News from Lackan Cottage

Three years of memories

This week we have been here for three years. It might have been a lifetime. Or yesterday, I can’t tell which. Looking around it is sometimes hard to remember all the things that have happened here already. How many people have come and shared their lives with...

New insulation for old walls

When it came to refitting the interior of our little cottage – number 81 – we face a different set of challenges to those we encountered here in 79. The little cottage is primarily concrete block built, and cement rendered, so it isn’t the most...

The wait is over – the electricity pole has gone

When we first saw this place three years ago, we fell in love with it instantly, but vowed that the 11 metre electricity pole sighted right behind the house would have to move. Moving it turned out to be incredibly expensive, but removing it altogether was (oddly)...

Turning in the woods

Today saw the second of our series of woodworking courses, the introduction to green woodworking, which focused on pole (or bungee) lathe turning, and some work shaping wood on the shave horses. Participants were able to make simple items such as rolling pins by the...

Down in the woods

Last week our woods came alive to the sound of drawknives and froes as our first group of greenwoodworkers came to make stools with Steve Ryan. It has been wonderful creating a space in which people can come to create, in surely one of the most peaceful settings you...

Living off grid – Calamity Jill

Calamity Jill: Living off the Grid with Jill Redwood from ABC Open Gippsland on Vimeo. I saw this and couldn’t resist sharing – this lady is walking the walk, and I see so much of what we are trying to do here in the place she has, and her lifestyle....

Energy freedom

So the end of a sunny spring day, and although it is only April, we are finding that our 4kw solar pv (which is the most common pv installation size in Northern Ireland) has supplied our needs all day, including a couple of loads of washing, running a regular fridge,...

Access all areas

Ahead of our series of green woodworking courses with Steve Ryan, we’ve been busily making it easier to access the woodland clearing that we’ll be using, starting with some steps into our native tree plantation. Eventually we’ll create a circular...

How to build a simple all purpose shelter

One of the most loved spots on the farm is our fire pit, but given our Northern Irish climate, there aren’t a huge number of days when people can sit around the fire. We really needed a space where visitors could sit out of the rain. The solution came in the...

Permaculture Gathering 2015

This year’s All Ireland Permaculture Gathering is coming to Northern Ireland for the first time. 2 days of workshops and talks, and the chance to share ideas with like minded folk. Camping from friday. We’ll be meeting at Tubby’s Farm in Hillsborough...

Time to shout

What an extraordinary week.  We quickly forget that some of the things we get up to are perhaps seen as unusual, and that our view of the world is likewise not always terribly mainstream (whatever that is). So it is always interesting when people want to come and take...

A new neighbour

Well we have a new neighbour – 3 fields away is this 250kw turbine, and it has been fascinating to watch the progress as it has grown over the last few days. As you can see, it is a fair size, and certainly makes an impact on the skyline. Interestingly I find...

No guilt? Just kidding

Today I am including a caveat to my ‘All the benefits without the guilt’, as a way to show how easy it is to fall into a particular mindset. My previous post made it all sound so simple. Why do all that work when a simple device can make your life easier?...

All the benefits without the guilt

Something I am starting to understand about generating your own energy is that in the same way that you have to watch when there is little sun and no wind (which is pretty rare), you also have to find ways to use power when it is available. Here we cook, heat water...

Northern Ireland Community Energy

Well, it has been a busy old time, with all manner of works happening, both here on the farm and out in the world. Having left the world of making websites behind, I have made a little foray back into the business to produce a site for Northern Ireland Community...

Last few Green woodworking places left

We have just 2 places left on each of our Introduction to Green Woodworking courses with Steve Ryan. The first course is on 25th April, 10am – 6pm, and is £65 including materials and lunch. The second course is on May 23rd, , 10am – 6pm, and is £65...

Month of Mud

Thanks to the amazing generosity of both our crowdfunding backers, and a small army of volunteers, we have made great progress with our classroom space over the winter, and now we are on the home stretch, with the aim of completing it this summer. The majority of the...

Green woodworking is proving popular

Places on the green woodworking courses are going fast – so fast that we are likely to put on a second ‘Introduction to Green Woodworking course’, to cater for the interest. There are just a couple of places left now on the ‘Make a stool from a...

