TEN YEARS AFTER

Apart from ‘Ten Years After ‘ being a favourite band of ours from the ’60’s and ’70’s, it’s also coming up to our 10th anniversary of owning our land here in Ireland, and leading us to try to set up, build and live a self-sustainable lifestyle on our own.

We didn’t actually do anything with the land for a couple of years after buying it because we weren’t really sure just what we wanted to do, but after a while everything started to come together, especially once we’d bought the 40ft mobile home, placed it on the land and stayed for a 2 week holiday in it. This was 8 years ago, a lot of hard work and some mind puzzling problems to overcome. More

THERE’S MORE AT THE DOOR.

Hello and welcome to ‘The Willows’ and a big welcome to all our new Twitter followers.

Even though we have a very well insulated house with the floors, walls and roof all having 4 inches of insulation, there are always little problems with the wind through the side door especially when the wind blows from the east. All of the windows have insulation tape/draught excluder, so no draughts there, but the doors were difficult to sort out. Another problem was that all of our coats, boots, etc.  were hung up in the kitchen and when they got wet ( and knowing where we live, that’s often !), and were drying, it made the kitchen steam up and the floor wet meaning more heat was needed.

So, I solved this by building something so simple and easy, that has been used for exactly these reasons for hundreds of years, a porch.

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It was built onto a raised floor to stop damp, and the window was recycled from an old property.

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It was stained with a water based stain and then with linseed oil to waterproof it. The re cycled door and window are now ready for a lick of paint.

The difference it has made is amazing, no more draughts and all of our wet clothing hangs in there so no more dripping all over the kitchen floor, this has also given us more room in the kitchen and we’re not tripping up over boots !

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I decided to put this old door in so that we can fetch fuel/wood for the range or start the generator from inside the porch without getting wet, especially once the tin roof has been extended!

Obviously the porch itself has a few draughts, but once the coats etc have stopped dripping, they can come in for a nice warm and a dry but they have to go back out there. There’s a place for everything and everything in it’s place, as my Grandma used to say . And I bet yours did too !

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It would be virtually impossible to stop every draught but as long as they are only small I think they actually help with some ventilation.

So now the house needs less heating, less heating means less waste and so less of a carbon footprint, and so less money needed to be spent.

We would like to supply all of our own fuel here at ‘The Willows’, and we are trying as we have already planted lots of trees over the years,( too many to count,) and most of the willow has been woven into fedges ( I will post more about the fedges in a later blog). Each willow will produce hundreds of rods that can be mulched into briquettes for fuel. Some people say that willow isn’t good for the fire as it has a high water content, but we dried some out for a year and it burnt well, very well, but making a compact briquette makes it burn slower, but with a good heat.

So we’re off now to plant more trees that include Oak ,Beech, Birch, Alder and of course Willow for our Samhain celebration.

HAPPY SAMHAIN !

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Enjoy.

ALL HANDS ON DECK.

Hello and welcome to all our new followers ( and of course our long time followers !), and thankyou for all the nice comments you have all sent. We do hope that you all find us helpful, informative and entertaining!

At the start of this project 7 years ago, the summer weather was absolutely fantastic. It was really hot and very sunny and we felt like we were on a permanent holiday! We had a 35 foot caravan and a dream, so we started to build the extension onto the side of the caravan. We were playing Spanish music on our little CD player and having fun together, it almost felt like we were making our own telly programme, we called it ‘House Builders In The Sun !’ One time I was making the roof and 2 Red Kites were swooping overhead, we took this to be a good omen. But as ever the weather changed ( we were still having fun !) but at the end of the day this was still just grazing land and with all the rain it started to get really boggy and just down right muddy. Ok we didn’t have any carpets to mess up ( we still don’t), but it all became hard work, slipping and sliding around the areas around the house, something had to be done to make things easier. So I decided to put wooden pallets down, that I recycled from a local business ( with their permission of course)  to make a decking and walkway, and it really did work, but as always there’s another but, after awhile they started to rot and break so we kept on replacing them but these also rotted and in the end we got fed up of trying to tip toe around the place to avoid the holes and broken ankles. So once again something had to be done, hence now our proper decking and walkway.

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As you can see instead of just making a static decking, I built it all in 1 metre square sections.

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Each section can be moved or changed at any time either because of damage, or knowing us, we just want to change the pattern. Because we can…… and probably will! Why move house when you can just change how it looks?

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The last pallet being ripped up, thank goodness ! I had to use a spade,crow bar and sheer brute force !

