Friday 27 April 2012

Cutting Ties

Well now it really feels as though the gamble to move to our smallholding has paid off.
Today we sold our old house, it wasn't without complications but now its sold and its one less (major) thing to worry about.
Our old house in a lovely village

We loved our old house, but it was never what I really wanted long term as it was in the middle of village with just a normal sized garden. I'd filled this garden to bursting point with veg, fruit, chickens and sheds but I always knew I wanted more land in the end. It was the perfect first house and we had five lovely years and some great memories, but no regrets about moving on.
The old garden - Not quite enough space for all I want to grow!
The old house was much bigger and we do miss the inside space a bit but with all the land we've got now I'm sure that, with planning, we can extend in a couple of years time depending on work and finances. As well as this we're in a much quieter area with beautiful views and 5 acres with endless possibilities!
Its always risky buying somewhere else without selling your other house first but I'm so glad we took the risk as its paid off.
Bye bye old house enjoy your new owners!

Sunday 15 April 2012

Nettle Soup

Last week we had our first meal from our smallholding, nettle soup! It's going to be a while until our veg is ready to eat so I thought a foraged meal would be a better place to start.

Unfortunately, finding the nettles was far too easy.
Collecting your nettle in a old Waitrose bag makes them feel posher
The recipe i used goes as follows:
One carrier bag of nettles,
One onion,
Two garlic cloves,
One potato
1200ml of stock
salt and pepper

Adding them to the saucepan in batches as they soon wilt down
Fried the onion in a little oil till softened, then added the diced potato and garlic. fry these for 5 minutes before adding the stock and the nettles (well washed).
Wilted down nettles
Leave this to cook for 20 minutes then blend it together 

Blend it
Nice, cheap tea
 Although the soup was nice it did taste a little like it was missing something, maybe some herbs and spices would have improved it - anyone with any suggestions?

Sunday 8 April 2012

A Rather Large Chicken Run

A productive weekend. Managed to do some stuff to the house yesterday and today I finished the chicken wire! As well as this I back filled all the soil for the whole garden fence, a horrible job and one I've been putting off.

Nice sized chicken pen
Whilst fixing the wire round the chicken pen I've been whistling the tune to Jurassic park, I think I may have made this pen too big! Still I've got the space and I'd rather it was to big than too small.

a waste pile of soil in the middle will give them something to dig through
I now need to make a gate and build a coop before I can get any chicken. Still not sure what type to get, it's a toss up between hybrids that will lay well all year (ish) or rare breeds with the possibility of selling any birds that I can rear but slightly less in the egg production department.
Which way do you think I should go?

Sunday 1 April 2012

Planting A Little Coppice

I'm not sure what everyone else got up to on Friday night, but I planted 10 sweet chestnut trees.

A Bucket of Sin - I should have planted these weeks ago.
I've decided that the corner of 2 acre field is going to become a little coppice for firewood. For the next few years we've got plenty of firewood coming in, from taking a few trees down to taking off some of the large overhanging limbs from the old oaks, but I need to plan for what wood we've got after that. That's why a few weeks ago I brought 10 sweet chestnut trees on line with the aim of starting a little coppice.

It might not look much but it's a start
Not only will this provide me with some firewood but it will be great for wildlife and somewhere fun for the kids to play. It's late to be planting trees and I know I should have done it earlier but we've been so busy I haven't had time. The plan is to find some young hazel and ash saplings to add to this little coppice so there will be trees growing at different rates and sizes.

The Budds are just ready to break
I also planted two rowan trees in the same area today, but they wont be for firewood - more for their berries! The only trouble is this is another area I've got to fence off - I'll be sick of that post basher by the end of the year!
Any other ideas for fast growing firewood that coppices well?

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