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Friday, 24 February 2017

The Chooks Have Landed

This week we are linking up once again with Amy at Love Made My Home for her Five on Friday


We have an announcement regarding Five on Friday too, starting from Friday 24th of March we will become the hosts of the weekly link up! We're honoured that Amy has asked us to carry the torch for Five on Friday, the badge will obviously change slightly to mark the meetup moving home:



So without further ado, this week we'll be spending 5 minutes talking about CHICKENS!

You may have seen that we Built our own pallet chicken coop!

It was a little bit more involved than the Quail Coop we built back in the UK when we were keeping Quails last year but we managed to get it finished and it finally has it's new inhabitants who seem to be very happy with it! We're very lucky that we do not currently have any Bird Flu restrictions in our area.

Logan feeding chickens through the coop door
The kids have really been getting involved, the photo above is the first time that one of the chickens was brave enough to eat from our hands and as you can see it was Logan that was first to coax them in to it. He loves feeding them and talking to them, as does our daughter Aurora.

The chickens we got were 3 Black sex link and one red sex link, nothing fancy in terms of the other breeds but to us they are beautiful.

Our new chickens
Unfortunately Spanish suppliers routinely debeak their chickens when they are chicks, but these girls have been saved from living in cramped cages and will live out the rest of their lives in happiness with us, we have plenty of space for them to run and scratch and generally be chickens in.


Carly checking in on the ladies

For the first few days the chickens were quite timid and didn't stray far from the coop but now that they have settled in begun to trust us they have really come out of their shell, we had a great laugh when the 4 of them chased off one of the local cats that tried to go near the gates to the corral!

Me and one of the hen house girls
The Henhouse Crew


Now it is just a waiting game for the first eggs. Did you know that chickens only stop laying in winter due to insufficient light? If given artificial light they will lay all year round, chickens generally need 14 hours of light to maintain egg production. We won't get daylight hours that long until the end of April here but we would rather let them come in to lay naturally, We're not in a rush for them to lay, they are still doing a fine job of turning the compost heap for us and adding their own fertiliser as they go!



Drinks Bottle Chicken Feeder
In keeping with the zero cost build of the chicken coop, we also fashioned our own chicken feeder out of a couple of empty bottles and some wire. The chickens haven't turned their nose up at it yet...

hand feeding chickens

...although they seem to enjoy hand feeding as much as we do :)

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend, if anyone fancies doing a seed swap with us you can find a list of everything we have at the moment on our last post - Seeds
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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Seed Problem

So this is the seeds we have received to get stuck in to this growing season, which doesn't take in to account and of the seeds swaps that I have lined up with a few people that will no doubt broaden the range of what we are growing:




Bearing in mind that we will also be trying to build a house over the next year I expect that I won't be able to plant all of my seed stash, but we will try our best to grow most of it. It's certainly going to be an exciting year!

Unless you are a serious seedophile like myself then this next bit is largely just for our records, however seeing it in list form does confirm my theory that I have totally lost the plot (but in the best possible way!)
What can I say, I just want to grow ALL THE THINGS!

