News from Lackan Cottage

Water everywhere

Behold, the heart of my new rainwater harvesting system. This 1000 litre food grade container cost just £30, and will hold enough water to supply the truck for about a fortnight. Thus I’ll be using less than a quarter of the average person’s water...

Water everywhere

Behold, the heart of my new rainwater harvesting system. This 1000 litre food grade container cost just £30, and will hold enough water to supply the truck for about a fortnight. Thus I’ll be using less than a quarter of the average person’s water...

PV panels at 54 degrees

PV panels get a bad press here in Britain and especially in Northern Ireland. There just isn’t a lot of sun – well not when you’d expect it anyway. Certainly I don’t think I’d like to rely on it, on a large scale. However, for our...

Stocking up for winter (already)..

It may be mid summer, but now is the time to be thinking about where next winters fuel is going to come from, and so I’ve been busy in the woods, cutting and splitting a huge fallen ash tree. Ash is fantastic stuff, because it does burn green, unlike many woods,...

ASAP – more thoughts

In the last year or so I’ve met many people on my travels, almost all of whom have been either working out how to change their lives to reduce their burden on the planet’s resources, or who have taken steps to do so. I am in awe of the challenges that many...

ASAPicnic on the hill

Today Joan, Tina, Ruth and I went along to the As Sustainably As Possible ‘Picnic on the Hill’ event on the front lawns of Parliament Buildings. The idea of the event, organised by Shirley Lewis, aka ‘Baglady’. I’m not entirely sure who...

Making electricity 🙂

At last! The solar panels have arrived. Admittedly on the darkest wettest day of the year, but we managed to get them fitted onto their frame (part of a scaffold tower, courtesy of Tina and Joan), and during a lull in the rain, hoisted the whole lot up onto the truck...

A patio extension

With the help of some great beech logs, we now have some steps up onto the lorry ramp, which is sitting on its newly installed legs. The result – a lovely patio area that catches the sun all afternoon and evening. Just hoping that the sun stays out for a couple...

Solar PV – is it really environmentally friendly?

Although Solar PV would seem to many to be the ideal ‘free’ source of energy, one of the main arguments against it has been that the manufacture of the panels comes at significant environmental cost, in terms of extracting and processing the minerals and...

Building the power station

Finally, some blue sky! Even if it doesn’t last it is very welcome. As the moment when we get our solar panels hooked up comes closer, we’re taking an ever greater interest in just how much sunlight we’re actually seeing. It’ll be a few weeks...

Another world

Had a good trek round the farm this evening after dinner, finishing up in the woods. The light as the sun sets is always amazing, and I was there just in time to get some great pictures. It is certainly a relief to be living back in the country, without neighbours,...

Power crazed

One of the hardest things to get used to is that the truck has a very finite supply of electricity, currently one fairly knackered old battery. I’m so used to being able to simply switch on whatever I like, and the power will flow. Despite having pretty much...

Off grid esque

Well, at last here I am – if not entirely off-grid then pretty substantially off grid. Today has been a mixture of the good bits – looking after the animals, gathering eggs, salad leaves, coriander, and some strawberries for dinner, sitting in the warm, in...

Sherafey

This is Sherafey, who was unwanted after finishing her flat racing career at the tender age of 4. Like many racehorses who fail to live up to expectations, her owners couldn’t justify continuing to spend money on her and so were happy to give her away to a good...

The WaftOMatic

The fan attached to its ply mounting The truck has a woodburner in the living room, but I was worried that while it might be tropical down there, the other end of the wagon might be baltic. The solution is what has become known as the WaftOMatic, which does what it...

Moving in…

First day in the truck, and I’ve been very aware of all the new noises. It’s rather like being in an old house as things move around in the wind. The occasional chugging of the water pump; the ticking noises as the water heater fires up; odd groans as the...

The big day is nearly here..

Well, the truck is nearly ready now – just a few bits of plumbing and everything inside will be done. Any furniture that was coming from the house is now in, and the place is starting to fill with belongings, making it feel like a proper home.  We’re...

New arrivals

The horses are petrified of them, so I tend to swear about them a fair bit, but the three little pigs that have arrived here on the farm are pretty irresistible. Tiny at the moment, it is hard to believe just how large they will get. Pure bred Saddlebacks all,...

Time to work?

As we’ve been farm sitting for the last couple of weeks, it has been a great opportunity to see just what is involved in running a full time smallholding. Something that quickly becomes apparent is just how time consuming all this animal and vegetable nurturing...

Off Grid – Power

The decision to be off the electricity grid is probably what people first think of when you mention off grid, and in this case, it’s not merely an ethical decision, but a necessity borne out of living in a truck, parked in a yard where there is no mains...

Going off grid – food

Food is one area where current circumstances mean that I’m not going to be self reliant, but will grow as much as possible, and enjoy produce such as free range eggs from the hens on the farm. It is certainly a fantastic learning process – we have growing...

Wind chimes

Had a moment today so made up some wind chimes from odds and ends – the striker is an old bowl core left over from...

Going off grid – dealing with waste

As a society we use vast amounts of clean water to flush loos with,  treat the resultant waste, and generally speaking, dump the end product into the sea.  Locals who have walked Ballyholme beach after a storm will know just how much fun this can be. The answer? The...

A visit to Lammas

The Guardian’s Heydon Prowse visits Lammas to see how the pioneering low impact development is progressing. For some pictures of how the community hub is progressing, here are some pictures from my recent...

Quarrying the hard way

We need something to put on the paths around the plot, and luckily the farm isn’t called the Quarries for nothing…..unfortunately there’s only one way to get slate out, and its up a hill in a wheelbarrow. Cue a seriously hot mornings...

Lammas Community Hub build

This wonderful building is the Community Hub, in the Tir-Y-Gafel community in Wales, known more commonly as Lammas. In January I was lucky enough to spend a fantastic (and cold) week with 13 other volunteers, working to clad the roof with its massive pallet and earth...

Mini home made polytunnel

Today I am experimenting with making a small tunnel out of 50mm poly pipe. The ends of the pipe just fit onto wooden pegs, which are (hopefully) a tight enough fit to stop the pipe coming off easily. A bit of bracing along the top to stop it all moving about, and...

Way back when…

A whole twenty four years ago this weekend, I first met Poll – (Apollo). At the time I insisted he was too small a horse for me, but how wrong I was. A fantastic companion all his life, and he taught me an awful lot. I’d give my right arm for a horse half...

I’d forgotten how busy the last year was –

I’d forgotten how many useful things I managed to make around the farm this last year -This potting bench was made from scrap timber, and the giant raised beds are deep enough to allow access for wheelchair users. I’m still in love with the treebog, too...

Day 2 in the veg plots

Today we raked out all the rubbish from the beds, and then added some pretty ancient cow manure to them, before setting to with the planting. In one corner we’d made a little pond, around which we’ve planted many varieties of mint, as well as lavender and...

The 2 day veg garden

This week it was time to do something with the growing space, which is a largeish patch in what was a very nice meadow ( I made hay off it last year), and which is the smallholding field on the farm.It’s very dense turf, over slatey soil, and bloody hard to dig....

All done

Last bit of oak panel into the kitchen, tiles all grouted and a good tidy up...

Tiles!

Today I got the kitchen tiled, with the freecycled wall tiles and they look rather fair...

The truck-house is nearly finished!

The ‘patio’  – some tube frames hold the ramp up, and I chainsawed these steps from a fallen beech tree. Couldnt resist a few flags.. Here’s the living room, cosy as anything! Looking into the kitchen/diner – the cab is through those...

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