Smallholding dreams for 2018

New year’s resolutions have always seemed a bit big when they’re a total lifestyle change, so for years we’ve tried to make a list of smaller things we’d like to achieve in the next twelve months. In that vein, I’ve started to think about all the things that we want to do on our smallholding and frankly the list is somewhat overwhelming. But this is a long term plan, and so I’m trying to put together a list of the top ten things I want us to achieve next year:

  1. Sort out the boundaries: our land is largely fenced in by stock fencing which isn’t in brilliant condition and in the short time we’ve been here we’ve had multiple dogs manage to get in and charge about whilst their owners howl ineffectually at them from the fences. Less than ideal with a toddler (himself a bit of an escape artist and excellent fence climber) around. So we need to fix the boundaries.
  2. Plant up the front garden: We had the front garden altered to make a decent amount of parking space and that’s left us with four lovely empty flower beds to fill in front of the house as well as the borders going all the way around. I’m planning a pretty country romantic scheme and can’t wait for the ground to thaw!
  3. Put up the polytunnel: My lovely husband gave me the most amazing gift for Christmas in the form of a polytunnel that I am itching to get up so that we can grow as much of our own food as possible
  4. Start rearing our own livestock for meat: We’ve got plans for two pigs, four lambs and 25 meat hens in 2018. It’s all a bit full on but we’d like to start eating our own meat as soon as possible.
  5. Start making our own compost and leaf mould: We’ve actually got two compost bins in a handy little fenced off area behind our barn. The whole thing is lousy with weeds taller than me and it took me weeks to work out what the enclosure was but I think that if I clear the weeds, it’ll be a really handy place to make my own compost.
  6. Start growing things that take a long time to grow: We’ve made a good start already with the orchard and the fruit bushes, none of which will really crop in any meaningful sense this year, but I’d like to add an asparagus bed next autumn, and to plant garlic and rhubarb and all of those other things that take more than a year to establish.
  7. Build our own stock fencing for our animals: We’ve had various quotes for large amounts of stock fencing where we couldn’t hope to repair our current boundary alone (with three acres, it’d take up every weekend for the next year) so we’ll get the professionals in for that. However, when it comes to fencing in the animals I think we’ll have a go ourselves. We have quite a lot of old stock fencing that we need to take down (again, we’ll do it ourselves) and we can just re-use it where possible to try to avoid waste. This may be one resolution we live to regret!
  8. Set up a wildlife haven: We’ve long wanted to help wildlife and we finally have enough space to feel we can make a real difference. I’m not sure we’ll actually get around to installing the pond we so desperately covet this year, but at the very least we can ensure we’ve got some piles of rotting wood, and some bat / bird boxes and hedgehog holes in the fencing.
  9. Make a start on the kitchen and flower gardens: I’ve got big plans for our outdoor kitchen and cut flower gardens, and I don’t think I’ll manage to get it all done this year, but I’d like to make a start at least, and think I should be able to get the vague outline in place. We’re going to try to make our own raised beds in 2019, but this year I should be able to grow a decent amount straight in the ground.
  10. Make our own: Whilst many of the things we’re planting will be in their infancy and so I doubt we’ll be making cider with our own apples just yet, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to lay down a wonderful store of soups, sauces and other delicious homegrown edibles this year. You never know, I might even get enough raspberries to make a sorbet!IMG_1246

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We farm a three acre smallholding in Hampshire, England, having fled London in pursuit of the good life for our little family. We mess about with an assorted menagerie and try to be as self-sufficient as possible in meat and fruit and vegetables whilst enjoying our plot and an outdoors lifestyle with our son. I am the luckiest person that I know.

5 thoughts on “Smallholding dreams for 2018

  1. Sounds like a plan! We’re just purchasing a one-acre smallholding in Kent – like you we’re escaping from London, although I’ll still have to commute in for work. We’ll have rescue chickens, and maybe a couple of pygmy goats, but they’ll all just be pets. We already have 15 cats – not sure how that happened! Luckily we have an established orchard with 30 types of heritage apples, according to the current owner, plus pears and figs. Homemade cider is definitely in the plan. It’s all rather overgrown and rather daunting at this stage, and I won’t fully relax until we’ve at least exchanged contracts. But there’s a greenhouse and polytunnel waiting, at least 4 chicken runs, a pig run which will become something else, plus the formal and front gardens. There’s also a 3-room outbuilding which will be our craft centre, and a big open barn. Looking forward to the good life and I’ll be following your progress with an encouraging smile and cheering you on 🙂

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    1. How exciting! I can tell you it’s the most wonderful thing we’ve ever done and I’m sure you’ll feel the same. I’m interested in your plan for pygmy goats, do you happen to know if they eat nettles? I’ve been thinking of one as a foster goat to clear one of our paddocks. How marvellous that you have a mature orchard, I’m so jealous, ours is basically a bunch of rather forlorn looking twigs poking from the ground! Best of luck, I shall follow your progress!

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  2. I know they mainly eat hay but yes they eat all kinds of weeds – we’re very much at the planning stage. They tend to avoid those plants that are naturally poisonous to them. I think they’re browsers rather than grazers, so won’t clear a field the way sheep will. The guy who currently owns the smallholding kept goats but says they’re escape artists and quite noisy. He kept pigs as well as he ran his own smokery, although that doesn’t interest us. He’s had geese in the orchard but has rehomed his geese and chickens as he’s moving to a smaller property. Yeah I’m delighted by the orchard; I’ve put up some pics on my blog of the whole site. There’s going to be a lot of graft involved; we’ll grow veg in the polytunnel during the first year while we tackle the rest. I’m interested in the Charles Dowding no-dig approach, so we’ll strim down all the growth, and lay cardboard on top for it to break down. We used to have an allotment but this is a whole other ballgame!

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    1. I think it’s marvellous, and wish you all the luck in the world! It’s brilliant fun, there seems to be a bit of a shift towards this kind of lifestyle at the moment and I think it’s brilliant. The graft is well worth it, it’s so satisfying!

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