Winter smallholding planning

Warning* This is going to be a long post with lots of admin in it*

I am sitting in my kitchen. It’s a lovely Autumn day today, the sun has been shinning,but after spending the morning harvesting I have decided to come inside and do some essential research and planning that will move our little project here forward this winter.

I am multi-tasking, as I have a large piece of Venison in the oven slow roasting, it smells amazing. This is the first piece of non Sencemeadow meat we have bought in a year, so I am really looking forward to trying it. Becky’s aunt got hold of a whole deer for us from a local (to her) source down in Sussex. The deer was culled as part of a management programme to ensure the continued health of a semi wild herd. £80 for a whole deer, what a bargain! We have 4 very large roasting joints (enough for 6 people each), and a load of stewing meat along with the offal. We may be giving away a few pieces to family, but in the main we will be eating it over the course of the year. It travelled back from Sussex frozen, wrapped in a wool blanket and did not defrost which is pretty amazing. I have completed the essential sizzle part of the roast, and now it is cooking in earnest. I have learnt a valuable lesson today, don’t wear a long beaded necklace when leaning over a basting tin…oh well, at least it can washed.

So picture me, sitting in my kitchen typing away, with the smell of a fantastic roast dinner floating through the air.

Winter Projects 2011

  •  Pasture management

This winter we need to apply some lime to the pasture. We have a bad case of buttercups which, if left, will eventually destroy the quality of the grazing. Buttercups occur because the pasture is too acidic. Buttercups thrive in acidic soil more than grass, so eventually they take over. (Cue horror film music). In order to tackle this properly, we need. A local  soil testing facility, somewhere to buy lime and a method to apply it. Some links to follow-up.!soil-testing

Lime info

Seems like a contractor might be the way to go. Buy the lime inclusive of spreading. Need to look in our local rural trader for contractors for a quote.

  • Goose House

We have had some pretty terrific high winds for this time of year and the home-made pallet craft goose house may be on its last legs. Below are some options for more robust replacement. Carbery arc looks good and versatile.

Also considering a second-hand children’s plastic playhouse from ebay. These are about £30 rather than £300. We would need to use hammerite and spray it.

  • Hedging

More on this and the headings below in a later post

  • Apple trees
  • Grape Vines
  • Footpath hedge management

Tree Stakes in the Forest Garden (RJ highjack)

As we have now decided our forest garden, while growing, would make a good overwinter pasture for the sheep, we need to think about protecting the young trees we planted last year. The sheep are quite naughty and will basically just eat them all if we leave them be, in fact they will think it is Christmas. I’ve found this company who seem to do some suitable protection and suggest that it is all about the staking with deer and sheep. They look pretty robust and easy to assemble/put in. It will take a while as there are around 30 trees to deal with in that area, but it will be worth it.

They do ‘shelterguards’ or ‘treeguards’, the difference seeming to be that the former are made of material that encourages a micro-climate around the tree and stimulates growth. The material they are made of is photodegradable too and is expected to last 5 years, which would hopefully be enough growing time. We would need 1.2m tubes , each with 2 stakes (25mm) , which all together would be about £120. We’d also need some additional ties (2 for each tree), which will be extra, but I’ll have to call about that as I’m not sure which are the most suitable.


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