Sunday 31 December 2023

Basket In A Basket

I should have released the last blog post after this one! But the video wasn't uploading very quickly (about 16 hours...). 

This was a basket I got asked to make in the run up to Christmas. Normally I'd say no as it's always a difficult time with time management then, but in a moment of weakness I agreed. It was unusual enough to be interesting. 

The lady wanted a basket for her husband and she wanted a basket within a basket with a divider. She also wanted it bigger than my usual baskets. 

Saturday 30 December 2023

Review of 2023

 A quick look back at the year. Lots of highs and lows this year, more than most. But everyone I love is still here, and that's the main thing. As I get older I think how lucky I am with that being the case. 

I'm going to do some different sections to normal, as our focus in life changes. 

Children & Family

It's been a hell of year. One where we have shown that we can pull together and handle what the world throws at us. It's not been one we would have picked, I think that's fair to say. And not the best way to start my 40th time around the sun. 

The one bit I feel you may be sick of hearing about is my Eldest daughters diagnoses of becoming a Type One Diabetic. 

Friday 29 December 2023

A Gift For His Mum

Our boy is a very driven young man. 

He gets an idea into his head and then does all he can to make it come to fruition. He came into the workshop the other day with a very detailed little drawing he'd made on a scrap of paper. He wanted to carve that for his mother for Christmas. This was a Saturday morning in November. 

 He would then come in for the odd hour here and there. I could tell he was going to put some effort into this, so I got him a thin piece of sycamore from my stockpile and let him sketch the design. 

He has a remarkable concentration for a child of his age, two hours is fine for him, normally his hands give out before his concentration. 

He used some of the skills he's practised the last few years. using hsi own V tool to outline the tree and create texture on the bark. A gouge as a stamp to mark out the leaves which there are hundreds of. 

He used my pyro pen to burn his name and age on it, not making a fuss when I made him practice on a bit of scrap wood first. 

He wanted to apply the finish himself. I suggested a dark wax to pick up all the chisel marks. I showed him how to apply it and he set too it (wearing protection). When I told him it was a little thick he was disappointed but wanted to know how to fix it, he then spent an hour with a toothbrush getting all the wax out the deep areas to give it a good finish. 

He is always fun to have in the workshop with me. Always makes me smile, never draws breath! 

The picture the carving is based on. 

The finished piece. This will take pride of place on the wall in the house somewhere. 

As he handed it over Christmas morning he was glowing with pride when his mother said how much she liked it. 

So was I. 

Thursday 28 December 2023

First Diabetic Christmas

Diabetes is a constant current in our life. It is always there, pinging up on our phone when levels hit low or high, or asking what her levels are before we eat. 

Injections 4 or more times a day. 

Christmas day it certainly hits a bit harder. 

Tuesday 26 December 2023

Here's Hoping You Had a Good Christmas

Thanks for the lovely comments on my last post. We had a lovely chilled out Christmas day, and I hope if you're reading this you did as well. 

The children enjoyed opening their gifts, our boy loved giving the gift he'd made to his mother (more on that in a later post). 

The day was spent with the children playing with their toys, mainly putting their Lego sets together. The youngest got a guitar, he's been having lessons like Middlest.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Still Some Christmas Spirit

 The children (and wife) finally broke up from school yesterday! 

Seems like such a late start to the Christmas break and I really haven't felt Christmassy at all until today having them all back. 

We went for "breakfast with Father Christmas" this morning. Where you get a fry up and then get to meet the big man himself. Knowing our children well my wife booked adult breakfasts for them all and there was only a few beans left on the plate when we were all finished. 

There is no hiding they're getting older but there's still a bit of unspoken magic there, maybe not as much as when they were younger though. But it still has a spark, the youngest has been making something for his mum in the workshop and the effort he's put in is incredible, I'm looking forward to sharing that with you all!  

It was good grub and a good father Christmas, we then went for a walk around the woods where it was located. A lovely morning. 

Friday wasn't so great! I spent the whole day, and I mean THE WHOLE DAY, deep cleaning the kitchen ready for Christmas day. Everything off the windowsills, my temporary office off the worktop, windows cleaned, I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the whole kitchen floor and the kitchen plinths. 