Our Seed List for 2017

Plant Type
Achocha Fat Baby - Gift English Homestead
African Marigold Crackerjack Mixed
Alyssum Pastel Mix
Amaranth Love Lies Bleeding
Amaranth Premier Seeds Red
Amaranth Autumn Palette
Apple Pips Braeburn Organic
Apple Pips Cox Organic
Apple Pips Gala Organic
Apple Pips Pink Lady Organic
Artichoke Green Globe
Asparagus Ariane F1
Aubergine Black Beauty
Bean (Borlotti) Bush Type
Bean (Broad) Bunyards Exibition
Bean (Dwarf French) Tendergreen
Bean (Runner) Aurora
Beetroot Perfect 3
Beetroot Detroit 2 Crimson Globe
Beetroot Moulin Rouge
Beetroot Solist
Black Locust Robinia Pseudoacacia
Borage Blue
Broccoli Summer Purple
Broccoli Early Green Calabrese
Brussel Sprout Brest F1
Busy Lizzie Mixed
Cabbage Red Fuego F1
Cabbage Golden Acre Primo 2
Cabbage Offenham 2 (Flower of Spring)
Cabbage Greyhound
Calendula Art Shades
Calendula Fiesta Gitana
Canterbury Bells Cup and Saucer Mixed
Carnation Chabaud Mixed
Carrot Autumn King 2
Carrot Royal Chantenay 3
Carrot Purple Haze F1
Carrot Early Nantes 2
Catnip Nepeta Cataria
Cauliflower All The Year Round
Celeriac Monarch
Celery Titus
Chard Bright Lights
Chinese Yum Berry Myrica Rubra
Chives Gift English Homestead 
Chives Premier Seeds Organic
Coleus Rainbow Mixed
Comfrey Symphytum Officinale
Coriander Confetti - Gift English Homestead
Cougette Black Beauty
Cougette Golden Zucchini
Cougette Lebanese
Courgette All Green Bush
Cow Pea Vigna Sinensis
Crocus Mixed
Cucamelon Gift English Homestead 
Cucumber Marketmore 76
Daffodil Narcissus Cyclamineus
Dahlia Pompom Mixed
Electric Daisy Gift English Homestead 
French Marigold Petite Mixed
Garlic Spanish Store Bought
Geranium F2 Mixed
Goji Berry Lycium Barbarum
Hollyhock Double Mixed
Honey Locust (Thornless) Gleditsia Triacanthos Inermis
Hyacinth Muscari Armeniacum
Jujube Zizyphus Jujuba
Kale Curly Scarlet
Kale Dwarf Green Curled
Lambs Lettuce Valentin
Larkspur Giant Imperial Mixed
Lavender Munstead
Lavender Common English
Leek Musselburgh
Lemon Mint Monarda Citriodora
Lettuce Salad Bowl Red and Green Mixed
Lettuce Little Gem
Lobella Crystal Palace
Lovage Levisticum Officinalis
Marigold Dwarf Mix
Marrow Tiger Cross F1
Medlar Mespilus Germanica
Melon Arava F1
Mint Peppermint Mentha Piperita
Mulberry Black Morus Nigra
Mulberry Red Morus Rubra
Mulberry White Morus Alba
Nasturtium Tom Thumb Mixed
Nasturtium Empress of India
Nasturtium Tall Single
Nasturtium Peach Melba
Nasturtium Saved from My Nans Garden Before she Died by my mother
Nigella Persian Jewels
Onion Bedfordshire Champion
Onion Red Baron
Onion (Spring) North Holland Blood Red
Onion (Spring) Evergreen Bunching
Osage Orange Maclura Pomifera
Pak Choi Choco F1
Parsnip White Gem
Parsnip Gift English Homestead 
Pea Kelvedon Wonder
Pea (Snap) Quartz
Pepper (Hot) De Cayenne
Pepper (Sweet) Romano Mixed
Pepper Pencil Cayenne - Gift English Homestead 
Pomegranate Punica Granatum
Poppy Pandora
Potato Spanish Store Bought
Pumpkin Jack O Lantern
Pumpkin Rouge vif d'Etampes
Radish French Breakfast 3
Radish Candela Di Fuoco
Rhubarb Victoria Rheum Palmatum Hybridum
Rocket Mr Fothergills
Rosemary Rosemarinus Officinalis
Runner Bean Scarlet (saved from last harvest)
Salvia Blaze of Fire
Salvia Mixed
Squash Butternut F1
Squash Sweet Dumpling
Stocks Dwarf Mixed
Strawberry Alpine Red & White Mixed
Sunflower Black Magic F1
Sunflower Mr F's Mixed
Sunflower Autumn Beauty
Sunflower Giant Single
Sweet Pea Tall Mixed
Sweet Pea Skylark Mixed
Tansy Tanagetum Vulgare
Thyme Orange Scented Thymus Fragrantissimus
Tomato Gardeners Delight
Tomato Moneymaker
Tomato Costoluto Fiorentino
Wild Flowers Saved from Local Seeds in UK
Wild Flowers BBC Countryfile Grow Wild Mix
Zinnia Purple Prince
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Thursday, 16 February 2017

What's In the Cock Box?

Very few people could guess what came in this box...

A mysterious delivery
My amazing mother saw this online and decided that, in her words, I "needed to have it" and after seeing it myself I couldn't agree more! If there is one thing I love more than knives it is quality workmanship and this certainly does not disappoint.

A gift from the best mother in the world
It is a custom handmade bushcraft knife made by Rhode Knives! (which explains the Rhode Island Red on their logo)

The handle is Becote and has a beautiful grain pattern that really complements the mosaic centre pin and copper and brass loveless bolts. The handmade full grain leather sheath is very sturdy, secures the blade snugly and the yellow stitching really suits it.
Beautiful Becote Handle on Rhode Knives Bushcraft Knive
The blade is 01 Tool Steel, razor sharp, full tang and incredibly robust. To top it off it is a scandi grind so incredibly easy to maintain a fine sharp cutting edge on the knife.


