Monday, 10 December 2018

Smallholding Plans for 2019

It's still under wraps for now, but it looks like some dramatic changes might be happening to how and where we live, which will involve a lot of upheaval.
We're trying to stay grounded by making plans for the smallholding, all ready to get started next year.
Our ten acre plot is home to several enterprises and activities. Some have fallen by the wayside over the last few years, so by way of an introduction and catch up, here's a round up of what we hope to be doing next year:

  • Oxford Down Sheep. Our long term commercial project and real passion. We're due to lamb in February, and we hope to show and grow the flock this year.
  • Chickens. We're currently down to 5 hens and a cockerel, but we're hoping to build up a bit this year and have some surplus eggs and hopefully a few choice chicks for sale as well.
  • Vegetables. We're probably not going commercial with the veg this year, but I would like to do a way better job of feeding ourselves, and having a few spare for family and friends.
  • Flowers.  We started with cut flowers last year and to be honest it didn't go quite as planned. It looks like Year Two is actually going to be Year One/Take Two.
  • Bees. Neil's taken a break from bees for a few years, but he's back at bee club and we're seriously hoping to get a hive or two up and running this year.
  • Fibre. Spinning our own Oxford fleece is really in its infancy and just for my own pleasure at the moment, but one day we hope it will go places.
  • Plants. It's my intention to grow plants for sale which link into our other enterprises, and encourage folk to grow their own cut flowers, dye plants, and plants for pollinators.
  • Goats. We're down to two, so not doing much, but young Mabel, our orphaned baby girl, may well provide entertainment in the intervals.
  • Showing up. All this will find its way onto some sort of more exciting platform than me typing away here. Possibly a You Tube channel. Gulp.
As the shortest day is still over a week away, we may possibly have got ahead of ourselves, but I hope you've enjoyed a peek into our plans, and now lets see if we can keep up, and keep updating.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Baby Girls!

One week ago today, bang on her due date, Linen Mathilda gave birth to two perfect kids. Both are female which is a real joy, since her sister, Lacey Mae was unable to take part this year, due to a problem with her udder.

Aren't they gorgeous?

That time of year again

Three weeks ago, H and I set off for the NSA Sheep Event in good heart. We had a great day, and a chat with George Dunn ... so what goes around comes around and I can't help but feel that this blast from the past is still relevant. Which is less than heartening!

These sheep our ours.  They didn't come along.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Green Scythe Fair

Our annual trip to the Somerset Levels and the Green Scythe Fair.

Fabulous day, the weather sunny bright and very HOT mostly, after we'd been forecast rain.

Scything is addictive, compulsive, meditative - all this as well as being a clean, green, healthy way to cut grass, make hay, and control weeds.

We are of course a two scythe family.

Haymaking by hand is a long drawn out process, and you need to be able to respond to the weather, which can be a problem when you both have full time jobs. For now our hay is mostly cut and baled by a contractor, but we're working towards the day it will be hand made.

It was lovely to see old friends and also watch and learn from the best mowers in the land.

Next Saturday is the Fleece Sale at the Dyers' Spinners' and Weavers' Guild I belong to and we hope to sell a few Oxford fleeces.

In other news, the garden is coming along well, and I am, better late than never, cracking on with cut flowers.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

First, catch your goat

Today began with a goat who was where she shouldn't have been

But she negotiated.

There was this little pickle.

And the Garden Club plant sale, at which I picked up two Daubeton's plants, having somehow managed to kill my original, I was well chuffed!

Baskets made up for daughter having a bit of a sun bathe - they won't get as much where she lives,so I thought I'd treat them.

Ended the day driving down to Glastonbury to buy two new chickens but they've gone to bed, so no pics yet!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Days Off and a Bargain

Spring is coming a bit slowly. It's still cold, and things are growing cautiously. We had a frost this week.
I've got five days off work now, and the job list is growing!
Top of the list is to disassemble and recover the polytunnel. It's way past its best, and really does need an overhaul.
I've also got a lot of seeds still to plant and lots to prick out/pot on/possibly even plant out, too.
I haven't been to see Diva the welsh pony for a while - Neil looks after her while I'm at work - but if the collie's coat is anything to go by, she'll need a good spring brush.
The sheep are already sheared, as they were due to be shown at the Bath and West, but our class has been cancelled, so no show prep to do.
One hopefully pregnant goat might need some tlc, and the two 'baby' chickens will need to be moved outside.
Not to mention a bit of a house and garden overhaul. I need five weeks off !

I am usually wary of magazine subscription deals, but I couldn't find much wrong with Kitchen Garden's £5 for three issues, plus free seeds.

Today the seeds arrived! A very good deal, I think!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

New for 2018

New start for Chestnuts in 2018, as I strive to complete my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design - and bring new projects to the land.

Our small flock of purebred Oxford Down sheep will hopefully grow this year. We aim to expand into cut flower growing. It would be good to get the goats back into milk.

Neil recently completed a hedge laying course, and started the hedge laying at Chestnuts.

Hedge laying is an ancient craft, which originated as a way to create stock proof barriers between fields. As such, the styles evolved with different livestock and different environments in mind. While we may not live to see it, our ideal would be to have fields enclosed only by living hedges - stock proof, yet wildlife friendly and beautiful to look at. The course Neil took was Somerset Style. You can see all the different styles here.

I've deleted all the bimblings and ramblings from the last two years, but retained the old stuff from 2015 and before because it has its uses. I'm not able to restore the photos at this point, but I'm working on it.