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.

The West Country Game fair

Last weekend we went down to the Bath and West Showground for the West Country game fair!! They had a small smallholders area too where we met some lovely and interesting people!! Who given the distance between the Bath and West and our holding were happy to share some of their hints tips and expertise!! We found out that it might not be that difficult to license our cider if we produce any from our orchard!! One chap even does the same as I have planning out his orchard etc though mine is sooooo rough it’s not ready for sharing just yet!!! But soon!!!!



I like the way he has used the apple trees in the field boundaries on his  five and a half acres holding and I think it may make a good agroforestry system for us in the bigger fields should we decide to divide them later!! And I think we need to look at getting in some crab apples fairly soon, along with our willows!!

I barely took any photos, but we met the most dense population of spaniels and Labradors in the world and found some yummy goodies to bring home!! Including peanut butter fudge cake!!!! Which was amazing and I need to work out how to make that goodie!!! James had a shotgun lesson with the chaps on the BASC stand.





We watched working dog displays, met some lovely hawks (one very fidgety small hawk who I tried to photograph and it kept coming out blurry)  We looked at lots of lovely produce and craft stands and I even picked up some knives for spoon and bowl carving!! 



Two lovely Mora knives!!!! Now I just need to get to the holding so I can get my hands on the woods supplies to start!! 

Sookie our little spaniel was far better at this game fair than she had been at previous shows and didn’t spend the whole time hiding between mine or James’ legs!! 

We spoke to the chestnut coppice people about whether chestnuts would grow at our holdings elevation… Maybe, we shall try introducing some chestnut into the new planting we have planned see if they take!! 

We met the Rare Breeds Survival trust and found another contact to see what would work for us on our holding…

Spoke to a chap about a dog poo wormery!! Definitely worth a look if you bag and tag all your dog poo for the bin and it trots off to landfill!! You can also put in the kitchen waste for the worms too!! thinking I may get a small bin to try in Newport….

And we also chatted to the people that put out the Smallholder Magazine that James and I subscribe to!!! Country Smallholding. Now do I contact the editor as requested!!! Oo nervous excitement!!!

Overall I am left with an overwhelming urge to get back to the holding and work my little socks off!!! Planting, harvesting, wood carving….. Oh and to visit Coeden Fach to look at locally sourcing some trees for our new plantings and works!!