Friday, 4 February 2011

Smallholding Plans

It's been a while since I posted, but don't let that lead you to believe that nothing has been happening here. We have been gearing ourselves up for a very busy year on the smallholding, having meetings and making plans. Our pressing projects include planting 3000-ish trees, which will take place from mid February until mid April (there's a deadline which needs to be met as the tree-planting is being done with the help of a grant), installing alternative energy systems (including a wood-fueled boiler for hot water/heating, solar panels to generate electricity, and passive solar collectors to heat water), as well as digging a whole load of new vegetable beds and hopefully growing twice as much as last year.

There's a good deal of construction work to be done, chiefly by Phil and my dad. The wood boiler will be stationed in one of the outdoor sheds, and will need to be boxed in and insulated so that we don't waste any leaked heat. A trench will be dug from the shed to the house as a route for the pipes. An 'A' frame for the solar panels needs to be constructed on high slope behind the house (due to the large hill in front of us, the houses lose the sun for the four darkest months of the year - the slope, being higher, retains the sun for a little longer).

The sun (shining tantalisingly on the other side of the valley) has not yet returned to our houses

We are planning a cool (but not too cold!) storage area on a mezzanine floor (which doesn't yet exist) for dried goods and things like potatoes and onions. Phil will be adding a foot or so of insulating hempcrete to the gable end and rear exterior walls of our house, which is something which should be done in warmer weather to aid drying. Eventually we hope to construct a conservatory along the front of the houses, as a way of capturing heat as well as creating more space, but I don't think we'll have time for that this year.

My mum has been excellent at taking up the reins with regards to the tree planting project. She has sourced them from a local tree nursery, so they will be well prepared for life at 800ft. Our plan is to start coppicing them for our own fuel needs as soon as they are big enough. Overall we are trying to become as self-sufficient as we can in energy and food, so that we are not at the mercy of volatile market trends and big business. We want to be as self-reliant as possible, it seems to be the only thing that makes sense in an increasingly unpredictable world.

The oaks lining the lane are hundreds of years old

Hopefully I'll make time to blog more regularly again (though it does look like I might soon be rather occupied!), and I really want to share Meggie's developments too, as well as what I've been doing creatively... Just give me a few extra hours in the day, that's all I ask!

I found a Silver Cross pushchair in a local charity shop for £3,
which is a fun way to take Meg out and about :D