Making time to stand and stare

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It's an incredibly busy time on the smallholding at the moment. I have had several blog posts on my mind since the last one but very little to write them! Please bear with me and forgive my silence as the land requires all my physical and mental energy at the moment.

Since the Spring Equinox, hours of daylight are increasing before they culminate at the Summer Solstice. We have now passed Beltane, the half-way point between the two and in response to the lengthening days, nature is very busy. Plants are growing fast and for the tender ones, it ...

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We're setting up a veg bag scheme!

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Growing food is a huge aspect of our smallholding life and we have been growing a large part of all the fruit and vegetables we eat. This year, with the large polytunnel, we will be able to expand the growing season up in the Welsh hills and also gain extra space to grow commercially too.

When, last Summer, I heard of the Pathways to Farming programme, I jumped at the chance of taking part. The project works on increasing the number of horticultural food producers in North Powys and creating new markets for local produce. I am passionate about the ...

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Ready, Steady, Grow!

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Our new polytunnel is now up and ready! By the end of January, we had added several trailer loads of sheep and cow manure to the soil and mid-February, we spotted a window of opportunity to put the cover on when the weather forecast showed a good few days of sun, warm temperatures and no wind. We gathered a few helpers on Valentine's Day (how romantic!!!) and by the end of the day, the polythene cover was secured on the frame and the doors were fitted. Peter has done a great job with an additional trench and a pond ...

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Off to pastures new...

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You may remember, dear readers, that we decided last Summer to no longer keep sheep, after a tough lambing season forced us to re-evaluate our priorities. Whilst it was a difficult decision to make, one over which we agonised for several weeks, we felt ready to take the smallholding in a different direction. Last Sunday, after eight months of trying to sell them, our three Shetland ewes went off to pastures new.

Eight months seemed like forever and at times, we felt the odds were stacked against us! First, Summer 2018 was very dry and people were not buying extra ...

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New year, new plans, new polytunnel!

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The week before Christmas, after several failed attempts due to bad weather, work began on the siting of our new polytunnel, which First Tunnels had delivered a month previously. We want to be able to extend our growing season and have more space to grow the foods we eat a lot of. We have been "practising" with our small polytunnel and tomato greenhouse and now we are ready for a much larger growing space. We are also going to use the space to grow fruit and vegetables commercially as some local growers and I are setting up a veg box ...

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Merry Midwinter!

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“Night’s black shadows vanish, the golden sun an arc, Winter’s crystals glitter – dazzle – and banished is the dark.”

I read these lovely lines in Gillian Monks’ book “Merry Midwinter” and thought they beautifully evoked the symbolism of the Winter Solstice, which is today in the Northern Hemisphere. They resonate with the optimism that I feel deep inside me, knowing the gloomiest, darkest days are now behind us. Up to now, the dark has triumphed over the light but from today, the seemingly impenetrable obscurity thins a little to let in the delicate glow and warmth of the returning ...

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I wish I were a hedgehog!

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As I get out of bed, look out of the window and see another dark, cold and wet morning, I feel like going back under the warm duvet and curl up for more sleep. But the hens are calling to be let out of their coop and my day on the smallholding must begin… there are chores to be done, log baskets to be filled, kindling to be fetched and woodburners to light for a start. A hundred and one other things too, or so it seems when my motivation and energy levels are as low and weak as the ...

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Nature's own fireworks

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Aren't the Autumn colours beautiful? Such a fiery riot of reds, yellows, russets and oranges.

Like quiet fireworks, they illuminate our woodland-rich landscape during the daytime, just as fireworks and bonfires illuminate the night skies at this time of year. The rolling hills of Mid-Wales are a real kaleidoscope of colour as the trees continue to hang on to their burnished and rusty leaves.

In our garden, the display of autumnal colours is just as dazzling with the copper beech, the rowan and the ornamental cherries being the stars of this blazing spectacle! Their rich ruby tones have been ...

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Colchicum Autumnale

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How can it be 1st October already??! Before time runs away from me even more and the moment passes, here is something that we did in September.

We have Colchicum Autumnale, also known as Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron or even Naked Ladies, in one of our fields and we continue the work of the previous owners in counting the flowers each Autumn and passing on the numbers to the county recorder for the Botanical Society for Great Britain and Ireland.

These pretty wild flowers are rare nowadays but ours survive and thrive because the field has not been ploughed for ...

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September is here and change is in the air

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Is anyone else feeling that Autumn has been in a bit of a hurry this year? The end of the Summer seems to have occurred rather abruptly with cooler temperatures and unsettled weather pushing their way through August with much haste and determination. I have so enjoyed the long, hot days of Summer, a “proper Summer” of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out on the patio for weeks, with glorious sunshine to help us feel well from the increased amounts of vitamin D being absorbed through our skin, where our water butts ran dry a couple of times (even in ...

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