I felt very beaten by it by the end, but when I came back in the room it hadn't felt that clean and free from clutter (our main problem) since I finished building it! My wife thought we'd been burgled when she walked in from work that evening. Luckily my day got better as we went for a big Christmas meal with friends that evening which has become an annual tradition - 12 adults and 17 children in total! 

Tomorrow I need to go collect the turkeys from a farm near my fathers (I miss timed our meat chickens this year), one for Christmas day and one for an Alviti meet up later next week, I have a few gifts to wrap but very suddenly it's going to be Christmas! 

I hope wherever you are you are ready for the big day! 

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Last Lot Of Christmas Orders

I think I may have packed up the last few Christmas orders. Feels like time to step back and breath (once I've built up stock of one or two items again...) 

I'm sorry the blog has been so sporadic the last few weeks, it's been really busy (which is good)! 

I'm so thankful that people choose to buy from me and support me, either on my blog here, on social media, on YouTube, comments, shares, likes, it all helps. I feel very lucky that people are still willing to put up with me. 

Building this little business up so it works around the children has been great and it's especially hit home this year with our eldest and her diagnosis of Type One Diabetes.  Being able to drop everything and go get her from school should I need to, or stay up all night with her when levels have gone wrong, has been so essential to everything running smoothly. Making and selling my products in a super flexible way has been great. 

Thanks everyone! 

Thursday 14 December 2023

Last Garden Club Talk Of The Year

Last night I gave my last garden club talk of the year. 

It was in Bourton On The Water For Bourton Vale Horticultural Society and it was such fun! 

I knew it was going to be a good one straight away as everyone was laughing and joking before I'd started. I think it was a great fun evening, everyone laughed at the right points and hopefully came away with something they'd like to try (this talk was my preserving one so there's lots of information in there). I also sold quite a few items, which will always please me! My new bit - standing on one of my scoops to show how tough they are - goes down really well! 

Looking back on the year for my speaking engagements it's been brilliant. I have done 24 talks this year (plus one cancelation for snow and one where they double booked me but advertised the other guy) - 

25th Jan - Malvern Garden Club - Unusual Fruit and Veg I

8th Feb- Blakeney Garden Club - Preserving the Harvest

16th Feb - Southam (Gloucestershire) - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

8th March - St. Michaels - Tenbury Gardeners - Unusual Fruit And Veg I - Cancelled due to snow

13th March - Bishops Cleeve Gardening Group - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

6th April - Dymock diggers - Preserving The Harvest

10th April - Llanthony - Preserving The Harvest

15th April - Worcester black pear gardening club - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

19th April - Gothering - A Talk About Our Homestead & How We Got Here

20th April - Kington - Preserving The Harvest

1st May - Colwall - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

17th May - Winchcomb - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

31st May - Little Thorne - Unusual Fruit And Veg II

8th June - Alderton - Preserving The Harvest

10th June - Hellen's Garden Festival - Q&A Session

27th June - Hereford Fuchsia Society - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

18th July - Leominster - University of the Third Age - A Talk About Our Homestead & How We Got Here

12th September - Slimbridge - Preserving The Harvest

15th September - Lower wye Valley - Unusual Fruit and Veg

21st September - Newent - Preserving The Harvest

27th September - Severnside cottage gardening society - Unusual Fruit And Veg II

10th October - May Hill garden club - Preserving the Harvest

8th November - Wellington Heath Garden club - Preserving The Harvest

13th Novemeber - Dodford Gardening Club (B61 9DD) - Unusual Fruit and Veg I

14th November - Pudleston Gardening club - A Talk About Our Homestead & How We Got Here

13th December - Bourton Vale Horticultural Society - Preserving The Harvest

Some of these were the first time I'd spoken at a club and some were the second or third visit. 

As I'm quite a friendly chap who spends a lot of time on my own in my workshop I really enjoy going out to these clubs to meet people. It certainly strokes my ego when it goes well and I hope it makes an enjoyable evening for any that make the effort to come see me. 

I put a lot of effort into my talks and I'm always trying to improve them, altering bits or changing out slides. When I did a talk with Tasmin Westhorpe earlier in the year we had very much the same ethos and she even said a phrase I'd been using word for word - "I treat these talks like stand-up". Now that's not to say we're trying to get a laugh all the time, more that we look at how the talks went and constantly try to improve them, tweaking them each time, learning what works and what doesn't. 

