Wednesday 30 March 2022

New Duck Pen

A few weeks back I asked everyone's advice about enclosed pens for poultry. 

In the end, after much thinking I decided to get a small (ish) polytunnel frame and enough net to cover it. I decided it had a few advantages over the cheaper chicken pens, it would last longer, be wroth soemthign to sell if we ever got rid of it, and if we needed to we could easily convert it to a proper polytunnel to grow more crops under cover. 

this one is quite low, only about 7ft high, but it only took me about 2 hours to put up on my own (not including clearing the area with the digger). The posts for the tunnel are just hammered into the soil, so it's not a permeant structure. 

 The children then helped pull the net over it. 

Monday 28 March 2022

A 40th Birthday Party!

 Last week it was my wife's 40th birthday! She is an incredible woman and I am very lucky to have her in my life. Amazing to think that we've spent the whole of our 20s and 30s together - over half my life (I'm a year younger), We met when I was 18 and she was 19 and I love the life we've created together. 

The bar staff, although smartly dressed, struggled with some of the drinks...

My wife was keen to have a party so we hired the village hall, and I got brewing and baking! 

Saturday 26 March 2022

New Rose Arch - Some Assembly Required...

For a while now I've wanted the veg garden to look a bit nicer. I've wanted to have somewhere to sit and have it as slightly more than just a productive area. 

One thing I've always wanted was a nice entrance to it, rather than a few gates made from old pallets. A few years ago, (7 in fact) I fenced mums garden with sweet chestnut and I've always loved the look of that, it blends in more as it ages. The other advantage is the wood is all coppiced locally and is sustainable. 

 When I enquired about an arch they said there was quite a wait but I could buy the timbers and make it myself instead. So I did just that. They're based not far from here so didn't take too long to get there, although we had to dig out a few logs to make the order right! 

What I got is quite a few poles of sweet chestnut, there is enough in the picture for a few fence posts I need, enough timber to build a shaving break (for splitting the chestnut down into lathes) and the wood for the rose arch. I've also got some paling on order as well for fencing around the garden and greenhouse. 

I'm really looking forward to working on this project. I think I'll get the children to help as much as possible, they should be able to strip the bark as an easy first job. 

Have you ever worked with sweet chestnut? What type of fencing would your dream garden have?

Thursday 24 March 2022

The Polytunnel is Clear of Ducks!

 The polytunnel is clear of ducks! This makes me so happy! 

I swear there is no chance they are going in there this winter should their be another lockdown. Their new pen (in another post) will be their permeant home. 

Monday 21 March 2022

Sausage Course At Mileshiggins Meat boxes

 I spent a lovely morning with my mum on Sunday. 

For Christmas she had got me a morning making sausages in a farm in Herefordshire that also does meat boxes, Mileshiggings farm. For Christmas she will often get a course we can do together and it makes it a really nice experience. 

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Willow - Short Rotation Coppice - First Cuts

 Cutting it a bit fine with the season but I've just finished coppicing my hybrid willow that I planted about 7 years ago.

You don't get a huge harvest but I'm pleased with what I've got from it. 

The battery chainsaw has been perfect for this. 

Sunday 13 March 2022

New Branding Irons - Outpost Workshop

Just after Chrismas my branding iron broke, the thread stripped and it would no longer mount on the handle. For a while I used it with a pair of mole grips, but they'd soon get hot and after a few firings the brand started to bend - it's not how they should be used! 

So I set about looking to have a new one made. I found a company on Instagram called Outpost workshop who was UK based so sent him a message and the files to have it made. My sister and her partner designed the logo 6 years ago now - and so the old brand has served me well!

I emailed him on the Thursday evening, by the Monday morning it was with me! Unbelievable service! I was so pleased!

I had two made this time, a smaller one for my smaller products, and an electric heating element in the bigger one, which I end up using quite  few times in a week. I can tell you after using the electric one that it's not as fun as a blowtorch, but it's so much easier! The smaller one won't get used so much so it's fine to have that one to heat up the old fashioned way. 

It's great that I can carry on branding the items I make, I think I've used it 20 times so far and I've been really pleased, I'm hoping for many years service from it! 

Ever used a branding iron? 

Friday 11 March 2022

Clearing Up Some Willow

 At the bottom of the garden, below the polytunnel, there is a willow tree. 

Now this willow tree grows ridiculously well. Every year it is a sea of green. But the other day I was putting together a slide show for a garden club talk and saw just how much it had grown in the ten years since we had been here. The trouble with Sally trees is they tend to grow upwards, then break, fall outwards then carry on growing. 

I think this tree had spread about 15ft outwards. 

Wednesday 9 March 2022

World Book Day 2022 - Laura Ingalls

 The children had their world book day last week and I loved their costumes which they used their own ideas for. 

The youngest was "How to wash a woolly Mammoth". 

The middlest was "How the leopard got his spots"

And the eldest was Laura Ingalls from the "Little house on the prairie" series of books. She was the most excited about this as she made the piny/apron herself, sewing it during half term as a great little project. 

I said I was going to my workshop as "Papere" from a great children's carpentry book we have called "Grandpas Workshop" as a no effort costume. 

What would you go dressed as?

Monday 7 March 2022

Teaching Children Woodcarving

 My girls have wanted to try a bit more carving lately.

So I set up a couple of stations for them to work at with a mallet each with a few of the basic tools needed. I also cut them a small piece for lime each for them. 

Sunday 6 March 2022

Need A New Poultry Enclosure - Advice Wanted

 Okay, so the ducks in the polytunnel have had a great winter. Warmer, with a bit of water changed everyday to clean and swim in. The trouble is it prevents me from growing so much winter and early spring produce. One of the main reasons I had a polytunnel in the first place - it helps bridge the hungry gap. 

There has been a warning of avian flu just 3 miles away so I'm worried that the lockdown might last longer than last year and eat into spring, which would affect my summer crops as well. 

So I want them out! 

Saturday 5 March 2022

More Apple Tree Pruning

At mum and dads this time, on the orchard I planted over 20 years ago. Some of these trees are a bit younger though. 

To keep it simple I've just done before and after shots showing how I try to open up the tree in the middle to keep that goblet shape. 



Thursday 3 March 2022

Marshmallow Oven!

The pizza oven was a massive undertaking of effort and I was worried that we wouldn't really get to use it until the summer. 
I was wrong though, it has been perfect for the children. they love lighting little fires in it and cooking marshmallows!

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Wine making explosion!

Went downstairs the other morning to a scene that looked like it was straight out of CSI - winemaking unit.  

The big barrels I use for 5 gallon wine kits are normally fine for the primary fermentation but this yeast must have got a bit keen - blew the airlock off and sprayed wine onto the ceiling. Good job it was only RED WINE! Argh! 

I spent a long time scrubbing! 

I've just started another wine kit but this time in the shed! 

Anyone else have a homebrew disaster lately?
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