Gorgeous Deep Red Liners

Becote Bushcrafter by Rhode Knives

I'm totally head over heels in love with this knife, the craftmanship is amazing and it feels perfect in the hand, it literally hasn't left my belt since it arrived. Of course all great blades need a name, and this one is no different so I have chosen a good strong viking word and named her Thorn, I'm sure no one will need me to translate that one since it is a word we still use today

Thorn - The Handmade Custom Bushcraft Knife by Rhode Knives



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Thursday, 9 February 2017

D.I.Y Pallet Chicken Coop

How To Make A Chicken Coop Out Of Pallets
DIY Upcycled Pallet Chicken Coop

For our Community Garden over at the corral we wanted to get a few chickens, but since the project is entirely self financed funds are tight so we try to keep costs as low as possible. There were plenty of pallets in the corral so it made perfect sense to try our hand at making a coop out of pallets.


Tricky and Tel making the pallet chicken coop

Since all of the pallets over there were as old as the hills and no two pallets matched each other we had our work cut out for us to build the chicken coop, we practically had to dismantle and reassemble every pallet. I'm sure if you had newer pallets that were the same size and shape it would be a lot quicker and easier, we just had to adapt and adjust our design as we went along to accommodate for the poor materials!

Putting the pallets back together to become the chicken coop base

After we made a solid pallet base we built the frame of the chicken coop up from that, everyone pitched in to help get the coop built together as a family, the little ones are really looking forward to having chickens to look after!
Aurora, Carly, Tricky and Tel building the chicken coop frame
Tricky, Aurora and Carly having fun in the sun
Of course one of the problems with the sun always shining out here is that it has a tendency to photobomb us!

Beautiful Smiley Faces
By the end of the first afternoon the chicken coop was starting to take shape and looking a little less like a pile of pallets.

Halfway through building the pallet chicken coop
Pallet Chicken Coop Frame with Nest Box
We spent two afternoons building the chicken coop in total, not only did we adhere to the permaculture ethic of create no waste, but we actually built the coop out of entirely recycled materials. The roof material was rescued from the builders skip next door and even the hinges and latches were scavenged from old door frames on the firewood pile and given new life on the chicken coop. Our total build cost for the Pallet Chicken Coop was £3 for a box of screws.

All timber, roofing sheets, hinges and latches are completely recycled materials
All that is left for us to do now is really push the boat out and give the coop a lick of paint or whitewash.

The Completed Chicken Coop Made Out Of Pallets
I quite like the quirky mismatched hinges and handles on the tiny chicken door at the top of the ramp

The finished Chicken Coop built out of pallets
Even the roosting perches are zero cost as we repurposed some suitable lengths of firewood to do the job

Roosting Perches inside the Pallet Chicken Coop
The nesting boxes are built for ease of use so you can check in on them and gather eggs from the outside without disturbing the rest of the coop.

Pallet Nesting Box
door of the nesting box on the pallet chicken coop
And inside we have individual nesting boxes with a lip at the front to stop the eggs rolling out into the roosting area


Internal nesting boxes of the Pallet Chicken Coop

We can't wait to pick the chickens up this weekend and get them settled in to their pallet chicken coop :)
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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Sunday Catch Up

I feel that recently I haven't been able to keep up with everything that's been going on, so hopefully this can catch everyone up.

We've all had the biggest relief in the world, the house in the UK FINALLY completed last week so our six months in limbo is finally over and we can get on with creating our dream homestead!

Massive thank you to all of our friends in blogland that have given us their support and encouragement when we were drowning in despair. Now that it's all over there is such a feeling of victory that I cannot help but share this picture of our little Prince Charming:

VICTORY!!!  Our Knight in Shining Armour
We've been up to our usual tricks behind the scenes as always, there's been plenty of making, baking, growing and sewing going on. Here's a money shot of the latest batch of home brewed cider, you can find the method we use HERE:

Home Brewed Hard Cider
And here's a photo I LOVE! Homemade Red Cabbage, Homemade Sauerkraut, Homebrewed Hard cider and last but certainly not least Carly's 18hr Slow Roast Pulled Pork! We don't very often eat meat as we try to stick to a mostly plant-based natural diet, but when we do have it we make sure it is something special!

