News from Lackan Cottage

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...

Meet George

  Meet George. As our collection of solar panel arrays grows, I decided to give them names. As the panels were given to us by St.George’s Church in Belfast, George seemed appropriate. Plus when he stops working I have a name to hang the insults on. George...

Is winter coming?

As we approach December, and I wake to the first heavy frost we’ve had, I am reminded that winter hasn’t really arrived yet. The cold night is just a reminder of all the things we need to do – very soon – if the coming months aren’t to be...

Something new for Northern Ireland

Our friends are starting an exciting new venture – Freckle magazine.  Freckle is an independently published magazine dedicated to celebrating the people and landscapes of Northern Ireland and beyond. Here is what you need to know – “We need your...

Power station progress

  A bit of early evening winter sun means we get to catch a few last volts before it gets dark. There’s now 1.5kW of PV up on the roof, which suffers a bit from shading late in the day – just one of several issues to work around. We’re setting...

Should’ve built a bloody ark

  Rarely in many years of working outside have I ended up as wet as I did today. It was raining when I woke at 6, and tonight its still going. Still, what better weather for working with electricity. Outdoors.  Since we did the roof of the build, all the existing...

Empty nest syndrome

We’ve finally come to the end of our volunteer season until the new year, and its been a real pleasure to welcome Polly, Paul and their son Theo, who are on an amazing journey, and leaving us to head to Lammas in Wales, en route to a journey around the far east....

What a view

  Sometimes I walk outside and am in awe of the sights that greet me. Some of the most beautiful times are first thing in the morning as the sun is coming up and the mist is clearing. I honestly couldn’t live anywhere else.     Even without their...

May the sun shine

  Today we were most fortunate to be able to go and pick up a not inconsiderable quantity of used solar pv panels – 0ver 3kW worth, together with a load of mounting rails. Although the panels are a few years old, they’re good ones, and should barely...

Preparation

  Suddenly November is upon us, and with Samhain we draw breath in readiness for the coming winter. Already we’ve been battered by October winds, so our preparations are well under way, but the shortening days are a constant reminder that we need to be...

‘Proper’ plastering

  We were visited by Lauren and Phil this week, who were very modest about their earth plastering knowledge but turned out to have considerably more experience than we do. They rustled up some plaster test patches on a couple of spare bales, and we (well Phil)...

Earth plaster update

  Stage one of our earth plastering is now complete,and all the bales have a coat of clay slip. Some of the holes have been filled with clay slip mixed with a generous amount of finely chopped straw, and it is looking a little less undulating around the edges...

A magnificent gift

This marvellous looking thing is a fruit press, and was kindly given to us by Sally, as she is hoping to return to her native USA after many years in Northern Ireland.  Now we can make good use of our apples, and hopefully next year our grapes too.   Its even got...

Strawbale rendering part 1..

Yesterday we began the process of rendering the strawbale walls by applying a coat of clay slip (just a runny clay and water mix) to the surface of the bales. Messy work, as transferring it from bucket to wall involves about half ending up on the floor, but it will...

Straw at last

  Now that the floor is fixed down, we’ve been able to get on and get the strawbales in. First, wooden spikes made of willow are driven into holes in the floor – Then the first layer of bales is placed onto the spikes which prevent them from moving...

Getting creative

  Pargeting isn’t a word you hear very often, but it’s a wonderful technique that involves making raised designs in (commonly) lime or earth plasters.  From the very start, this is something we’ve really wanted to have a go at, and here are some...

Douglas comes to stay

  Well at last we managed to sell enough things to pay for some flooring in the build. Clarke Cunningham supplied us with some rather fine Douglas Fir boards, which look great, although they aren’t fixed down yet. They’re windproofed from underneath,...

Making connections

  One of the things that really cheers us up is when we hear from people who’ve stayed, or maybe just come across the blog and email to say ‘Hi, we’re out here’. Here’s Lyra with Clare, who came to volunteer for a week recently, and...

The morning after

No amount of careful preparation can protect against damage like this, and we woke up to find that a huge piece of our largest tree had come down. Amazingly it missed both chicken houses, and the tipi poles, but our poor tree is looking rather sorry this morning, as...