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The sections going down.

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The walkway down the side of the house past the herb garden.

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What a view. The decking’s not bad either !

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The whole decking and walkway is now really nice to walk on without fear of slipping or breaking something ( like a pint glass !)

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And in case you were wondering what happened to all the old faithful pallets, well they will make perfect bonfire material for our Samhain  festival, seeing as we’ve invited bigmunkeyman and his mates to hold his bigmunkeyman’s bigmonster movie mashup !

I’m sure he will have a tale to tell at www. bigmunkeyman.wordpress.com

By the way I’d like to say Happy 30th Birthday to my sister TIGGER !

ONE YEAR ON

Hello everyone, yes, this is our one year blog and we can’t really believe it ourselves !

We really hope that you’ve found all of the information helpful and maybe slightly entertaining. As we’ve said before, all we wanted to do was to show that it’s possible to build your own wooden house and live a sustainable life, growing your own food, preserving that food for the winter months and most importantly make your own wine from your garden produce. It’s just about the whole package of ‘The Willows’.

For us it always has to be about moving on. One problem that I found myself was that once the kitchen was completed, I had nowhere to make and repair things, so I had to do it all outside and this is never easy because of all the rain. It was also very difficult if I had to fix the jeep on the driveway in the rain ( well I never actually fixed the jeep in the kitchen anyway!), so the best thing to do was to build a workshop/garage. This would also give me a place to work and start making my own kilowatt turbine over the winter months.

Once I’d hired a digger for the week to put in the foundation stone it was time to start building. The base measures 18′ wide,24′ long.

Frame up, all levelled and the panels going on.

This is the concrete base in the middle to bear the weight of vehicles ( all mixed in a wheelbarrow by hand !) The windows on the left came from a house down the lane that was being renovated. We rescued 5 windows in all, as they would’ve just been smashed up and burnt ! Why? They are perfect windows.

I decided to alternate corrugated iron sheets with clear-plex on the roof as this will give as much natural light as possible, because we don’t have electricity to burn !

Well, what do you expect? It may be raining but this is ‘The Willows’, let’s have a barbi.

The finished product ! These doors were also salvaged from the same house down the lane. There are 4 doors, joined in pairs to fold back, and above the doors, 2 boards are on hinges to fold inwards to give an entrance of nine feet. The doors will be painted a nice dark green soon.

I would like to take this opportunity and give  congratulations to the retirement of my work boots. They have been loyal, hardworking and always turned up for work! I’d like to wish them all the best in their future hobby of horticulture, as they are going to become geranium pots.( Recycling !)

Enjoy.

ITS ELECTRIFYING !!

Hi its me again. The wife wanted her last post to be a bit longer than what it was but the computer played up ( computers!!). She will come back at a later date with a fuller version but I’ve been (politely) told to get on with this, so I will. When we decided to start this project, we didn’t have any preconceptions, so looked into connecting to the main grid (ESB Ireland) but found it to be too expensive, and not cost much more for a SMALL alternative system.

We found a local company who were willing to help us and luckily for us happened to be selling their own sytem as they were upgrading themselves. This system consisted of turbine, 40ft pole,wire guy cables and 2 photovoltic panels. We had to buy new batteries, I’ll explain why later. 5 holes were dug by hand- 1 for the turbine pole and 4 for the guy cables. Each hole was 3 cubic feet ( equaling 1 cubic tonne each)   so that the weight of the concrete wouldn’t allow movement in high winds.We recycled 4 broken leafsprings from our Hi-lux to use as anchor points and sunk them into concrete in 4 of the holes. In the fifth hole we sunk the A frame/towbar removed from our caravan,well, it was just a left over bit so we thought we may as well use it! This was to be a pivot point.

All the electrical wires were connected to the turbine and pulled through the hollow pole, and we connected 2 of the side guy cables so as we pulled it upright it couldn’t fall sideways (  Something I didn’t think of the first time,oops,sorry!) Now came the SCARY BIT. The guy cables were attached to the back of our Hi-lux (that now had new leaf-springs!) And I drove forward very slowly, sweat dripping off me in fear of the amount of money’s worth that could crash to the ground!  ‘E’ shouted STOP! and the pole had clicked into place,,phew,IT WAS UP! After connecting the other guy cables, it was now time to get it to produce power.

This is a photo of the main battery supply, that all the cables now come into ( from turbine and panels) All this had to be wired up with care and thought so I’m leaving it for now so I can do a full page about it because it will get technical ( in my eyes anyway!)

Enjoy.