Future dream

I don’t do fiction, but this has run around in my head for a few days now so I had to write it down.

I woke up at 6AM; it seemed to be getting a little earlier everyday as the spring sunshine came through the widow, just another day.

My routine was still much the same, have a cup of tea, followed by another and another, greeting members of the family as they ventured downstairs.

Check emails, read blogs and the news, and most importantly the local web portal to see what was going on in our community.

The big news for the end of the quarter was that we had generated a good amount of electricity in recent months thanks to the good weather, and the community council was already considering increasing the number of PV panels that we have, there was also a suggestion that we should make the move to hydrogen production with the excess power that we generated and run our own fuel cell for the lean times. I added my thoughts to the monthly discussion document that was available to all within our mini society and moved onto more immediate things; after all it would be the end of the year before any big decision would be made.

There were no new supply opportunities, but then most of these were negotiated the year before, but there were two new applications for new business. Cheese making (another one!) and a cobbler. I whole heartedly supported the latter as it was still hard to get a decent pair of functional boots rather than some imported, stylised, flimsy junk that lasted a few months before they had to be broken down for recycling. Better to have something that could be repaired and someone who could repair them. I added my approval to the community loan that would be granted if the application was given the green light.

I wondered if my arteries could support another cheese maker.

The usual notices; births, deaths and marriages, and register of visitors. The latter, now somehow redundant, was one of the reminders of harder times when local borders were created to stop the mutating virus from spreading. Movement of people was tracked much like the movement of animals, which kind of made sense if you remember the foot and mouth crisis that hit the UK early on in the century.

I had laughed at the UK slogan “lockdown locally, live longer” I have no idea who came up with these slogans, but they were crap!

It was during these localised lockdowns that community devolution was created. Initially it was by town or city, and then expanded to rural communities, especially as there had been a mass migration back to the countryside as people fled to apparent safety. This turned out to be the turning point as the city folk spread the disease far and wide, and as the borders went up, although only virtual, you now had to register your movements. If they put you in a different location for more than a week (increased from a day), or if you planned to move somewhere on a permanent basis then you now had to seek permission from the community you wanted to live in. I think some people were quite happy with this as it meant that money was no longer a passport, although it had to be said it created a new set of problems, but then what system doesn’t?

I think we all expected the government to keep hold of some of the temporary powers that were granted during the pandemic, just so long as they had a soft approach to enforcement then only a minority seemed to care. We all seemed happy enough for Google, Apple and Facebook to track our movements so passing that power to the government wasn’t that much of s stretch, knowing that you could ditch your mobile if you wanted to appeased the naysayers and conspiracy junkies. We may well have taken a step closer to the Chinese model, but it seemed to be one that worked so why not?

Perhaps surprisingly this changed the demographics of the cities, towns and villages as the young migrated to the higher risk, higher paying, metropolises and the old(er) folks headed for the less populated areas. A sweeping generalisation of course, but it was certainly a trend.

With the demise of many of multinational service industries such as MacDonald’s, Costa and the like, small independent enterprise was rife and the only competition they faced was from their neighbour, which I have to admit seemed fair to me. The little guy was no longer forced out by the giant who could run at a loss to kill the completion. At least on the few occasions that I did travel to a city I was guaranteed a different experience in each of them, not the same photocopy high streets of old. A multitude of independent shops now crammed the huge vacant spaces that used to be Next or HMV. The big guys still existed of course, but many had shifted entirely online to cut costs when fearful customers changed their shopping habits, and only a few had gone back to the old model.

Maybe this played a part in the collapse of the financial system as investment groups (landlords) lost a big part of their income stream?

But I think it was introduction of a universal basic income was the real game changer. After the collapse of the financial system, which everybody feared as in meant that everyone’s pension was up the spout, something had to be done to stop a civil war similar to the one that had happened in the USA.

A revolt that was only quelled when the president of the time was killed by a stray golf ball, by all accounts struck by Chinese guest staying at the Mar a Lago estate.

The UBI was quite simple, or so they said, I never quite got my head around it, but it worked so happy days. It certainly changed peoples approach to work as they invariably followed their own path rather than having the system force a low paid, stimulus free, career upon them. Jobs began to mean something to people again and although you could probably survive off the handout, if you wanted to buy something beyond the basics then you had to find some way of generating money, so work still played a big part in everyone’s lives. More importantly it pretty much eradicated poverty and deprivation overnight, as well as making a big dent in the crime statistics.

I could go on of course, but goats don’t milk themselves, maybe I’ll dream more in the future.

Kids, not goats

I have already fallen at the first hurdle as I missed my first target of posting every Sunday, still if this goes out this week than I will be happy given the long gap between post prior to this.

Conscious that whenever someone visits that we haven’t seen for a while comments on how the kids have grown then I thought it might be a good idea to let then be the stars of this post. More picture, less writing Smile

Then it turns out that looking through recent pictures turned out to be more time consuming than writing, still here’s a selection from recent weeks.

Of course everything that happens is a lesson, but occasionally we manage to get them to sit at the table and do some scholastic tasks 🙂

Can we be twins please?

