Post 3 - The First 6 Months
I’d liken this time to the ‘honeymoon period’ – endless possibilities, we had some money in the bank and, until we purchased our first livestock, no real responsibilities – it was a gentle wind down time that I think we both needed.
Like many new smallholders, we scratched our heads over what we should tackle first. We decided to create two lists (I like lists) – one which required experts and one which didn’t (that would be us). When I started to document what was completed in our first six months I realised that you’d fast lose the will to live, so I’ve condensed it down together with a short montage of pics.
We have got many things wrong, but we did start well by thinking about basics – the first job was to have the electrics made safe(r) in the house (I’m still not entirely convinced) and power supply to the outbuildings which required quite a bit of disruptive trench digging. The next job for the ‘experts’ was to restore the old barn ready for goats – new roof, new doors, new concrete.
As newbies and newcomers, we suffered a couple of bad contractors before finding our prince – a jack of all trades who, if he can’t do the job himself, he knows someone who can. Our prince is called Ian and I doubt we would be where we are today without him. Along with a 4-acre field and some woodland, we also have a small field (known as the Top Paddock) which we got a fencing contractor in to split into 4 paddocks with field gate access to each.
On the non-expert front, we resurrected a poly tunnel which was minus bits of frame and cover, cleared out the allotment and built our first chicken pen in the orchard. We also got ourselves some education by way of a Goat keeping course for me and Smallholding skills and Pig keeping for Dave.
Dave researched and sorted out the legal stuff – setting up a partnership, registering for VAT, getting a CPH, Herd and Flock numbers etc. Meanwhile I made a HUGE contribution – an outline design for our logo which I then got a very talented young artist to make it look good!
And the fun part – buying Big Toys – a full size tractor, a quad bike, livestock trailer, chainsaw and man size strimmer to name but a few 🤣
And the best part
Our first goats – 2 adult does and 6 doelings (young girls)
The Germans – Freddie (GSD) and Reggie (Miniature Schnauzer)
We did start with a blog but time has prevented us from keeping it updated. This did make me laugh though – this is what we said we had learnt in the first 5 months:
Dave loves the gadgets, and the bigger the gadget the better! Smallholding is a fantastic excuse for buying big gadgets!
Tractors work better with four wheels on the ground.
The Pembrokeshire Promise. The Gregorian Calendar has passed Pembrokeshire by. If you ask local workies to commit to a date you will be given (as a minimum) three reasons why they cannot provide a date and leave you with a vague assurance. Workies also never say no to a job, but do take all Yes responses as tentative (a Pembrokeshire Promise).
As you have no start date, be wary of making plans based on another job being completed.
Workies must be continually pestered, before and during work activities, and sometimes after if you feel obliged to pay them for their services.
Workies frequently get abducted by aliens. The only logical explanation to some of the above.
Lawn Mowers (even the mini tractor type) don't cope well with a 4-acre field.
Slugs are the spawn of the devil, and Butterflies are winged brothers from another mother.
Chickens are dudes.
Piglets dig, and piglets will find any gap in a fence that exists. Supplementary: piglets do not like electric fence, and nor do Miniature Schnauzers.
Trailers are easy to tow forwards! More practice required backwards!
Carrots don't like our soil - potatoes do.
Tall, thin fence posts bend.
Raised tractor mounted buckets stick out a long way (sorry barn!)
On a Smallholding you must always have a can of Tyre Weld to hand.
Welsh Cakes, straight off the hob, are lush.
The Welsh really do say lush, lovely, tidy, etc.
Bats aren't scary, unless they are flapping round your head at 2 am, or are flapping in the toilet bowl.
Courgette plants must never be left unattended.
Anything left by previous owners (they left a lot!) is on its last legs (at best).
The electrician used by previous owners should go back to school.
Chopping wood is manly!
Any job will always take a lot longer than planned.
Suffice to say, we had a ball during those first six months 😀
Next Instalment: The Goats - from 0 to 100 in 2 years 😲