Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Meet Zak.

I've mentioned Kane already, but I haven't really mentioned Zak - my stepson who has been my son for the last 6 years - but known me for 7 years.

The photo was taken at one of our many gigs we've been to - this one was when we went to see 'Pink'.

Zak is 17, into punk and heavy rock/metal music, has severe Cerebral Palsy and the main reason we bought the new place. He is certainly unique - he is the top of his school, and almost everything we do concerning his education has never been done before, and I am EXTREMELY proud of him!

There are a lot of things he did before anyone else, and many things he was the first to do - such as the following few examples;

At his current school they have awards for IT, Bronze, Silver and Gold. The Gold award being something which is sometimes awarded to young adult at school leaving age if they work really hard...

...Zak won it at 12!

Because he won the highest IT award so early, the school then had to invent another award called the Platinum award, which he one too - and because he won that they had to invent ANOTHER award called the Diamond award, which he is still working on, and hopes to finish before he leaves his school.

He was the first young adult from his school to go to a mainstream college course at 16, and he was the first young person at the college with special needs to do a mainstream IT course too! The college and I had to CREATE a course for him, and the IT course he was very profficient at, although with the amount of work he had to do, and the length of time travelling everyday we decided to stop, leaving the door open to go back at a later date and the head of the Department saying she would love to see Zak back some time so he can teach her and her staff a few things!

As I've already said, I am VERY proud of Zak!

We are converting part of the bungalow into his own 'batchelor pad' with his own lounge, bedroom, bathroom and carers room - all with very specialised equipment and gadgets.

The concrete path which measures 167M x 1.2M wide (almost 350' x 4') that I mentioned in an earlier post is for him to drive round the property - pretty much to every aspect of the garden.

The reason I'm mentioning him, is basically because he bullied me into putting a picture of him on this Blog - he wants to be famous (although how famous he'll get from my blithering I have no idea!).

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Trailer life.

Now then, I'm sure you all realise by now that I just LOVE power tools, engines and other gadgets, but today I bought a great addition to them all.


It attaches to my little tractor/mower and can carry about 650lbs, which is just what I need to move all the feed, soil and peat around the garden.

Here's my tractor/mower with the grass collector taken off...

..quite a cute little thing really...

Here is my trailer built and attached...

..and here is the trailer closer up.

It tips up as well which is going to be great when I come to make the 167M concrete path around the garden for Zaks wheelchair!

..and I know I shouldn't REALLY be this excited about a trailer, but I can't help it - it's GREAT!


The Builders cometh!

It had to happen sometime - the tranquility of working alone at our new place was too good to last!

NEWSFLASH.. what was known as 'the shed' shall now be called 'the workshop' from now on, as this is a far better term for what it represents and IS!

Sorry, had to get that out the way!

Anyway, our builders started Monday at 7:30am, which is great considering we aren't there at the moment.

We are adding about 6-7' onto the back of the bungalow, and having a loft conversion done too. This will enable Zak to have pretty much his own flat! (Actually it's his own annexe, with his own lounge, bedroom and bathroom - all kitted out for his needs - including a hoist and special equipment that he needs/wants.

Here is the view 2 days into the job.

And a view of the trench.

There are other shots, but I don't wish to bore anyone.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Coming On

Almost finished the floor now, apart from a bit under the units on the right.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Wibble wobble!


...todays blog is to show what I managed to do in a couple of hours, even though most of today was spent running around for materials and bits and pieces!

I managed to lay 2 sheets on the floor - doesn't sound much I know, but driving around takes time, and energy, and I was pretty knackered by the time I got to the house...

... but the difference those few boards make on the floor is incredible - it actually feels really solid and stable...

..which is great, because after closer inspection, my pride and joy ISN'T as solid as previously thought...

...I mean, I knew some of the frame was a bit wet, and a little rotten in places, but now when you look at the corners of the shed (on the right hand side of the photo) , you see daylight - which obviously isn't as super duper as I'd have hoped!

Still - I'll MAKE it solid any way I can, using various angle brackets....and magic if I have to!

(...and I was able to use my new circular board saw today :D )

Sunday, 20 April 2008


We're hoping that the builders will start this coming Wednesday, so there are a few jobs I have to rush to get done!

One of the jobs is taking everything out of the house that I can use like old doors, cupboards, units or shelves...anything that MAY be useful at some point in the future.

