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Author Topic: Take the plunge and bite the bullet  (Read 1990 times)


  • Joined Feb 2017
Take the plunge and bite the bullet
« on: February 14, 2017, 04:26:25 pm »

My partner and I have both been interested in smallholding since before we met. Her family have kept livestock to some degree (ranging from a few fowl and pigs to a full 50 acre farm) for many generations in rural Poland and I was raised in Devon where some degree of small holding was common. I kept a few fowl when I was at University and grew most of my own veg on an allotment sized garden.

Some years ago two of my cousins moved to France with their families and one is a horticulturalist and the other grows veg and shares his land with the smallholder next door in return for some meat. My brother now has a holiday home in the same hamlet - and charmed with the opportunities, my partner and I have now just purchased a fair sized house with just under 6 acres of land - which we will use as a holiday home (although I will work from there for 3-4 months of the year in due course, and maybe more). We will eventually retire there, but until then will split our time between London and France.

Most of the land is to the south of the house, up a gently sloping field, in which I intend to try my hand at my real passion - wine making. Whilst near the Loire Valley it is outside the DOC so I have no restrictions on what I can grow or how I produce - as it will be for personal consumption. Local Vintners will have some fun with the eccentric Brit and has experimental wines!

But what excites us most is the possibility for turning some of the land over to growing our own veg and meat. To the north of the house, is a small field which slopes down to the road/lane up to the village. There is a barn which I intend to use to put livestock in when cold, as well as store etc. I will also keep livestock here, and in a run at the top of the southern field which is in shadow from a long live of tall fir trees. By the lane is about an acre of "scrub" which I think I will put pigs on.

Our first job will be to clear about three acres of overgrown scrub which will in time become the vineyard - so we will be deploying pigs and goats accordingly.

I think the idea is that we will "borrow" livestock from neighbours who will use the land and take care of their livestock on our land until we retire there full time. We cannot manage the care of the livestock if we are only there for weekends. 

I think I will also need to think about where to put the veg garden - there is a half acre plot at the bottom of the north facing field which doesn't seem to be in too much shade, but I will do some research before planting there.

It will all be very exciting. Any tips, hints and advice very much welcome.

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Take the plunge and bite the bullet
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 11:03:21 pm »
 :wave: and welcome to TAS from Shropshire. Sounds like you've got it all thought out. Wonder if you'll last until you retire or if you'll find your way out there earlier.


  • Joined Feb 2017
Re: Take the plunge and bite the bullet
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 11:12:03 pm »
Well, that is the exact question we ask ourselves, and get asked regularly. I suspect that in time the "commute" back to London will seem less like coming home and more like going away for work. I suspect that within a few years we will be spending increasing amounts of time in France and will then simply decide "that's it" - and move more or less full time. I can hopefully manage to work from both France and London so.....


  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Take the plunge and bite the bullet
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2017, 06:37:33 am »
Hi Vinologist. Moving between London and France is very easy and cheap now with the budget airlines- our neighbour comes over about 15 times a year. You need to keep records though as the French will need proof that you are not resident for tax here. They do check up.

Another neighbour sold their smallholding last year. It was advertised as having a vineyard with the maximum 100 vines for personal consumption. It works on the basis that one vine produces one bottle and 100 bottles is the most that a family should sensibly consume in a year. Above that and it is classed as a business and needs registration of some sort. You need to look into that carefully.

Stuff grows at an alarming rate here and veg can 'cook' in the ground in Summer without a covering of mulch and a lot of watering, so that's something else to consider. Good luck with your project.


  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: Take the plunge and bite the bullet
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2017, 07:40:09 am »
Sounds wonderful. Welcome to the forum
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits


  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Take the plunge and bite the bullet
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2017, 08:24:24 am »
Hi and welcome from Ceredigion  :wave: I must admit I am a tad bit envious  ;D All the best with everything though. Just one point, if you do intend to get livestock, 6 acres isn't much as well as a vineyard on top.
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.


  • Joined Feb 2017
Re: Take the plunge and bite the bullet
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2017, 11:53:53 am »
Thanks for all the replies - and the advice on "personal consumption" of wine from Chrismahon (I shall look closely at this issue and see what the law says). My cousin lives 15m from our house and she is a horticulturalist, flower producer and keeps sheep on her 20 acres - she will offer solid advice I think.

As for Waterbuffalofarmer's point, keeping livestock, we have half an acre for pigs (as well as some woodland which is probably another acre), quarter of an acre for sheep, and  about the same (when we fence it properly) for some goats. We will only have 2/3 pigs and 2/3 sheep - essentially for meat. The goats.....well, I would happily eat them but I suspect they will be regarded as family by my partner!

Any tips welcome!


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