The first is my potting trays, ideal to keep your greenhouse or potting shed tidy! 

The potting trays I make in three standard sizes - medium, large and jumbo. This is the medium one, I tend to make small batches and can never predict if I'll sell more medium or large ones - basically I tend to sell more of the one I made less of! 

I do make trays from reclaimed timebr but due to a few different reasons (and volume of sales) I'm struggling to get enough to meet demand. So I've make these with joinery quality softwood. The base is rebated into the sides to provide extra strength.

When I have finished them I then oil them with one coat of linseed oil that I have added a natural pigment to to darken them down a bit, then once that is dry I oil them a second time with just plain boiled linseed oil. 

The medium trays are 58cm wide by 40cm deep and about 17cm high. You can find the link to buy them here on Numonday, I list them in two places and they are slightly more money on Etsy as I don't know the commission I pay until Etsy tell me where they got the traffic from. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

No More Hole In The Side Of The House...

So after about 18 months I managed to get round to blocking up the hole in the side of the house. 

 It was kind of blocked off before with the blockwork on the inside skin being finished, but decided it needed completing. 

Monday, 8 February 2021

Annoying Dad...

Be that annoying dad that drags your 9 year old daughter out to the workshop before her ballet lesson to show her how to change the belt and blade on a bandsaw...


Thursday, 4 February 2021

Walking Sticks

 The other day we found a bit of time to make some easy walking sticks with the children. 

We just made them out of some willow, so they won't last long, but good enough for the children to play with. It also meant my eldest could try her new drawer knife out on the shave horse! 

They all got to have a go, although I did sit with my youngest. 

They then carved their initials into the sticks so they could tell them apart. 

A lovely way to spend a few hours with each other. 

The sticks have been much loved over the last few weeks since they made them - taken on every walk, a few lightsabre battles and sword fights. Child hood is more fun with sticks to play with! 

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

My Products For Sale - Please Try Not To Use Etsy

My income is not huge. My wife is the bread winner of the family, that's not going to change anytime soon, but what I earn is essential to what we do and how we live as family. 

I do multiple things to earn a living, one of the main ones I do is to sell garden and homestead type products online. Up until now that has mainly been through Etsy, but last night it felt like I got shafted from Etsy. 

Apparently I crossed a threshold of sales, I should add that this is turnover not profit. My profit is quite low as every sale basically has £10 postage on it due to it's size. But I work it all out to earn an hourly rate, taking into account Etsy's commission. 

Up until now that commission has been around 8%. But suddenly I have been put into their offsite advertising program which I can't opt out of. This means that any sales that result from one of their clicks (or a sale up to 30 days later if they have clicked) then costs me a further 12% commission. 

Now this makes it hard for me to work out my costs. Basically I need to put 20% (8% + 12%) on to cover Etsy's fees in case they decide that the sale comes from one of their ads - and I have to trust them on this as well.

This seems unfair to both me and my customers. I don't want more advertising, currently I struggle to keep up with the sales I have. 

Unlike many sellers on their I make all my items. I don't buy in from underpaid workers from elsewhere or any mass produced products. Each one is made by me in my workshop, alone. Maybe this is the mistake I'm making. Someone has already told me to get them made elsewhere and sell them on, but that's not what I want to be about. I like my children seeing me make and sell things and the fact that they can see that people want the things I make. This, to me, is just as important as the money it brings in. 

I will be keeping my Etsy shop but also advertising on another site called NuMonday which just charges me a yearly fee. 

I'm fine with paying to use a service, but I want it to be clear from the start and not to move the goal posts. Unfortunately it seems Etsy is more concerned about it's shareholders than anyone else, certainly not it's artists and makers, and not it's customers. 

Many companies follow this set up, they give good terms, destroy the opposition then control the market and do what they want. 

I shouldn't be surprised. A capitalist economy is an economy controlled by those that have the capital. Don't be fooled into thinking it's anything else. 

I'll be posting some of my products on here over the next week and links of how to buy them in the hope that they come higher in searches. I'll also update my homestead shop page soon as well. Either that or send me an email and I'll deal with you directly. 

The world is full of people thinking they deserve a cut for someone else's sweat, ideas, creativity or ingenuity.

Sorry this is not my usual upbeat tone! Back to normal tomorrow! 

Monday, 1 February 2021

Prime Agricultural Land...

I know we're not alone on this front but it is so wet here at the moment. 

These pictures are from our bottom "field" or as it is at the moment - a pond. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Work In an Orchard Is Never Over

 I was walking with the children on one of our Lockdown walks the other day, and the route goes through a commercial cider orchard. Very different to what we have, the trees are planted at different spaces, they're pruned and harvested differently, but we could see that the work they do in these places is a constantly evolving space. 

New Tree planted to fill a gap

They had young trees filling in gaps in the rows and some older trees that had been ripped out. it looked like they had started pruning as well - must be quite a daunting task with these fields being about 10 acres or more! 

Monday, 25 January 2021

Snowy Days

 The children are a t a lovely age where play is life. Yesterday we managed to take them sledging. Quite a walk to our chosen spot though! about a 5km round walk in total! 

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