England may have won 6-1, but I was on the bench

I’ve got myself a lawn, but not a bench to put on it…

I did have a pallet though!

So I made one from the other;

35989871_471145059996607_6311985651617103872_n

First up, find yourself a pallet that you would not mind sitting on. Nobody wants splinters in the bum so a new one would be best. Even better still if it is treated already as it saves you a job.

Gather up your tools, a brew and a length of timber for the legs.

36062853_471145303329916_3489315943341883392_n

Measure how big you want the seat, and the remainder will be the back rest. I was really technical about this… I sat on the pallet until it felt right.

The saw the pallet in the right spot, across the middle of two cross-beams.

34963231_471145499996563_8961010751238045696_n

Then, make it look like a seat! Lots of screws in the bottom and a few through the sides and hopefully the seat shouldn’t fall off when you plonk down after a long days work.

35932359_471145706663209_8428020449564164096_n35971194_471145883329858_2981393372909928448_n

Use some proper screws!! Nothing too short that will rip out as soon as the weather turns.

Then decide how long you want your legs and cut the wood. I did two pieces at the right length, and two slightly longer so that I could have an arm rest.

36114111_471146103329836_2312266188639436800_n

Then guess what, screw them on too.

 

You know how a bench should look, so I hope i don’t have to explain this part, but if I do let me know and ill send you my plans! It all depends on how long your legs are!

36003020_471146449996468_1988216433779146752_n

Three screws in each leg should hold it.

Next up, measure the distance between the two legs as well as the length you would like the arm rests to be and cut the wood appropriately.

35892316_471146253329821_1135060479379505152_n

This will help keep the bench square as well as stopping the legs from falling out from under you when you sit down like a bad jenga tower.

Screw ‘um in.

36003277_471147356663044_5660307824253599744_n ^Bench^ !

I think it looks pretty good for something done on a wing and a prayer to solve my seating problem. I don’t think my 20+ year old deck chairs will last much longer so it’s just in time!

35162088_471146696663110_4898131981696499712_n

I’ve just got to get MrT to mow the lawn now and it’ll be ready for summer BBQ’s and picnics!

 

Advertisements

MrT can easily take A-Fence sometimes

The “Captial Spend Plot” is actually the bane of my life.
It makes everything so much more difficult!
Brambles and nettles are spreading like wildfire through the roots and no matter how much I dig they always return.

The same glorious weather that has helped my spuds grow has also helped the nettles sprout up, so the path to the shed is getting very stingy.

It has gone from this;

Image may contain: 1 person, shoes, outdoor and nature

 

 

To this in less than a month;

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature

 

So MrT decided it was time to stop the top growth from spreading any further before we dealt with the under-ground-problems of roots.

I managed to find us some lovely old railway sleepers for free online. They were intended to use as steps up to the log cabin at home but we ended up with too many!

These because the base of our fence. Because it was to be built on decades old concrete, we needed something strong and heavy that wouldn’t topple over easily and could be drilled in to.

He also decided to make use of the scrap pallets we seem to have collected from around the plot over winter.

Image may contain: outdoor and nature

He dug the sleepers in as far as possible into the bank of mud, old roots, glass and plastic bags and then wedged it behind an existing concreted fence post hidden inside an ivy hedge. The plan was to then screw battons of wood into the sleeper and attach pallets to these.

Image may contain: plant, tree and outdoor

It took lots of wrangling and some swear words, but its in!

Unfortunately we had to call it a day here on Tuesday evening because he didn’t have his electric drill and the sleepers were too difficult to screw into without pilot holes. So after sawing the rest of the battons, we went home and had dinner like civilised people.

Last night i thought i would go back up and do what i could without his help, and I was actually rather proud of myself!

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

We used some old corrugated plastic signs from MrT’s old work to stop the nettles from winding through the gaps in the pallets. These were just simply stapled on the back of the fence. They really help to cover up all the mess next door too!!

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Next step is to carry the fence along behind the greenhouse and as far as we can manage! Hopefully by next year we may be able to enjoy the spring without worrying about stopping the bramble branches from dropping over and rooting…

Image may contain: plant, tree, shoes, outdoor and nature

Just to stop them travelling UNDER the fence now!! Hmmm… more thinking required on that one.


On the upside…

Look at these!!

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor

Need to make sure i go up there every morning and water them now.

At least the upside to having missing windows is that they have some ventilation through this heat wave!