As you may imagine this moment of cooperation and coordination only lasted a short time 🙂

The barn remains the favourite spot for play, a bath that collects water and a sand and gravel pit that I use for mixing concrete hold a magnetic charm 🙂

With such good weather we have spent a lot of time outside, making fires to bake potatoes and cook the occasional sausage 🙂

Ok, thats two post is two weeks, maybe more ahead as I think it might rain later in the week 🙂 Take care and stay safe all.

Life goes on

If I didn’t have the internet then I doubt I would know what was going on in the world, true I may question why I have to wear a mask and gloves to go and do the shopping, I might even wonder why the roads are so quiet and the skies above clear of vapour trails, for all I know the kids are just on holiday and Gosia has found a way to make soaps super fast and has more free time on her hands. So far I can only see positives in the current situation and thats when I realise how fortunate we are to live the life we do. The memories of living in a flat and working the nine to five are best left in the past as I try and imagine what it must be like for so many people now. I hope for their sakes that a solution is found sooner rather than later, although I secretly hope that it changes people and ‘the system’ for the better on the other side. This could be a real opportunity for humanity to improve.

Phew, that was close, I nearly got caught up in the brave new world ramble, instead I thought it was about time for an update, fill in a few gaps from the last year or two.

SONY DSC
Eleven & Twelve

I’ll start with the goats who seem to be multiplying at the moment, if only because it’s a great photo opportunity. Eleven and twelve (names to be confirmed) were born yesterday, joining Sunday Monday, Minka, Meggy, Rougeka, Baba, Chocolada, Dushek, Daisy and Socks, both destined to join the herd as long term members. There are more still to come, possibly another six, so I’m reminded that I must extend the stable to make room for more and\or get an advert on the local web gazette.

All these extra mouths to feed mean that we now collect hay from a neighbours field as well as our own, and I’m becoming a dab hand at setting up an electric fence as I try and find new grazing land to keep the herd interested enough to leave other farmers crops alone. A bored and hungry goat can jump close to 6 foot and is quite happy to reason that an electric shock is a small price to pay for a lush crop of wheat or oats, so I try and keep the fence moving and occasionally dress up as Heidi and take them for walks 🙂

Window house
Window house

And its not just the goats that seem to want feeding a wide variety of food, the wife and kids are quite demanding too 🙂 Luckily I built a green house out of old windows and some wood left over from the house build (yes I still have some left) which has helped me get off to a flying start with the veg this year. Radish, lettuce, rocket, cucumber, gherkins, melons, strawberries, pumpkins, peas, onions, broccoli …..you get the idea, all starting off well and slowly planted out as the weather improves and the last frost nears. My biggest problem at the moment is water as we had such a mild winter with hardly any snow, coupled with only one notable rainfall so far this month, my IBC’s (1000 litre tanks) are empty and I’m having to transport water from the house in cans. Dont get me wrong, I’m not complaining, this climate suites me fine as It keeps me outdoors getting on with the multitude of jobs that have waited multiple years to get done 🙂

Growing fast
Growing fast

Talking of kids, I guess they should get a mention, at six and two they are the life and soul of the house and everything revolves around them, which is a good thing as they keep us on our toes and stop me from taking it too easy. I just wish we could get more sleep 🙂

Plunder
Foraging ahead

Mind you if things gets too much I can always escape on a walk with the dogs, I love to see all the blossoming trees at this time of the year, making a mental note of where to go foraging for wild cherries, damsons, sloes and a wide variety of other plunder from abandoned small holdings. I wonder if this pandemic will bring people back to the country?

Ready for a load of

One final note, as I know Pete will be eager to know how the composting toilets are coming along, I actually replaced the wooden sides on one on my many piles after liberating the sweet smelling compost (vintage 2018) The original wood finally rotted after six years, but as it was free of any preservatives and went straight into he compost. Just what I like to see, no waste 🙂

How to make dishwasher tablets and a web page update

I sent out a few samples about a month ago and it was pointed out to me that I should probably update the website www.winkos.co.uk with all the new products we have. Today I can announce that I have pretty much updated everything, bar the formatting, adding pictures, checking for spelling mistakes not to mention grammar and punctuation, and all the other things that I am meant to get round to. If you happen to visit and would like to make suggestions or corrections then please do, I’m always open to new ideas and red crosses next to my work Smile

So why am I posting about how to make dishwasher tablets? Because I foolishly mentioned on one of the pages on the website that I intend to add links to tips, tricks and other products out there that may help the planet out a bit, and for whats its worth I’m kicking off with how to make dishwasher tablets.

I wont get into the debate about which is best, washing up by hand or using a dishwasher as we do both in our house, but if you do have a dishwasher then making your own tablets will cut down on the number of harmful chemicals that you are adding to an already toxic world, and that alone can’t be a bad thing.

I just checked eBay and all the ingredients  are freely available in the UK so I’m assuming that you can pick them up pretty much anywhere in the world. I would suggest at least a kilo of each, or 5kg if you are thinking about the economics of the process.

So here we go, on with the lesson.