I'm very aware that although I think all my facts are super interesting not everyone there will be into what I'm into. My first job is then is to entertain, to be positive, enthusiast, bring my "A" game, then to try to educate or describe whatever subject it is I'm teaching or talking about. I bounce about, I tell funny stories and I talk at 100 miles per hour, but that's 100% who I am anyway (hopefully this comes across in my YouTube videos as well). 

I did a talk in Wales earlier in the year and I was speaking to the chairperson (who I have met a few times) and she said that she'd rather someone was 80% good at speaking and 20% the authority on their subject, as that's really what people at these clubs want, to be entertained. Now hopefully I can be better than that on my subject...

I have a few highlights from my talks this year, Hellen's Garden Festival is always amazing and I feel semi well know having spoke there for years now, getting to hang out and have a special lunch with people like Terry Walton and Tasmin Westhorpe. 

I also gave a talk at a village somewhere (I can't remember which one now) where they funded the talks on a pay if you come basis and it was more like a social club. I was talking to an old lady afterwards and she told me she hadn't been out of her house for two weeks as has mobility issues, but she was really glad she made the effort! Gave me a warm feeling! 

Alderton Garden Club was great fun because the chairman was incredible and did his own gardening advice each month, but told with real wit and knowledge. He really could be on TV and would knock the spots off Monty "boring as plain porridge made with water instead of milk" Don. 

I also gave a talk (again can't remember where sorry) where they had to keep getting more and more seats out as they had so many guests turn up, I'd given a different talk a few weeks before at a village not too far away and people had decided to come to this one as well, plus some that had seen it on the internet. I was told afterwards that it was the largest number of non members they'd had turn up to a talk. It was the talk I give about our life and how we got where we are and that night I was on fire for some reason (some nights you just are it seems) and every joke and anecdote landed and I ended up with so many questions at the end. 

I'm looking forward to my "speaking season" next year (and 2025). So far I have 19 talks booked in front of me, hopefully I'll get a few more as the year goes on as well. It creates some real memories for me and connects me to people who are interested in the same type of things. 

Maybe I'll see you at one next year?

Monday 11 December 2023

Broody Coop/Chicken Tractor Build Part 2

The second part of the build is a bit more fiddly than the first. All the cladding, mesh and doors end up taking far longer than the frame. 

I used tanalised shiplap boards for the cladding, but it did add a lot of cost for to the build. And the weld mesh looks great, but there are cheaper options for the wire (rabbit wire would probably be the cheapest). 

Saturday 9 December 2023

Broody Coop/Chicken Tractor Build Part 1

This summer we could have really done with an extra broody coop. Chicks don't always hatch as plan and sometimes come along completely unexpected. 

We use the broody coop I built about 15 years ago all the time. It's the perfect safe place for a hen to hatch eggs and raise her young, also great as a sick pen. I know I've featured this old coop on here numerous times in the past, but it really is useful. 

Thursday 7 December 2023

Curved Fireplace

So last week I was working on some apartments and in the one we had to inspect the loft, in it there was this fireplace. 

Now I know it's not to everyone's taste, but I love it. Even with little the electric stove in there. 

I put it on social media and loved all the different responses. It's fair to say it's a bit marmite (you either love it or hate it). But with social media things are lost pretty quickly. Having it on here means it's searchable and maybe it'll help someone one day looking for a different style or doing a college report (if you are doing a college report in the future feel free to use this picture). 

So what do you think? Not what you expect to find in a 5th floor apartment. 

Do you like it? 

Or Loath it?

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Carved Bread Board - Woodcarving Raised Letters

 I love doing some carving projects, and I love sharing them almost as much as doing them.

This is a bread board for an upcoming magazine article in Woodcarving magazine. I wanted to make a bread board, but do it a little different to the norm, and have the lettering raised rather than sunk in. this is harder to do, but gives the board a really unique look. 

Sunday 3 December 2023

GREAT Achocha Relish/Pickle

I have found an incredible way to use up these achocha fruits.

 A few weeks back I posted about trying to make achocha jam. Which was tasty but still not quite what we were after when trying to find something t do with them (and had a weird consistency). 

Friday 1 December 2023

English Country Life

If you're on social media enough you make some good friends along the way (this blog is a perfect example of that. 

