My mind has been on other things this summer, I found it really difficult right from the start of the year to do all of the work that had to be done on our smallholding and look after our three lovely children, and work and be a housekeeper, you either have to be single/childless/doing farming as a living/have lots of support to really do well with a project like this. I had also felt like I have failed a tiny bit this year particulary with the vegetable growing, curiously my veg growing was much more prolific in the days where I had just a couple of raised beds in a normal house garden, I think it was easier to concentrate on a small area, the size of vegetable ground we have now is just a mass of overwhelming overgrown-ness! but dispite my neglect i was surprised to see this evening when i went down to the poly-tunnel (the first time for weeks and without having watered it at all) there were a surprising number of things still growing, beautiful aubergines, tomatoes and chillis hanging off their plants like jewels, there were even some strawberries left. I feel quite reflective because I have now done three years here which has been such a major learning curve that it makes my head spin.
I had no idea how to pick up a hen or to look after livestock before we started this, I feel like I lived, we all live, in a bit of a bubble away from the work involved in the business of food. I could cook before and actually I probabaly enjoyed cooking more before…before I realised I had to make choices about my food. I had been a vegetarian for some time and I thought it was better to eat veggie sausages than their meat alternative but I spared no time to think about the environmental cost to produce this processed food. Now I’m really not sure what I think, it definately deserves more thought, i’m not done with this, maybe just less of both things?
I have discovered that keeping pigs unless you have the space and ‘stuff’ to breed from them is too hard, you need some sort of payoff to justfy the killing of them which comes around far to quickly. They were wonderful and I feel blessed to have known and kept them, I enjoyed their company more than I enjoy sausages!
I knew I wanted hens but they were much more rewarding than even I could have imagined- however I am enjoying my break from them(igave them away last month so we could make more of the summer holiday). I have liked being away to go away a bit this summer and not having to drag myself out in the evening to shut them in if the weather is less than perfect, given the chance though in the future I will get more, I’m not going to get rid of the hen house yet.
Sheep, my beloved girls I think have been the most wonderful of all of my success stories. I didn’t really want to have sheep to start with it was really ffinlo’s idea but that was back in the days before I realised you could love a sheep! really love it just like a pet dog. Ma and Badger were my favourites an now I find that I am in a place where I can’t keep them I am actually ‘giving away’ my two favourite girls to a man who I know will really look after them an not turn them into burgers! money is not important with these two.
I’ve also really enjoyed the bi-products of sheep namely the fleece. I have learnt to felt with it and I have made rugs with it using my beloved ‘latch hooks’ a tool which needs no electricity to power it just patience and happiness. I’ve sent some fleece off to be both spun into wool and turned into pre-felt, I feel like i need to make something REALLY great out of them. I HAVE to be able to keep them forever to remember when I am a really old lady.
Our life is changing with the season however.