Cluckingham Place gets new plumbing

I love my chickens, I really do, but they eat and drink you out of house and home.

Every day I am down there filling up the food and water troughs (twice in the summer!) and every day I end up covered in chicken poo and overspray from the enthusiastic hose attachment.

I needed to find a better way of doing things.

I searched everywhere online for different ways of watering my chickens using rainwater collected from their coop, and nowhere could I find a suitable solution.

Image result for chicken waterer

I looked in to using chicken nipples or drinkers, but these are either very expensive (over £5 each on Ebay!) or have very bad longevity reviews. Plus my chickens are stupid. They would NEVER figure out those little knobly bits held water.

I then looked in to a system which looked perfect. It was a tupperware tub bolted on to a tank with a bit of pipe. Hydrodynamics kept it from overflowing. However these only seemed to work with catering buckets and HAD to be airtight. Plus I don’t think it would work with such a large container as air is too stretch-able and squash-able for a good enough vacuum to be created. Overflowing and losing all the water is not good when watering 12 hens daily.

There are a few specialist products out there too; cups, drinkers, pipes, bowls… however all of these had one issue – EXPENSE.

Everything had to be cheap.

So I did some creative thinking and while I was in the bathroom one evening (TMI I know!) I had a brainwave.

I need my system to run like the toilet. A big tank full of water supplying a little bowl of water which turns off without input from opposable thumbs.

So I went to Screwfix – leading supplier of all things toilet.

35267160_463426714101775_8098166162367447040_n

Here I picked up some PTFE tape (12 rolls for £4!), a toilet float valve, some rubber washers to fit the float and 6 55mm PVC 90degree elbows (for my next project – operation food waste). I also found a large blue barrel on Gumtree going for free. The final thing I needed was a tub that could fit the float in, but wasn’t too big for the chickens to drink from and would hopefully not fill with poo and shavings (a girl can dream).

35145159_463426404101806_597989533572661248_n

We have got an IBC that MrT helped me to collect, so if this goes well I will make another one. My hens will never have to worry about being a bit parched. As long as it doesn’t freeze but I will come to that in the autumn…

I could find nothing similar on the internet before so hopefully this will make sense, but if not feel free to message me you questions!

It is environmentally friendly, uses less water, wastes less time and also feeds my constant need to ‘upcycle’ and re-use

Blue Barrel

My first step was to clean out the old tank. From the smell of it (and experience of being a Chef Widow) this barrel used to contain some sort of veg oil. This is edible so it isn’t too big of a deal, but oil can quickly go gross so best to clean it now. The amount of times I have washed this from MrT’s work clothes has taught me that the best way of getting this out is the good old fashioned way.

  1. Fill the barrel with warmish water. I used a hose from the outside tap mixed with a couple of kettles just boiled!
  2. Add a really CHEAP dish soap. The expensive “moisturising” ones are rubbish for this. The good old 25 ones that make your hands feel like stones are perfect.
  3. Screw the tops on the barrel.
  4. Roll it on its side up and down the driveway for a few minutes. Good way of finding leaks too.
  5. Avoid stares from confused neighbours.
  6. Tip content of barrel away (safely!!).
  7. Stop dogs from playing in oily bubbles.
  8. Repeat.
  9. Rinse with clean cool water.

35243345_463427827434997_6406702634115268608_n

I then drilled a hole large enough for the threads of my float valve, but not so large that it would flap about and let water leak. 20mm did it for me.

35328317_463426950768418_2537155757204307968_n

I also did the same thing in the tub that the chickens will drink from. Plastic can be quite hard to cut through, so it is worth drilling a pilot hole and then allowing the cutter to spin and melt the plastic slightly as it cuts. Don’t force it, you’ll split the drum or stab yourself with flying plastic/drill bit. And definitely don’t touch it straight away.

35300530_463426494101797_1617690459851718656_n

Remember physics; Friction=Hot

When (if!) I do this with the IBC, I will add some PVC connecting pipe between the tank and the float, just simply because the IBC has a tap already installed which I will use as an emergency cutoff for cleaning and if the valve fails.

35402351_463427194101727_2195472984045518848_n

My barrel conveniently had a screw cap at the top which was the perfect size for a click-on hose adaptor, so I added this on there for when the rains don’t come (HA! We live in the UK, so not likely!). On the other side will be my downpipe for the guttering when i have fitted it, but that will be a weekend job so ill be hose-pipe filled for now.

