The West Country Game fair

Last weekend we went down to the Bath and West Showground for the West Country game fair!! They had a small smallholders area too where we met some lovely and interesting people!! Who given the distance between the Bath and West and our holding were happy to share some of their hints tips and expertise!! We found out that it might not be that difficult to license our cider if we produce any from our orchard!! One chap even does the same as I have planning out his orchard etc though mine is sooooo rough it’s not ready for sharing just yet!!! But soon!!!!



I like the way he has used the apple trees in the field boundaries on his  five and a half acres holding and I think it may make a good agroforestry system for us in the bigger fields should we decide to divide them later!! And I think we need to look at getting in some crab apples fairly soon, along with our willows!!

I barely took any photos, but we met the most dense population of spaniels and Labradors in the world and found some yummy goodies to bring home!! Including peanut butter fudge cake!!!! Which was amazing and I need to work out how to make that goodie!!! James had a shotgun lesson with the chaps on the BASC stand.





We watched working dog displays, met some lovely hawks (one very fidgety small hawk who I tried to photograph and it kept coming out blurry)  We looked at lots of lovely produce and craft stands and I even picked up some knives for spoon and bowl carving!! 



Two lovely Mora knives!!!! Now I just need to get to the holding so I can get my hands on the woods supplies to start!! 

Sookie our little spaniel was far better at this game fair than she had been at previous shows and didn’t spend the whole time hiding between mine or James’ legs!! 

We spoke to the chestnut coppice people about whether chestnuts would grow at our holdings elevation… Maybe, we shall try introducing some chestnut into the new planting we have planned see if they take!! 

We met the Rare Breeds Survival trust and found another contact to see what would work for us on our holding…

Spoke to a chap about a dog poo wormery!! Definitely worth a look if you bag and tag all your dog poo for the bin and it trots off to landfill!! You can also put in the kitchen waste for the worms too!! thinking I may get a small bin to try in Newport….

And we also chatted to the people that put out the Smallholder Magazine that James and I subscribe to!!! Country Smallholding. Now do I contact the editor as requested!!! Oo nervous excitement!!!

Overall I am left with an overwhelming urge to get back to the holding and work my little socks off!!! Planting, harvesting, wood carving….. Oh and to visit Coeden Fach to look at locally sourcing some trees for our new plantings and works!! 

Back through the woods… The woodland part three

Once we had managed to make it down to the stream we had to climb all the way back up!!! However we found that the old coppice paths still were visible through the woodland and they, other than the occasional blockage allowed for us to clamber back up somewhat more easily!!! Well definitely more easily than I had slid down the slope!! So we have discovered another to do job for our list and that is reinstate all the old coppice paths, which will mean chainsawing a few fallen trees, reinstating some areas of eroded path, by hammering in poles to hold back the earth etc!!! 

On our way back we found balls of moss hanging in the trees…..



Some interesting lichens…



Bog plants towards the base of the slopes….



A lot of fallen branches, moss and some bluebell shots, which is good as the sheep in the big field have now moved out for a while so they won’t be munching away at them!!! Like last year!!



Some strange hairy mosses….

And areas where the dead could come out and allow for some natural regeneration!







Then we discovered the scarlet elf cups!!!! I have never seen these before and had only been introduced to them a week previous when a friend of mine had photographed them and put them on twitter!! But yes here they are in the flesh!!



Then we discovered or rediscovered the badger sett, which looks like it’s got residents in comparison to the last time!! Plus we have some scrape marks in the field!!



More elf cups and some general stills of the woodland ….







Ooo looks a fire pit on the other side of the river bank!!!! Slightly jealous feeling now!!! We have to get the paths to  the stream reinstated!!!



Then we found a bottle and bucket dump!!!! Lots of old bottles to be cleared up!!  This adds to the old cooker and some old metal work we found the first time we walked  through the woods last year!! 





So….. LOTS  of woodland work to be done!!!

