W ell we thought that we should bring you right up to date with the smallholding.
As usual we have been really busy, so we’ll crack straight on as normal with a few pictures of Finley, every week see’s a difference in his development…and I can't believe how quickly the time passes…I have been at home with Finley for over 1½ years now!!!
First 99 ice cream...enjoyed in the company of the delightful Taya.
I am not sure if we have mentioned this in previous updates but when Emma first started taking Finley to nursery group she chose one that did sign language, I think she had read about the benefits in a trendy baby mag!...and I, like I suspect most blokes just went along with it…anyway, it wasn’t long before we saw the benefits, from a very early age Finley was able to tell us that he was hungry, thirsty, tired or just wanted to play, there was very little in the way of frustration due to us not understanding what he wanted…and now, it has just grown from strength to strength and we would highly recommend it…if you are interested and I know this will only effect a very few of you, you can get a whole lot more info at www.makaton.org
Also on the Finley front, we went for our first proper canoe ride through the village of Deeping St James on the River Welland with our friends Tom and Debbie and their family, we canoed for just over an hour and Finley absolutely loved it…I was very impressed, he even managed to fell asleep towards the end…
I think we are going to get a great deal of pleasure from our little canoe.
Young Finley is really getting into this outdoor lifestyle, we were at friends recently for a bit of a smallholders bash and he found his way to the pony!
Here he is walking with star (the pony) who is owned by Jo. I am really pleased that he likes horses so much…but scared in case he wants one...I really will be poor then!
We seem to be flush with media attention at the moment, Since the last update we have had another article written about us, this time by the Independent magazine, all about us and other families that have made the move, I have added it to the media page on the left as you would expect, so if you fancy a read have a butchers…The other good thing about the whole process is that we got to meet one of the nicest photographers your ever likely to run into, a guy called Jonathan Worth, in fact he sent us a few decent snaps for the website, including our new one on the homepage.
Jonathan insisted that the above one was included!
You can check out Jonathon’s website at www.jonathanworth.com a pretty cool site, a real pleasure to work with…and you just know how fussy us famous people are these days!
We also recently found out through friends of ours that a recently published book – “Living off the Land - essential guide to organic living by Charlottes Jarvis” has some great pictures of our smallholding in.
I guess we must be doing something right!...mind you they didn’t tell us they were being published, so we’ll have to have a chat!
Right then, back to business, new arrivals…as usual the ever consistent Maximus (Dexter Bull) has charmed our girls because we are the proud owners of two little calves Oxo and Treacle they were born within a week of each other in the middle of July.
The herd, from front to back Treacle, Elsa, Bovril, Violet, Oxo and finally Mary...the head cow.
Maximus is due back to us towards the end of September to start the whole process again, this farming life just gets better and better.
Our inexperienced ram also did a good job, we had another lamb born on the 7th August…that’s it now we are not expecting any more lambs…the last one that may have been preggers is well past her delivery due date so we can now categorically stat that she’s a fat “un”, sorry a well kept ewe!
That brings a close to our little lambing experiment, and with it a decision that I am far to fragile (mentally) to be a Shepherd, as the willingness of the ewes to create as many difficulties during the lambing process is outstanding. Anyway, I have decided that I am no longer going to raise lambs...That said, Emma thoroughly enjoyed bringing new life onto the world, so much so that she really wants to continue...So watch this space!
At this juncture we really should offer up our appreciation to Judith one of our goat keeping smallholder friends and all round nice gal, for all the support and help during lambing, without Judith's assistance I would have even less hair than I have currently!...Thanks Judith.
That’s it on the animal front, apart from the fact that we are currently waiting for our first home produced beef…yep you heard right, it has only taken three years too get to this position with our own grass fed free ranging rare breed beef…no fast food here!
Violet our little short legged Dexter has gone off to the butchers, and starts our beef production, which we will continue with by raising a couple of calves each year for the freezer, that should keep us supplied with some of the most delightful tasting beef we could hope to get a hold off (without paying a fortune!)…Yes, I can here you already…there will be some available, not much mind, we plan on producing 25Kg boxes of mixed beef (the beef will be divided by the butcher into equal boxes (25Kg each)). If you are reading this and think that I really want to be a part of this, then you better get your socks on as most of the available beef has been booked, I only have a couple of boxes left…so if interested mail me and we’ll sort out delivery/collection/cost etc.
Right then, this’ll tickle you, in my attempt to remain a stay at home daddy…or as I prefer, semi-pro bum…I have turned my hand at several things to try and make the smallholding pay it’s own way, my latest adventure was to give a speech at the Women’s Institute in Grantham on our lives as smallholders…Oh my giddy aunt…what was I thinking!!!
I was encouraged by Debbie who is the current president of the Grantham WI http://www.granthamdiywi.org too run a talk after we met at one of our chicken training days, you’ll get a speakers fee and you can sell any of your produce “of course, I’d love too” I heard the words come out of my mouth but hadn’t realised the gravity of their meaning!
We’ll I had plenty of time till the “talk” so it sat and festered in the back of my mind for a little while…always there, reminding me that sometimes I really do speak without thinking!
Then all of a sudden I had four days before the talk and I hadn’t prepared a thing! So I re-read Debbie’s requirement e-mail…and realised that I had agreed to speak on smallholding for an hour…yeah, alright I agree, this would not normally be an issue for me…but…this was for the W.I.
Emma and I spent the following four days preparing photo’s and a presentation, we also took a stall full of our produce including sausages, preserves and jams (I know, jams to a W.I meeting!!!)…and we also took a secret weapon…three cute Orpington chicks.
Then, we were there…in the meeting place of the Grantham W.I…Emma and I set up and before long, I heard the words I was dreading...“Shane will now give us a talk on smallholding” as I walked to the front of the stage, I'm certain I could hear “dum dum de dum” in the background.
Anyway, an hour and half past and I was still yakking, the talk was going fantastic, all the girls at the W.I. where great, really getting into what we were trying to achieve with our lifestyle, loads of questions and it was really good fun…It really is true…if you have a passion about something it always seems to shine through…that and, once I get started you really can’t shut me up!
In celebration of the last three years at our current smallholding and to thank all of you that have supported us, from help on the holding to buying the goods that are produced which gives us a welcome cash injection, to just enjoying what we have with us…we had a party!
The party started on a warm, mid August Friday evening, with the main event on the Saturday and concluded Sunday morning…well, I say morning…but, you get my drift!
It was great to see all of you that could make it and for those that missed out, don’t worry there will be others…unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a single photo of the events of the weekend so you’ll just have to image the fun we had.
And finally, as always we’ll end with a picture of Willow...expending energy as usual!
That only leaves us to say goodbye until next time, and to just reiterate our thanks for your continuing help and support without which, this 5 - 9 lifestyle would be just unachievable, Thank you.
Bye for now.
Shane, Emma, Finley, Willow and all at the Smallholding.