Sheepy Sunday!

So last Month I told you some of Wanda’s story….

Up this month is Baabara!

Baabara is a mule most likely, Welsh white… something along those lines! She is the white faced one in this picture and is the MOST suspicious sheep you will ever meet!!

When they come up for feed in the field, Baabara is always right at the back! She is the hardest to catch, utterly unmotivated by food and a talented escape artist like her friend Wanda!

I say friend, but the pair of them tolerate on another and that’s about it!! Baabara prefers to mix with a few of the Llanwenogs!

She was given to us by neighbour who had her as an odd one out in their flock of Lleyn sheep to keep Wanda company in our fields and it helped to keep Wanda from wandering!!

She has a beautiful full soft fleece and it makes for gorgeous yarn!!

You can try out some of her wares here!! All spun up locally here in West Wales and dyed by me!

Smallholding Sunday

I am starting a series of blog posts, about the things we get done and need to do around the holding…. maybe accountability, maybe a kick up the bum when we need it, maybe all just pie in the sky….. I will add videos onto the YouTube Channel for a monthly tour of the main bits of the holding as well! Hopefully around the same time as my monthly updates posts!

So for a first posting, maybe a list of to dos I seem to add to almost daily. These are over and above our daily chores of feeding and watering the animals which has to be done whatever the weather, although the chickens didn’t like the snow we had recently!

So my list at the moment:

  • Barn gutterings and down pipes (this will have to wait till later in the year and for a dry time, but we have managed to repair the middle barn sidings so far less water incursion there)
  • Tin hut finishing (there are MANY small and large jobs for this to happen but it will happen this year!)
  • New duck enclosure, they need a new house, more space and we plan to add it onto the current large chicken run
  • New willow plantings, both basketry and biofuel (J has finally said the whole little field can be put to willow!! Yay!! Well other than my dye beds, which will move up to allow for the duck enclosure to be added.
  • Renovate chicken shed enclosure after fox incursion last year, make the run ‘walk in able’
  • Make a hedgehog enclosure, Holly will need a safe outdoor garden space to live in come the spring, with log piles, a shallow pond and sleeping box.
  • 2 long hedgerows to cut and reshape into a hedge rather than the tangled mess, and to also add to our wood supplies for next year.
  • Camping pitch x1 in the far pasture.
  • Start clearing the holding field for building work/landscaping though this will be an ongoing project over the next few years. I plan to build a cabin to run courses and more forest school etc.
  • Planting, growing, harvesting, fruit and veg
  • Planting and growing dye plants
  • Ongoing garden projects, both for the children and for flowers and prettiness!
  • Make a pond
  • Make more wildlife garden areas
  • Plant trees
  • Continue clearing and sorting the inside of the barns, removing rubbish, from years of accumulation both by us and the previous owners. Making workable areas and storage.
  • Pigs, at some point in the springtime the pigs will head off on their final journey to the abattoir

We have always had lots of plans each year for this place, last year we did a lot of gardening and we managed a few final fencing jobs, some holiday let building, a pig house, and a play palace for the boys. In fact since we bought the place in 2014 we have built a house, started and almost completed a second, built a veg garden, three huge raised beds and a polytunnel, planted an orchard, fenced and fenced and fenced. We have built a fruit cage, planted withy beds, a dome and a tunnel, more gardening after beating back enormous bramble forests….

So far this year, we have managed to start cutting back one of the hedgerows, the longest in fact! We are about halfway down the inner side, the outer side was done by tractor flail cutting. So just the tops to do on that half and then into the really overstood half! This has so far gained us about 5 foot more garden space for the holiday let. Now I need to chip the brash and get the willow fedge planted and the holiday let garden can rest till spring, when patio, gate building and planting will start in earnest. The far field hedge will allow us to plant some quick growing pines, for biodiversity, screening and firewood and also to prepare the camping pitch and compost loo site for the summer months.

We have planted our little horse chestnut tree, we have mastered sourdough and we have measured, planned out and written a to order list for the three new enclosures or extensions we need to build.

A few updates!!

Things are starting to grow in the Polytunnel and the fruit cage has a heap of green strawberries!!

James has built the majority of the first long raised beds!! Just awaiting delivery of the blocks for the rest of this bed and the second now!! But we could wait and started to plant!!! Beans this end…. ran out of canes but had a heap of branches!!! So for now we use those!!! Broccoli, cauliflower (any suggestions for deterring cabbage whites gratefully received!!) celeriac, some pumpkins and courgette so far!!!

The hay meadows are looking glorious following the spell of hot weather we have had!

The hedgerows are growing amazingly now!! Fingers crossed that they’ll now be a bit more Wanda proof!!! But I’ll still check on her each day to make sure!!!

We have had some seeds sent from the seed share project from @croydongardener on Instagram!! Some really unusual squashes etc all heirlooms too!! Can’t wait to get those planted!!

Last week was half term so my sister and the children came to visit. They enjoyed meeting the tenants in the field currently!! Such beautiful little foals and their gorgeous mamas!!

They had fun building some of their own toys for bits from the barn and building dens!!

My niece turned ten also so I made a cake and she helped me ice it!!! Mmmmm chocolate orange cake!!! Yum!!!

