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Dovefromabove


Latest posts by Dovefromabove

Would you buy a smallholding?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 12:36

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/64060.jpg?width=619&height=350&mode=max

 This is a picture of the windmill after the sails had been lost.  By this time the sails were powering milling machinery housed in a nearby building.  You can just see the wheel and belt going from the mill towards a building out of picture on the right. Then the sails had been lost and the mill tower itself was been partially demolished and replaced with a substantial range of two story brick buildings housing quite a large electrically powered milling set up.  The little branch railway line had terminated in the mill yard - however when that was closed by Beeching the business became unviable - it limped on for years becoming more and more rundown - I think the business eventually became bankrupt. 

By the time we bought the property the old railway embankment had become totally overgrown with scrub and was the home of foxes, adders and so much other wildlife - absolute bliss.

Would you buy a smallholding?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 12:21

It was wonderful Pdoc, I loved it, it was at the end of a little lane in the little village where we'd lived for years and the wildlife was wonderful too - I could tell so many stories  but it was totally knackering once husband got bored with it and discovered golf (and charity work abroad) and  then I had a health problem so it was time to stop - property prices had gone up and we'd improved the property, so that was ok too.

Would you buy a smallholding?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 11:31

As I'd grown up on a farm and been a Young Farmers Club member, I'd got quite a few practical skills, particularly re animal husbandry.  I took a few short courses re keeping sheep, lambing etc at the local agricultural college. 

Later on I worked for Social Services until retirement - at my annual appraisal when looking at transferable skills my manager was sure that if she thought hard she  could find a use for my qualification in castration .........

Would you buy a smallholding?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 11:13

We would've made much more money if we'd converted the large brick milling buildings into holiday accommodation/B&B, but husband valued his privacy too much to do that - shame - that would have enabled us to take on some paid help and make a real business out of it.

And as you say, with smallholdings as with farms, lots of legal issues to consider. 

What are you getting rid of...?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 10:46

As some of you know, some of the East Anglian forum members meet up from time to time to visit gardens (and eat cake and chat).  Another major activity at these events is plant swapping

Panda has her name on some of my Jap. Anemones which she'll get next spring.

Would you buy a smallholding?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 10:32

Cont'd

We also grew veg for the house - there was no point in growing more than we needed - everyone in the village grew their own.  We grew the usual veg plus a few early potatoes - by then brother was a huge potato and veg farmer so we were kept supplied with maincrop potatoes, carrots and parsnips.

Sadly after a time I suffered a period of ill health and was no longer able to do the work needed.  By this time my husband had lost interest in the smallholding life and was involved in some charitable work overseas.  We sold up.

It had been lovely - the children still talk of their wonderful childhood running free in the countryside, playing in the woods, rivers and meadows, but it was very very hard work.  We had hard winters and I actually suffered from mild frostbite one year when carrying water to cattle when the pipes and troughs froze.

 It was fine as a hobby, but it was definitely subsidised by my husband's business.

Would you buy a smallholding?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 10:29

Been there and done it - as a farmer's daughter I'd always been involved with stock and when my brother took over the family farming business and it became totally arable I missed the animals. 

By this time I was married with young children and living in a rural village - we were able to buy a run down 9 acre smallholding and redundant mill.  Bit by bit we cut back, the hugely overgrown hedges of hawthorn and blackthorn around the three meadows, making them stockproof (more or less) and made the buildings sound again (being married to a builder meant that this was possible - it would have cost a fortune otherwise). 

I'd helped my mother keep goats on the farm, so the first animals we had were a couple of Golden Guernsey goatlings.  Before long I had a milking herd of 7 goats (producing milk and cheese), 60 rare breed poultry, assorted ducks, geese and guinea fowl. 

Each year we bought in 4 weaner pigs at a time and these were reared and fattened (the whey from the cheesemaking came in handy there) and we had a small flock of Southdown ewes (a lovely gentle natured breed who can rarely be bothered to try to escape - they were traditionally used for grazing orchards and it is said that if you paint a white line on the ground they won't go over it

We started off with a Manx Laoughtan ram but we didn't have enough ewes to keep him happy and he became rather stroppy and broke my thumb( making milking the goats tricky for a while).  After that a local farmer lent us a ram when needed, and sheared the sheep in exchange for the wool - we also took our sheep to his farm for dipping. 

Since then the regulations on movement of animals are even tighter and I think taking sheep to be dipped on another farm would not be possibe now. 

We also bought in 4 Hereford x steers at 4 months old and kept them on grass, hay, barley straw and barley meal getting them to slaughter at around 16 - 18 months.   We used a small local abbattoir owned and run by a friend - superb welfare conditions and the animals were never stressed or anxious there, resulting in the most tender beef (adrenalin toughens meat). 

In one of the brick-build mill buildings we had three large chest freezers. 

We had a small grey Ferguson tractor and a few implements - the most useful of which were the grass cutter and hay turner for the meadows.  A friend who worked on another local farm would borrow his boss's tractor and baler and help bale and stack the hay when it was ready. 

We repaid friends for their help with joints of beef, free eggs and geese at Christmas etc.  We simply could not have managed without them.  Friends were also beyond price when we discovered that a gate in the meadow with the footpath running through it had been left open and the cattle were munching their way through the village allotments and churchyard - half the village turned out with great good humour to help herd the cattle back up the lane and into their meadow again.  Several rounds of Adnams beer were provided in the local pub that evening with much gratitude. 

I'd always ridden so we also had a ride and drive Exmoor pony - he was a bad tempered so and so and a total liability - I sold him on to someone who had far more time than I and could re-school him and keep his brain busy so he didn't have time to plan his devious schemes.  After that I borrowed a friend's lovely Haflinger mare to ride.  Much the best way. 

 

Cont'd

 

What could I choose?

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 09:04

You might like to consider Adrian Bloom's book on grasses and perennials

http://thebressinghamgardens.com/adrian-bloom-best/ 

I've not read this book, but I have the utmost respect for Adrian Bloom as a gardener and garden designer, he is an inspirational speaker and his garden at Foggy Bottom is a revelation.

To cut everything down, or leave.

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 08:54

I blame Alan Titchmarsh and the popularisation of decking for at least part of the increase in the rat population over the past few years!  If ever something was designed to provide a warm, cosy home, inaccessable to any other predators and close to good food supplies it's garden decking. 

HELLO FORKERS!

Posted: 27/11/2014 at 08:35

Morning Verdun - sounds nice - grey and damp here

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