News from Lackan Cottage

Willow basket making – 12 August 2017

Before plastic containers and even cardboard boxes became common, the woven basket was used as a container for literally everything. Able to be made into all sizes and shapes, limited only by the imagination of the basket weaver, the basket was part of everyday life....

DIY Living – 20-21 May 2017

Whether you have a project already started, or are dreaming of your ideal plot, this course will help you turn your dreams into reality. A hands on course for all abilities and experience levels.

Build a compost loo – 22-23 April 2017

On this course we’ll look at the basics of composting humanure, types of compost loo, do’s and dont’s and we’ll be building a ‘treebog’ type composting toilet over the course of 2 days. You’ll be learning basic rustic timber building using local wany edged boards, and recycled wood. This is a simple low cost design that can easily be replicated or adapted to suit your needs.

Quick and easy window shutters

One of the problems we discovered with using old double glazed windows is that well, they aren’t always terribly good at keeping heat in. Even lined curtains can only do so much, and our strawbale and earth plaster walls don’t lend themselves to having...

Building a pallet porch

In a climate like ours, some sort of porch is pretty much a necessity, not just as a place to store muddy boots and wet coats, but to act as an air lock so that warm air loss from the house is minimised when the door is opened. When we built the classroom we left a...

Finishing touches

Nearly two years after building the classroom, we thought it was about time that the floor got finished. It’s lovely Douglas Fir, and was getting progressively more filthy, but deserved better.

Hoof camp

After my recent visit to Bantry to learn some more about working horses, it was time to get things moving here at home, and so Rain has gone off to hoof camp for a couple of weeks in Glengormley, with John McDermott, to learn how to pull things.

Working horses

This week I made a somewhat epic trip down to Bantry to spend a day learning about working horses, and have a go at driving 2 experienced and patient horses under the tutorage of Sandra (and Tim). In the morning we did a bit of long reining, and looked at harness, and in the afternoon we got stuck in, and pulled a couple of different things – a sled and some chain harrows, before trying our hand at working 2 horses together, and finally some logging.

2 Day basket making course – 22-23 October

Experience basket weaving with locally sourced willow to make your own traditional round shopping basket with a handle. Under the expert guidance of basket maker and craft tutor Sabine Wolniczak you will learn the basic techniques involved in this intricate ancient craft and return home with your own woven basket.

A full house

Our three feral cats are becoming steadily more tame – one in particular which you can now pick up and really rather likes all the attention; one who is getting used to being stroked, and the third who thinks that humans are to be regarded with great suspicion, but follows along anyway. Now the problem is that they all follow us up from their hideaway in the hay shed to the house, and Lyra doesn’t get that we don’t want three un-housetrained kittens indoors.

Action!

Friday was an interesting day, as we got up at the crack of dawn to welcome a little film crew from the BBC to the farm and they wanted to start at 8am. It is part of a programme about housing, and our bit is (hopefully) how modern technology can combine with traditional materials and methods. Being new to this filming lark, we basically did what we were told, and pottered about while Steven the cameraman and Richard the producer followed us around the place…

Well well

You may recall that three years ago (it might be four) we realised that we had a well in the garden, although it turned out to have been used as a drain for a long time and took a lot of cleaning. Anyhow, clean it we did and at the time it passed the environmental...

Jam magic

Mid september, it is still strangely warm, things are fortunately still ripening, and our nectarines are finally edible. They have a habit of dropping off the tree the very second they are ready, so you have to be constantly on the lookout for them. We’re eating...

Farewell summer

Electric Octopus playing Turnipstock 2016 from Lackan Cottage Farm on Vimeo. While we weren’t looking, the summer came and went, but we saw it out in style at the Benraw Creative Convivium up at the Turnip House. Our tipi went on tour, the sun shone, and the...

Permaculture Gathering

Well this weekend was the All Ireland Permaculture Gathering, held at Cloughjordan Eco Village in Tipperary. The whole thing was really interesting, and despite almost continuous rain for the entire weekend, I had a great time and now that I’m back am itching to get on with all sorts of projects.

Two weeks of wwoofing

It has been a busy month so far here at the farm – Felix has returned to us from Germany for a second time, and last week we welcomed Uni from California. Much wood was chopped and stacked, and the woodstore is almost completely full – it is good to be able to see the woodyard again.

The big tidy

Blog posts have been a bit thin on the ground lately, mainly because I’ve been running around like a man with his hair on fire. Our little cottage is complete, we’re just gathering up all the things that Tourism NI like you to have, and having friends and...

Off grid accommodation – finishing touches

For the last few months we have been working away, getting the tiny cottage that is tucked away behind our own ready to let as the only off grid self catering cottage in Northern Ireland. Progress seems so fast at first, and now it is the last finishing touches that...

Offcuts

Took a trip up to Ballytrim Sawmill with Brian the other day to pick up larch flooring, and spotted a huge pile of oak offcuts – the remainder of a big timber frame. They are wonderful pieces of wood, and so my search for bedside tables is over. Several hours of...