I cant remember whether I included the bee hive in the last update or not but James has built a bee hive and we are now awaiting our first bees once he has it sited!! So exciting!!! We shall have our own honey next year!!!’

Lots of things happen here each week it seems…. time flies and it won’t be long before we will be looking to get our hay cut and baled up!!

Piggies!!!

Last week we spent a huge amount of time building an enclosure and hut for some pigs!!!

All the elements of their housing other than the electric fencing have been repurposed from things we had in the barns, leftovers from other building projects or reclaimed items like a collection of doors that a neighbour was throwing out!!

It was all a bit Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall with his first River Cottage piglets as James collected them in a dog crate in a fiesta!!

James has set up a solar powered electric fence and they are such good piglets and have learnt the fencing very fast thankfully!!

They have already made themselves a wallow into the cool earth and have been happily rooting through the earth in areas for roots etc!!

Sheepy shenanigans

So…. back in February a Beulah speckled face sheep appeared on our yard…. we tried everything to find its owner, contacted ALL the agencies had animal health out, and the animal health lady checked her databases for us to try to trace the owner…. no avail… so we advertised on the gate post…. and fourteen days later she became ours…..

So we have a Wanda!!

Now Wanda is an amazing escapologist…. she has tested all and I mean ALL of our boundaries…. shown us EVERY possible spot that is even the slightest bit weak and gappy!!!

So we have had MANY trips to other fields coaxing her back with the bucket into the field we want her in and also trips further afield to neighbours’s land and the lane and the walking path to the next village even!!!!

We have used bit of baling twine, logs, old posts, brash, bits of old gates, everything to try and keep her in the one field…..

Then a neighbour struck on a fabulous idea…. poor beast is in need of a friend… ah ha!!! She only started to try and escape once the rental sheep went home…. so the neighbours gave us Baabara!!

And a few days later!!! And a little more baking twine and brash… (she had one last hoorah into the next door field thankfully of ours!!) Wanda and Baabara are happily in the one field!!

With their neighbours…. the rental ponies and their utterly gorgeous foals!!!

Chicken happenings!!

So way back on the first of March our Bresse chickens hatched out and they lived in the same cage inside as chicks as sun and Dai had lived in when they were small… but there were more of them and they grew a wee bit faster…. so they moved into a secondary cage for a bit…. our existing coop allows space for up to six hens…. add in the fact we know we have at least one rooster in the Bresse gang…. and we don’t want him and Dai to fight….

soooo…. we ordered a second housing option!!

Yes they have blue feet!!!

James and my dad built the coop whilst Mum and I went to Wonderwool….

Then his dad helped him construct the run which is a permanent fixture!!

Toddle chops enjoyed exploring the run!! Soooo tempting to build the little thrill seeker his own…. but he would only climb out!! So far he is more than capable of climbing over farm field gates, into the cattle crush, out of his cot is a doddle so we are now finally in a big boy bed!! Ahhh he has no fear!!!!

And so the chickens have their new home and a posh new automatic coop opener which is light sensitive!! So they are let out at first light and shut up at dusk!! Hurrah!!!

James has also designed a rainwater collection waterer and a large easy food dispenser mostly made from things we had lying about in the barns!!!

Farm update

Soooo in lieu of a podcast which I may not have time to do or enough content for, for a few weeks…. here is the farm update for recent weeks!!!

Sooo…. back at the end of March on his due date we became a family of four when baby Mathew put in an appearance!!

All 7lb 15 of him and the birth itself went that well I should have been in and out in the one day…. but I decided tone dramatic and have a rather nasty PPH which saw me lose nigh on 3 pints of blood… so overnight obs… what a joy…. opposite the nursing station…. and at one point I’d just gotten the baby to sleep and in they came to do his obs…. ugh!!!

Anyway he is now a gorgeous chunky 11lbs!! (He didn’t have to wait for milk to come in as I still feed William) and he is four weeks old!!! Not sure how that has happened!!

Soooo we have had LOTS of visitations from family, but whilst the female portion of the family cooed over the small people and helped me to keep on top of washing and housework and William in the early days… the menfolk fought through the tiredness and….

Helped lambs in the barn…. being born…. putting them into separate quarters to bond with mums…. etc

Skinned the Polytunnel!!!

Hurrah!! On with the planting!!!

Moving and placing and cutting tractor tyres for the kiddos play area!! And planting potatoes we have had chitting for an age it seems!! Both in tubs and bags and out in a large potato bed James prepared!

Sorted the chickens who are now huge and ready for their new accommodations!! More about that another time!!

Made teeny fires to cook over!!

Then we as a group have been…..

Wrangling sheep to get them into the right field!! Te he!!!

Charging round the fields and feeding Wanda!

We’ve been to the botanical gardens for Welly Wednesday!!

We have tidied up the front garden and planted seeds both for flowers and for the Polytunnel !!

Plus we found a worm!! Fascinating!!!

And the other big news!!!

Young man turned TWO!!! I have a two year old!!!! More about how that feels in another post but look how happy he is with his digger!!

And I made my first attempt at icing a cake other than slapping a small bit of buttercream in or on!!

So busy times!!! Hopefully things are starting to settle…. and will improve further when we all kick this latest cold that has struck myself and the boys!! Ugh!!

Hope to at least write more soon and maybe I’ll squeeze in a podcast at some point!!