You will need:

A big bowl

A spoon

1 x Salt

1 x Borax or Borax substitute (the latter is better)

1 x Bicarbonate of soda

1/2 x Citric acid

Silicone moulds or plastic tray at least 1cm deep

Choose your measurement, I just use a cup, any old cup. Of course you could get all organised and measure the total capacity of your moulds and then divide it by 4.5 to define your own unit of measurement, but like I said, a cup works for me.

Method

Mix it all together in the bowl with the spoon, once mixed well tip the mixture into your mould(s).

Thats it, well other than waiting for a day or so for the mixture to pull a bit of moisture out of the atmosphere which will turn the powder mix into a solid. It can also be used in powder form if you dont want to wait.

Next time you put the dishwasher on just chuck in a chunk (dont worry about the little draw thing, all that does is release the tablet about 30 seconds after you start the wash) and add you rinsing aide. And here’s the real secret of the whole process, get rid of your fancy coloured chemical laden rinse aids and use white vinigar, yes thats what I said white vinigar. YES VINIGAR! Any will do but white spirit vinigar works best from experience.

 

Be amazed by the results!

dishwasher01dishwasher02dishwasher05

Product review: Dansha Farms Goat Milking Machine

I promised this review more than a year ago which means that I have used this machine for around 18 months.

In saying that as I have replaced the jar, the lid, the pipes, the reducing couplers and the motor, so it has to be questioned if I am still using the original. Triggers brush from ‘Only Fools ad Horses’ springs to mind.

Before I go into too much detail I will share you the review that I submitted on the Dansha Farms website:

I would first like to make it clear that the product, Brute milker, is a great idea and has made the daily milking of three goats a lot easier. I would happily recommend it to anyone living in the USA.

Unfortunately as we live in Europe we have had a number of issues with the customer service when we first purchased the goods and now with the warranty after six months of use. I won’t go into details, but if you intend buying a milker and live outside of the USA then I recommend you use Ebay for the purchase as you will be provided with buyer protection and if you have problems in the future your voice is more likely to be heard.

I submitted the review after 6 months of use following the failure of the motor. I was unsuccessful in resolving this problem with the manufacturer who suggested that I send the unit back (to America) and he would fix the problem for me for a fee. So much for the warranty! I also had problems with customs clearance when I first purchased the item which I could have avoided if I had purchased via Ebay. Dansha Farms did not publish my review nor did they contact me further.

Undeterred I stripped down the unit and discovered that the motor was commonly available as an aquarium pump motor on Ebay or Amazon for less than £10 with free shipping from China, so problem solved.

The machine itself may first appear to be quite complicated, but once you have set it up, mounting the motor to your milking stand, it becomes far easier to operate. It does require a power source, although some units can be purchased with a portable battery pack. Our unit plugs into a standard 240v supply.

After initial connection of the cups to teats, which is a skill learned after a few attempts, it’s very straight forward and I soon learned that I could get on with other jobs as the milk flowed into the gallon (4.5 litre) jar. It’s probably best to stay nearby so that you can keep an eye on things, but I spend the time getting food ready for the next goat and collecting hay ready to refill the stable.

It should also be noted that the process itself is no quicker than milking by hand, if anything it is slower when you take into account the cleaning of the equipment once finished. However if you have more than three goats to milk it can save the finger cramps that I often experience, or if you suffer from any kind of rheumatism in the hands this machine would be a godsend.

As I mentioned cleaning takes an extra 5 minutes at the end of milking and I spend 15 minutes every weekend giving the pipes and fittings a thorough clean. For this reason I have reverted to hand milking as I only have two goats to milk at the moment.

So in summery, buy one if your hands ache at all when milking but shop around the internet as Dansha are by no means the only people who sell them. And if you are feeling adventurous then build your own, which I have all but done now since I have replaced almost all the parts. Drop me a message and I will point you toward various parts required and how to assemble should you need a bit of guidance.

I have never been a milkman

Whilst milking the goats, as I do every morning, I started to think about my unwritten book and how it is likely to stay that way. And so I decided it was time to reveal its title ‘ I have never been a milkman’

It all stems from the fact that of the of the 30 odd, close to 40 jobs, I have had in my life I was never a milkman. More specifically whilst in my teens I was never able to get onto the lucrative milk round as the milk runner, backwards and forwards between moving float and doorstep, delivering the daily pints of milk to the population of Skipton.

Paperboy, mornings, evenings and Sundays. Holiday barge cleaner on a Saturday. Occasional waiter and washer upper at a local restaurant. A summer season on the fair in Morecombe running the Ghost Train after graduating from Hook a Duck, not to mention spending my free time standing outside a pub on the promenade selling Rubik Cubes   In fact by the time I was sixteen I had even stared to work behind the bar at the local Working Mans Club such was the law that allowed 16 years olds to work in private clubs, but I was never a milkman.

Then it dawned on me as I shivered in –7c (19f), eagerly grasping the bulbus warm teats of Monday, the goat, to stop my fingers from freezing, that I have finally made it. My dream come true, my ambition fulfilled. I am a Milkman!

Monday
Monday