Two friends I have made are Hugh and Fiona, who run the YouTube channel English Country Life (almost as good as my own channel). Hugh and I chat frequently, you can even spot one of my baskets in some of their videos

They've just opened an online shop selling quality smallholder equipment from UK firms and I thought it deserved a share. They have a great range of poultry equipment as well as other tools and electric fencing, they're a lovely friendly couple who so happily share their knowledge with others, I hope the shop gets the support it deserves!

Go have a look and say Kev sent you! 

Wednesday 29 November 2023

How I Make My Compost And Grain Scoops

 Sometimes people are surprised that I don't make everything individually. But to make any money (and honestly I'm not making much) everything has to be made in batches. I tend to normally stick to batches of 8, 10 or 12 for things like my trays or baskets, but smaller items, like my scoops get made in in bigger quantities. 

Last week I made 34 more wooden scoops, and then needed to make some more of my folded galvanised still ones. 

This meant a trip over to my Dad's farm and the use of the metal working equipment there. 

Sunday 26 November 2023

Saving Seeds I Won't Grow

 I know, random title to a blog post. But that's exactly what I've done here. 

These seeds are from a squash I harvested this year. It was a self set hybrid, of which I'm not sure of the parents.

Saturday 25 November 2023

Making a Garden Tote From An Old One.

 My mum has the most amazing garden shed (it should be, we built it for her!), and it's filled with the most amazing items she's collected over the years. 

One thing that always catches my eye is this little tote.

I decided that it would be a fun project to make a reproduction one. 

Wednesday 22 November 2023

First Craft Fair - Was it Worth It?

This weekend just gone I did a craft fair. It wasn't far away, just a mile or so up the road at a local private school. 

Growing up I always swore I'd never do a craft fair, having attended so many with my mum selling dried flowers in my childhood. They were a great experience but I could always see it was an unpredictable way to earn a living. 


Monday 20 November 2023

Hand Carving A Sign For An Apiary

I made my friend a sign for her 40th the other day. She's just got into bee keeping and it going to get a couple of hives. 

I wasn't really sure what to get her so I decided I'd make her a sign for her future apiary. 

I enjoy letter carving, it's quite simple and looks great when it's done. 

I thought I'd make a video but do this one a little differently, just me carving with no talking. It's at 3x speed (so in total it took me an hour), with just the noise of my tools working (and the heater in the background). A different pace for my videos, but hopefully some will enjoy it, it's a bit like ASMR if you like that sort of thing. 

 My friend was pleased with the sign (and I had spelt it correctly thankfully). If you watch the video I'd love it if you left a comment on there (stupidly I set it to release at 4.30 this morning (Sunday) instead of afternoon and now I think I'm being penalized for the mistake). 

Anyone want a sign carving?

Saturday 18 November 2023

Making A Temporary Path - No More Muddy Feet!

I don't have much of a commute to work each day, normally it's just a stroll form the house to the workshop. But that stroll is quite muddy this time of year. 

It's a silly thing but it gets me down a little bit, I tread mud into the workshop and into the house. But the other day I got given a god number of slabs, and I had some sharp sand and stone that was past it's best for proper building projects - Time for a temporary path! 

 Of course if you're going to do a job like this then it's always handy to have a bit of machinery to help - the digger and dumper sure do make the job faster.

It's a quick job but I'm already enjoying my walk to work a lot more! 

Watch the video above and let me know what you think. Hopefully it's a really fun one. 

Anyone else done a temporary job lately that makes them smile every time they use it? 

Thursday 16 November 2023

Garden Club Talks Mixed With A Spot Of Pole Dancing...

Mad start first few days to the start of the week, two garden club talks. One on the Monday then one on Tuesday, I got home after 11 both nights! I'm writing this on Wednesday evening and I'm really tired!

Both were great fun though. 

The first was at a village just outside Bromsgrove, and as I pulled up the village hall I could see all the lights on, even though I was really early. I parked up the truck, got some of my gear and walked up to the hall. I then stood looking through the doorway in shock...

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Carving Letters - Instructional Video

Back in the summer I got asked by a spoon carver via Instagram to carve them a sign for when they do craft fairs. 

I agreed to do it, but as usual struggled to find the time, but the week before last was wet and horrible so I decided to treat myself to a nice little carving job in my warm workshop. 

