Lackan Cottage Farm

My Dave is notoriously hard to buy presents for.  Seriously, I dread it.  I usually talk myself out of buying him things because I know he will think I shouldn't have spent the money on it or that he doesn't need it and it's reaaaaaally frustrating. This year for his birthday I decided to go down a different route and get him something to experience, rather than another book or gadget (since when are gadgets the most stereotypical man-present by the way?  Every gift list for dudes in the whole world seems to feature actually useless gadgets)!

I noticed on Facebook that the fine folks at Lackan Cottage Farm were offering a 'Green Woodworking' course on their smallholding so I arranged for Dave and his dad to go for the day.

Lackan Cottage FarmLackan Cottage Farm is a permaculture smallholding nestled just near the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down.  Steve and Claire and their young daughter bought the farm (which dates back to late 1800's) in 2012 and have set it up not only as their own self-sustaining home but as a place for visitors to volunteer and learn about how to live lightly on the land.

Here they explain their vision:

Within five years we aim to substantially meet our energy, food, water and waste requirements from our smallholding, and to provide a healthy and ecologically sound environment in which visitors can learn from our experiences and see how it is possible to live in a more sustainable manner without compromising their standard of living. We will provide opportunities to learn more about vegetable and fruit growing.

It is our intention to market our self catering cottage alongside short practical courses in a variety of ecological themes, as well as offering an ‘off grid experience’ to those seeking to live more simply, or more self reliantly. Rising food and energy prices, along with recent revelations about the complexity of the modern food chain mean that interest in home food production, and living ‘The Good Life’ are at an all time high. Although we realise that for many people, taking this to the level that we have is not practical, there are many aspects that they will be able to take away and adapt to fit into their lifestyles.

It's pretty inspiring to read about (check out their website for loads of info about the amazing things they are doing) and I can't wait to schedule in some time to visit and learn with them myself.

Dave had a brilliant day at Lackan under the instruction of Steve Ryan from Green Woodwork Ireland, and he worked his tail off making a baseball bat on a traditional pole lathe, powered entirely by foot as well as experimenting with some carving with traditional tools.

Lackan Cottage Farm Lackan Cottage Farm Lackan Cottage FarmI was so relieved that my present was a hit and he enjoyed a day working with his hands and learning a new skill in a really different environment.  'Green' woodworking means that you work directly with unseasoned timber, only using traditional tools to shape and soften it so there was a lot of learning involved and it was all set up outdoors in the woodlands of the farm, with a tea hut for refreshments and a soup lunch provided back in the farm house.

Lackan Cottage FarmLackan Cottage Farm Lackan Cottage FarmAnd no trip to a permaculture farm would be complete without experiencing a composting loo with plenty of wood shavings to throw down when you've done your business!

Lackan Cottage Farm Lackan Cottage FarmDave noted there was something about being outside, working with other people, using handmade tools, powering the machines with your own strength, seeing something through from freshly fallen wood into something Levi can play with for years to come that was ultimately truly satisfying.

Lackan Cottage Farm

What do you think? Have you ever taken a risk on an 'experience' present?  Anyone else want to join us in arranging a trip to visit and learn with the folks at Lackan Cottage Farm?