Archive for August, 2013


I realised that I’ve not actually put up the pictures from the hog roast!  After weeks of constant sun, the day had arrived and the weather forecast was awful.  Undisturbed I’d taken delivery of the pig the day before and it ‘slept’ overnight in the bath, packed with water and ice.


the night before Gary slept over so we could get an early start.  At 5am we got up (I’d been worrying all night and was up for pretty much all of it) and got it in the car.




Quickly we got the fire going, assembled the roaster and got the pig on the spit



After a couple of failed attempts to get it turning, we realised the belly flopping about was stalling the motor.  We pinned the spine onto the bar with u-clamps.  It turned fine, but the belly still flopped.  So at about 9:30 I went out and got a metal BBQ rack and Gary strapped it round the belly.



After this point it was plain sailing. We did make a mistake with the laser thermometer – what we thought was 170’C was in fact Fahrenheit.  So by midday when we realised the mistake, it was no longer going to be a slow roasted pig.  The end result was pork, but not as satisfying as I’d hoped, but a win none the less.



The ear decorations were not to make it into a space pig, but to keep them from burning off before the pig was properly cooked.

The tongue was very tasty.

I was very pleased that not only did our design work and survive, but nothing major went wrong with the mechanics! I was merely us poor humans that got it wrong.  I think I’ll have another roast, but not for a while…


You can view the whole series of posts on the pig roaster by clicking here:

Leave a Comment

The Chicken Run



After about 7 years of wanting chickens, I finally got one step closer.  We’d already decided to dedicate the old allotment shed into a chicken house and had put in some supporting posts for the run last year.  I got up early on Sunday hoping to make a start however quickly realised I didn’t have any hinges and the shops shut at 1pm, so I took Sam for a ride down to the timber/hardware store to pick some up.  When I got back, it was already at midday.  By the end of the day I’d managed to get the basic frame up and the door.




The roof is made out of 5 core polycarbonate.  It’s a conservatory grade insulating roof.  Why such a lavish roof?  Well, when my roof started leaking last year and this had mould inside the cores, I decided to replace it and had this spare.  It fits perfectly and has a little bit of an overhang which I’ve not yet decided whether I’ll keep or chop it off.  Either which way, I’m sure the cats will enjoy sunbathing up there and similarly the foxes won’t find it easy to get in being that it’s so solid.

On Monday, again, it was a slow start.  I’d decided to have a relaxed evening, so we popped out and bought some pork belly, german wheat beer and raspberries (for ice cream).  We were back about midday and I got on with painting the frame with a couple of coats of fence treatment.



By about 1:30 we started the task of digging the shallow trenches to lay the mesh in.  We followed up by laying the mesh and stapling it to the frame.

I bought the entire 30m roll from Hills of Devon (  – A16 on their site which is 1/2″ x 1″ x 48″ x 30m (bit of an odd mix of measurements, but there you go.  It’s 1mm thick, or 19 gauge in old money – I would have preferred 1.6mm/16 gauge, but it’s not available in the mesh size and length I wanted.  I didn’t use chicken wire because foxes can tear through it with their teeth if they gain purchase on it.  Welded mesh is tougher when it’s pulled because instead of being twisted in place (and therefore can stretch) each point is welded meaning if one link goes, the rest should hold fast.

We laid it flat under the soil because foxes generally tend to dig by the mesh, not having the brains to start digging a foot or two back to dig under the metal.  You don’t need to bury it, you can leave it on top of the grass and just let the lawn grow through.  For aesthetics and to stop small babies playing with sharp ends of wire, I buried ours.




You can see the above buried.



Inside view of the door.






We decided to do the bottom panels out of individual sheets of metal.  For the 2nd and 3rd layers we used a continuous sheet 170″ long.  The wire runs right up to the top to stop wild birds getting in.  Because we used three layers we got quite a lot of overlap.  The middle and lower almost have double all the way round.



I still need to lay more down from the shed into the ground to stop things tunnelling in and do the door (and bit above) as well as the inside of the shed as it’s partitioned to put the mower away.

Leave a Comment




When it rains, cook.  Or in my case dehydrate.  As well as the Jerky, I also made chicken Kievs.  I got the dehydrator for my recent birthday and it’s the 2nd set of jerky I’ve made.


I used

1 bottle of Worcestershire sauce

1 bottle of reduced salt soy sauce

1 tablespoon of local honey

2 teaspoons of fresh ground black pepper

2 teaspoons of crushed dry chillies

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

1 teaspoon of garlic powder (don’t use fresh)

1 teaspoon of onion powder/granules

Steak – rump works well.

Remove fat from steak, I cut up the grain.

Marinaded in a bag for about 3 hours in the fridge, shaking up once an hour.

Shake to remove excess marinade (I suspend over the sink and let it drip)

Leave until dehydrated (about 12-16hrs @ 65-70’C)

I got a similar recipe off the internet and customised.  I can’t get liquid smoke, so it’s liquid smoke free (the smoked paprika does the same sort of job)


Leave a Comment




If you missed the national news on Essex, you may have missed the floods.

It was wet.

You can see the water pouring out of the gutter.  This is because we filled all 3,000 litres of the IBCs in a couple of hours.  The water pouring out is actually overflow because it has nowhere to go.




To the left, you’ll see the chicken coop project I hoped to start today.



Under the squash leaves, it’s a foot deep.

Leave a Comment

Wanderers return

We’ve been off for a week to the bushmoot (bushcraft UK forums annual meet).

We have a habit of going away when the crops are just about to go crazy, and this year was no exception. We have 8/9 large winter squash, so many courgettes I think the neighbours are hiding from us and beans to sink a battleship.


Our courgette plants are in over drive due to the watering system and good soil

Here’s a pic from a couple if weeks ago!



The basket was made by my lovely wife Helen at the bushmoot. She’s intending to continue with the craft too – she’s bought several bits from Dave Budd (a blacksmith who comes to the moot) and is looking forward to making her first solo basket at home.

And the courgette plants now?



Nothing but a sea of green!

Leave a Comment