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Escape to the Country

Way back in April 2017 we were approached by a TV production company - Boundless - who make the BBC programme 'Escape to the Country'. The premise of the programme being that people who want to well, escape to the country,  are shown several properties in the hope...

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Off grid horse truck

Last year we discovered that our truck is as much loved by visitors as it was by us when we lived in it. A stay in the off grid horse truck is an opportunity to escape from connectivity completely. The truck has been fitted out with recycled materials, an is truly unique. No wifi, no mains power, the truck is run entirely from solar and batteries, and has a cosy box bed, living room with a woodburning stove, as well as a shower room, and a galley kitchen with a dining area. 

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Hedgerow winemaking with Leo – 14th April 2018

A day of winemaking with Leo Cullen, who can conjure wine from just about anything. We’ll be walking and picking some ingredients in the morning, talking about what we can use to make wine, and how to go about preparing our ingredients and equipment, and then sampling some of Leo’s brews over a lunch of home made soup.

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A strawbale barn

One of the hardest things about producing your own food isn’t growing it, it is storing it afterwards. It really wants to break down as fast as possible, and all manner of creatures want to eat it first. Until now we’ve stored food all over the place – hanging up in the living room; in cupboards. In short, not ideal. Another issue that we had was that our 4000 litre rainwater tanks and pump were not terribly pretty and very exposed to cold temperatures. The pump especially has been badly damaged by freezing twice now. The problem, as they say in permaculture, is the solution, and in this case takes the form of a strawbale barn, which incorporates the water tanks as its back wall.

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Our first willow harvest

Funny old weather we are having. Within any 24 hour period we can have temperatures as low as minus seven, snow or sleet, warm sunshine and a thaw, and then back again. It is against this somewhat random backdrop that we are attempting to tidy and prepare the garden...

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Soup!

We grow a lot of squash here, it seems to like our polytunnel. Our favourite so far is Burgess Buttercup, which grow squashes to a decent but manageable size and can be quite prolific. They also store beautifully, so we don’t tend to eat them until the dark days of January and February, when sometimes you just need a decent, cheering soup on a wild oul day.

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Spoon Carving workshop – 10 March 2018

Stephen Ryan from Green Woodwork Ireland, will teach you the skills needed to become a traditional spooncarver. Using locally sourced green wood, each participant will learn axe and knife carving skills to produce their own spoon. All tools and materials are supplied. No experience necessary, although it is advised participants should feel confident using sharp tools.

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Willow garden structures – Saturday 3 March 2018

Our willow basket making courses with tutor Sabine were so popular last year that this time around we’re adding some new days where you can learn to make your own willow garden structures in time for the growing season ahead. Beautiful and practical, you’ll make your own and the course is suitable for those who have never tried basketry before.

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Thank you all

As always here at Lackan Cottage Farm, it was people who made the year memorable, and helped us to achieve so much. A huge thank you to all the volunteers who came and gave their time - it was a pleasure to meet you all, and great new friends have been made.  To all...

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Roofing for the DIY renovator

Prior to landing at Lackan, I’d never re-roofed a house – let’s face it, its not something you do every day. Throughout our search for a house, my primary selection criteria was ‘is the roof straight’, and on that basis, this cottage was winner. There are two cottages here, and on one we kept the old corrugated roof, for reasons of budget and fear, and the other we re-roofed, having a bit more money and confidence. Hopefully this post will be of use to others who are wondering what to do with their old cottage roofs.

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Birch Cottage Gift Vouchers

The ideal present – a Birch Cottage gift voucher. Available in £10, £20, £50 or £100 these can be redeemed against the cost of any booking at Birch Cottage made through our website during 2018. Just quote the code when you book. We are selling these through our Lackan Cottage Farm online shop, where you can pay securely online using a debit or credit card, or paypal.

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Talking about building restoration on the telly

Today we had the pleasure of welcoming the crew from Animo TV, and presenter (and architect) Hugh Wallace, as part of filming for a new RTE series about restoring old buildings. One of the restorations they are following is a cottage similar to ours, and so they came...

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Book Birch Cottage direct with our new website

Over 100 people have been to stay here in Birch Cottage now, and we’re delighted at the reaction from visitors. We have learned a lot about what makes this place special to visitors, and focused on making those things even better. Where else can you find your own private woodland, horses outside the door, and the spectacular Mourne Mountains as a backdrop? We are Green Tourism Gold rated, and Tourism Northern Ireland 4 Star rated. 

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Wind turbine repairs

When we heard that a hurricane was coming to Ireland, we were convinced that we were terribly well prepared, and in the event, the wind here wasn't as bad as we expected. However we didn't get away without some damage - two big 250w solar panels came adrift and on...

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When Paddy met Sean. Round 2.

Poor old Paddy. He woke up on Monday morning with what can at best be classed as terrible constipation. Horses are trickle feeders, and their gut relies on a small steady intake of food to keep everything moving. Colic, usually down to impactions or eating something that has decided to disagree with them, is never a good thing in horses and ponies, and down the years we’ve lost one or two to such things. Hence when it appeared that Paddy had spent a whole night rolling around his stable in discomfort, we called up Sean the vet immediately.

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Our first grape harvest

We had a surprise grape harvest this year – it is only the second year we’ve had grapes at all, and it was incredible to part the undergrowth and find so many. Very tasty they were too, but we realised that we’d have to do something with them as there were far too many to eat. Luckily our friend Ingrid had lent us her steamer-juicer. This incredible thing basically juices most things without a load of messing around removing stalks and stems.

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Better firewood storage

This is one of thoseobvious  things that I should have thought of a lot sooner. Our woodstore is on the back of the cottage with a door that allows you to get in from inside the house. It has slatted walls to let air circulate, but its always had a solid roof because...

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Simple tips for easy firewood processing

We process a lot of firewood here and these two simple additions have made life a million times easier. First, we made up a thing to put long bits of wood in for cutting. Its a heavy bottom piece with uprights made from easily replaceable pallet wood, spaced so that cutting midway between them leaves us with 10″ pieces. Simply fill it up with wood, and you can cut mountains of fiddly bits with just 3 or 4 cuts.

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