Well, this is both a sad blog and a happy one…
We have decided to give up the smallholding.
It has been an amazing, busy, challenging and fulfilling three years since we hired a rotivator and churned up our half acre field to turn it over to veg, without a clue of what we were doing. In that time, for at least two of the three years, we were almost self-sufficient. Totally self sufficient in pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, veg, herbs and most soft fruit and apples. I won’t lie and say we managed wine (not that was drinkable anyway) although the elderberry champers was a winner! I even made a pair of socks, although admittedly this was for fun rather than necessity!
We chopped our own firewood, cut flowers from the garden and generally lived on next to nothing, but we loved it and the satisfaction it brought.
But, things have changed. Since we started the project, we have both changed our jobs and are much, MUCH happier. We are both spending more time at work and getting a fulfilment that we previously got from the smallholding. Over time, collecting eggs and going out in the pouring rain to feed the chickens, became a chore, not a pleasure. With all this rain, the veggie patch, dug over at the beginning of the season, became completely covered in weeds and because it has been so wet, we haven’t had a chance to go out there. It quickly becomes demoralising and an overwhelming task to rectify and to be honest, I can’t face it. Having livestock is a responsibility, and not something you do half-heartedly.
The world is a huge, fascinating place and we both felt that, being so tied to the land, we are missing out on it. Since we bought the camper van in March this year, we have spent more time out and about, which brings its own satisfaction. I think we have struck a happy balance between the rampant, soul destroying consumerism that we were so sick of when we started the project, and the earthy, self-sufficient frugality we enjoyed during our time on the smallholding. We are still very careful about where our food comes from – that will never change. I don’t think we are vain and materialistic, but we are enjoying new experiences and feeling a bit ‘smart’ for a change rather than like a couple of peasants with dirty faces!
There are lots of things I want to experience, which aren’t compatible with a smallholding. Travel and walking – I used to love long distance paths and think nothing of a 20 mile hike at the weekend, seeing new places and a change of scenery. I did a novel writing course once but never got past the first chapter – usually because I was out mowing the grass instead. I have flirted with dressmaking recently and absolutely love it. Oli has taken up Judo. And dare I say it, it is nice to go out for a meal and a few drinks every now and again – definitely not something we had money for when it was all going on pig food! Life constantly fluxes and changes, and I am excited that my life is entering a new phase once again.
It would be a shame if we let what has been our passion and joy for these three years become a burden. So, the pig arc and chicken house were sold on ebay, other chicken accoutrements are in the ‘car boot’ box and we are in the process of strimming the huge mass of weeds and nettles which once were nice neat rows of veg, so that they can be ploughed and turned in to turf once more. Baffled relatives, who have been with us for the whole slog, ask whether we can’t do both – keep a small patch for some veg and do it as a hobby. Well, unfortunately not – I am a do-all-or-nothing person and it seems a bit futile to be growing some stuff and buying what we don’t grow from the shops.
So, I have started a new blog and will keep the PartTimeSmallholder up just in case anyone going on a similar journey can make use of any of the information.
Thanks for reading and your lovely comments.
*hangs up trowel*