Homemade Pulled Pork, Homemade Sauerkraut, Homemade Red Cabbage and Homebrew Hard Cider

Logan has been helping me to decorate my Gardener's Journal with some adorable bumblebee stamps that he got for xmas

Bumblebee Stamp

I'm so impatient I couldn't help myself, we've been sowing some seeds ahead of the growing season so pretty much all of the available space on the windowsills is occupied now, here's a few of the things we have sown so far in January:

Carnations, Tomatoes, Sweet Pea, Aubergine, Cauliflower and Cabbage
Our Spanish neighbours gave us a large potted plant and said that I needed to keep it out of the frost at night, it took a little while for me to figure out what it was but after a bit of investigation we finally got over the language barrier, this is a Margarita Blanca, Giant White Daisy

Margarita Blanca - Giant White Daisy
And lastly, something a little out of the ordinary, whilst clearing out and tidying up the Community Garden Corral I found a tiny little kitten skull, seems the poor little thing had fallen between the stacks of pallets and couldn't get out. All that was left was a perfectly preserved skeleton and a tuft of bright orange fur :(

Kitten Skull

I'll keep you all updated with the progress on the land, 2017 is going to be an amazing adventure!
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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Kev at An English Homestead

Most of my readers will already know Kev Alviti over at An English Homestead, if you don't you should definitely check him out.

I have always had a lot of respect for Mr Alviti, his blog was one of the first blogs I ever followed when I wasn't even really sure what a blog was!
When we were just starting out on our journey I used to read Kev's blog and think "what an awesome bloke" He grows, he rears livestock, he is an amazing father to his children and shared similar views to me on almost everything.

One of the things I love most about the blogging community is that it allows me to connect with amazing people all over the world that I might never have met in the real world. Over time me and Kev have become great friends and he has sent me gifts in the past, and was my first choice when we started to Showcase Badass Dads on my other site (great article if you haven't read it yet).

Today the postman dropped off another gift from Kev, sent for no other reason than he is such a genuinely nice guy. It contained a variety of seeds and a brilliant vintage book on growing apples that I cannot wait to get stuck in to now.

Great Gift from Kev at An English Homestead

The seeds he has sent us in those awesome stamped envelopes were Chilli Peppers, Parsnips, Chives, Coriander, Electric Daisy and Achocha so hopefully I can get them all growing over at the Corral Community Garden Project this year.

So once again Thank You Kev, you are a true gent and as soon as we are all set up on the land I can't wait for you and the family to come and visit us out in the sunny Spanish mountains!

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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Community Corral

As I mentioned last week in the Deliverance post, our Spanish neighbors have given us their Corral to use to raise some chickens and grow our own whilst we are in the process of building our own homestead.

View of the corral from the gate

Logan helping to clean up

The Corral
Since we hope to be finished building and living on our own land within the next year or two we've decided that we will set the corral up as a community garden for the residents to take over once it is established. Our village is somewhat of a food desert, although it has a bakers the nearest market or greengrocers is 8 miles away. Most of the village are elderly so if we can grow an abundance at the corral and bring the residents together with something they can all share in it would make such a difference to the community. The position of the corral on a prominent corner lends itself to this project perfectly.


Corral South Side

Mostly used to store firewood and scrap

Corral North View
At the moment the space is used to store an assortment of firewood and scrap timber, most of which is riddled with woodworm so we wont be able to salvage it for any building projects such as the chicken coop etc. 
The Corral is 12.5 x 12m so approx 150m2 in size. The weeds used to be waist high but our neighbour had a friend keep a couple of horses in there for a while which has kept them at bay. Apparently one year they tried to grow potatoes in the ground but nothing came of them so they have told me the soil is too poor for growing. Hopefully I can teach them how to use Permaculture and Regenerative Agriculture techniques to grow everything they want in this space.

Shaded south half of the corral
The southern half of the corral is almost in constant shade due o the high wall on that boundary. judging by the netting I suspect that was where they planted the potatoes, possibly to keep them out of the sun and cut down on watering but maybe that area doesn't receive enough sun, or maybe it was just a poor year for potatoes when they tried?

Enthusiastic little helpers!
At the top of the photo above you can see the bank of the dry river bed. It isn't a river any more and now serves as a track for hikers and cyclists. The banks of the riverbed collect all the leaves and windfall from the trees, so I took the children over to collect some of the natural fertility being created over there. This will help us to start our compost pile off with some great microbiology and really enrich the soil.

Logan and Aurora getting in to the rich natural compost beneath the leaf litter
As soon as we pulled back the top layer of leaves we were met with the most amazing smell of good soil! We collected enough to ammend some of our soil and start the compost pile off and made sure to rake leaves back over so as not to destroy the biodiversity in the soil. Below you can see just how rich the soil was underneath, can't wait to get this project up and running and share it with the community and our readers on here. 2017 is going to be an excellent year!

The finest soil



If you have any leftover or unwanted seeds that you could donate to this project they would be gratefully received, many thanks in advance.
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Etsy

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