FAST Blog: Family Homestead

Permaculture, Preparedness, Homesteading & Survival

Monday, 27 February 2017

Pocket Shot

Pocket Shot type Catapult / Slingshot

I finally got around to acquiring a Pocket Shot type slingshot. These these things have been floating around of social media for a while now, if you haven't seen or heard of them before here's a quick video of what they're all about:

I've been playing around with it now for about a week and it is wicked fun, very powerful and fairly accurate for what it is. My new favourite thing to do is use it to fire tree seeds all around the local trails, the kids get to have a blast and also help the trees around here to disperse their seed, Win/Win!

They also do an attachment called a "Whisker Biscuit" which allows these things to fire actual arrows! I think I'll give that one a miss for the time being, I'm in no hurry to maim things with it for me it was more of a toy to enjoy with the kids than a survival tool/weapon. There are far worse ways to spend an afternoon than playing with one of these things, if you have been thinking about getting one I'd say they are worth it, and if you get one to fire tree seeds around the place I will be incredibly pleased with myself!


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Brightened Up My Day

There I was having a pretty foul morning, feeling a little deflated that things weren't going my way today and that I wasn't getting the things done that I wanted to when I was disturbed by the postman, a welcome distraction from the work I was trying to do anyway. When I greeted him at the gate I got an unexpected package amongst the usual mail.

Goodies from Graham Burnett
My Permaculture mentor and good friend Graham Burnett had sent me a few goodies that totally brightened up my day. Along with a hand written card featuring his own artwork I got a beautiful Permaculture poster, a copy of his permaculture design notes booklet "Towards an Ecology of the Self" and a copy of the booklet "Apo(m)lemic" which is a history of the humble apple orchard. If you haven't checked out Graham's work yet I highly recommend heading over to, I did my Permaculture Design Course with Graham, he is a fantastic teacher and really knows his stuff.

It is amazing how an act of kindness can make a bad day do a complete U-turn, and this small care package really lifted my mood and gave me something to look forward to reading once I finished playing email tennis with our architect, writing some blog posts and ordering in materials for our embroidery business. Now I'm off to put my feet up for a well earnt rest and to get stuck in to my new goodies!


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

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


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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