Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Home Acre

In the "Bible" that is John Seymour's guide to self sufficiency it contains one of my favourite pictures - The one of the five acre holding (my sister got me this picture framed for Christmas).

As our smallholding is five acres its very apt, but I don't think there has ever been a farm laid out quite like that, nor would I want mine to be. For a start I have no desire to milk something everyday so the importance of a house cow goes out the window, along with a few of his other ideas (no watermill in mine either).

The one thing I do really like is the idea of "the home acre". This is based by the house and involves labour intensive things like veg growing, an orchard, sheds, chickens, a greenhouse, etc. And this is what I want to try and create my own version of.

The orchard I've started and yesterday I marked out where the laying chicken pen is going to go, as well as the soft fruit and allotment garden. They are all near to the house (and in range of the air rifle for rabbits and pigeons), will be rabbit netted and hopefully rotovated with a tractor in the next few weeks. Below this is the orchard, mentioned in the previous post, and to the side will be the pig pen (more on this later).

Between the chicken pen and garden I plan to have my greenhouse and I'll build some compost bins hidden by the hedge. Hopefully this first field will become a very productive area!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Orchard Progress

This week I've managed to get 17 trees into the ground. Some planted at night with torch (the neighbours must have thought I was burying bodies!) and quite a few planted today in the rain. I've put in common varieties like Cox and Braeburn but also interesting varieties such as Brownlees Russet and Medlar, so there should be a good mix.

I've still got to transplant a few trees from the allotment (two plums and a nectarine) and a pear from our old garden and then that will be enough in for this year. (I've still got loads of soft fruit to move and plant)

Next year I plan to plant a lot more plums, some more cooking apples and damsons as well as any others that take my fancy or are highly recommended! It's a small area of our smallholding but I plan for it to be a very productive one.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Started Our Orchard

Today I started my orchard.

Not much of a start I must admit, but i put two apple trees in just as it was getting dark tonight. A Cox Pippin and a Braburn, not very interesting varieties but you've got make sure you've got your tried and tested staples in first. These two are ones I lifted from the allotment, I only put them in last year so they should be fine with being moved (I hope), I've got a medlar and a Quince to go in as well that my mother brought me for Christmas (they're healed in at the moment).

I plan on putting in around thirty trees over the next year or two so any ideas on good varieties would be appreciated - I'm going to pick up two Scotts Bridgets tomorrow but more about that amazing apple another time! It's going to be a mixed orchard so apples, plums, pears, damsons will all be filling my belly every autum!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

What To Do First

Big plans this weekend and the snow has stopped them all!
Still It means I can draw up some plans in the warm. I've decided that the first smallholding job I should do is to build a chicken pen and coop. I left my old coop at the old house as it was built for the pen that its in. I'm thinking of having around 8-10 laying birds to start with, hybrids probably, as we had 9 before and it seemed a manageable number to deal with. Also with this amount we can sell the surplus eggs to the neighbours and passers by to help pay for food and bedding.
Any one got any ideas on the perfect coop. I'm going to raise it off the ground by 18" to stop rats and give the birds something to shelter under and have some nest boxes on the side.
I've also got to think about the work to be done on some of the trees. Many of the large oaks need their crown raising as there are some heavy lower branches on them and it would benefit the trees if they were removed (also benefit the firewood pile!). Good job I've got a kind hearted brother to help me with this!