Lifestyle Archive

Richard Fishenden

Self sufficiency is on the tip of my tongue most of the time. It is constantly in my thoughts. I am aiming to live as self sufficiently as I possibly can. This is quite a job when most of my time is spent at work paying for my mortgage!

I don’t want to be one of those people who have spent my life acquiring wealth and then spending my retirement and the money I have made trying to get back my health. It is a very difficult thing though to follow my dream when I need time to dig and tend to my vegetables and organise other ways of making my life not so dependent upon a large income.

I have decided that I need more of a balance so that I spend more time mentally and physically with my family and am working hard on switching off from “paid work” when I am not doing it. In this society so much is at stake financially if one does not make money. I am going to aim to cut my green grocery bill this year by half. My goal is to grow as much salad leaves as I can under glass right now (without a green house I intend to make a makeshift glass protectors on my raised beds) and then plant out seeds when the time is right.

We use a huge amount of shop bought, bagged leaves such as rocket, spinach and salad type leaves all of which we could grow given a little more time. I am going to make the time and hopefully we will reap the rewards of having green salad leaves on tap. How we are going to grow them throughout next winter will be another puzzle to figure out later on in the year.

Richard Fishenden

It was partly due to Feng shui that we decided to clear up and really organise our very small kitchen. When space is at a minimum one needs to get creative. Finding the right pot or pan when they are all stacked on top of one another inside a dark cupboard is annoying and time consuming.

We were continually breaking glasses and chipping china bowls so we made a plan. The plan was to use every space of wall so that our utensils and other cooking essentials were at hand but not necessarily on the work surfaces.

The rails and ceiling racks that I made have meant that we have a place that is handy and immediate for all our utensils and pans. Making the most of the space we have has felt really good and if one believes in the power of Feng Shui then the energy in our kitchen has been moved around, improved and that can only be a good thing.

Richard Fishenden

The snow has been on the ground now for over a week and the big news is that song birds suffer in cold winter snaps. Basically they can’t find insects and they can’t find food. So we all need to put out extra food for them.  

The experts say that a selection of fruit, apples and grapes are great. Seed mixes, fat balls, crusts of bread and  especially water because in icy conditions because they cant find water to drink. Some small birds only weigh a few grams. A wren typically weighs 5 grams and at night it will fluff up its feathers to keep warm but can still loose up to a quarter of its body weight over night. So rake around your kitchen cupboards, cook some fat balls and find time to feed the birds in your garden. You get the added benefit of watching them from your window.


Richard Fishenden

It is precious Sunday and I have been having a brilliant invigorating time with my 3 year old son in the snow. It takes us at least 20 minutes to tog up to go out. Firsty there is the thermal vest and long johns, socks tucked over the top then trousers then waterproof over trousers. As many layers as possible under a thick jacket. Then there is the elastic that needs to go over my sons boots, gloves and hat to finish. Then its my turn.

It is all worth it because we have had such fun on a big empty horse feed sack and a small plastic sledge plus a hill. This weather does put some people out but I refuse to get put out by it. I rather make good use of the extra time I have at home plotting and planning my year and the extra time indoors cosy by a big roaring fire feeling the warmth of all my hard efforts collecting, chopping and stacking the wood we burn.

Richard Fishenden

I am recovering after shoeing today in freezing conditions and came across this picture in the summer of myself with my pony. I give him a cuddle everyday as I dont have much time for the thing I like most which is driving him out. He loves a cuddle and I think he especially likes it because I bought him from a horse dealer who had bought him from the side of the road. He did not know anything about love but does now. If I showed him my hand he would show me his bottom! Now he nudges me for attention. I feel he is a lucky boy but I feel even luckier.

Richard Fishenden

Over Christmas I have been busy thinking about when to put in all the trees that I have pledged to plant. Exactly when is what I am deciding, as I know it needs to be in the dormant winter months.

 I came across a really informative website http://tinyurl.com/yf5xsg9

 of which I am sharing a paragraph below. One of their core principals is sustainability; one of my core principals.

