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!

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