Tuesday 27 November 2012

Bracken's 'New' Shelter. (A stable for nowt!)

Bracken  in the shadows.
Brackens 'Brand New' Field Shelter.  Made today from Corrugated iron sheets, pallets , nails and two half pieces of concrete blocks.  I got the inspiration for the blocks from looking at  many different allotments sheds in England.

The new shelter from a better angle!

Bracken in the farmyard.


  1. a regular horsey bungalow!
    well done that man

  2. Hi John. Yeah it's the right height for Bracken to use and lie on the straw. He wasn't for going in it today though. Perhaps the thought of eating the straw will get him in there? It didn't cost anything except - my time. I will see if he's left me any presents in the morning or if the straw's disappeared.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Pallet architecture, I love to see it. I bet I could build a house with pallets and a lot of time.
    Don't want to teach you to suck eggs, but why not fill between the slats with straw? Make it a bit warmer and wind-proof?

    Never ceases to amaze me how factories can pay for pellets, use them once and then throw them away!

    In Fuertaventura they've got it down to an art, miles of fences made with pallets, and housing for goats, dogs, and hens as well. And probably a lot more things I haven't seen.

    I've lost count of the number I've picked up from the tide-line and put through the fire.

    Been a nice day, bright and sunny if cold. Feels for frost now.
    Saw a squirrel in the garden this afternoon, first one I've seen here, knew they were about but they've been shy until today. A lot of them lost their home territory in the big floods 3 years ago, so it's nice to see them returning.

    Raggy cat been out a lot today, came in when it started to get dark, back in front of fire now.

  4. Hi 'Don't Unplug your hub' (John). I have been Googling 'Shetland Ponies' and they are a very hardy breed that can live outside with no shelter and they feed on heather. It's getting cold here, so I thought I would make Bracken a small field shelter to keep him warm and some straw if it snows or he get hungry in the night. He's quite a character.


  5. Hi Cumbrian, Totally agree with you about pallet architecture.

    All those 'Chocolate box' thatched wattle and daub rustic houses would have been made for next to next and built with unskilled labour. Now they are worth a fortune.

    Said it before, ordinary people should be allowed to live in the countryside without all the planning legislation. It's only there to stop poor people living in a nice place!

    I know of places where people used to make teepees and live in old vans. They did no harm they just had no money or couldn't afford to buy a house. I have even seen a house converted from a cow shed, complete with corrugated roof.

    I lay down in the shelter and you don't feel any draught at all.

    Don't see any squirrels. There's a pheasant that comes into the farm yard eating the beef nuts and meal that I drop every morning. I never manage to get a photo for you. May be one day.

    Think Raggy Cat is part human or he was in another life. What a cat?


  6. Yes, I suppose houses were built with local materials before bricks and concrete were thought of. Lake District local building material is slate, everything from sheep pens to mansions. All slate with no mortar and no lintols, the slate locked together, sloping outwards slightly to throw rain, and no dpc, slate is a dpc. And of course the green Buttermere slate roofs.

    I think every area would have its own specialities, cob and thatch were local materials, and like you say, cheap but a lot of hard work.

    People live in all sorts of what we would consider wierd and wonderful dwellings. In Amsterdam for example there's a lot of floating "houses", and I'm sure there is in other places as well. In UK we have residential caravan parks, some poor souls have to live in "shanty towns" made of scraps of everything they can find, Romanies live in their traditional horse-drawn caravans.
    Therer's no law that says we must live in a house; the "laws" are Planning constraints and Building Regulations.

    We had a pair of pheasants come into the garden the last two years in spring, hope we see them again next year. Get rabbits as well, but I think Raggy cat discourages them; and lots of birds, I don't feed them, I beleive it makes them un-naturally dependant. Pleased to say I haven't seen any rats, I know they'll be there somewhere, but I live in hope that Raggy cat discourages them as well.

    Lovely morning here, bright blue sky, slight breeze and a touch of frost.
    Raggy cat back in this morning, went out with a bit of a disdainful look last night, but seems happy on its Chesterfield, at least until Mrs gets up and the fire goes on. Yes, sometimes they look almost human, a cat can look down on you from 10".
    How's Domino shaping?

  7. Thanks for that Cumbrian.

    I love 'rustic charm' features in old buildings; oak beams, three foot thick walls... Years a go if you wanted to build a house you quarried some stone and cut down some trees and you and your neighbour would build a mighty fine house, learning skills in the building process.

    I have heard in America quite a lot of poor people live in trailer parks. I once attempted to buy a Static caravan on a site in a leafy part of Cheshire, but they didn't allow children.

    I love the old Romany ways. They knew so much about the countryside and their horse drawn caravans are works of art.

    It's lovely here. I am going to see if Bracken used his field stable last night. We have 2 fires going today. The range in the kitchen and the small stove in the front room. Think it will freeze tonight.


  8. Yes, a lot of old Cumbrian barns are like that, with massive ridge poles, heavy trusses and roughly squared spars. A lot of them conform to a fairly standard size as well, 20' deep with 12' between trusses, normally 5 "bays" with big doors in the middle, and 16' to underside of truss string. Stone walls usually sandstone or mixed stone, random sized and coursed, about 2' thick, sometimes the owl hole in the gables. Roofs covered with Buttermere slate, reducung courses, stone ridge.

    The more recent old ones are bigger, with king post trusses of jointed sawn timber sometimes with iron straps for added strength. Hard men they must have been to get them up there, no cranes then. Bigger spans and higher roofs, but still slate. Walls still sandstone but better squared and coursed.

    Most of them redundant now, used as garages, or done as barn conversions into dwellings. They're popular because we can't build anything, but the Lake District Planners allow us to refurbish and change use, as long as it still looks like a barn when you're finished. Some of them look quite good, and better than becoming derelict and falling down.

    Houses tend to be a bit better, but similar construction, with low doors and ceilings. Some of them renderd then whitewashed.

    Lovely day here as well, Raggy cat asked to go out, must be warm.

  9. Once went to the Tudor Speke Hall near Liverpool. Every beam is jointed or held together with wooden pegs.

    Believe the old stone Byre's (cowsheds) used to have a opening at both ends. If the cattle wanted to stay in or go outside. No doubt great ventilation so no risk of pneumonia. A old farmer once said another old farmer told him that if you find a cobweb in a stall, there's not enough ventilation.

    know a lot of old farmhouses used to keep the cattle in a stable below them, so the heat would rise and keep the humans above, very warm. They also used to have the kitchens on the north side to preserve food because they didn't have fridges. Also a lot of the dwellings had little windows because of the 'window tax'. It's a wonder they don't bring that back isn't it?

    I believe the barn owl is dying out in the UK because of barns being converted to dwellings. I think planning could and should be relaxed in times like this when renovation and new building projects would create much needed jobs for the local economy.

    Great day here. Got a lot done round the farm. Think it will freeze tonight.

    Good old Raggy Cat!


  10. Completely agree with what you're saying about the pallets, lads.

    A few years ago, I pulled a few pallets out of Gypsy Brook, and repaired my mother's fence. Didn't fancy paying the price from the timber merchant's you used to work for, Dave.

    Speaking about the timber merchant's, maybe you could do a post about your old mate, Mick Donnely, Dave.

  11. Morning Pat. Yeah pallets are brilliant for recycling projects. I also like corrugated iron and good old baling string, I did write a book about it, didn't I?

    I hated my time working at that timber yard. Could do a post on capitalist exploitation of the working classes. Yeah I think that's a good one. What was your worst job or worst wage?

    Any thoughts readers?

  12. What about your old mate, Mick Donnelly, Dave? If I remember correctly, he had far more interesting political ideas than any pseudo-Marxist gobbledygook. Am I right in saying that he stood to be a councillor in East Ward for his own 'Legalise Cannabis Party'. This might all sound a bit tame now, but at the time (about 35 years ago), it made Mick a local celebrity, didn't it?

  13. I (we) worked in some horrible places Pat. Don't think it's Marxist gobbledygook to describe how working class people get exploited. Thank God I'm no longer a wage slave. There was nothing good about working in a factory was there? Alienation, Anomie and depression. That's all it ever did for me.

    Do you think they should legalize Cannabis Pat?

  14. We were stupid enough to get there in the first place, Dave, nobody forced us to go and work in factories (it wasn't the 19th or earlier 20th century). I've long since stopped believing in some kind of working-class Romanticism, as it's this kind of thinking that really holds working-class people back (thus, for me, it's more a psychological than a sociological thing). Once I realised this, I started to get somewhere in life, but seriously wish I'd learnt this lesson a lot earlier in life.

    About cannabis use, it's so widespread these days that it's more or less a sign of conformity, so why not legalise it, and at least governments can get something on the taxes.

  15. Capitalist exploitation? Worst job?
    That needs some thinking about, I don't think there's many of us enjoy going to work for an employer.
    I most enjoyed being self-employed, maybe not always the most predictable or profitable, and sometimes clients can be as demanding as employers, but at least the hours are of my own choosing.

    Legalise cannabis?
    Of course, in The Netherlands, where coffee shops are legal, I've never seen trouble in one, but I've seen a lot in drinking establishments, and drink's legal.
    And, while they're at it, legalise all the other drugs as well, instead of the junkies stealing to feed their habit buying from dealers, why not set up legitimate drug dens and run them as a tax-paying businesses? I'm really surprised the government hasn't thought of this one, it would cut crime, releive hard-pressed police forces from dealing with drug-related offences, get rid of the dealers, provide emoplyment, keep track of the addicts, and quite possibly generate some revenue.
    And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

    Lovely morning, bright blue sunshiney sky, no breeze, crisp frost.
    Raggy cat back in, piece of sausage for breakfast, lying in front of fire (it's not switched on)

  16. Hi Pat, Thanks for your thoughts. I was always wary about psychological interpretations of the working class. Always blaming the person instead of the environment. Now I think you could be right. It's easy to demonize people and not look at yourself. But I do think working class people feel like the lyrics of John Lennon's: Working Class Hero:

    " As soon as you're born they make you feel small
    By giving you no time instead of it all
    Till is so big you feel nothing at all."

    It was awful working in a dead end job for a pittance and all you had to look forward to was the weekend. It seemed like the day would never end. I hate industrialization. Factory life is not for me.

    I agree with you. They should legalise Cannabis just for recreational use. The government would make a lot of money through tax revenue and it would get rid of the dealers, like Cumbrian puts it so well.


  17. I can't even copy some lyrics. Must get some new reading glasses.

    "Till the pain is so big"

  18. Hi Cumbrian,

    There's nothing worse than being in a job you hate. You have seen it from both sides. I once worked in a timber yard cutting up wood, labouring and serving customers. The other lads and me always waited to see if the people had manners and how they treated you. What's wrong with:

    "Please and Thank-you"?

    Never thought of legalizing ALL drugs. Interesting and very sensible thoughts. Rather than being puritanical,grab the nettle and address the problem. The users would also be getting pure stuff. It does make sense.

    Trying to rain here. Raggy cat's definitely switched on.


  19. In a nutshell, Dave, I think working-class Romanticism (some would call it 'Inverted Snobbery') is a massive self-defeating process that holds (working-class) people back from exploring a far more colourful and interesting world out there.

  20. Not that I'm an expert or have any experience of drug use and abuse, except the Dutch coffee shops. Far from some peoples perception of them as dim and dreary little back-street dives, most of them are in respectable areas (they're everywhere in fact) and are no dimmer or more dreary than any other bar, cafe or restaurant; they tend to be relaxing welcoming places. I've never seen any trouble in any of them, not even raised voices.
    It's against the rules to serve alcohol and weed in the same premises, they don't mix, a fact that seems to escape the British visitors sometimes.

    But I have noticed that the banning and criminalizing of drugs doesn't seem to work in preventing people using them. And if they're going to use them, why not in a safe, legal, controlled environment? I believe it would have a lot of positives, the only down-side I can think of is the that the dealers would need to cancel the new BMW. I also suspect that legalizing everything would take away some of the attractiveness of drug abuse.

    Same as prostitution, they criminalize the working girls in UK, and have done for decades, but it's not going away (the oldest profession?) and as far as I know has not stopped men using their services. In most other European countries, it's recognised and accepted, proper establishments providing protection and safe working conditions for the girls, and the government gets a cut in the form of tax. We've all heard of the Red Light District in Amsterdam, it's a real tourist draw, must generate a lot of spin-off business and millions for the Dutch goverment.

    Sun's still shining, had to de-ice the windscreen but yhe ground frost's gone now. Snow on the fell-tops.
    Raggy cat gone out.

  21. Hi Pat. Living in Ireland I never encounter any class difference. Everybody seems to treat everybody the same. I don't even adhere to social class definitions any more. I just treat people as I find them.

  22. Thanks Cumbrian for telling us about Holland. They sound very sensible people, the Dutch.

    Looks like Bracken's finally been in his new shelter. I have read that the Shetland is a really hardy breed and they don't need much shelter.

    Snow on the fell tops. Looks like the 'snow for December the first' prediction could be true?


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