A tale of two companies

A couple of weeks ago we had an amazing electrical storm, which knocked out our broadband, and also part of our power setup, called the CCGX, which displays information about the whole system and sends it to the outside world.

Open day success

There’s nothing quite like the promise of visitors to get a load of jobs done, and the week leading up to our open day was no exception. Paving laid, beds cleared, weeds thinned, and some serious tidying up. The weather smiled on us the entire time, and our worrying was put aside as a great crowd turned up on the day.

Runner ducks

This morning we set off over the mountains to Kilkeel to fetch home some Indian Runner ducks – 4 ducks and a drake (we hope) who are just 2 days old, and have temporarily moved in with our Hubbard chicks, who are just a few days older.

Restoring a gate

This locally made gate came from our kind neighbours Fiona and David, and though of considerable age, is incredibly solid. It is likely made by the Walkers of Ballyward, who have blacksmithed there for generations.

Basket making for the first time

Last weekend we ran our inaugural willow basket making course with tutor Sabine Wolniczak, and unlike most courses that we run here, I was able to join in – my first attempt at basket making. I have to say I’ve got the bug, as having not made the time to turn bowls for a long time, it was great to make something with my hands once again.

From the air

It is always interesting to see the place from a different point of view, and so here is a little bit of wobbly footage from our micro drone. It is very tiny, and so far efforts to fly it have resulted mainly in it crashing, but here’s our first view of the place from above.

Building a pallet yurt

Occasionally I am let off the farm for good behaviour, and so on Sunday I set off for Co.Wicklow, and Castleruddery Organic Farm to learn how to make a yurt from pallets, with ‘Rubberband’ Ray Edwards. Ray is an inventive guy, and under his excellent tuition, our group learned how to make an extremely sturdy yurt.

Sheds come and go

We are now starting our fourth year here at Lackan Cottage Farm, and what seems like an endless series of building projects is at last coming to an end. The cottage refurbishment, polytunnels, compost loo, stables, the little cottage, outhouse, woodshed, bike store, paths, ponds, wind turbine and solar arrays, and most recently the rebuild of the old hay shed into a workshop and bigger hay shed.

Out with the old, in with the – old

A few miles from us in Ballyward, is the blacksmith’s forge of the Walker brothers. Gates have been made there and horses shod for generations, and Walker made gates a century old are still in use and good repair. Gate styles are very distintive things, and I hope that someone has taken the time to research them properly, though I can find nothing online.

The side project

Over the last two years, we’ve been working on the ‘other cottage’ behind ours, which was never even mentioned when we bought the place, but which being aligned roughly north-south, gets great light into it through the day, and which always seemed too good to use just as a shed.

An interesting diversion

The weather may have been pretty consistently awful this last while, but somehow we’ve managed to make what feels like significant progress on the various projects that are ongoing here at Lackan Cottage Farm, in between being slightly sidetracked by things like...

Ducks!

Three years after starting the pond, we finally have ducks! They are Aylesbury ducks – 3 ducks and a drake, and they are having enormous fun getting used to their new surroundings.

Open Day – June 18th **FULLY BOOKED**

+++ PLEASE NOTE WE ARE NOW FULLY BOOKED +++
We get a lot of requests from folk who would like to come and have a look around, find out more, and share their stories with us, so this year we have decided to have an open day, when anyone can come and see what we get up to, and ask questions about any aspect of what we do here at Lackan Cottage Farm.

Green woodworking courses 2016

We are pleased to be able to offer a series of green woodworking courses, with Steve Ryan, of Green Woodwork Ireland. Steve is an incredibly talented green woodworker who teaches extensively, and is passionate about his craft. Courses are £80 per person, which...

Filling up with firewood

Last winter we were the masters of firewood. Ample supplies, thanks to kind folk,and having our own huge sycamore fall over in the wind. The summer of 2015 saw the woodyard completely cleared, as amazing volunteers helped us split, chop, and stack the whole lot inside.

Tree surgery

The four huge spruce trees at the front of our cottage offer plenty of welcome privacy, but they do overshadow the growing field somewhat, so we decided to take down the largest of them and see what a difference it makes.

Farewell to old friends, and a welcome to new faces

For three years people asked “free range hens – don’t you worry about foxes?”. “Not at all”, I would reply casually, and so our hens wandered all over the place, right up until the night I came to their house, to be greeted only by the plaintive cheeping of one of the baby hens

Measuring, measuring

After all the hoo-ha, storm Frank didn’t hit too hard, and everything remains standing. Seeing as we have so much in the way of weather here, I asked Santa for a weather station and she has obliged, so now I have even more things to measure, and finally I know what it takes for the wind turbine to do its thing.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap

Well, our climate chickens are fairly coming home to roost tonight, as storm Frank rages around us. Destructive winds are raging, huge amounts of rain falling, and we genuinely don’t know what will still be standing come the morning.

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