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Shane & Emma's Smallholding



March/April Update

Well as you can see my punctuality with these updates has still not improved…late again! I don’t know why it is, but the time just flies by...it is now the second week of May!!!

OK then, let’s start with the really good stuff...Finley, at the moment he has just turned 18 weeks…18 weeks!...oh my god they grow up so fast, and yes we are still gauging his age in weeks!

Below is just a small selection from the thousands of pictures we now have of him…thank heavens for digital technology!...and I have just been informed that we are having a professional set of photos as well!!!...And apparently I'm not even allowed to do rabbit fingers!

March was pretty quite for the smallholding mostly tiding up after winter waiting for new arrivals and preparing for the coming change of weather…and what a change in weather we had…those Prince fans out there will understand when I say “Sometimes it snows in April”

From super warm February to snow in April?!?!?

Ok then, lets move on to our first new arrivals, these little guy’s were born 1st April, they are a cross between their mom who is a large black (breed…not insult!) pig and their father who is a GOS…these have been bred for fantastic tasting pork…in fact the experiment we did this time last year when we bought in some GOS x Large Black crosses were so successful that 6 of the 8 little piggies have been pre ordered for others to raise, which means that I don't have enough pork myself!!!

Check out their little pink feet…That’s their Pa’s influence.

We are thinking that a second large black sow might be in order as we really enjoy having pigs and piglets, also you guys can't seem to get enough.

Mary and Elsa are both getting larger…a very good sign that they are pregnant…I believe they call that deduction!

Dee Dee has had a fortunate turn of events in that we have a couple of fellow smallholder friends that also keep Dexter’s and are looking for a new heifer (those that were paying attention in the February update will know that that’s a female that has not calved yet...those that were not paying attention…pull ya socks up!) and they have a beef bull…you’ve got it...Swapsies, they get an excellent heifer and we get Dexter beef…here it comes…Mmmmm Beef!

Dee Dee gets to do what she was born to do and should become a fantastic cow, we are happy that our first born calf goes on to produce more rather that fill the freezer, so all in all a good little deal…all involved gets a result, by the way…whatever happened to Swap Shop?

You’ll remember that last year we bought the field next door, it was is a state of what is know as “set aside” basically it’s agricultural land that is not being used…by the farmer. Consequently very weedy and over grown…normally this would be fine as you can “top” the grass/weeds etc with a huge lawnmower and the cows/sheep can munch away, unfortunately their was a fair amount of ragwort weeds within the field…Ragwort is a ruminants (grass eater) worst enemy…if eaten it poisons the animals liver…not nice…so the whole field had to go…drastic but probably the most effective way for me to remove the Ragwort!

Good news is that the field has been ploughed, tilled, farrowed, seeded and a whole other set of farmer terms that I don’t understand…bottom line is that this year we will have a most luscious green field.

When selecting which grasses to plant and let me tell you that grass is most defiantly not grass! They even have a grass catalogue! We tried to think about the animals that will be eating it and have tried to vary the grasses, so we have about seven types of grass that all have different properties…we then added to that a “wild flower” mix…this will supply a number of healthy homeopathic plants for our grass munchers…It will also look very attractive whilst growing for hay.

At the mo though this is how it looks…blooming marvellous…the beginning of a whole new episode in our “little” smallholding.

When we bought our smallholding we inherited an “Efel” which is a wood burning stove (like an Aga but not as pretty), a wood store full of logs and no idea on how to operate such a device!?!?...well we have been learning and we can now operate Efel to provide our hot water, central heating and cooking…ok burning of foods whilst we establish how to cook with her…and as the price of fossil fuels – oils, gas and electricity are going up all the time we have set ourselves a task of using Efel for all our hot water and heating needs…old technology in a modern environment…marvellous…I have even gone as far as to start a woodland to be self sufficient in fire wood…It's only the beginning but there are 31 Chestnut (Conker) trees here, we are going to add Ash, Willow, Cherry, Apple and any other tree to make this a pleasant little woodland.

we are also planning to install a solar hot water system for the summer months…the logic is sound…we'll keep you updated, albeit late updates no doubt!!!

Yeah...I reckon five years and this'll look just fab.

Here’s our Efel…late seventies styling at its best!

Other new arrivals include these little chicks, Buff Orpington hens we hope.

On the chicken front we are happy to introduce some of our new egg layers…now, these are battery rescue hens about 20 of them…so some of the following pictures show the condition that these guys arrive in…no lectures regarding eggs, not our thing…we are just happy to have been able to stop these few hens going into chicken pies!

Finally on the chicken front, Our Buff Orpington cockerel "Jaffa" has passed onto the great big chicken run in the sky...bit sad really as he was ever so friendly and single handedly  (winged) turned more than the odd "Townie" into a smallholder...he was also a favourite with the kids

We do have a replacement for him as we could see Jaffa was thinking of retirement, we haven't named him because he just ain't as friendly as the ol boy...still a very good example of a Buff Orpington cockerel.


On the lamb front we have done a bit of a u turn…seems only fitting as even the government seem to be doing it at the mo...10p...say no more!...well we thought about not having any rare breed lambs as the cost were getting so deer...deer get it? anyhow, when we started we wanted to raise rare breed animals to help keep them going and the meat was the by product, not just to raise meat, so we are going to have another go at finding the right rare breed lamb for us to raise and all of us to enjoy…we think that we are going to try Manx and Portland lambs this year…we’ll keep you posted.

On a personal note...get ready for this it'll really make you jealous! I have decided to take a break from the 9 to 5 working lifestyle and taken on the 5 to 9 smallholding one, the plan is to take at least the summer off for Emma and I to enjoy our son's first year (they call it building a good parent-son foundation) I can it a bloody joy!

I'll also use the time to "finish" some of our smallholding projects...family garden, raised veg plot, finishing the barn that kinda thing...whilst getting as much family time as possible.

My "break" started at the end of March...and I am around 6 weeks into it...it's pretty hard going you know!...Told ya you'd be jealous, and of coarse I will keep you updated as to how I am finding the "bum" lifestyle.

And finally…No update would be the same without our little Willow, enjoying a snowball fight.

That’s it for another update we hope you enjoyed it.

Shane, Emma and Finney D


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