Here at Lackan Cottage Farm people often say we are living the good life. We grow our own food and wood fuel, generate our own electricity, take responsibility for our own waste, harvest rainwater and are using natural building techniques. Additionally we help other people to do the same, and welcome visitors and volunteers here to the farm to stay and learn about what we have to offer.
We made a short film about the farm which gives a flavour of the place. There was so much we wanted to include but it’d get long so they’ll be in another. Enjoy 🙂 If there is some aspect of what we do here that you’d like to hear more about, let us know and we’ll come up with something.
Today we were planting out the young brassicas grown in modules in the polydome. After weeks without rain, the soil is very dry.
This growing season was slow to get going, even in the polytunnels, but after all the warm weather, it’s all growing like mad. Today we’re having a look round with Claire at what is coming on in the tunnels. We’re new to this film making thing so bear with us.
All this week we are running a competition to win a 2 night stay in Birch Eco Cottage. All we are doing is asking you to like (and sharing too would be great) the competition post that you will find on our facebook page. In order that we can easily contact the winner, please also like our Birch Eco Cottage Facebook page. Click here to like the post.
A brief stroll around the beautiful woodland here at Lackan Cottage Farm, which was once bog, and has been cut over for peat. The birch trees are natural regrowth on the old bog, which has dried out significantly as a result of surrounding drainage and the trees themselves. It’s a beautiful place, full of life, and one of few pockets of such woodland in the landscape.
Why not unplug and unwind on a stay in our unique converted horse truck. Refurbished using reclaimed materials, this cosy space enjoys great views of the Mourne Mountains and is tucked away on a corner of our off grid smallholding in the County Down countryside. If you’re looking for a unique place to stay, that is truly off the grid then the horsebox is for you. We are offering you the chance to get an additional 10% off the cost of your stay, by quoting the offer code WEB1 when you book direct. Visit https://lackancottage.co.uk/book-stay-off-grid-horsebox/ to check availability and book now.
For months there, it seemed like winter would never end. The longest, wettest most miserable winter in memory for many. But now here we are at the start of June and all that is a distant memory – the heatwave has arrived, and once again water is very much on our minds but for a very different reason.
2018 is our sixth year on the land here at Lackan Cottage Farm, and although we’ve often had seemingly rapid progress, it is only now that some systems are becoming established enough to produce results. The forest garden area is the best example of this.
Way back in November 2017 we got a call from Animo TV who were making a series for RTE about property restoration with architect Hugh Wallace as presenter. They were filming an episode about a woman who was bringing a near derelict property in Donegal back to life, but with a fairly sensible budget of about 100,000 euro. The reason for us being included was for two reasons. Firstly because we did our cottage up on a tiny budget, and secondly because of our use of materials.
Using horses to work and manage the land means that we can eliminate compaction by machinery, get onto bits of ground that are just inaccessible to machines, and also as you are walking behind the horse, you get to know the land really intimately, and spot things that you could never notice when driving a tractor. Plus of course you are producing no pollution and noise.
It seems like an age since we welcomed Rachel Allen and the crew from Big Mountain here to film for a programme called ‘Rachel Allen – A Cook’s adventure’ celebrating the best of Northern Irish produce, but it was screened on More 4 last night, and we’re really pleased with the results. The premise was that Rachel travelled around the country visiting producers and then cooking up delicious dishes, and Lackan Cottage Farm was one of 7 locations included.
April has been an incredibly busy month here at Lackan Cottage Farm, as for the first time we're keeping pace with all the jobs that traditionally need done before spring arrives properly. Finally the ground is drying out, and all the plants are coming back to life....
The spring equinox has arrived, and with it, thankfully, some signs that life is returning to the gardens. It also marks the start of the volunteer season, and we’ve been delighted to welcome Tasha to the farm for the past few weeks. Visitors have also started arriving at Birch Eco Cottage, and the calendar is starting to fill up. It is time to get busy.
For the first time, the European Permaculture Convergence (EUPC) is coming to Ireland, and will be held at Knockree Hostel, Enniskerry, County Wicklow from the 8th to 13th August 2018. The EUPC is a 5 day celebration of permaculture, primarily aimed at, but not...
This internationally recognised walking festival offers walkers, of all levels of fitness, stunning routes in the Mourne Mountains and surrounding countryside. These routes vary between 10k and 40k at both high and low level. The next annual Mourne International Walking Festival will take place from Friday 22 – Sunday 24 June 2018 in Warrenpoint, County Down, Northern Ireland.
Stephen Ryan from Green Woodwork Ireland, will teach you the skills needed to become a traditional spooncarver. Using locally sourced green wood, each participant will learn axe and knife carving skills to produce their own spoon. All tools and materials are supplied. No experience necessary, although it is advised participants should feel confident using sharp tools.
One of the things that makes Birch Eco Cottage a unique Green Tourism business is that it is powered entirely by renewable energy made here on the farm. We are totally off-grid as part of our commitment to reducing our environmental impact. We use a combination of solar panels and wind to charge batteries that ensure that there is always power when we need it.
We’ve been weathering the ‘beast from the east’, and so far everyone is bearing up well. The horses have been tucked up in their stables with hay most of the time, only venturing out to have a roll in the snow before retreating again. Our hens are similarly unimpressed, although they have decided to keep on laying eggs despite the conditions. We were warned about this weather for a good week before it happened, so there was plenty of time to prepare, and on the whole we got everything ready in time. Here are our top off grid bad weather preparation tips:
A day of winemaking with Leo Cullen, who can conjure wine from just about anything. We’ll be walking and picking some ingredients in the morning, talking about what we can use to make wine, and how to go about preparing our ingredients and equipment, and then sampling some of Leo’s brews over a lunch of home made soup.
One of the hardest things about producing your own food isn’t growing it, it is storing it afterwards. It really wants to break down as fast as possible, and all manner of creatures want to eat it first. Until now we’ve stored food all over the place – hanging up in the living room; in cupboards. In short, not ideal. Another issue that we had was that our 4000 litre rainwater tanks and pump were not terribly pretty and very exposed to cold temperatures. The pump especially has been badly damaged by freezing twice now. The problem, as they say in permaculture, is the solution, and in this case takes the form of a strawbale barn, which incorporates the water tanks as its back wall.