Photo credit - Mark Robson

I decided I should film it as well. 

Sunday 12 November 2023

Compost & Grain Scoops Made By ME!

 I was reading the other day that YouTube is the second most used search engine. So I decided that as well as my usual videos looking at making things and doing stuff on the homestead, I should also have some videos showing my different ranges of products. 

My scoops are a product I'm really proud of. I love building something that I know will last. IT's also nice that I use dad's workshop as well as my own to make them, the joining of skill is really nice. 

I put a short video together (in my mum's very pretty garden shed) showing off the three main sizes I make, but I also have a large scoop (which is one I like but might be too big for many) and a dustpan available currently. 

Let me know what you think. What would you build out of folded metal and wood?

Friday 10 November 2023

Future Plans - A Years Food Self-Sufficiency

Something I've been wanting to do for a long long time is to try to see if I could survive just eating what I've grown here in a year. 

A question I'm often asked at talks is "just how self-sufficient are you?" And it's one where I probably give a different answer every time. The honest answer is "Not as much as I'd like". Life always gets in the way, running around after the kids, scouts, swimming, having to earn enough money to pay for everything. We do well in some areas though, our fruit is always good for example, but some years are far better than others. 

Self sufficiency has been my obsession for as long as I can remember. I often recount the story of my wife and mine first holiday together (at the tender age of just 20) to Cornwall for the week. I took with me John Seymour's Guide Of Self-Sufficiency and read it cover to cover. Twice. I had my own veg garden on the family farm and frequently used to do all sorts of semi mad food quests, tapping trees for wine, or fighting squirrels for walnuts. 

It's probably the way my mind works but I have to focus on something for it to work. Then it gets a lot of my energy (there's a fair bit to go round), I do have a habit of spreading myself quite thin. Having goals often helps me. 

So I've set myself a couple of semi long term goals, the first is for the aim for the garden next year, which will come in a later post. And the second is to try and have a year living on what I can grow or produce.

 I'm not sure whether this starts autumn next year or the year after. It will depend on a few things and how much I can get done towards some of the infrastructure I'd need to have in. 

I've had years here where I think I've produced the vast majority of the veg we've eaten, but I've always lacked in the carb department, and protein even when the going has been good. I've always thought I could provide for us should I have to. But it would involve more area under cultivation, strips of grains and other crops on a larger scale, potatoes and beans. 

So I'd need to make a few changes and get a few things into motion in the run up. Get some four legged stock back on the smallholding and ramp things back up a bit more to where I had them when I was a full time stay at home dad. Of course there is never enough hours in the day. But if my belly depended on it then maybe it could be a good driving factor. 

I'd also need to set myself some rules to work by. And for that I think I need some help from people that read my blog (I want to do a post on this soon). Things like would trades be allowed and to what extent, and where I could harvest food from, would foraging be allowed, what staples would I be allowed in (salt for a start)? I'm already sure I won't be able to produce the animal feed I'd need yet (let alone store it), but buying in animals just to consume should be allowed. 

It should make for a fun challenge. My wife has already said that her and the children are not taking part (hard with a diabetic as well to be fair - need to grow lots of hypo treatments), but also I tend to have more time during the day to indulge in this sort of stupidity, especially if I could cut back a little on my actual work (doubt I would though).

So let me know what you think? 

Would it be something you'd be interesting in trying? How would you go about planning it?

Do you think it could make for interesting blog posts and videos?

Think I'd tackle it okay? 

A friend I spoke to about it said I should just get myself to 20 stone before I start and then I'd be fine...

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Always Repairing Something! Chicken Coop This time...

 The Other day I moved the little broody coop we rear chicks in and the floor of the sleeping compartment fell out of it! 

Not what I wanted to happen. Especially as it was not long before we were planning to head off for the weekend. And that sleeping compartment keeps a mother hen and her chicks safe from predators at night. 

So I stopped what I was doing and set about fixing it. I didn't want to loose any more chicks to predator. This pen is worth investing some time in, like all wooden infrastructure on a smallholding or homestead, it takes a bit of time every year to keep it all running. 

This isn't the first time I've repaired this coop in the 15 years or so since I built it. I doubt it'll be the last either! Luckily it was a fairly simple fix and didn't take too long. 

