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Debra Lyndley

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since Nov 17, 2012
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Recent posts by Debra Lyndley

I'd recommend reading 'The Passive Solar House: The Complete Guide to Heating and Cooling Your Home: Using Solar Design to Heat and Cool Your Home' by
James Kachadorian. His designs have been tried & tested in various different parts of the USA. His floor design is basically a concrete slab with insulation under it, that incorporates hollow tubes running north/south within & around the edge of the floor slab, so that the whole thing acts as a giant passive storage heater. Well worth considering as it needn't cost more than any other floor & I'm sure it would be possible to use the same principles & use reclaimed brick, local stone, rubble etc to reduce the concrete required if you want to.

Good luck with your project!
5 years ago
When we re-homed our northern innuit 18 months ago she was very skinny & had constant stomach upsets. We tried every dried mix / tinned combo we could find without success, then a neighbour suggested barf (raw food & bones). What a difference its made! happy healthy dog, no more stomach upsets.
I asked our local community abbatoir if they would be willing to sell me 'pet trimmings' - butchery scraps, unwanted offal etc that they mix up & mince for us, & as many bones as she will eat. The pet trimmings are cheap (less than tinned dog food) & bones are free.
We are lucky to live on an island that produces free-range, grass & hill fed beef & lamb - there are no intensive livestock farms here - so we can be confident of the quality of the food she eats & that no factory farmed animals are included. The abbatoir are delighted - they make a little extra money & it reduces their costs because everything she eats would otherwise go to landfill, & its expensive for them to send their meat waste to landfill, so its a great solution for us all. Word has spread & they have quite a lot of doggy customers now.
I do lightly cook the 'mince ' for her, but that's only because she spreads it around & its easier than having blood smeared everywhere. I also often catch our cats pinching food from her bowl when they think she's not looking so it must taste ok to them too.
5 years ago
Try growing your own Nemadodes (not for the squeamish)

I have been experimenting with growing veg in straw bales , on a sheltered but sunny rocky ridge that does not have enough depth of soil for conventional gardening. Unfortunately the organic matter content has also caused an explosion in our slug population, despite beer traps & daily slug picking, & the veg has been decimated. I am reluctant to use slug pellets. At the time, a problem with the production of commercially available nematodes to use as a biological control in the UK meant that they would not be available for at least a month, & by then the surviving veg would have been destroyed.

Then I came across an old article in The Telegraph that really seems to have the answer. Their solution? Take a jam jar & punch holes in the lid, add 10-20 live slugs, a handful of grass, & half an inch of water, then replace the lid. After a fortnight, all the slugs should be dead. Mash the whole lot up, dilute with water & spray onto the affected soil. Should give coverage for 6 weeks in much the same way that commercial nematode preparations do.

The grass gives the slugs something to eat, & a way of staying out of the water & not drowning. The water stops them dehydrating. Holes in the lid stops them suffocating. Confining them means that when they die you have access to the naturally occurring nematodes & internal parasites inside the slugs that would normally build up over time, & may also stress them allowing a bigger than normal build up inside the slugs, concentrating the nematodes & parasites that you want to harvest.

I used bigger containers (2 & 4 ltr plastic milk bottles), & 60 + slugs at a time as I had plenty available. After a fortnight the slug mixture really stinks. I mashed the lot roughly using a bucket with a stick, added more water & spread the mixture using a watering can without a rose, squashed corpses & all. Miraculously, it really seems to work & I am seeing a big improvement in my veg. Am planning to carry on picking up & confining any remaining slugs I find, & spread a fresh batch of slug mixture every 6 weeks over the spring/ summer & do a pre-treat on my seed beds next year.
5 years ago
Wow! Congratulations to Paul & his family. fantastic to be at the start of such an adventure..............
Re the Back hoe, over here in the wilds of Scotland its quite common to buy a second-hand excavator & dumper truck for building/landscaping projects, use them for as long as is needed & then sell for around the same money a year or so down the line (its amazing how they hold their value). Takes the pressure off time-wise, is usually cheaper than hiring a machine & operator, & allows ideas to develop more gradually, but it would help if you have someone who is practical with machinery on hand to tinker if need be.
6 years ago
Red deer were a real problem for us - eating the leaves off apple trees as fast as they grew, ripping off branches, breaking trunks at ground level & ringing others. There was loads of grass & shelter on the outside of our fence, but they just seemed to love our patch; concentrated on trashing the cultivated fruit trees, eating everything in the veg patch & chewing the plastic on the poly tunnel. They'd be mooching round the house at all hours of the day & night, & even me running at them screaming had little effect. We tried the usual deer scarers, large dog, shooting them (took 3 weeks for newcomers to move in), beefed up part of the the fence to 1.7 - 2m plus & watched them sail over, and tried a waist height electric fence with horizonal spreaders 2m apart (easily cleared). In desperation we took inspiration & advice from a company called Agrisellex & put a BAITED electric fence line at waist height around our boundary. It worked a treat.... The trick is in the bait caps, which we made from metal beer bottle tops with a scrap of fabric or cotton wool to hold the bait held onto the electrified wire with twist of scrap of wire so that the whole thing is electrified. We put the bait caps every 5m or so along the fence on the most popular areas, further apart elsewhere. Initially I baited them with apple juice cordial - as they clearly loved apples - but later switched to peanut butter as it doesn't wash out everytime it rains. I should think treacle or golden syrup would work too.

I'm told the theory is that the deer sidle up sideways thinking that smells good - sniff, get a zap, & learn to stay away. Apparently being deflected sideways means that they can't tell how high the shocking part is & so don't try & jump over. I'm also told that once they have learnt to avoid the fence you don't strictly need to keep replenishing the bait/ electrifying the fence, but we keep it on & top them up every few months just in case. Our neighbours sometimes take a few deer for the freezer & I want to keep any new deer on the block out.

Its been over two years now since we baited the fence & I'm delighted to say that the deer have stayed out - we still see them, but on the outside of our boundary fence. Our trees have new leaves & side shoots, & even a few apples.
6 years ago