35293369_463427330768380_6316979113739419648_n

Next up, I screwed the float valve in to the drum. There is a nut to use on the inside, but there was no way i was getting my hand in that barrel so I just screwed it in and will use sealant to keep it watertight. Then unscrew it again when you realise you forgot the water container. I was very careful this whole time not to damage the threads but also not to strip the hole I had just drilled. This would hopefully add some extra water resistance.

35289475_463427464101700_6337977913224200192_n

Then put it all together and pray.

The order is this; Nut (if you can get it in there), washer, barrel, washer, tub, washer, float valve. The float valve sits inside the tub where the chickens will drink. Use the float valve screw to wedge all of these parts together like a big BLT.

35225643_463427724101674_2174441791917391872_n

Add some water and its time to test! Maybe put waterproof shoes on for this and don’t do it on your kitchen floor – you know, just in case.

The way it SHOULD work is that when the water flows out of the barrel and in to the tub the float rises to close the valve and shuts off the water at the correct level. When the chickens drink and lower the level the valve opens again.

You may need to have a play around to try and get the water level just right. Mine is on its lowest setting, and i will cut the plastic tub into a more “easy to drink from” shape when i know it is all working properly.

35430699_463427600768353_3600084472755650560_n

Remember that small chicks can and WILL get in the water and drown, so this should not be used for young babies. This is for my ExBatt hens for laying (about 2 years old) so if they fall in it is because they are thick.

Hopefully this will save me getting soggy shoes and poo covered hands, as well as keeping my hens hydrated in the summer months!

They love it!

I will let you know in winter how it fares with freezing, but I have a feeling that I may need to resort to some sort of heating mechanism or just fill them up daily, especially if using pipes!

Busy Week, With Not Enough Time!

I’ve been neglecting my allotment these last few days/week… poor thing!

My onions desperately need hoeing which will be tonight job, and I still need to get all of the weeds removed from my final bed to get some peas, beans and pumpkins in!

So this week will be a manic one I am sure – it’s all made better when I found this though;

33103740_10156596532708296_2381784993148960768_n

They are going red!!

So I only managed to get down there for a few hours on Saturday.

I pulled up a few weeds, but because the ground was so dry it was like stone!

So instead I decided to make my mini flower bed for Rachel’s Sunflowers. It is right in front of my greenhouse annex so will be a lovely view when they grow!

I used some of the old roof tiles we dug up from around the plot to edge it. The edge is pretty tall, but that means that i can strim the grass without murdering the sunflowers in high season.

33027634_10156596533193296_4740262203804876800_n

All in!

The grass still needs another layer of seeds adding as the birds have had a field day, but since I have now stopped them getting to the chicken food and its been a long winter, I thought I would be kind to them.

33036784_10156596533463296_7391770365753556992_n

Sunflowers in!

I used the tops of the milk bottles from MrT’s strawberry wall as name plates for the different sunflower types. Recycling at its best!

33081673_10156596533773296_1748659139581575168_n

Give them all a good water

These will all get some sticks put in over the weekend, but for now I am letting them recover a bit.

It does look like the slugs are out in force though so a beer trap will soon be installed… bloody things. I picked a pot full later in the evening and the chickens thought it was Christmas!

Now just to try and keep on top of everything…

 

Sunday Sunshine

Morning!

We have had a lovely but very busy weekend organising wedding stuff the past few days, including spending a few hours having a fabulous drive down to the wedding venue in Shrewsbury. I can’t wait, it all seems very real!

In return for my wedding organising day, I went with MrT to a new motorbike shop so he was pretty pleased too.

When we got in it was still lovely weather so we popped down to the lottie for a bit… glad we did because look what my neighbour left me!

32395158_449973748780405_7573122224501030912_n

So many toms!

So while MrT chopped the tops off some milk bottles for me, I dug up my over-wintered strawberry plants from the greenhouse.

He potted these up in to the new milk-bottle-homes and I started planting my toms!

32460176_449959545448492_3339566144720732160_n

More toms, less space!

I was told last year that my planting layout wasn’t very economical, so I am following the advice in this years planting. Apparently if you place your tomatoes in a staggered formation, you can fit more in a smaller space and still get enough air circulation to avoid blight! Lets give it a go!

32440751_449960022115111_1231755942857539584_n

So Leafy!

Now you see all those fluffy bits on the greyish area on the bottom of the stem? They turn in to roots! So I take off the seed leaves and stem (those funny shaped ones at the bottom) and the next set of leaves up.

