Nancy Reading

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since Nov 12, 2020
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A graduate scientist turned automotive engineer, currently running a small shop and growing plants on Skye: turning a sheep field into a food forest.
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Recent posts by Nancy Reading

A small step for me today.  Ready for the summer I have reinstated my washing line.  This was taken down when they put in the 'superfast' broadband 18 months ago.  I've been hanging it in the kitchen since then, but it dries far better outside, weather permitting.
(Hoping the posts hold out!).  
15 minutes ago
I've only just seen this Paul, (I browse on a tablet that doesn't access email so haven't seen the email yet)  don't get dispondent! Sharing now.
Locally stone was reused!  But that may not be appropriate for your area.
I suggest using good quality screws or bolts if you use timber, that way if you're trying to disassemble in a few years time you have a better chance of not damaging the wood.
8 hours ago
Unfortunately you cannot have your cake and eat it too!
You have stated your problem quite clearly.  To service the debt you have and remain in the property you love you need a well paying job like you have now.  I sympathise with you having been in less than comfortable jobs myself in the past - hey I worked for Jaguar for 10 years helping build gas guzzlers!  I remember very well feeling like the round peg in the square hole.  I moved company twice (spending too much time in the loo in tears at one job), and twice again within companies.  It's scary, but can be done, and often results in more money, since they seem to think that's why you're wanting to move. You have skills that could be used in a different industry segment, perhaps one that fits with your values better.
It took myself and my husband 20 years to break free, and we still work now, but for ourselves and at least with the comfort of knowing that our corporate pensions previously earned will pay us more in our future retirement than we are earning now!
A few things to help:
As time goes on the debts seems smaller due to inflation (hopefully). Our mortgage of £63000 seemed much smaller after 15 years than it did at the start (less than twice my husband's salary as opposed to three times our joint one). Since we were not in our 'forever home', although quite comfortable in suburbia, we were happy to sell it to buy this property outright (cheaper properties here as well).
Reducing your money outgoings does have an effect, a bit like melting an iceberg.  Maybe if you could use this, by paying off part of your debt with it, it might help to keep motivated. Draw some charts that you can fill in to see your progress beyond the status quo towards your debt freedom.
Concentrate on enjoying your off duty time, and making the most of it.  Maybe build up some residual income, or get your name known in whatever field you think may be a replacement money stream.
The good thing about hitting your head on a brick wall is how good it feels when you stop!

On another point there is never a good time to have children.  By this I mean, if you wait until the time is right you may never have them.  I wanted children and my husband didn't when we were first married.  By the time he'd come around and it seemed right for us to try, I was thirty.  A few years passed before we realised we had problems in conceiving, and despite various medical efforts I've never been pregnant.  Adoption never appealed, although I could consider fostering, our house probably wouldn't be fit! Just a gentle warning not to leave it too long.  Although children don't come cheap, they don't have to have everything new either!

Life is not simple, unless you make it so.
9 hours ago
I've not convinced that slug traps do much more than make you feel you're getting revenge on the little blighters.  Getting some sort of balance and creating the right environment for slug predators would be the optimum solution.  Amphibians such as frogs and toads are one group that are supposed to eat them, as are ground beetles.  One thing I wonder whether would work is sunken beds around vulnerable crops, so that beetles fall in and are less able to get out, sort of like reverse raised beds with edges.  I have to say I haven't tried it yet though.  
When I first came here I had a lot of trouble with slugs, almost everything I sowed was eaten.  The things I found helped was transplanting strong little plants, rather than sowing direct.  Tasty plants such as cucubits can be protected with a little collar in the form of a cut down plant pot.  Here is a picture of some results of my trial of defences using lupins as a sacrificial bait.  

The full test is here.  You can see the eggshells were not effective at all in the long term for me despite a really thick layer, but a barrier, even without copper tape was reasonably effective.

These days I seem to have a better balance with the slugs, although that might be because I sow far fewer seeds outside these days, and slugs are less of a problem in the drier polytunnel.  It would be interesting to repeat the lupin experiment now though....

As far as plants that slugs dislike as opposed to ones they like, their tastes unfortunately coincide with ours.  I don't think they like tomatoes, or most herbs. I wonder whether my interest in perennial vegetables was partly inspired by trying to get a headstart on the slugs - since the plants are bigger, or grow away faster, the slugs seem to affect them less than poor little seedlings
For what it's worth here is my design for a little wood shelter.  

I have a number of these dotted around my tree field, and will build more as the trees get big enough to coppice.  Made from three standard pallets, a bit of old corrugated roofing, two fence posts and some off cuts of timber.  The fence posts driven into the ground support the pallet on the left, and a diagonal front and rear support the pallet on the right.  The prevailing wind comes from the right, so the roof catches most of the rain and sheds it without the wood getting too wet, but it remains very airy to help dry out.
They're not very big, you can't stand up in them, but that's an advantage with my wind. I can build several of them so they're very close to where I coppice to save moving the wood more when it's heavier. You can reach in to stack from either side, or sit in them when they're empty and you get caught out in the rain.  After a year we use a vehicle to move the cut wood up to the woodshed by the house where it's handier for burning.
I've seen some nice designs based on pallets that are taller, and moveable, so you can pick the whole shed up, wood and all, and move it to the house or where required.  I didn't feel up to that, and with my smaller coppice quantities it was not really neccessary, more useful to be close to the trees I was cutting.
1 day ago
Spend less money on new manufactured items (clothes, furniture, appliances, cars).  Buy second hand or mend what you have first.  Saves money and the environment, win-win!
I think the only exception to this could be refrigeration.  A more efficient refrigerator/freezer can have quite a short payback, both financially and in carbon footprint due to reduced energy use.  
In the first picture the plant with the whorls of leaves may be cleavers, seeeattheweeds. It's supposed to be a good edible, but I've not tried it (yet).
1 day ago
I just noticed Michael said

  I'd bet taking cuttings from these trees would be a bad idea, huh?

If you're just wanting to get some different varieties I would steer clear of these trees.  Firstly, yes they seem to be infected, but secondly they seem to be susceptable to the disease.  I personally would steer clear of importing anything from this orchard to your fruit growing area, it may carry this disease with it.  It may be that other apple varieties have better resistance to whatever the disease is, so if your environment is similar, you're better off propagating from healthy trees that are doing well in your area.
I am very borderline for orchard fruit here.  That hasn't stopped me trying, but I have started with varieties that are known to be more resistant to scab and canker, which will be a problem in my wet, windy location.
2 days ago
I'm no expert either, but It sounded like a fungal infection to me.  Not scab, that tends to blemish the leaves as well and the fruit carry on to ripen rather than rot completely.  Wikipedia has a page with a List_of_apple_diseases.  It looks like Monilinia_fructicola may be a possibility, that affects mainly stone fruit (like plums) as well as apples, so the peach being affected the same way would be likely.

(apart from fungicidal sprays) Control is by removing and disposing off all diseased fruit and twig tips in the vicinity.  Pruning to improve airflow in the canopy may help as well.  Hope this helps.
2 days ago