But we should see some good results…. Reinstating the old paths, restarting the old coppice cycle, adding more woodland on the steeper field slopes, creating more wildlife habitats with piles of dead wood, nesting boxes for owls, bats and other birdlife, clearing up the rubbish left a generation ago, building a forest school….. And that’s only on the woodland segment we own behind the fields, we have yet to start on the woodland behind the second rough pasture and down to the mill at the bottom of the hill!!! We have probably only covered half of our nine acres of woodland thus far!!! Though some of the other parts get a bit steep, removing wood for our burners may only happen if we learn to abseil!!! And abseil whilst holding onto whole trees!!

Down to the stream…. The woodland part two

So…. We decided to clamber (ok for me slide down on my arse) down to the stream which is our boundary with the neighbours across the valley.





Down and down we went….. Things got more mossy, damper, warmer, more ferns appeared on the ground….





Then the woodland opened up for the stream….





Our beautiful stream!!!! Clumps of snowdrops…. Pebbles and rocks…. And just beautiful, if a bit boggy round the edges!!!

The woodland part one!

James and I decided that the other weekend was a good time to start surveying the woodland.  So we togged up and off we went with paper, books and camera in hand!!! 





We went into the woodland from the furthest corner of big field….

And we worked our way down through the woodland a way noting hazel, and oak trees and an occasional ash.  We need to sort out our boundary line in the woodland as the old banked hedged section has fallen into disrepair and there is evidence that sheep have been going back and forth between us and our neighbour.  

We have some strangely knarled trees…





The second one looks like there is an old face in the nook!

And we have a lot of holes in the bank!!





Bunnies?

We have a glade area almost here which might service brilliantly as a forest school area for the the fire circle etc!!





There were some lovely fungi and some celandines and other ground flora starting to poke through too.





We mapped out this section of woodland carefully and then decided to slither and slide our way down to the stream which is our bottom boundary.

Outside….

Outside the trenching has been finished and some of it back filled!!!!!



Which means we now have electric and water connected to the main house!!! 





Look look actual electric cable and water pipe inside!!!!! 

We also peleled off all the stickers from the windows that have been pointed in!!!! Look at the prettiness!!!



The soffits and fascias are done!!!





And the barn now as a whole!!! Barring the last window to go in obviously!!



it’s really starting to look like a home!!!!! 

More building work!!!!!

Hurrah!!! We went to the holding a couple of weekends ago and things are progressing nicely inside!! The plumber has been back and we have upstairs pipework!!! 



We also have a lovely flue for our lounge log burner!!!





A tank in the utility room and it’s jacket!!! It’s huge!!!!





We have some woodwork to support and further stabilise the upstairs floor started!!





Squee!!!! So exciting!!!

We can now have the final window put in and we will be water tight!!!! Soon time to have the floor tiles delivered and then the Esse!!!!!! Argh!!!!!!!

Forest school

I have been really lucky recently and have been allowed to attend a forest schools leader training course!!! So much fun and it’s going to be amazing for my class to access and beyond in school!!! I am going to set up a forest schools area on the farm, as we have an established area at school, so my establishment module with its management plans etc is mainly going to be set at the farm!! But anyway the course…..

We had theory…..

We had games…..

But then we had lit fires…..



Lit Kelly kettles….



Shelter tarps rigged into shelters which withstood the wind and the rain and the hail!!!



We learnt knot tying… Square lashing, frapping, clove hitches, two round turns and half hitches etc…..



We made pictures about the structure of the woodland…..



And started to name and label bits of trees and woodland flora we found!!!!



As I said so much fun… But it’s going to be a LOT of work over the next few months….. But I am still REALLY excited and can’t wait to start using our school forest schools area and also weirdly excited to be looking at my own woodland and developing management plans and the site!!!! Even though it seems to mean mapping the whole nine acres!!!! I may be in the woods a while for that one!! I hope the ordinance survey shows up how steep some of it is in large enough forms too…. Abseiling forest school anyone?!?