I'm trying to make filming things something I do, hopefully this video is interesting to some people. Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Monday 6 November 2023

Diabetic Milestones

We all have milestones come up in life, somehow diabetes seems to throw a few at us that we hadn't really thought about.

The week before last we finished filling our first sharps bin. I say "we" but it was our daughter's doing obviously. 

That bin is full of the needles she used every day, on average 4 to 7 needles, and the empty cylinders of insulin, the fast acting she takes before she has carbs and the long acting she has once a day at night. 

That bin represents a lot of learning in our little family. We've learnt that having diabetes complicates everything. That getting her levels right one day doesn't mean they're been anywhere near the next. It sometimes feels that the change in the direction of the wind can alter her levels. We learnt not to get hung up on the odd bad day and to look at the bigger picture. 

That bin has some moments in there, highs and lows. It has the needles where I begged and pleaded for her to inject herself, it has the first needle where she did it, and where I ran around the house and screamed with joy when she made it happen. That needle represented her taking charge of her diabetes. 

It represents all we've learnt about food and how we've all changed our diet slightly as a family to make everything seem normal. How a slightly more diabetic friendly diet has made me feel slightly better without realising anything wasn't right. We learnt that our diet was pretty good before, that our children understand food more than a lot of adults. 

It has moments in there that shows how close her siblings are with her, whether that's her younger sister working out her carbs for tea and prepping her needles as she gets something else ready. Or whether it the moment where I was doing the food shop with her younger brother and he put back the breaded ham I'd picked up and replaced it with some that wasn't and just looked at me and said "less carbs". I had to hide a tear from the little man who often seems wise beyond his years and already a better understanding of diabetes than most. 

It hides the late night wake ups for hypo treatments, or the alarm buzzing for a hyper and the need for insulin. Or how the other night we both sat chatting at 2 in the morning because her sensor wasn't working right, knowing we'd both be tired the next day. It hides all the sweets she's had to eat even when she wasn't feeling like it because she's gone low. It hides the glucose tablets and little sugary shots she'd taken, the cartons of apple juice drunk in the middle of the night or at in the morning. 

It hides the fact she went shaky before her alarm beeped, or that my phone tells me she's going low on the bus on the way home and I have to trust she'll sort it out on her own. 

It hides the calls to the hospital because we can't figure something out, or the high of coming away from a check up feeling like we're doing okay, the doctor giving his approval, even if her alarm did buzz 4 times during the appointment...

It hides a few tears, both from me and her mum, and maybe from our daughter, but she's always stoic, I've not seen her shed many.

I remember when she was first diagnosed, I read a forum of parents chatting about their children with diabetes. On there one mother said how she cried every single day for her son and the normal life he'd lost, and I just thought No Way am I going to be like that, it wouldn't be fair on her or on us. I was determined as far as we could we'd own this problem as a family, we're always stronger together. 

I so proud of the way my daughter has stepped up to this problem and how she's handled it. Starting a new school, adapting, and just getting on with life. 

One sharps bin down, many, many, more to go.

So F-you diabetes. You won't get us down. 

Saturday 4 November 2023

Sweet Achocha Jam - The Weirdest Jam I've ever made!

So I grow a lot of weird and wonderful fruit and veggies, trying out different ones each year. 

One that we keep growing is achocha. Now I'm not saying I plant it every year, it's just the plant that keeps coming back!

Thursday 2 November 2023

Weekend In Wales With Friends

This weekend just gone we managed to get away to Mum and Dad's place in Wales. Now the place is a bit bigger (since we redid the roof last year) we could take another family with us! 

Our friends have four children and with our three it makes for a fun full house!

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Eggs For A Diabetic Breakfast

In our journey with diabetes we've been looking more and more at our diet. 

I think we eat fairly well. We have a well rounded diet that provides all the stuff we need to live active lives. 

But since my daughter has been wearing a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) we can certainly see where spikes occur. 

One was right after breakfast. It was a "traditional" western breakfast of sugary cereal with some fruit juice (normally apple). 

A friend suggest we tried egg on toast. She still needs the carbs but they are slower burning from the (homemade) toast than cereal would be and with the protein from the egg should keep her full until breakfast. 

We did a week of it and noticed that although you still get a spike (that's just eating any carbs and the insulin having to catch up) it was way less, often keeping her in target for the whole morning.  