Weathering the storm

  So the first proper storm of autumn is coming tonight, and rather than wait for mother nature to do her thing, and then clean up the mess afterwards, we decided to be more organised this year and take down the tipi, wind turbine and firepit shelter, just in...

Meet the boss

Today it was time to get cracking and make cob – lots of it. Lyra might only be two, but between us we used nearly a ton of sand in the mix, and yet we aren’t half way yet. Lyra is particularly keen on working with her trowel, and is genuinely quite good...

Lighting the rocket mass heater

    Today we pushed on, built a brick support around the base of the firebrick burner, – above, and then backfilled all the gaps with perlite and a clay mix to thoroughly insulate the fire itself, which we want to burn as hot as possible. The clay mix...

Rocket mass heater progress

  Having tried (and failed) to get clay soil cleaned up enough to make smooth clay mortar, I just went out and  bought some clean clay, which was thirty quid well spent, and allowed the burner for the rocket mass heater to get built. Several of you will be...

Fluffers does it again

The unstoppable broody Fluffers has done it again, this time vanishing to hatch 8 healthy chicks, returning to parade them around the place today. She’s perfected the knack of sashaying about with them underneath her, which is quite a sight, and here they are...

A building we will go..

Well. here it is – or the outside at least. Six weeks of frantic building activity is at an end. There’s something very satisfying to go from a pile of timber – below – to a wonderful sturdy, weathertight building. We’ve had help from all...

Solar hot water – new and improved

We’ve had our solar thermal panel up for nearly 2 years now, and while it has been great, we always knew it was slightly too small for the size of hot water tank we have. Some time ago our friend John Clementson was kind enough to let us rehome a couple of older...

Making a start on the rocket mass heater

Now that we’ve the outside of the build done, (regular readers will realise that there is something of a gap here, but don’t worry its coming soon), we are turning our attention to the rocket mass heater that is going to keep the space warm. For those who...

Reflections

August 2014 will long be remembered as the month of many visitors. Over the course of four weeks we have laughed (mostly) cried (a little), celebrated some amazing cookery and culture, and seen the power that comes from a group of diverse people when they put...

Getting to grips with the garden

  Our intrepid wwoof volunteers Samantha and Irene from Italy have arrived, and are getting to grips with our vegetable beds, which after a spell of very dry and then very wet weather, were growing increasingly full of weeds. Happily they have now tamed the...

We’re in Permaculture Magazine!

Many thanks to Maddy Harland of Permaculture Magazine for running an article about Lackan Cottage Farm – we’ve already met several new people because of it, which is always a Good Thing. For those of you who aren’t subscribers, get along...

And we’re back

After a frenetic June, and the success of our crowdfunding campaign, we took a couple of weeks to travel and visit family and friends, and begin to plan the next couple of months in earnest. The thrill of meeting our funding target came with the knowledge that we...

Materials wanted list

We have an ongoing wishlist of materials that will be needed here on site, so if anyone has any of the following they would like to part with, then please let us know. Rapid collection assured….Email lackancottage [at] riseup.net if you can help. Timber –...

You did it!

Well done folks, you did it – we got to our fundraising target of £3000, which is a huge relief, and allowed me the first decent nights sleep in nearly 4 weeks. We still have 3 days to go, so anything we raise over the target will go towards tools or kit that we...

Celebrating our solstice

As the sun set on the longest day of the year, we celebrated the midsummer solstice with good company and a fire (or two). The weather has been amazing this last few weeks, and it held out for us in fine style. Here the sun sets over Crabtree Hill, and as it did we...

A flavour of what is to come

The prospect of a place on our one day courses has proved very popular amongst our crowdfunding supporters, so we thought we’d give a flavour of the sorts of things that we will be doing on those courses. The idea is to give people a choice, and we’ve...

What’s it going to look like?

Something we’ve been asked is ‘what exactly will this eco classroom look like? The answer, is  – something along these lines, although to a certain extent it will be determined by the materials that become available. The interior above is a similar...

Would you like a unique carved spoon or bowl?

Steve makes these spoons and bowls here on the farm – spoons are carved from birch, and bowls from a variety of local woods, on a foot powered pole lathe. The result, unique pieces that all have a character of their own. If you would like to own one, and support...

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