News from Lackan Cottage

‘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...

Making a hugelkultur bed

For those who haven’t come across them before, Hugelkultur beds are basically a pile of wood or branches, covered with soil to form a raised bed. It is a great way to use up material that might otherwise get burned off. The idea is that the pile rots slowly,...

The woven fence is finished

So after a week, the wonderful woven birch fence is complete (at least for now – we have used up all the material), and it looks really fine. It is amazing how much birch was needed to create the fence, but now as we coppice the birch woodland, we’ll cut...

Eco classroom update – week 2

At the end of our second week, and we are within £100 of being at the two thirds stage in our bid to raise money and build an eco classroom here at the farm. In the process we’ve got to know loads of new people, and will hopefully get to meet many of them in...

A day out

Something of a busman’s holdiay this, but some time ago I helped our friend Brian (of Woodhill Farm) to put up his polytunnel frame, and ever since we’ve been waiting for the weather to be warm and wind-free enough to put the cover on. To hope for sun...

A unique experience

There’s just something about tipis, isn’t there. That iconic conical shape with smoke drifting up in the breeze, flags fluttering from the pole tops. We fell in love with tipis years ago, and knew that we had to bring one back here to Lackan Cottage Farm....

Well done you

It was great to meet the bus full of people who arrived today with Tom Woolley, who has been running an introduction to eco building course. Some great stories, wonderful plans, and glimpses of old buildings that will hopefully be reawakened by the amazing enthusiasm...

Turning up the heat

This is a rocket mass heater – the way in which we will be heating our crowdfunded ecobuild.  It is an incredibly efficient way to burn woodfuel, and extracts the maximum amount of heat energy from the fire. The flue gases heat a big cob bench, which then...

Weaving a fence

  Isabelle and Josiane have come from Quebec, Canada to volunteer on the farm for 3 weeks, and having spend days clearing and mulching young trees, they are turning their attentions to creating a fence from the piles of birch trimmings that have been sitting in...

Great reasons to plant trees

An incredible 35 tonnes of carbon will be locked up over the lifetime of the trees we will plant for those who have so far pledged to our crowdfunding campaign – as well as being beautiful:) We’re planting a tree for everyone who gets involved, as well as...

All fired up

We’re all fired up – not only because the benign weather has allowed us to share food around the fire for a few days, but because after just three days of campaigning we have reached over  30% of our funding goal! We’re full of exciting plans for the...

Making raised (lazy) beds

Today we created a simple raised ‘lazy’ bed, although why they are called that I’ve no idea – making them is strenuous enough. The first step is to mark out and then turn over all the sod on your bed area. At this stage the bed is pretty flat...

Crowdfunding campaign update – day 1

An Eco Classroom for Lackan Cottage Farm from Steven Golemboski-Byrne on Vimeo. Well our first day of crowdfunding was a flyer! The campaign has been well shared, and lots of you have been really generous and pledged towards it – thank you! Our day one total was...

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