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Author Topic: New to smallholding...  (Read 3158 times)

Oly

  • Joined Feb 2013
  • South Cheshire
New to smallholding...
« on: February 20, 2013, 07:11:34 pm »
Hi,

Hmmm, an intro...my wife, young daughter and I bought a smallholding in South Cheshire with 2 acres last year and promptly knocked it down! 

It's not as bad as it sounds though, the derelict house and barn are due to be rebuilt this year with the longer term plans involving a small single bed holiday cottage in part of the rebuilt barn and a Caravan Club Certificated Site (max 5 vans) on part of the field. 

The other acre or so we're not entirely sure what to do as yet and are considering everything from wildlife habitat, DIY livery, and apple orchard/production to raising a few animals for slaughter. 

Either which way, the property has to help pay for itself and provide a retirement income in about 20+ years!  Plus we don't want to be too tied down (nothing that a house/site sitter couldn't manage) as we do enjoy travelling too...but we appreciate that compromises may have to be made!!

Having grown up in the area we have a reasonable network of Cheshire dairy farmers and a few contacts from my uncle and brother who used to breed predigree texels...but until your immersed in that world it's never quite the same looking in from the outside!

Looking forward to sharing knowledge and hearing from like minded people,
Oly
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 07:13:19 pm by Oly »

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2013, 07:25:54 pm »
Hello and welcome  :wave:

Cross the DIY livery off your list unless you have masochistic tendencies.

I'd go for fruit trees if there is a market locally for the produce, with chooks underneath. The chooks will keep the grass down, eat bugs and fertilise the soil. The trees will give them welcome cover. We're trying it now - two flocks of 40 birds under 60 odd apple trees with another 60 still to go in (roughly). Fairly easy care - short periods of intense activity punctuating longer periods of watching things grow  ;D

There are issues around the use of windfalls that may be contaminated with hen faeces (as opposed to all the other crap that gets put on fruit  :rant: )

Oly

  • Joined Feb 2013
  • South Cheshire
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2013, 08:15:22 pm »
Rosemary,

Many thanks for the warm welcome.  Yes, we had heard that about livery...thankfully we know a few people in the circles, but it still means effectively "vetting" applicants!!

Do you know if you can put sheep under apple trees without negative effects?  At present we're only thinking about taking young animals (to bottle rear or simply graze) and growing them on for slaughter.  Would it depend on when you have the sheep in relation to when the apples may be dropping??  If it does work, that way we could have a low density of apple trees (enough for our own juice/cider production!) and a couple of sheep to keep the grass down...plus it would be pretty for the guests...I wonder if it may be applicable for HLS or similar too!?  We would just need to be careful about where to plant the trees so as not to affect the ground source heat pump loop!!

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2013, 08:48:57 pm »
Hi Oly and welcome to the forum.   :wave:   It's good that you're thinking about what to do with your land rather than jumping in with both feet. 

My OH and I have caravanned on a certfied site on an cider apple farm and it certainly was a lovely setting.  It had been a mixed farm until the farmer became ill with a brain tumour and althoug much better than he was, is never going to be able to run a farm again so this was his way of keeping his farm.  He has contractors in once a year to pick the apples by machine and, otherwise, keeps the area in good condition.

We enjoyed having the trees near and I think a few chooks would have added to the appeal.

HesterF

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2013, 09:03:15 pm »
Hi & welcome! We're just a bit ahead of you having bought a place with 8 acres last May so now we have chickens, ducks and geese and we're waiting for planning permission for various bits including the conversion of one outbuilding to a holiday cottage.

We've just planted 20 odd apple trees which are all maiden or two year olds. I wouldn't trust a sheep near them for many a year. In fact the only ones I'd reckon a sheep wouldn't do much damage to are our hundred year old Bramleys which are 6m plus tall so they've got a good metre and a half before they branch (and even then a lot of the fruit would be at sheep level). I guess you could sheep proof all the trunks by caging round them but it would be hard work and you'd definitely need trees that don't branch until high up (standards, maybe half standards at a push) or some other clever pruning style where the fruit is above sheep level. Maybe for winter grazing -. I don't know whether they'd nibble the bark - we used to live next to a vineyard and sheep used to be allowed in in winter so they clearly didn't do much damage to the vines once the leaves had gone.