Also, you notice those shoots appearing from the tomatoes ‘elbows’? Remove those whenever they appear, no matter how old the plant. They sap all of the nutrients away from the main stem and fruit trusses and make your crop smaller (apparently!).

 

32372815_449959648781815_2614318306420588544_n

This is how it should now look!

Now dig a hole big enough to cover the roots and that greyish area of stem.

When plating tomatoes, its good to add a bit of fertiliser beforehand. Lots of people use eggs and banana skins, but I just put in some fungi powder and crunched up egg shells.

Now is also the time to put in your tomato collars if you use them. I haven’t invested in any yet but I have heard good things! They make watering easier and help the fruits avoid splitting.

32561165_449960185448428_7802517931018944512_n

All in!

By the time you have finished, your plants will look about half the height that they did, but don’t worry. They will have a huge root ball now and grow much better.

Water them in really well, but don’t get it on the leaves. Water on the leaves makes them burn and go spotty. It doesn’t harm the plant in small areas, but it can wilt them quite badly!

Don’t they look fab!?

So while I was doing that MrT had watered all of my onions, garlic and spuds, replaced all of my weedguard, fed my chickens and quail and made this stunning bit of wall art

32374303_449960438781736_5223212090621165568_n

Strawberry wall!

Isn’t he a good egg?!

We had a lot of trouble with bunnies and slugs eating my fruit last year before they were ripe, so hopefully this will help avoid that. It also helps with recycling all of that dreaded plastic! Just make sure you poke some drainage holes!

Now just to repaint the wall and it’ll look ace.

I am so proud of him
It’s still not worth a new motorbike though…
Maybe when he has built my fence!

Wooden it be nice…?

One day he will regret setting eyes on me, if he doesn’t already.

0171

Today’s job

This was MrT’s chore for today. We had a break-in a few days ago and my gates were already battered and rotten so it didn’t take much for them to break completely. Luckily nothing went missing (they were disturbed) but it gave me an excuse to get a new gate sorted.

0154

Loaded up the car

Since we had bought a log cabin at the end of 2017, we had loads of spare tongue and groove wood. MrT found a use for it here!

His first job was to remove the old gates and save as much of the furniture as possible. We wanted to use these big hinges on the new gates. Recycle and reuse!

0156

Gate ‘bits’

Next up, unload all of the bits you’ll need, along with lots of things you won’t and stand looking confused for a while.

0157

Planning stages

The first real step in the actual construction was to build a rectangle from the thicker pieces of wood. It is really important to make sure that the corners are all square at this stage, as otherwise your gate will be squiffy! We used metal heavy duty right angles to hold it together, as the wood was too thick for screws to go through square and we didn’t want to faff about cutting angles in the rain!

0158

Fag break. 

Then its just a matter of screwing the tongue and groove slats on to the rectangle.

0160

Screw in the boards, while I clean up the hinges

0161

Ain’t he a cutie!?

It took three of us to lift the gate into place when the hinges were on.

One good tip is to place the top hinge bracket upside down. This will stop potential bad-guys from just lifting your gate off its hinges! It’s more of a faff but its worth it.

0162

Brew Break

He also boxed in the bit of wood at the top of my posts which stops them from bowing inwards over time. He is a good egg.

We decided that for extra piece of mind we would add an additional horizontal bar to attach another hinge to. Unfortunately by this point MrT was hungry and grumbly so put it level with the floor instead of gravity…

It might look odd, but never mind, i can;t complain when he has done all of this for me on his day off!

0164

Just cosmetics left now

I then started on the painting. Because we had used leftover wood, some were red (horrendous!) and some plain, so I had to pick a colour which would cover it.

We used Cuprinol Ducksback in Silver Copse. It took three coats to cover but it got there.

0165

Hmm that’s not MrT!

After he had eaten and was less Hangry, he put the lock latch on to keep the people out and chickens in. I passed the painting over to him while I supervised and ate chicken sandwiches. We are a good team… sort of!

0166

Painting

A neighbour bought over some barbed wire he had just put around his gate after the break-in. We decided against it though as its awful stuff for the dogs and wildlife and sods law says the only person it will keep out is me when I forget to pick up my key before locking the padlock!!

0169

Almost there

Hasn’t this been a great days work!? My dogs will now be safely enclosed while I’m digging away and all the snoopy people can lean over and look but not just wander up and down and terrify the life out of me!

0175

Job well done i think