It was so good I thought I'd change my breakfast and try it as well. No more 10 O'clock slump! 

Then the other two wanted to try it and suddenly we didn't have enough eggs! 

So we went and got some POL hens (Point Of Lay) that will hopefully lay all through winter. I was hoping 5 would be enough but the oy is insisting on two eggs every morning....

The video above is a fun little journey out with my boy to buy the hens and getting them set up in their new home. I also talk a little about diabetes on there and about the blood sugar spikes. It's amazing how much it makes me think about what we're all eating. We've made some very easy switches and I'm sure it's benefiting us all. 

Squash instead of potato for some evening meals

Brown rice instead of white (way more taste and texture to it)

Wholegrain Pasta (tastes just the same)

Adding some Emmer Flour to our morning loaf (nowhere near a wholemeal loaf but still rises really well and tastes great. 

Careful with the mixing of some foods - carbs and fats are a nightmare (pizza is a nightmare that sends her levels into a random plain)

With these little changes I seem to have lost a little weight (Hopefully don't have much to loose, but it's been quite noticeable around my stomach) and felt fuller longer. That said I've also band myself from buying any of the "rubbish" I normally eat. I still have to buy sweet for my daughter but tell her to hide them in her room! 

Makes me think that for next year I might plan a "diabetic friendly" garden with the foods we've found to work best for her levels, although everyone is different. Lots of protein and veggies. We were wrongly told that some foods would be "free" and not need insulin, like carrots as a snack, but so far we've found that they make her levels shoot up without the injection. 

#### Please remember before commenting that Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes are completely different things. She's not eating her way out of this one, her pancreas just doesn't work like it's supposed to anymore. A completely low carb or carb free diet doesn't work for Type one sufferers, nor would it be good for a young growing body like hers. ####

Hope you enjoy the video!

What food makes you "slump" a few hours later?

Saturday 28 October 2023

A 10th Birthday

 I know I keep saying it, but it never fails to amaze me how fast their childhood is slipping by! 

It doesn't seem five minutes since I was announcing that the Middlest was born, now all of a sudden she's in double digits. 

She certainly wants to be grown up! We often joke she's already a teenager (her temperament is a little too similar to my own), she is the first one to offer to help, does jobs around the house without being asked, works hard when she needs to. She's funny, smart, caring and thoughtful. Honestly everyone who knows her loves her. 

Thursday 26 October 2023

Always Baking...

 The children only need the slightest nudge to do some baking.

Tuesday night was the perfect example of this. I had a urge to eat an apple pie, and not being too short of apples decided to see if one of the children would be up for making me one. 

The Middlest leapt at the opportunity and set to work making some pastry. 

The Eldest came in then and looked a little disappointed that she hadn't got in on the act, so I suggested she make some bread from scratch. 

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Rodent Proofing The Apple Store

If you read this blog I don't need to tell you that I love storing my apples for as long as possible. As I mentioned in my last post, it saves us so much money and I hate seeing food waste anyway. 

But last year (and the year before) we had a bit of an issue with the apples stored in the shed. The mice got into them! 

Sunday 22 October 2023

Why Grow So Many Of The Same Variety?

 So there is a question I get asked at my talks more than any other - Why do I have so many varieties?

I use it! Or try to at least...

Friday 20 October 2023

Split Octagonal Handle - Article In F&C

 A while back I got asked by my woodworking magazine editor if I fancied doing an article on making a different door handle. 

I have a weird aversion to making or fitting handles. I'm not sure why, I just don't like them very much. So I saw this as a good challenge. 

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Hefting Chickens

 The term hefting normally refers to sheep. In some highland sheep you can buy them "hefted" where they already know their range and boundaries, taught by the older sheep in the flock. It stops them wondering too far on common land. 

I use the term with chickens, rightly or wrongly, to mean they know where to roost at night. Something they often have to be trained to do. 

It's a fairly simple process, where you keep the chickens in a coop for pen for a few days. They'll then see this as their home and go back there at night. 

Sunday 15 October 2023

Cucamelon - Love IT Or HATE It?

Or Fruit really...

I have given my talk on unusual fruit and veg many dozens of times now, often people have only heard of a few of the edibles in the first talk, there's a bit of what I call "suburban foraging" in there as well so people sometimes already have things growing without realising they can eat it. But if they have tried growing something it's often the cutely named Cucamelon - and often I get heckled for it! 