Oh, and I don't know what land you have but would vines work? My husband is really quite keen on planting up a vineyard on our land at the moment - he reckons that's going to be his retirement plan.

Also I've gone off the whole concept of sheep since going on a sheep course and realising quite how much maintenance they require. But that's a different thing....and I probably will still get them at some point - just on the understanding they're never likely to pay for themselves.

How about geese? Once the trees are reasonably established, they'd be a better bet. You'd still need to fence them off a bit but they're easier to keep out than sheep - plus they'd graze it for you nicely. They won't need much in the way of additional feed and you could just hatch  (or buy goslings) and grow for the Christmas market each year (alternatively Turkeys, for that matter). You could keep chickens and ducks in with them as well if the desire takes you.

Good luck with the plans!

H

Oly

  • Joined Feb 2013
  • South Cheshire
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2013, 09:11:10 pm »
Oooh so much to think about and consider!!  Many thanks for the suggestions!  And don't get me started on whether I need a compact tractor and implements!!!

HesterF

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2013, 09:19:47 pm »
Yes to compact tractor - certainly with our acreage (mostly grass) it makes a huge difference to the time taken to mow and it can cope with a lot more of the terain, not that ours is too challenging, just a bit bumpy in places. We don't have any attachments apart from the trailer which gets regularly used but we did get the connections for other bits if we want them in future. Only thing we've missed so far is the front loader which would be quite useful for moving the compost around but we're growing strong with shovelling!

H

plumseverywhere

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Worcestershire
    • Its Baaath Time
    • Facebook
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2013, 09:47:08 pm »
Hi Oly

welcome to TAS from Worcestershire  :wave:

we are very small scale with our 4 acres but have within that an orchard (plums  ::) loads of them) apples, cherries and pears. Hubby makes fruit wine - hundreds of bottles each year.
We keep sheep as lawnmowers, goats for milk to make handmade soap which I sell online and at various shops and we grow some veg, keep hens etc - all the usual  :)  We often have a livestock sitter if we go away and its easily managed with what we have

Lisa
Smallholding in Worcestershire, making goats milk soap for www.itsbaaathtime.com and mum to 4 girls,  goats, sheep, chickens, dog, cat and garden snails...

Pedwardine

  • Joined Feb 2012
  • South Lincolnshire
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2013, 11:37:14 am »
Our sheep nibble the bark on ANY trees. You have been warned  ;D

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2013, 01:11:53 pm »
Rosemary,

Many thanks for the warm welcome.  Yes, we had heard that about livery...thankfully we know a few people in the circles, but it still means effectively "vetting" applicants!!

Do you know if you can put sheep under apple trees without negative effects?  At present we're only thinking about taking young animals (to bottle rear or simply graze) and growing them on for slaughter.  Would it depend on when you have the sheep in relation to when the apples may be dropping??  If it does work, that way we could have a low density of apple trees (enough for our own juice/cider production!) and a couple of sheep to keep the grass down...plus it would be pretty for the guests...I wonder if it may be applicable for HLS or similar too!?  We would just need to be careful about where to plant the trees so as not to affect the ground source heat pump loop!!


Shropshires are the only breed that are reputed to have less of a tendency to bark trees, although young saplings would still need to be protected from them.


Geese are a good idea tho I hope they don't do to apple trees what mine do to electric fence wires....:-DDD

darkbrowneggs

  • Joined Aug 2010
    • The World is My Lobster
Re: New to smallholding...
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2013, 02:32:21 pm »
Hi there - good luck with all your plans, and welcome from Worcestershire  :wave:
To follow my travel journal see http://www.theworldismylobster.org.uk

For lots of info about Marans and how to breed and look after them see www.darkbrowneggs.info

 

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