Okay, busy blog for a busy, creative week. First, i have cured my first sheepskin rug! I keep Greyfaced Dartmoor sheep because they are hardy (it gets so cold here) and easy to deal with. I sheer them myself and had wanted to get the wool spun and ask someone who can knit well to knit jumpers each for Debbie and I, but the staple is too long and the spinners won't touch it. So second best is to use the skin by curing it into a rug, something that's surprisingly easy to do. It took a little over a week and involved just three processes. Initially i heavily salted the skin for three days, then i got an old bath and made a solution of 9 gallons of water, 9 pint glasses full of salt, and 18oz of Oxalic acid (dirt cheep on the Internet - it's actually a wood preserver), and sunk the skin for a further three days. Then i rinsed it, brought it up to the house and washed and washed it over and over again in the bath until the water ran clean. There you have it, a home tanned sheepskin rug!You see the log burner with the sheepskin rug in front of it? Well that's our only source of heating in the home, and for 10 months of the year it's burning from dawn until late into the night, and that takes a lot of wood! As you know, wood needs time to season and dry-out before you can burn it, so I've been frantically coppicing trees so they can lay for a month or so before logging into small sections and stored in a barn for next winter. I only have until the middle of March to get the trees down, or there's going to be some very chilly evenings coming up! I'm nearly there now.
Finally the publishers have sent me a handful of pre-release copies of my book. Fantastic feeling to actually hold one in my hand, a real iconic moment in my life. Sadly (for me) the next day i sent them all out to magazines and newspapers and important people for reviews. But that moment of opening the box and picking up a book with my name on the cover will live with me and keep me warm and smiling for the rest of my life. The Self Sufficiency Bible will be on general release from 1st April, and will be on the shelves of Waterstones, WHSmiths, Tesco's and loads of places online including Amazon.