Green woodworking courses

We are pleased to be able to offer two 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. Come and join him here in the woods at Lackan...

Could spring really be on the way?

Well, Imbolc is upon us, and Steph came to cut some rushes to make St.Brigit’s crosses with. Surely one of the older surviving traditions from the dawn of Christianity and beyond. One thing we aren’t short of is rushes, and it looks like we’ll get...

Could you retire early?

  A friend recently introduced me to the excellent website of the strangely named Mr Money Mustache, and I have to say that despite my initial apprehension about it all being rather money driven, it is actually a very helpful and interesting blog. The gist of it...

Connecting it all together

Someone asked how we get the data about our power generation and usage to the side of our website. Well here is as concise an answer as I can manage. Here’s a schematic – Power comes from our PV Panel Arrays (shown top). The big array (centre) is wired as...

What to do in winter

This is the time of year when despite our recent obsession with all things solar, we need to get outside and start to prepare for the year ahead.  All the the veg beds that don’t have anything in them need dressing with manure – both outside, and in the...

Energy – a learning curve

As we continue to grapple with our growing solar PV power station, we’re learning how to manage within our means, power wise (or not on occasion); and get it all running smoothly. Although we have batteries as a buffer, there are some things better done on a...

Sycamore no more

  Today was a day of mixed emotions, as we had to take down the big sycamore tree that stands over our stables. The recent high winds tore one side of the tree off, revealing really significant rot in the centre of the tree at its base. Often this isn’t a...

Lackan Cottage Farm does hi-tech too!

Here at Lackan Cottage Farm we like to experiment with technology, some of it very simple, such as our composting toilets and strawbale insulation, and some of it high-tech such as our solar pv arrays. We started off with just a couple of panels, and this has grown to...

Their power comes from our obedience

  I had a conversation with a younger colleague today that serves as an example of why it is so important to question authority. We were talking about how there are times when I think it would be good to video or record ‘officials’ when they come to...

The rock

  Looking out at the wonderful sunny, still day, it is easy to forget what the weather can bring. Last night for instance, as I lay in bed, the wind got up, and I realised I could hear flapping plastic. Above me. Which is where flapping plastic ought not to be....

A frosty morning

  The year is coming to an end with mercifully dry and cold weather, the horses are sporting their thick winter coats, and we are enjoying some amazing views across to the mountains. Last night we were officially the coldest spot in the UK, with the thermometer...

Blessings to you all this midwinter

  To all our friends and supporters – blessings to you this midwinter, however you celebrate it – have a wonderful Yule, a happy Christmas, and a great time. Our heartfelt thanks to all those who helped us in this last year, it means a great deal. We...

Volunteer highlights – Food glorious food

  One of the best things about being volunteer hosts is that every visitor brings with them a new approach to food, and this year we had some amazing meals. It didn’t take a lot of deliberation to come up with a highlight of the year, which came with...

Say goodbye to ‘when’

‘When’ is one of those words that fills me with dismay, because it implies a condition. We can do this when such and such; you can have this when so and so. Primarily it dismays me because its inclusion means ‘not now’. It means ‘some...

Wonderful woodlands

One of the main reasons we chose to live here at Lackan was that it came with several acres of birch woodland, growing on what was cut over bog. There is something magical about the woods, the birch gives them an especially norther european feeling, and they evoke the...

Website improvements

  Get Directions For Driving Walking Bicycling   show options hide options Avoid Tolls Avoid Highways From To Fetching directions...... Reset directions Print directions Over the last week you may have noticed that we’ve been making some improvements...

The big switch on

  No, not Christmas lights – at least not yet. Today we were able to switch on George – our 2kw solar pv array, and although the weather is far from ideal – heavy skies and no real sign of any sun, he is generating some useful amps. He joins...

A year of fantastic volunteers

It is that time when we look back at the year gone, and remember all the amazing people who have passed through the farm, and marvel at the things they did along the way. Volunteers came from all over the world – Spain, Italy, North America, Australia, England...

Polytunnels on the cheap (and not so cheap)

I answered a forum post the other day that asked about how to get a polytunnel on a budget. I won’t go over how useful polytunnels are here – it’s been covered a million times elsewhere. Needless to say that if you are growing your own veg, they are...

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