Exactly a year ago, Martina and I set out on a journey of discovery. The better part of 8 acres of Barren and Un-Kept land was purchased. And we have set about the task of converting this wasteland in to a Smallholding.
Now the first thing to point out is one we are both in our 50’s [ her just in and me nearly out 😉 ] I have a full time job where I work a 38 hour week (but over 4 days) this gives us Friday Saturday and Sunday to actually work together up at our German named farmstead “Der Bauernhof” which is German for the “The Farm” .
As with all new adventures we have had ups and downs along the way but generally we have coped well with our new lifestyle. We have HOWEVER Achieved a huge amount considering we are “part time” at present . The “Plan” is to eventually live in a wholly self sufficient ,self-contained lifestyle , but to render this possible first we have had to make the land usable then we need to acquire all the prerequisites for a productive smallholding , you know the score ! As landowners you DO NOT have the automatic right to live on your land You must prove to the local authority that you ,
- Need to be on the land to tend stock etc.
- that you can support yourself from the said piece of land.
- You can overcome the many and various objections to you wishing to do this.
But in our case we had the added hurdle of having a hunk of land that had been left to turn to wilderness by the previous owners. So we had to start by removing 15yrs + of overgrowth ( I cannot begin to explain fully how bad it was the brambles were 5 ft high the Bracken grew through them and the Stinging Nettles grew through them both ,we let the subsequent photos give a clearer idea ) then the property had fencing of sorts only on parts ,So we set about this with nice new posts and mole valley fencing. We have cleared trees and bracken and more brambles than you can point a stick at but the end product is awesome.We have over come planning objections and built a barn / kid weaning shed , we have moved thousands of tonnes of earth to make access to the lower fields easier and it had the added bonus of the earth was put on top of a bog thus pushing the trapped water out and down our central gully. We may have a piece of land that is on a hill but everywhere you turn there is a spring we have diverted as many as we can in to our central gully and “MADE” a new stream that runs down the outer edge of the field to the collection point where we intend to build our reservoir and power station . We do occasionally get new springs pop up when we have moved something and will in due course endeavour to re-direct these to the same location.
Our only livestock at present are Store Pigs bought in as weaners and will hopefully be big enough to consume by Christmas or January . We did name them ( people said we should not due to you getting an attachment to them , However we have named everything else inanimate or living so they got named Salt, Pepper and Porky Scratchings.
The forward plan is to raise Kid Goats for meat ! Billies as they are plentiful and reasonably priced. Have some chickens and turkeys and a couple of Guard Geese . We fancy a few odd animals ie. Pygmy goats , rare breed sheep etc. but that will come .
The horticultural side of the business will be a mixture of the exotic ( wasabi ) and the mundane ( brassica’s / Strawberries / tomatoes ) the former in an AquaPonics system the latter in HydroPonics . There is plenty of room to plant a cash crop of Potatoes double cropped with probably Kale as that is one of the success stories from our “Test” bed this year. Unless someone out there can tell me of a use for “Dock” because that grows 6 inches overnight.
The following pictures are in rough date order and show what we started with and where we are thus far.