But before I start ripping things out of the new house, I have to make sure that at least half the shed is dry and good to put things in. Today I made a start, and reinforced the frame and overboarded the floor with 3/4" OSB and the wall with 1/2" OSB. I hope to finish the entire shed like this, and may remake the roof some day too.

The best thing about this morning was using my brand new circular saw - it cuts through boards like a hot knife through butter! (I know it's sad, but I just LOVE power tools! - think Tim Taylor from 'Home Improvement'! ARRF ARRF!)

I also want to put another shed below the current shed - for my mower, and also for my motorbikes and sidecar.

Me about 25 on my Honda CB750 chop

My combo unit - the sidecar will be adapted for Zak our oldest son to go in.

Thursday, 17 April 2008


Recently our Silkies have been getting very fluffy. I think it has something to do with the nice weather, due to the fact they aren't being pelted with rain every hour of the day!

Today I took a couple of photos with my phone - so sorry about the quality.

One of the Silkies is growing feathers down her legs and on her feet, I'm not sure if this is normal, or we have a mutant Silkie on our hands - either way she looks great!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Renovation project

I love this coop. From the moment I first saw it, to now, I love it!

I don't know WHY I like it so much but it's probably because it looks like a proper coop, rather than the shed the chickens are using at the moment.

When we first went to look at the property, the silkies were in the shed, and the rest of the hybrids were in this one, but I feel there was a security issue with the run, as one of the chickens - a rather nice Speckled Sussex went missing, and I ended up finding it's foot and body in our vegetable plot about 6' apart.

One of my ongoing projects is to make our chickens as comfortable as I can, without going over the top, so I've decided to renovate the old coop and make the runs more secure from foxes - I shall probably completely enclose them in with netting over the top.

The roof will be the first job - 4 sheets of OSB 3 should do the trick, cut to shape with felt over the top, and timber frames for the windows, which I'll use my new router for.... new in fact I haven't bought it yet!

While I was taking photos, Rydian seemed to have 'his' ladies round him - the pecking order is plain to see, with one of the bigger, more fluffy silkies being his main lady, and the skinniest, more matted silkies being the bottom of the group - she seems to be constantly broody - or at least she is always sitting on eggs or in the nesting box all day.

I try to push them out into the paddock when I can, but soon as an egg is laid, she's straight back in there - whether or not she is in there to hide from the abuse from the other chickens I don't know, but I'm keeping my eye on her!

Almost 100%

Well, after a week of the medication I finally feel almost 100% again now - apart from the occassional cough I still have, but another check up on Wednesday should see that off.

It looks like I actually had Bacterial Pneumonia...

...possibly from the chicken coop - from the pellet feed dust, the hay dust and all the poop dust (sorry) that I kick up - god knows how the chickens are!

So that is yet another job I have to sort out - clean and possibly rebuild the inside of the coop so it's a bit easier to clean.

Personally I'm ok - I'll wear a dust mask when I collect the eggs from now on!

At least I won't run out of jobs....



Friday, 11 April 2008

Change of weather.

Well, what a difference from the snow yesterday was!

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and Kane was chomping at the bit to go to the shop, get some goalposts and go to the new place to play.

We were told by the 'weather experts' that it was going to rain, so I didn't envisage playing for very long - if at all!

The chickens were let out as soon as we arrived, and they bundled up like a mosh pit crowd, trying to force their way out of the run - if they could have squeezed through the chicken wire, I'm sure they would have.... was like seeing the horses bolt out from the starting line, although Rydian - still very weary of me (after I chased him for attacking Kane - and yes, the cooking pot WAS mentioned!), stayed at the back, then with one mad squawk lunge, bolted past me and out into the paddock, where they enjoyed the corn I threw down for them.

Then to the matter of the football.

We set up Kane's goalpost nets on our lawn (freshly cut of course!) and set about having a bit of fun and larking about.

Kane soon found his niche, and decided he wanted to be in goal and save my shots....

...which actually, he did very well!

After about 5 minutes of trying to canter after the ball, the canter soon turned into a walk, as my stupid lung infection took over and I became breathless again.

Kane decided I should walk, so that's what I did - football in slow motion.

While Kane was being Indiana Jones in an aeroplane, running about the grass, I went to spy on the chickens to see what they were up to - and it was quite funny to see them gallivanting around, like kids on holiday - running around flapping their wings, scratching at the earth or just sunning themselves in a nice dusty bath.

