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. 

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