Building a smallholding

I’m becoming increasingly impatient about this smallholding lark. We have the property, why don’t we have the immediate self-sufficient homestead? The answer, of course, is that this is a significantly larger project than either of us thought. We’ve lived here for over six months now and we’re not even close to having it running as […]

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Tree-mendous change is afoot

I’ve written before about becoming obsessed by our little orchard and how it’s progressing, and I wonder if everyone peers at every new bud with this much enthusiasm. It’s beginning to feel a bit like vanity actually, the way in which I march every visitor up to our orchard and point them at the trees, […]

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Fort fox(proof): building a luxury chicken enclosure

After the shock of finding that the chickens had all been taken by a fox last week, we decided to fortify the new poultry enclosure somewhat. It used to be a composting area behind our barn and was utterly overgrown with weeds that were literally above waist height. The irony of our loss is that […]

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The fox got our chickens

Death came to the farm last night proving that nature is indeed red in tooth and claw in the form of some mangy, vicious foxes. We were appalled to find that all six of our chickens were slaughtered last night. We found two, headless but otherwise whole, and some entrails by our fence. The other […]

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How to cheat at gardening

When we bought our much-beloved smallholding, we had great plans for the garden. I’d loved my tiny London patio beyond measure, or so I thought until I arrived here. One of the things I was really keen to do as soon as possible was to prettify the formal garden with flower border in a country […]

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Deforestation on a tiny scale

Watching trees being felled makes me very uncomfortable. Not so my oldest son, for whom the sight of chaps in high vis vests skimming 20 feet into the air to whizz about with chainsaws is second only to the circus, but I really dislike it. We recently felled a number of trees from our new […]

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Field finds: troughs for all

One of the nicest things about moving to a new house is how it can surprise you. Of course that can also be one of the worst things about a new house too (boiler breaking down the week after you move in anybody?). But in the garden I’ve been constantly surprised and pleased at the […]

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Chickeny Capulets and Montagues

I have to admit to being distressed by our chickens. I am pleased to report that although I enjoy their ridiculously pompous feathery strutting and posturing, I am still able to see them as the livestock they are rather than pets. We named this first six and so they’ll be parent hens to our meat […]

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Auditing the new orchard

When we planted our small orchard over the winter, we did so with no knowledge of how to do so. Luckily for us, the amazing Monty Don had made a short video on how to plant bare-rooted trees which we watched the morning we decided to make a start. It took us several weekends to […]

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