News from Lackan Cottage

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.

Season’s greetings and a huge thank you

Midwinter is upon us, the weather continues to play tricks – outside a sycamore tree is starting to bud, and the temperature remains in double digits while the fifth storm of the winter has begun to rage. All very strange.

Wind anyone?

Storm Desmond is upon us, and the wind is fairly howling around the house, but for the first time, it is howling outside and not inside. I am delighted to announce that the floor repair worked a treat, and the filled-in floor in the classroom is warm and draught free.

Give the gift of green woodworking

We’ve had many enquiries about purchasing green woodworking courses as Christmas gifts, and so here is your opportunity to do just that. We don’t have dates yet, but there are likely to be six – three ‘Introduction to Green Woodworking’...

Who turned the sun off?

Weeks like the one we’ve just had are an off-gridder’s nightmare. After some lovely cold autumnal days, it is now seven days since we saw anything approaching sunshine, and output from our solar PV is negligible, to put it kindly. It is weather like this...

Fixing the floor

Usually I post about the things that have gone right, but we are on a learning curve, and things often don’t work out first time around. The floor in the new build is one such case. After much deliberating, and mainly due to budget constraints, I put in a...

Wind turbine first proper test

The windy weather we normally get in October didn’t put in an appearance, but finally it is here, and today’s weather perfectly illustrates the need for a mixture of generation to keep the lights on all winter. At 10m on an overcast day the PV is producing...

Autumn abundance

When we started growing food here, we weren’t sure what would thrive, and so I continue to be amazed and grateful when I walk down into the gardens and find an abundance of food growing, now, in November. Strawberries – not only the traditional ones but...

Preparing for winter

In our world turned upside down by changing climate, we began the year with a cold, wet ‘summer’, and have ended it with a warm sunny autumn. Strolling around in a t-shirt in November is definitely not normal here in Northern Ireland, but we (and our...

An epic climate journey

Today we were inspired to meet Morgan and Garrett, who are undertaking an epic journey from New England to Paris, via Canada, Iceland, Scandanavia, and the UK by bicycle. Their destination? The COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. Along the way they...

Energy independence

For those who can’t already claim some form of payment for generating their own energy, or who will face vastly reduced incentives from 2016, there would seem to be few reasons to invest in renewable energy such as solar PV.  Recent coverage of the Tesla home...

What a summer

As we come to Mabon –  the Autumn equinox, our busy season draws to a close, and the place has quietened down as our band of volunteers head off, and we host the last events before we take a break. Last weekend’s course – ‘Finding You – A...

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