Spring has sprung

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Tomorrow is the Spring Equinox making day and night of equal length. From now on, days continue getting longer till the Summer Solstice. Spring has sprung and it feels very good!

The last week or so has been bright and sunny, with still a little chill in the air. It has been a pleasure to be outside, to soak up the Spring weather and notice how it gives me renewed energy, enthusiasm and literally a spring in my step.

Birds are busy building nests: I have seen crows carry sticks and smaller birds picking sheep's wool and moss to ...

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The wonders of Sewage processing

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One thing that attracted me to our smallholding was the fact that we are almost off-grid. It is only the electricity network that we are hooked up to and even with that we hope we feed in more electricity than we use.

One drawback of this as we discovered around Christmas is the maintenance of some quite complicated equipment, one being the sewage treatment plant. Gone are the days when your raw sewage was allowed to flow untreated into the local river and a good thing too for the environment. We have a system called a "Condor Clereflo EP05" which ...

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Seedlings

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With the sunlight levels now increasing (hurray!!), I have made a start on seedlings this week and it feels so good. They hold such promise, don't they?

Guided by the gardening team at Glansevern Hall Gardens where I volunteer, a copious amount of reading on gardening and plenty of informative conversations with people here and on social media, I have begun the process of growing parsnips, brussel sprouts, chives, basil, tomatoes, peppers and sweet peas. A gentle start to see how it goes, keeping plenty of seeds back just in case and also to stagger the growing season. I ...

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In praise of tree planting

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When we were buying our smallholding and exploring what we were going to do with our 3 acres of land, we decided that we would plant some trees. Soon after we moved here, we got in touch with The Woodland Trust for advice and found that they were actually offering grants and funding support to farmers and smallholders interested in planting trees on their land.

Through their MOREwoods scheme, The Woodland Trust make financial and practical woodland creation help available to people with a minimum requirement of 1.25 acres of land available for small woods or scattered plantings. We ...

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Moving sheep

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One thing we have come across since owning sheep is the old saying that 'sheep should not be left in the same field long enough to hear the church bell ring twice'. Our neighbour has reminded us of it a couple of times when we have left our sheep in the same paddock for longer than that!

This traditional farming practice of frequently moving grazing livestock not only serves the sheep well but also benefits the land. Our sheep are getting used to seeing us and being handled by us so it is easier to spot and treat any problems ...

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From darkness to light

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Today is the Winter Solstice, marking the shortest day of the year and the start of a new season. From this point on, daylight hours increase slowly towards Spring. I have captured a few lovely shots of the Winter sunlight (where there has been some!!). Weak, hesitant, fragile and delicate light... yet beautiful in all its frailty and presence. A light that calls for rest, reflection and renewal.

I am very aware of a part of me seeking hibernation, wanting to stay at home and curl up with a book or a magazine, needing more sleep... I feel pulled towards ...

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The force of nature

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Abigail, Barney, Clodagh and Desmond all visited us in Mid-Wales in the past month and these storms, one after the other with little respite in between, all brought with them much rain and high winds. Desmond, last weekend, was a beast: we have never experienced winds as high as these and for such a long time!

There was flooding in the Severn Valley below us and some main roads were impassable for a while as the rainwater travelled quickly down the hills to the valley where the river burst its banks. The drainage channels around our property quickly became fast-flowing ...

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Sheep

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Three months to the day since we moved here, we took our smallholding - and ourselves - through to a new phase: we have six sheep of our own. It is lovely to see them from the house; they bring new life and energy to our place.

They are Welsh Mountain ewes and we got them from a farm high up in the hills near Newtown who advertised them on a local Facebook group! How modern is that? It was good to see where they had come from and meet the farmer, a more personal approach to buying sheep than going down ...

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Past and present... old and new

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With the end of October approaching, the wheel of the year draws near Samhain - or All Saints or Halloween - and enters its darkest times between now and Midwinter. Certainly, the weather this week feels more wintery with gusty winds, noticeably less sunlight and dropping temperatures.

It is a time when the house becomes a warm and cosy sanctuary: I have made thick curtains for nearly all the windows and our woodburners are very efficient at keeping us warm. We are preparing the house – and ourselves - for winter! We have taken out the old Esse range cooker from the kitchen and ...

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First day of Autumn... some reflections

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Autumn begins today with the equinox marking a time in the year when day equals night. This is a time of balance before dark wins over light as we head towards the longer nights of Winter. There are many signs the new season is here: we have put extra layers on the bed; we have ordered a supply of logs; we are harvesting apples and organising their storage; we are tidying up the plants and taking away the last vestiges of their growth now turned to decay; I have picked a few figs and made little fig and almonds cakes ...

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