One thing that is getting increasingly hard to do now is to get them into the run - it's ok if I have my secret weapon - bread - but if I don't i have to rely on their HOPE that I have bread, or 2 long sticks which i have to herd them with!

Rydian REALLY doesn't like me any more, he always makes me put up extra barriers and makes me work to get him in the run - you'd think he'd be grateful that I was making him safe...

...still - at least the 'ladies' like me!


Thursday, 10 April 2008

A great tonic.

The last week or so I've been pretty ill, first off, with a hot/cold no sleep, sick making sort of illness....

...then with a wheezy, coughing, breathlessness sort of thing.

I went to the doctors the first week, mainly due to being gently encouraged by my wife's foot. I swear the only reason she did that was so I would have to come back and stand there in front of her to tell her that..

.."the doctor said there was nothing wrong with me" sort of thing...

...which he kind of did...

.. well he told me to take Paracetamol to sort the temperature out.

But THIS time, THIS time was different!

I saw a different doctor, and he ended up sending me to the Chemists to collect Antibiotics, Steroids and two inhalers for my lungs.

Anyway - a few days into the treatment and I was feeling a bit better, so i went down to take a few units off the kitchen wall.

Which ended up with a visit to the shed and a lot of grunting and puffing (carefully putting on my super duper fine dust mask - before you say anything!) due to the fact I ripped a load of 6mm hardboard off one end of the inside of the shed.

I had previously bought some timber sheeting, which was for the internal floor, walls and roof - to make the shed a nice dry, wonderful place to be.

After I'd ripped all this sheeting off everything, I had a look at the structure and decided a lot had to be done to make it last another 10-20 years. The framework would have to be strengthened, and I would have to put a new roof on....

...the roof can wait until we're in and comfy, but the floor and walls need to be done soon - it's pretty damp and loose around the edges.

I must admit - an afternoon of hard labour made me feel incredibly good, the exertion really opened up my lungs, and I felt great!!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Fred the snowman.

All Kane wanted to do today was to build his own snowman, something we do everytime it snows here.

He had been out earlier in our back garden of where we live now, and run in the snow, thrown snow, and even piled up snow in a big heap at the bottom of his slide and slid down into it!

So it was only fair we let him out into the back garden again for a bit (even though he WAS a bit cold) to have a bit more wintery fun!

After seeing him perservere and try again and again to build one, I decided to go out and help the little chap make what he really wanted - a snowman.

So here he is - Fred the snowman!

Winter wonderland!

Well, slap me with a fish and call me Shirley! The snow that came today was about as expected as the Spanish Inquisition! (Jo said she knew it was coming, but no surprise there!)

I couldn't believe my eyes when I was was told to look out the window this morning.

"Ah it'll only be a light dusting" I said to myself, as I stared at the falling specks of snow, falling to the ground and melting.

How wrong could I be!?!?

Well, the answer is VERY wrong!

I kept looking out at the slowly engulfing snow blanket, and eventually I plucked up the courage to go down the new house and sort the chickens out - taking with me our 5 year old Kane, so he could play a bit in the snow.

We both wrapped up as warm as we possibly could, and set off in the van down the road. Obviously I only went about 20 miles an hour - the snowfall had turned into a mini blizzard - and there was a good 4 inches of snow on everything.

We got to our destination and I quickly took a couple of photos of the unspoilt ground before letting Kane loose on the unsuspecting snow.

We walked around the place, taking as many photos as possible, and then went to check the chickens to see if they were ok and to collect the eggs.

When we saw the chicken run we were amazed to see all the chicken wire filled with snow - it looked like someone had draped white sheets all over it, and I wondered just how happy my little friends were. Luckily, they were mostly all huddled under my mini extension I'd built as a dust bath, and all clucked excitedly when they heard us.

Kane and I made sure they had enough feed, and the water was clean and clear from ice, then started on our way back to the van.

We stopped to take a few more photos - one of a fir tree covered in snow, and one of the snow that had fallen in 15 minutes on my hat, then we decided enough was enough (or I did anyway!) and off we went - Kane all the time throwing snowballs at my behind!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

One man went to mow...

Up to now, the only thing i've really used the tractor for is riding round wildly whooping and a 'ollering, and basically trying to go as fast as I can!

But Thursday was different - I had a purpose!

I woke up in the morning, looked out the front door and decided today was the day that I was going to cut the grass with the tractor.

