Another weekend in Sussex and a trip over to the Kent/Sussex border to where my Treehouse wood sits dormant ready for the intense excitement of the summer to begin. The River Medway has dropped a fair bit since I was last down and looks just as full of fish as it ever has…and the weather, I think spring has finally blessed the country with her long awaited annual appearance.
So what happened this weekend? What trinkets did I manage to acquire to help me on my quest for self-sufficiency? The “Unit” arrived. Contrary to popular belief, a “Unit” is not always the name for a ridiculously obese female, in these circumstances, the “Unit” refers to my central heating unit, my source of warmth, cooking and kettle-boiling all rolled into one.
I felt it only fair to stick on a few photos of just how good the country is looking, and even one of me putting the girlfriend to work on reinforcing the fences after the big pig broke in and wreaked havoc. I did witness some comeuppance- the big Shire horse booted her extremely hard- poor piggie!
Most people would turn a 55-gallon steel drum into a barbecue, split straight down the middle; it does make an excellent pit for feeding a hungry army of friends. The big, blue steel drum I managed to get my hands on came from a local garage. In London, I have spent hours scanning the net and making dead end phone calls, in the hope of obtaining a barrel Back in Sussex, I passed a garage with a few oil drums hanging about outside. I decided to take my chances and see if the fellows within would exchange me one for a small consideration.
“Good morning kind sir!” said I to the proprietor.
“Alright mate? What can ah do fya?” came his gruff response.
“Well I was wondering if you’re looking to get rid of any of these barrels?”
“What you wannit for a barbecue?”
“No, I want to make a wood burning stove”
“How ya gonna do dat?”
“Well, actually, that’s really none of your business…”
Of course the last sentence would have made my chances of getting a barrel slim indeed, so being the polite chap I am, I offered him some cash, which he declined and the barrel came home with me.
You might be asking yourself how one would go about turning a steel barrel into a wood burning stove? The answer came to me from a Mr Dubya Wayne Robertson of Virginia, USA. He had written an interesting piece for The Countryside and small stock Journal about how to do it (which you can see here).
I was most impressed with his ingenious design and decided that in the spirit of my project, recycling an old steel drum would be highly beneficial. Thousands of these barrels are used every year and it would be great if they could be recycled into something a little more inventive than a barbecue pit.
I have nicknamed the unit “Bertha” in honour of an 80’s cartoon I used to enjoy as a youth. Now, I just have to concentrate my efforts on transforming it into something that will be a central part of my existence. Perhaps I could even adapt the plans to include some form of oven…we shall see!
On another note, I finally traded in my beloved Mora Training knife for something a little more flash. The knife equivalent of going from a Skoda to a Ferrari (see below- you see what I mean), It will take me a while to harness the power of this beast. I have had to many good times with the Mora and she will remain in my employment for the time being. The People at Helle are forever in my debt for sending me something really quite special…thanks!
Looking to the next few entries, I am about to make Bresaola, which I shall report back on and hopefully some Battersea Nettle beer- watch this space…