• Courses,  Craft,  Plants & Trees

    Joy of Simple Things

    “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” John Keats Today was not extraordinary in any way, I woke to the movement of Fiona wriggling herself in to my lap for our ritual daily spoon. I know it’s just a simple thing but one I cherish even look forward to, it’s one of the greatest joys of my life, a simple embrace filled with love for each other. Then we rose to feed the animals, Fiona put hay and straw down for the cows and I fed the chickens and collected their eggs. I noticed the wonderful scene left by last…

  • Craft,  Up-Cycling

    Upcycling Old Preserving Jars

    Up-cycling is an important and valuable part of permaculture but not one that is easy to do for everyone and is seldom done to a higher standard than purchased goods. This year we have reached the point at which our permaculture food system is producing higher amounts of produce with considerably reduced inputs to the early day of growing our own food. This has caused us some issues with storage the last thing we want to do is raise our energy consumption to store food by buying another freezer. Fiona my wife has always used the residual heat from our wood-fired Rayburn cooker to bottle food. Once our evening meal…

  • Craft,  Up-Cycling

    Up-Cycle and Re-Use

    While I have been involved in craft work for over twenty-five years now most of that has involved taking the raw material of wood and making new items. Over the last ten years or so of our permaculture journey in to self-imposed simplicity we have had less money at times and that has made us more creative. We have also come to value older hand-operated machines which are often more efficient and certainly more beautiful. Below is a picture of our milk separator in use by Erin, skimmed milk is pouring in to the bottle and cream in to the jug. This is permanently set up in our cellar so…

  • Craft

    Day at the forge

    My first day alone in the new forge with the new equipment and tools, so I thought I would try to make something I’ve never made before. Inspired by a couple of recent purchases from a local fair we attend each year, it’s really a harvest festival with demonstrations of hand crafts. Fiona and I purchased a hand forged knife and a couple of hooks for our bedroom. Both these items were made with mild steel, so I will replicate them with mild steel too. I have a leftover piece  25mm by 5mm flat bar to make the knife and purchased a couple of meters of 8mm round bars to make…

  • Building,  Craft

    Greenwood and Blacksmithing

    The first week of our second building course is an introduction to green woodworking and basic blacksmithing, both of these are my own personal passion for creating both beautiful and functional hand crafts. The week starts out with building  drawhorse’s to used later in the week and during the natural building course. Above their working on the legs for their own drawhorse while using my old drawhorse to hold with. They need to make some cylindrical pins for the clamp to pivot on, some work on a pole lathe makes this a simpler task. First a quick demonstration from the master. Here is Nadine trying to enjoy the challenge. Everyone…

  • Building,  Craft

    Second Forge

    This week we received a new forge, the building course bookings have gone so well with ten people already booked and paid up its obvious that a single forge will not allow for everyone to get adequate time at the forge to complete their drawknife. I searched extensively for an appropriate hand cranked forge and found a treadle forge of very high build quality which seams more than adequate for the tasks we need to achieve both for the courses and our own needs on the farm and my workshop. I purchased the forge from Germany through this web site I received great service and a quick delivery of…

  • Building,  Craft

    New Forge

    New? I have collected the three main tools you can see here over the last four years and they are all pre owned and well used but they are new to me. The hearth is a French make with a manually cranked blower, I’m told its a farriers hearth, this came my way for free it was unused in a neighbours workshop. The anvil I purchased through a national French website for for classified adverts, it came from a farm about 10 kilometres away. The swage block I recently purchased from Ebay in the UK and had it bought over by a courier. These and some hand tools I’ve purchased…

  • Craft,  Land,  Uncategorized

    Firewood poems

    Beachwood fires are bright and clear If the logs are kept a year, Chestnut’s only good they say, If for logs ’tis laid away. Make a fire of Elder tree, Death within your house will be; But ash new or ash old, Is fit for a queen with crown of gold   Birch and fir logs burn too fast Blaze up bright and do not last, it is by the Irish said Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread. Elm wood burns like churchyard mould, E’en the very flames are cold But ash green or ash brown Is fit for a queen with golden crown   Poplar gives a bitter smoke, Fills…

  • Craft,  Food,  Land


    I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights, the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun, and my fruits are refreshing, quenching your thirst as you journey on. I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table, the bed on which you lie, and the timber that builds your boat. I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle, and the shell of your coffin. I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty. Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: HARM ME NOT. (author unknown)

  • Animals,  Craft,  Food,  Land

    Success in tough times

      2012 is our eighth year of small scale farming in France and has seen us move from income dependence to financial security and independence. Looking back over the last eight years at our mistakes and our successes in getting to this point demonstrates the value of an integrated approach. When we arrived in France we had a single idea to provide us with income; that of breading pigs and selling high quality organic free range pork and pork products. This worked well for three years but in our fourth year 2008 a poor global grain harvest sent the price of grain skyward almost doubling the price from our local…