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.

What’s doing??

We have been busy as bees round the holding still, but since the start of lockdown in March we have not had any significant rainfall!!! 10 weeks!!

Things are tinder dry outside…. we are having to regularly water everywhere and currently just the other side of our nearest village there is a forestry and field fire that the forestry services and a helicopter have been battling since Sunday evening…

Thankfully there is some rain forecast tonight and for at least the morning tomorrow! The earth here will give a sigh of relief I expect when it starts to fall!!

In the meantime here a few snapshots of the past few weeks here! New fencing, shearing, turning out the horses, new chicks, new play stuff for the boys, elderflowers and a lot more!!

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!!

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!!!

Busy weeks!!

So the past two weeks have been filled with visitors and LOTS of outside work….. not much time for crafting except in between visitors and knitting of an evening!!

We started with a few days with my sister and niece and nephew!!

Someone was very pleased with his visitors!! And we had wall building round the Polytunnel!!

Playdoh….. painting…… forest school trip!

Bird box building and painting….

Phew very busy!!

Then last week my parents came for a few days!

It turned colder…. but we have meshed the fruit cage….. planted and frost fleeced a few plants that had been delivered…. blueberries in pots in some good Ericaceous compost as our soil isn’t right for them but we need them as young sir would eat his body weight in blueberries!! Well fruit in general!!

Then we had lots more Polytunnel progress…. just a shame on the final day the wind picked up so we couldn’t get the plastic on….

We had a wood delivery too…. didn’t get as much in last year as this year has required!! It’s all a learning process and bear in mind this time last year we were only able to collect wood every other weekend!!!

Any way all this done plus toddler wrangling…. plus catering…. keeping the home fires burning…. and growing a baby….. phew

We have had a quieter weekend this weekend sans visitors!

Finishing some jobs in the fruit cage….

Using sawdust to make paths…. cable tying the mesh further and pegging it down….

Then today….

Chipping the brash piles we’ve had lying about from hedgerow sorting!! Finally seem to be making some progress in rejuvenating some of the hedgerows and hope we will be able to lay some of them in a couple of years to thicken them up and really sort them!

What a week!!

Well this week has been a whirlwind after our usual more sedate pace round here!!

Monday we were at the hospital for another growth scan and clinic….

Not a great photo but he is a larger baby than his brother and running out of space!!! (7 weeks till due date!)

Tuesday we caught up on some jobs here…. James collecting wood, helping a neighbour who is unwell, me sorting house cleaning/laundry etc!!

Wednesday James had some more wood collecting time and I had to race through a metric crap tonne of paperwork ready for a meeting with the FUW to help me fill in claims forms and field maintenance sheets…. AND for ANOTHER farm inspection…. We have had our SAF and maintenance payments for Glastir held up by the Welsh Government, both because we have been included in their audit…. where the inspectors get inspected!!! Yes total bad luck on our first year!!!!! Joy and because they had questions about some satellite imagery which again is a new thing this year…. well done us getting the double whammy!!!

So Thursday I trooped off to Carmarthen with folders worth of paperwork and completed a capital works claim, a field maintenance new online thing to alter my field boundaries now we have added the new hedgerows!! Plus take advice on becoming VAT registered etc etc!!

Raced home to grab some lunch…. then back out to the midwife!! (Now at the we want to see you every other week stage!) who bless her was running a smidge Kate and then I hotfooted it back to holding for the inspectors!!!

Well thankfully they were late and wanted to look at activity diaries first!! So I had time to get togged up for the field portion of their trip!! Thankfully everything was all good and to quote one of them “if only all inspections were this simple and straightforward!” Phew!!!

William and I then had Forest School on Friday which we both love!!

Then after lunch we collected my car from the garage all mot’d and driving like a dream again!!!

So we have had a week of interrupted naps….. short naps….. naps in the car…… and only one nap in his big boy bed!!

So no real crafty time *sob*

Managed a bit of spinning and a bit of sewing earlier in the week…

But it’s been scarily productive paperwork wise and farm wise…..

Now to spend today and tomorrow catching up with all the other jobs we need to get sorted!!!

Hedging!!

Our lovely neighbour leant us a new toy last week!!!!

  
So we spent a few days cutting the overgrown hedge and chipping it into a partial path down the side of the orchard!!

   
    
   
   
    
   
   
 
One hedge done loads more to go……

Starting work in the woods

James and I finished off the hedge laying and started a woodland entrance…. 

We seem to start work and more bits appear!!!!

We have a downed ash to chop up and some blackthorns to chop up to make steps…. Oh and reams more of the damn black plastic and more tyres!!!! Oh and it looks like big field and woodlands may have once been seep rated by a fence!!! Now just a bit of wire grown into a tree!!!