A Very Small Holding

The Elliffs journey into the good life

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A very encouraging visit

Our family car returned with a new computer to control the electrics, which on a Rover 75 were constantly failing. We had lived with partial central locking for more than a year.

Katie and I went for a drive around the local area the next afternoon to send our daughter to sleep. On the journey we discovered a local abattoir that we could use when we eventually acquired pigs. We also visited a supplier of topsoil and turf. The soil was organic and screened for use on allotments and gardens. They also produced bark suitable for the base of our play area in the back garden. Our final stop was at an agricultural merchants who sold a variety of timber products, animal housing, fencing and tools. Each supplier was within a few miles of our smallholding and would prove very useful.

The base of our new shed lying on breeze blocks and the existing paving

The base of our new shed lying on breeze blocks and the existing paving

A smallholder that we had befriended last month arrived to position the base for our new outbuilding beside the allotment. The large shed would be raised on to concrete blocks to avoid damp rising and vermin entering the building. The floor consisted of six eight foot plywood sheets. He would return the following week to construct the shed on-site with the assistance of two local handymen.

With my first two compost bins complete I began harvesting the nettles that grew in the grass verges beside the croft. Nettles were an ideal raw material for compost heaps, containing the perfect ingredients to produce quality compost. Incidentally they are also a pigs favourite food.

The first compost bin was now half full with green and brown waste. The second bin I decided to fill with wood pulp that the stump grinder had produced when the trees had been felled. I was not yet sure how this material would be used, perhaps as a fire-starter when it had dried out or as tree mulch. Every waste product had its uses and avoided an unnecessary trip to a recycling centre or landfill.

To create more space in the allotment we moved the logs from our felled trees to the back of the workshop. The workshop, which had originally been designed to house greyhounds, had an external enclosure for them to exercise. This was being converted into a log store. It had the correct attributes; wire mesh walls to protect the wood axes from our children, a wooden frame to hold up a roof and air flow to dry out the logs.

Autumn was well underway and the abundance of trees had covered our gardens in a patchwork of leaves. Not wanting to waste another free resource I made a small leaf bin using fence wire wrapped in a cyclinder and staked to the ground. We began collecting leaves and filling the simple container. In a year or more the leaves would root down and become a leaf mulch, to suppress weeds and heat the soil, helping the bacteria to create nutrients.

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