It is generally accepted that our environment has taken a battering due to the activities of humans, especially in the last few hundred years. We see and hear of the consequences of this everywhere.

Fortunately there is a growing number of people that realise that a change from the ‘old’ wasteful and destructive days is necessary, not only for our environment, but also for our own feelings of well-being.

This is certainly very evident in the tree industry.  There are articles on sustainable woodland management, using wood chips as a source of renewable fuel to heat homes, wood burning power stations supplied by locally coppiced woodlands, building more energy efficient timber framed houses, new developments in environmentally-friendly wood preservation, initiatives and grants to plant more woodland and so on and so on.

Sustainability

 An International definition of Sustainability often quoted is..

‘Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ *

It implies living with current natural resources, and using them prudently and efficiently and ensuring that their use is within a constant cycle of renewal. In other words, the rate of using them does not exceed the rate that the natural environment can regenerate them. At the same time, whilst respecting this cycle, we are also protecting the environment by reducing damaging practices and attitudes, and recycling, repairing and reusing as much as possible.

It is not going to be easy for all of us to make a change and live in a different way that more sustainable but if we all try to do something then the knock on effect will be very powerful.  



Richard Fishenden

A dream came true for me when my wife managed to acquire the field next to the cottage we live in. We both had a dream which was to live where we could see our horses from our bedroom window. We had thought we would need to move a few times before finally being able to afford a house with land. But our dream did come true sooner than we had expected.

This lead to me being able to plant lots of trees for a hedge. I bought 400 one year and planted them all myself. I took advice and bought a variety of trees all British Native hedgerow trees. This hedge is now 4 years old and is really becoming strong. I even got some crab apples this year for jelly! Some have not survived the hot, dry summer and I will be replacing them in the spring.

 

I have also pledged to plant a tree for each rack that I sell so that I can off set some of the carbon that is produced in the forging process. I have many farmer friends with gaps in hedges to fill in!

Richard Fishenden

 We have a friendly farmer who also has an overgrown orchard with various apple and pear trees in it. He welcomes us picking the apples every year.

 

Apples for cider making

Use a selection of apples

 

 

 

We as a family have a lovely time. It is such a great pastime picking apples, washing and then juicing them. The apple juice only lasts a few days in the fridge and is delicious drunk chilled. The rest of the juice I put in fermenting bin for approximately 8 weeks or until fermentation is complete.

 

 

I make cider every year and my tips are to use a mixture of varieties, it improves the flavor. Also I tend to make it in as large a quantity as possible. This year I have got 2 6 galleon drums. 1 is being fermented with natural yeast and the other has had a commercial yeast introduced. When bottling the cider add a small amount of sugar and the cider will go fizzy!

 

Fresh apple juice!

Nothing quite like fresh apple juice

 

 

 

One of the best parts, of course, is the drinking of the cider! On a summers evening cracking a cold bottle of sparkling cider that you know exactly where it has come from and have made yourself is such a treat.

Richard Fishenden
Swallow

I have very lucky to have a lovely pair of swallows nesting in my forge this year. They were busy as bees feeding their young. Swooping around above my head it was a pleasure to have the company while I was busy myself making utensil racks for some clients.

The pair raised 3 broods and the last of them were very late to leave. Mum and Dad had flown away in the first week of October. I took this picture in the second week of October and it was another week before they had gone. I hope they make it!

It is inspirational to me when such a small bird can travel so far. If you are determined to succeed then anything is possible.

Richard Fishenden

Spring is coming. We are all looking foward to better weather and longer days.
When I am not in the forge I can be found out and about in Suffolk shoeing horses. Its hard work and has to be done in all weathers so when it is raining I long to be back in the warm forge making pan rails etc.

The weather can really affect our lives, even our moods seem to follow it! If you love to watch the weather then you should think about buying a weathervane.
I love to look out of the windowg(next to the woodburner of course!) and see what the weather is up to. The wind can change completley within a few hours so a weathervane can if fact help you to plan your day.

All of our weathervanes are hand forged, even the letters making them the best on the market. We can make a weathervane in many different designs so if you fancy being a weather watcher from the side of the fire like me then look at this page: