I am a thistle shifter….

And that’s about as far as I got with that particular tongue twister !!

But it did remind me of last Saturday in the sauna. Well less of a posh spa day and more like an episode of attack the weeds in the polytunnel. After being abandoned for four years the place was thick with thistles almost head high and im 6ft 4 !!

Any way the kids from the National Citizens Service did a wonderful job in the late summer heat, beating them down and generally taking out their teenage angst on the overgrowth of triffids. A job I certainly don’t begrudge them.

But like all fairy tale monsters they can never be truly killed. Dead doesn’t always mean DEAD..

And so Johnny’s back !!

triffids-1 triffids-2 triffids-3

This time though they are manageable so I’m getting in early and knocking them back before they get too big. Hopefully a combination of carbohydrate death (denying the plant the chance to store more energy than it expends in growing) and the fact that most of the polytunnel will be Deep Water Culture hydroponic tanks the day of the triffids will be postponed !

triffids-4 triffids-5

You may also notice the old post and wire system has been taken down…. making way for who knows what wonders !!

Let there be light!!

Four week in and we have now done a detailed survey of the site and its buildings and identified what we need.

As in the best of traditions the problem is the solution and we need above all heat and electricity for the structures (I’m already tired of typing greenhouse and polytunnel!!) and electricity in general.

We always intended to make this site as off grid as possible, just to show it can be done and, well, we’re frugal Yorkshire folk and don’t like paying other people to do stuff we should be doing our selves.

So to that end we will be offering (at incredible cheap prices to mainly cover costs) a plethora of courses and lectures on just that. Living independently.

Where you get the chance to get hands on dirty practical experience of saving money.

Here’s a taster of what we have planned…

Cider, apple juice and free orchard growing.

Off grid electricity, design, building and maintaining battery banks for those pesky power cuts.

Hyper efficient wood burning stoves called Rocket stove and adapting them for different uses.

Food preservation and storage, buy cheap to eat later. No freezer required.

Solar energy for home heating. From the stuff others throw away.

Beer and wine making.

Basic carpentry skills and general DIY Hacks.

So keep an eye on the events calendar for what’s coming up.

And remember, everything we do, adds value to you

Dibbing about in Donny…

Well,  It’s a new year and a new you. So hello to you !!

After much ado this year that has kept us pretty busy we are officially launching the DUG network in the salutation inn on January the 24th at 7PM

I’m sure your asking what the hell all this is about, so sit down put on your slippers and get comfy because I’m about to tell you !

DUG was created to help folks like yourselves take that first tentative step into the wonderful and exhilarating world of home grown food. Maybe the ever rising costs, especially fresh local produce, brought you to our door. Maybe it’s a concern about industrial practice or just a desire for a simpler better way of life. Whatever the reasons we welcome you with open arms to our friendly fraternity…

DUG is here to fill that gap between allotments and their associations and farmers and their experience. Here you will find like minded people, all with a story, a hint or a tip to help you get started, fight of those bugs and get the best out of your plot no matter how big or small. You don’t need an acre of garden or an allotment to grow loads of fresh high quality ingredients. In fact we think you’ll be surprised just how much you can cram into even a terrace garden with a bit of know-how.

Our vision, our aim here at DUG HQ is to see Doncaster turned into a food lovers paradise, a garden of plenty with little urban farms dotted through out or great borough.

Join us to help make it happen…..

DUG growers’ poster January 2013

MAKER SPACE

 

or how I learned to stop worrying and just love stuff !!

In 2012 we exported a lot of stuff. One direction, rain water into the north sea, British pride and the royals ( the Americans get that last one free to make up for 1776 ).

But the export business started long before that… it started with ideas. And one of those ideas was the maker space. We sent it over to America where they have latched on to it with the same vigour they had with the Beatles. So once it became the done thing to hang around with old guys that knew more than you did, knew it and could give a toss they sent our baby back. Now we have sulky petulant teen of an idea ready to take on the world and the world be damned !! So what is this maker space I hear you cry ??

A maker space is simply a place where a group come together Co-operatively and in collaboration.

Errrr OK that’s not so simple is it…? I’ll try again….

A maker space is a building which house’s all the tools you need to build what ever you want. Fancy building a bookcase ? Maker space. Got a great idea for a product but can’t afford prototype or production cost’s? maker space.

You see not all of us are nicely well off middle class types with google chrome as our task bar. Most of us have an idea or two or just want to simply learn how to do stuff properly, that age old ache to create, to produce to express .. but the cost of the equipment is way out of our league and we may find it a bit hard to justify the cost of a pillar drill or bench lathe to our spouse’s if we just want to play. Especially as the benefits get cut and I wont get a pay rise this year. And forget about adult extension classes. Who has the time ??