After I had taken Kane to school, I psyched myself up, and went down the new place. I made sure the fuel was topped up, and the flat tyre which was, was still pumped up.

Opening the garage doors I started to get excited.....

...I was about to try something new - ok it was 'only cutting the grass' but it was the method I was excited about. A man with a purpose, a man with a ride on lawn mower!!!

I drove the mower onto the main lawn, and very carefully, drove around the outside of the entire lawn, making sure I didn't behead any plants or flowers on my way. The run went amazingly smootly, i was amazed at how easy the job was!

However, I had to blink a few times before the reality actually hit me.....

.... I hadn't actually cut a SINGLE blade of grass!

Although I had carefully lowered the grass collector and made sure it was working correctly, although I had switched on the cutting blades....

...I had forgotten the golden rule that the previous owner had so carefully explained to me....

...I had forgotten to LOWER the blades to the correct height!!

Therefore all I had managed to do was to firstly carefully fan the grass as I drove over it, then I totally squashed it and rolled it flat with the metal roller at the back!

Oh dear... time to rethink my greatness at this outside life.

Ok - this time I had it - the cutters switched on and lowered, the grass collector lowered and switched on, THIS time It was going to work.

I started on an easy bit, gradually gaining confidence as I circled the snowdrop bed and pear tree area.... ok so maybe I didn't have to go round quite so many times, but I just HAD to make sure ... i just HAD to!

Once I had grasped the basics of the job, nothing could stop me - I was about to attempt striping the lawn.

The first few stripes admittedly went pretty badly, looking like meandering rivers, sometimes together, they differed in size, but once I figured out that I had to line up the front of the mower rather than look down at the cutters, I was set.

I must admit, the last few stripes on the lawn were the best, and I even found a way to get the thing into reverse without having to smash my hand each time, but all in all it was a very successful day - that is until the cutters stopped working!

Luckily I had already finished, well, all apart from a sliver, so I wasn't too bothered.

Anyway - tinkering with engines is yet another fun activity I enjoy, so still no complaints there!

My friends.

Well, I know what the blog is called, so maybe it's time to show them.

One of the things I love about our chickens, is that they are quite tame, and follow me around all over the place. Usually when I'm holding or giving them food is the best time to get a complete compliment of followers, but when I've been working on putting the fence up, they mill around me, and generally hang out with me.

I was taking the chickens back to their coop/house - whatever you want to call it, and Jo decided to film the procession.

I don't have to be holding food though - I also whistle to get them to come to me, or failing that I just shout at them very loudly!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

A seat in the country

The thing about our new place is that it's beautiful. Not beautiful in the pretentious overly crammed with fancy flowers sort of way, nor in the "yes, we have rare flowers in OUR garden, and aren't they the biggest you have ever seen" sort of way either.
Our place has a tranquility about it that has come from years of love and proper use of the land. The vegetable garden in nicely laid out, with a greenhouse and a big poly tunnel, the large lawn is expansive and lush, and the paddock is an area full of interesting little plants, flowers and trees. The paddock has one section almost hidden from the rest, it has a large fir tree and a willow separating it from the rest of that area, and that is where Jo mentioned she would like a bench.

After the success of my gates and the mini extension to the chicken coop (meant as a dust bath for the chickens - basically a lean-to) I decided to try to make a garden bench.

Having never made one wasn't really a problem, and I was excited as I thought how to make it.

I decided to try to use old fashioned methods to make it, and to make it sturdy enough to last at least a few years. So I set about buying some round and half round timbers to build it with. The first thing I did was to mortice out the front legs for the rails that would hold the thing together, remembering how in the old days they used to use wooden dowels instead of nails or screws.

The rest of the bench was pretty easy to do, although I was getting frustrated with the time involved as I had other jobs I was trying to do at the same time (post on fencing coming later).

I found a way to utilise the nice big front legs as a hand and mug rest which pleased me no end, as I had spent some time wondering how I was going to do it, without it looking rubbish.

So, once the handrail had been sorted out, it was plain sailing through the rest of the build, and at last it was finished! All that remained was to treat the timber with an extra coat of wood preserver (the timber was already vacuum treated with preserver), let it dry, and to move it into the paddock!

So here we have a couple of pictures before and after the treatment.

And hopefully this week, the bench will finally give Jo the peaceful spot she's wanted for years.