This spindly little vine is also called the Mexican Sour Gherkin or the Mouse Melon, I think giving it a cute name has certainly helped people try it out. 

The main reason I get called out for saying this is a great think to try is people seem to think it has a tough skin. Each fruit will grow to the size of a grape then it doesn't get any bigger, it just gets tougher! They need to be picked really regularly to be a good edible crop. 

We've been growing them (and saving the seed from them) since 2014 and they've very much become a garden staple in our household. The children insist I grow them every year and love when they come into baring. I've also made pickles with them.

A few plants will give you something tasty to snack on while you're working in the garden. They take up very little room as well, just growing happily amongst your other plants. i tend to grow them in the polytunnel or greenhouse, but have had really successful crops outside as well (although they then crop a little later). This year they've been late to come into fruit, but then I did plant them really late. 

I put a short little video together to show what I think of these great little fruits. Give it a watch and let me know what you think. 

Have you grown cucamelons? Do you think they're worth growing?

Friday 13 October 2023

Apple Day

 Every year our village has an Apple Day. The last time we went was in 2013 just before our Middlest was born! I'm not sure why we haven't gone since, there's always something that gets in the way, our weekends can be a bit manic at times. 

It was nice as my brother came over with his two children, they all get on so well it was a lovely day together. 

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Garden Club Talks About Produce

I enjoyed a giving great last night at a little village called May Hill in Gloucestershire. 

It's the second time I've talked here and it's a great little club. 

One thing I have heard quite a few times about my talks is that is that I'm one of the few that is giving them about growing produce and what to do with it (in our area anyway). A man told me tonight how nice it was not to have a talk about flowers for a change (I had just given my talk on preserving the harvest). 

The man had a great story about how his dad used to store food down the well to keep it cool, but how a few times a year, even though it's 500ft above sea level, the Severn Bore would affect the pressure in the well and knock the bucket over!

I have talks about unusual fruit and Veg, about preserving and one about growing fruit for as much of the year as possible. I had a couple more talks booked last week for next year and already have some booked for 2025, it's already looking like quite a good number. 

If you're Herefordshire, Worcestershire or Gloucestershire make sure you book me in! 

What do you think, would you have me speak at your club?

Sunday 8 October 2023

Building The Ultimate POSH Potting Bench

 A friend asked me to build his mum a potting bench. He is a another carpenter like me, but is absolutely snowed under with work at the moment. 

I thought it very much fitted with my "brand" and decided with would make a great magazine article. I also decided to film it. 

Friday 6 October 2023

Woodworking Crafts Article- Gooseberry Scoop & Getting Told I'm too Expensive...

So this month sees another article in a woodworking magazine. This is a particular favourite of mine - it's my gooseberry scoop! 

I made this back when the berries were still on the bushes and summer had some promise to it. It was something I really enjoyed making. 

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Scouts This week - Archery & Morse Code

 The start of the week always seems set up to kill us with how much we have to do. Especially with my eldest who has scouts (Monday night), and helped with Beavers (Monday night) and went to Cubs (Tuesday night) this week! Pretty full on start. 

Beavers was great where we got to try a little bit of archery. It's nice to see how the activity centre worker got them to listen, very practised patter that worked great. I always feel I learn a little bit from them. 

Monday 2 October 2023

Last Of The Rhubarb

Our eldest was keen to make a crumble for tea yesterday and was keen to see if we still had some rhubarb growing we could use. 

The usual advice is not to pick it too late as it weakens plant. But we have three huge plants and haven't taken any this year, so it won't do it any harm. It was starting to die back anyway. 

Saturday 30 September 2023

Carving A Wooden Trivet - Pierced Design

The other day I saw my wife struggling with a hot pan and laying out two trivets to keep the big roasting dish off the table. 

I decided it was a perfect project to make a new trivet. I loved making one a few years ago and it was the perfect magazine article for Woodcarving Magazine. I spoke to my editor and said about different design, making it in a different way. 

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Cover Star - Again! Wood Carving Magazine Front Cover

I've managed to make it to the front cover of a magazine again! It's the second time I've been on the front of Woodcarving magazine! 
My wife took the picture of me sat in front of my workbench a while back. 

My articles make up the first 21 pages of this issue. 

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