Well your local space might have that equipment, if it doesn’t it might have the tools you need to build it. The people that you meet down there will come from a wide background, an untapped resource of unbelievable potential from welders and fabricators to draughtsmen and designer’s. The computer girl that will show you, that if you can use a photocopier you can use a 3D printer. The old time carpenter that can teach you all you need to know about making that presentation box.

You know, the one that wowed the sales team and convinced them that your doohicky is what has been missing all their lives….

A maker space is an eclectic mix of old world wooden hand tools to mega gig computers and star trek replicator’s …

So why am I banging the drum for the maker space. Well my nearest one is access space in Sheffield. It’s main focus is multi media but its also a bit too far to travel if I want to make a bike trailer !!

However a new year a new opportunity. Doncaster is getting it’s own maker space !! . the copley roadproject will soon open it’s doors to you fair and creative citizens so please show support for what could be the best thing since an ironed shirt….

Lets take a chance and become producers not consumers. Lets learn things we didn’t know we wanted to learn. We are willing to pay 20-30 quid for a gym membership why not the same for our local maker space ??

Here’s a few links to get you in the making mood…..

A podcast about maker space’s, it’s woth skipping the housekeeping !

Maker space in ann arbour

And another american based one

Hope to see you at the Copley road project !!

Future scenario’s of an energy descent world

The transition town model has a big weakness. Whilst it covers most aspects of providing resources for its members in a post peak/low energy future it hasn’t sufficiently dealt with the aspect of keeping what you have when faced with people who are willing to take it from you.

This article is an attempt to close that gap. It will not tell you how to organise your selves. Each group is different with different dynamics and Terrains. This article and the others that follow are intended to provide a thorough and objective look at the future of personal and community defence so as to guide us on the most effective ways to Prepare strategies.

It will tell you about the risks we face and give suggestions about how to plan for various scenarios.

First, an assumption for this discussion is that the reader lives outside of densely populated urban areas. Under no reasonable scenario will an urban area have adequate resource security in the face of Peak Oil, so to speak of military defence of such an area is moot. However these areas can be prepared in such a way that there are “hidden” resources that can be returned for if a group has decided to leave once the area has been abandoned. This general analysis should be applicable, however, to persons living in small towns, some suburban areas, or rural areas.

The risks and threats.

A lot of scuttlebutt has been posted on the internet and various blogs and forums about the threats that could occur during a break down of society regardless of the cause of that break down. In this section we will break down and explore these various threats and the likely hood of them occurring.

1. Oppressive Regimes

The single greatest security threat in many survivalists’ minds is the spectre of the government smashing down your front door and raiding your stockpiles. Recent government leadership and actions have certainly provided some legitimacy to these fears. The recent riots in London and the Arab uprisings, have raised questions about appropriate police response including the use of water cannon and rubber bullets as well as the implementation of martial law during any given crisis, certainly don’t bode well for the future of freedom in this country.

If government forces do choose to exert their will on the populace, there is no feasible military response for a local community. Local Para-military and militia forces cannot compete with a fully trained and equipped army to achieve meaningful military victory.

Period.

To focus your community defence efforts solely to counter the threat of government attack is a waste of resources and may in fact result in attracting enough attention to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The best defence in this scenario is to be as innocuous as possible. By not making yourself an obvious target the government will most likely pass you by for a more “promising” target. Remember; in a scenario where resources are tight large organisations tend to look at things as a return on investment scenario. They may not take your stored food if there is a supermarket or warehouse  nearby.

If in fact the government did declare martial law, consider this: there are 60 million people in the United kingdom supported by a standing (plus Territorial army reserves) of 227.160 personnel. There are more of us than there are of them. It would take a lot of resources to police us all. Consider also that the U.K. government is a hair’s breadth away from Insolvency, and funding a sustained conflict against even a portion of its tax base would be national suicide.

To sum up these points, martial law outside of urban centres is not feasible in the United Kingdom and any military action outside of cities would be so minimal that any single community would have an extremely low probability of attack. However it would be much easier to do things like limit travel, place check points on the roads and issue travel permits.

How to humanely harvest and efficiently butcher a chicken.

The following won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you raise chickens for meat as well as eggs (or if you ever need to put one out of it’s misery) then you need to know how to dispatch them respectfully and humanely. The following videos were originally posted on Paul Wheaton’s You Tube channel

More info can be found at the very excellent Permies…