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Tales from an Anglesey smallholding No 2 – the road less travelled – to self-sufficiency

Tales from an Anglesey smallholding No 2 – the road less travelled – to self-sufficiency
19th April 2020 Admin

Hi everyone out there in Bryn Celyn land ………….

Ron and I hope that you are all safe and well. We’ve been in lockdown for about three weeks now. I thought it was about time that I blogged again….

 

Back to basics !

The original purpose of this blog was to tell the story of how Ron and I relocated from suburbia to smallholding ……… I must have posted about six or seven blogs about this journey. I really enjoyed writing and posting, but I think that the story is now pretty much told. We are here at Bryn Celyn…….. We are in lockdown……… The shop and café are closed …….  The gate to our property is   shut …. No one is driving past…….. It’s very, very, quiet ………..

But I am going to keep on blogging, so that I can keep in touch with you, our regular customers and occasional readers. So, if you are someone who comes into the farmshop for a breakfast or a lunch……… or someone who finds this blog by accident……. just leave a message….. keep in touch……

So, now my blog will be about our life on the Bryn Celyn small-holding …………. In particular, I am going to be talking about how we are taking little steps towards self-sufficiency …. There will be other “bits and pieces”, too…….. I’ll tell you about what Ron is cooking. This week he has made a hu ………. ge pile of cheese scones for me to snack on …… He is making some wonderful food for me now that he has the time …… I’ll keep you updated about what is happening with our animals and pets. I’ll tell you some of the things that don’t go to plan on the smallholding……… We usually have two calamities each day – today has been (i) the sheep have been on the road (ii) the chickens are in the herb garden …………. I’ll also include some of my reflections about this “road less travelled”. I never, ever thought that I would go out and collect kindling in the woods so that we could light a fire. Isn’t central heating easier ??? Yes, it is ….. but walking in the wood soooooooo relaxing ……… This road less-travelled – towards self-sufficiency – is almost a mindfulness technique…… Helping us face the challenges of this – new world – whatever that is …… 

I hope you find it all interesting………

What I’d also like to do, is to invite you to start blogging too ! Would you like to share what you are growing in your garden or on your smallholding …. or maybe you’d like to talk about how your pets and animals are helping you through this time…. ? Just return the contact form at the end of the blog, get in touch and we’ll take it from there………. you could write a paragraph for my next blog.

Job….. what job ????

Thinking back a few years, one of the reasons we moved to Bryn Celyn was to “keep safe”. Ron and I had (along with the rest of the UK) experienced that period of “austerity”.  Do you remember the UK election in 2010 ? I remember having a chat with my financial adviser around about 2009……. I was a local government officer……. “One of the most secure jobs there is”, my adviser said. A year later, the job didn’t exist. Durham County Council had to radically downsize its staff. I took the early retirement offer …….. what happened to that “most secure job” ???   The financial crisis of 2007-8 and the subsequent austerity measures implemented by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition resulted in reduced council budgets. After a lifetime in full-time public service, being retired was scary….. Not having the security of the permanent job, was frightening……… Fearful that the banks would recreate the situation, Ron and I decided to move to a smallholding so that we could grow the food we needed to feed ourselves, living away from “the madding crowd”  ……. We had no idea that it would be a global pandemic rather than another period of financial austerity which would prevent many of us from carrying out our usual jobs……..

Growing the food we will eat this year……… 

A couple of years ago, Ron bought me a polytunnel for Christmas (don’t ask, another story).

So, now that the farmshop is closed, Ron has had the time to start off broad beans, potatoes, strawberries, carrots, beetroot in the polytunnel.  They will be planted out into the garden, using the no dig (yes, no dig !!!) gardening technique that Ron heard about from one of our customers.

For info on “no-dig” gardening follow the link to Charles Dowdings’ No Dig Gardening” video https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=no+dig+gardening+for+beginners&docid=608040568448418747&mid=59F55A6229C73F14A4ED59F55A6229C73F14A4ED&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

Here’s a link to Charles Dowdings’ book https://amzn.to/3boHNG2

Already out in the garden are blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries and onions…………. Got to have those cloches because of the rabbits !

Also, take a look at the gate and fence in the cover photo to this blog……. We’ve cut hazel trees to create a rustic fence……. beautiful isn’t it ?

Chickens, cats and rats !

 

I am also introducing you to our newest arrivals on the smallholding – Nat and Nellie – two gorgeous, gorgeous cats. A few weeks ago, Ron and I decided that we would have six chickens so that we could have our own eggs…… Well, if you have chickens, you usually have rats…….. so to counteract this, we approached Anglesey Feline Rescue https://angleseyfelinerescue.co.uk/ about whether they had two cats who would be able to help us with this potential problem…….. We had to have a home check first – this was quite a while ago now, before the lockdown………. and a few weeks ago…….. Nat and Nellie joined us……….. Bessie, Bella and Angus (the dogs !) were consulted on the matter and thought it would be a great idea …….. (hmm ? They are now having second thoughts…..)  We’ll keep you posted about Nat and Nellie’s adventures….

How are you all keeping busy in “lockdown” ? Ron and I just have to keep “occupied”. Ron is either baking……… he is making lemon marmalade at the moment …….. or he is in the polytunnel….. I spend time feeding the animals…….. collecting kindling……. I’ve even cleaned the cooker today !!!!  We both spend a lot of time on the internet…….  This reminds me in a rather odd sort of way of life in seventies when maybe we took things more slowly…….. didn’t see as much of our family and friends as they lived miles away…….. events had to be planned… For my part, I have to spend part of my time working at my desk …….. blogging, using new software …….. and part of my time in the garden…… exercising, feeding the animals……. I hope that you are finding your way to manage this situation……..

I took this photograph of dawn over Dulas a couple of weeks ago, now. It heralded a beautiful spring day…….. speak soon. Margaret x

 

 

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