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.

Smallholding update!

Living the dream!!!

So many people say this to us!! And it always makes me laugh a little, yes in so very many ways we are living the dream, but I really don’t think a lot of people realise how much hard work the dream is!!

Take this week for example!!

All the rain and wind, meant slipped roof tiles and James braving the ladders to fix them, because water had started to come in through the ceiling in the boys room!!

We had a small electrical fire resulting in us losing our immersion heater…. no big deal we light the Esse for hot water mostly at this time of year! But more wood hauling…

More water around than ever it seems…. and for some strange reason multiple air locks in the water pipes of the house (seems to be a weekly occurrence requiring us to drain the system)

So we go puddle jumping to feed the animals and the pigs are happily digging themselves ponds!!

Rats!!!!! (And foxes!! We have lost 10 chickens this year to two fox attacks one where they clear chewed through the wiring of the cage!) but back to the rats, they have increased hugely this year and now as well as trapping the beasts we have to repair rat damage building the ducks a new home and repairing the floor of the chicken house, despite having “rat proof” feeders! We also have a nest in the workshop, so each time we go to get firewood we catch movement out the corner of our eyes and they are wily beasts avoiding the traps set or even bold enough to lick them clean without tripping them!!

And we have been working hard on the new build! James has painted the internals walls, the rear access ramp and front steps have been built by our wonderful builder!

And that’s before we even get started on the effects of Covid, isolations and lockdowns….

BUT would I swap this?? Would I go back to life before????

A million times no!!

Thank fully living here we have been (until this week) sheltered somewhat from Covid effects and having the land here means we have always had something to do and somewhere to go! The land allows us to get outside every day, to work, to look after our animals and to play.

We have the time and space to grow our own food and raise our own animals for eggs and meat and wool. So we know where our food comes from and how they have been raised and treated, which is important to us and waking round at this time of year both shows me how much we have done and how much more we have to do to put everything to bed for winter, then the willow harvesting can begin and I can put in more fedges, new plantings and try to soak up some of the water!!

We have some snippets of time to follow our own interests and this will hopefully increase as the years go by and things get more under control!!

Tomorrow we bring in the horses for winter and move the sheep into a more sheltered field for the winter, and maybe a bit more gardening or repairing…. today we eat a roast dinner from our own animals and our own veg and maybe I’ll steal some time to knit!!

And one day we will have field shelters, under control gardens and land, rat proof poultry pens, and a holiday let up and running!! So rather than living the dream more working towards or on the dream!! 😁

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!!

New yarn!!!!!

So tomorrow the Rustic range of yarns launch!!

All hand dyed by me here at the smallholding and all the wool for the yarn is either locally sourced or homegrown!! From our own Sheep!!!!! So that’s gorgeous fleece from Wanda, Baabara, Wolfy and the three witches!!!!

This time the wool has been blended with a little alpaca and the natural grey that the yarn became is beautiful!!

My wonderful mother helped me out and test knit a huge batch of an early dyeing of the yarn making this gorgeous Ribbon Wrap (pattern link here)

The wrap was knitted up in the Silverleaf of the grey, Gentian or blue, Thistle or purple and the Plantain or Green colourways and is huge and so warm and snuggly!!

Other colourways on offer are the red or Bettany, yellow or Gorse, Pink is Campion and the orange is Valerian!!

The natural grey is also available to buy from Friday!!

This will all go live in the Etsy shop on Friday morning!!

There will be a discount code for the launch weekend simply put in the code YARNLAUNCH to receive 10% off all yarns in the shop over the weekend!!

In addition to the Rustic with alpaca, there is a small amount of Rustic, which is just the blend of the wool in a few of the colourways!! Great if you need a smaller amount for colourworking!!

There is also a new sock yarn colourway coming this weekend!! This colourway is called Lockdown Sunset, there are only 10 skeins available and I will be using 50% of the profits from this yarn to buy some extra cans to donate to our local food bank which is struggling with donations given the challenging times we are facing!

Can you spot Lockdown Sunset in the yarn mountain???

All go round here!!

So over the past few days we have been working hard to get things sorted, built, planted, weeded and moved!!

We have weeded both large raised beds, and I have started to plant seeds for veg in there, using my scaffolding plank as a bridge across to stop me from stomping all over the bed!

Yesterday I potted on a load of seedlings in the Polytunnel and blimey it was warm in there!!!

We have happy ducks moved into their new digs…. and the chickens now have wood chip flooring in their runs!!

The muck heap has been shovelled back and some of the compost from the back excavated to fill the raised beds, the small tractor is a godsend for jobs like this!!

And someone has discovered the rubble pile….. apparently it’s his castle!!

Tomorrow we move onto the fruit cage of doom and clearing the veg garden paths!!!

So plans for Tyddynbryn!!

Social distancing smallholding style!! We have an absolute load of work to get on with here on the smallholding and with the nice dry weather that has started we have made a start!!

Moving the chickens and ducks to new turf. Wood chipping paths and flower beds and around new raised beds!

Having cleared the Polytunnel a while back, we have started some seeds in there and in the house. Today we have started in the veg garden, turning the beds from an absolute weed ridden state into something we can actually plant into!! So we have seeds ready for starting in successional sowings there!!

We have started a few projects for the boys for play, including a bean teepee…

These times are going to be difficult, but I am certain, no determined that we will come through it and be more organised, sorted, prepared and ready to face the new world head on. We are using this as an opportunity to finish projects started, start new projects, action plans we’ve had on the back burner for an age it seems.

So as for plans….

  • Weeding (there is always weeding)
  • Growing veg and fruit
  • Dyeing all the yarn
  • Clearing and sorting first the house, then the barns (I’ve started this as a wet day job and am part way through upstairs…. slow work with two small helpers though)
  • Finishing the new cottage
  • Building a tree house (if W gets his way it will be two storeys!!)
  • Making a garden or lots more garden areas
  • Gates, trying desperately to keep the errant hound in and the free range children!!
  • Processing the giant log pile into useable stacked logs ready for next winter

And there is likely to be more but I’ll add them to the lists as I go along!!

Weekend waffle

So summation Saturday and Sunday wasn’t working for me as a title for the weekend chat/catch up vlogs…. it didn’t sit right….

So I was up feeding the smallest boy a few nights ago and a Title came to me for these vlogs!! Weekend waffle!!! Hurrah!!!

Any way the next instalment is up on the channel!! Here!!