Grass pollen and Bob!

BobWell, I didn’t see this coming…

When our offer on the land had been accepted last year (2013) and the purchase was going along swimmingly, I decided it was time to get my smallholders dog, Bob.  I figured that way he could grow up on the farm and that would be his lifestyle.  All has been going brilliantly… until the grass pollen came out to play.  It turns out, my Bob is allergic to grass pollen!!

In order to solve this dilemma (concreting 13 acres just isn’t an option!) he’s taking antihistamines and I’m bathing his sores with salt water, but what I really need is a bath/large water container to be able to rinse him off each day to get the pollen off him.  In the summer months when the pollen is at it’s worst it will also be a nice refreshing dip for the lad.  Much better than the muddy puddle he chose for himself, which now we’ve not had much rain for a while is gone.

So, perhaps you are doing up your bathroom and have an old bath you want rid of (not too far from Cornwall would be good!), or maybe an old trough or loft cold water tank?  Anything really that would hold enough water in it that a large breed dog could use as a bath/dip.

Let me know if you can help.  Bob & I would really appreciate any input or offers of water holding containers, so that my lad can get back to some good old unfettered enjoyment of the farm, without the issue of an underbelly reacting to grass pollen.

Phase One planting completed!!

WOW!  WOW!  And WOW again!!!

It feels like it’s taken an age, and the aches and pains have been considerable, but I am delighted to announce that Phase One planting is finally completed after 8 days of hard yacker in mostly sweltering Cornish loveliness.

Like everything that’s been done so far, we expected to have it finished in half the time it’s actually taken.  Adrian was available for a week to help, and between us we planted out 11 apple trees and 25 Lavender.  The hobbitsess were down for a weekend and helped tidy up around the apple trees and built a berm for the chickens in chicken run one, but that still left another 25 Lavender, 4 bamboo and 12 blueberries to plant out.  Adrian and the hobbitsess had helped by digging the next 25 holes for the Lavender thankfully.

I had to take a ‘rest day’ on Tuesday to do some washing, weed the garden, sort the recycling out, vacuum the house, dust and generally make the kitchen a habitable food preparation area again!  Add to all that an oversized, malting 9 month old Golden Retriever for a sidekick, and you’ll know that my kitchen had acquired a blonde carpet!

I anticipated an early start yesterday (Wednesday), but Bob had clearly eaten something that didn’t agree with him and overnight had redecorated the rug by the back door – poor lad.  Anyway, with the end of the planting in sight, I arrived at the farm around 9:15am, once I was happy that Bob was OK.  It’s been far too hot during this current phase of amazing sunny weather to have him up at the farm with me due to lack of shaded areas.  I plan to build him one, but this hot spell caught me out well and truly.

The bamboo was my first job of the morning, and it was picked as there were only four to plant out and I could start the day with a sense of achievement early on.  The bamboo is both a crop and a foraging zone and wind break for the chickens.  These four are a clumping variety that grown up to 10 foot tall.  The bases of the bamboos are a haven to insects that will keep the chickens happy and well fed.  Each chicken run also has 3 apple trees in it with chicken run one also having a completed berm for the chickens to shelter in.

One of my next jobs is to start building the chicken runs.  We have two of them so that we can rest one each year, making sure the chickens stay good and healthy and happy.

Lavender LinesThe Lavender had been finished on Monday and the four lines look fabulous, with the early flowers swishing gently on the warm breeze.  One thing that has been made obvious, however, is that these little guys need protecting from dogs!  So, I’m going to have to put a fence around the Lavender and Blueberries/fruit patch.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Lavender mature and its potential harvest boom over the next couple of years.  The chosen Lavender is a cross between ‘Munstead’ and ‘Hidcote’ (the two most fragrant types) so walking down the path between the four rows should be a total smell sensation.  I’m even excited by the potential by the end of this summer if they all settle in well now.  This rain that’s arrived today will help!

BlueberriesAfter the Bamboo was done yesterday, I set out the row of blueberries and set about digging the twelve holes for them.  It wasn’t until after I’d finished the 12 holes and went to get the blueberries that I realised we had 14 blueberries to plant out.   The blueberries are a mix that give fruit early, mid and late season ensuring we have a crop all summer long.  I aim to plant out at least another 10 blueberries to finish off the second line.  I may even add another couple of lines of different berries before netting them in.

I love blueberry muffins, so you can guess what I’ll doing with the odd handful to placate the appetite of the hungry smallholder.  That’s if I can get to any of them before the hobbitsess.  Those hobbitsess sure are quick at spotting ripe fruit!!

So that’s phase one complete.  Despite it taking far longer than expected, now that it is done it feels immensely satisfying.  I love looking at the Apple Trees, they are all three years old, knowing that in just 2 years they should be established trees providing crops for harvest and production.  It feels like the plan is coming together.  We are exceeding our initial ambitions and striving daily for a bigger dream to become a reality.

With low-level fencing, fruit net enclosures, chicken run enclosures and chicken housing to erect & build, I also need to build a shelter for Bob, and then start to focus my attention on the erecting of two poly tunnels and a barn, and stock fencing off an acre for the arrival of pigs…

Today is what I jokingly call a rest day.  It means that I concentrate on Admin type stuff, write a blog, update the website, tweak the business plan, and more generally, catch up with daily chores about the house.  It also means getting the costings and materials lined up for the next few above mentioned building projects.  Although, it’s fair to say, with a body that aches as much as mine does today, come lunchtime I may well take up residence on the sofa for the afternoon and indulge in a little Wimbledon!!!

Dry weather entrance and a fire-pit

firepitIt’s an awkward moment when you sit down excitedly to blog about what’s been an exciting week and come up well short of being able to write the first sentence.  The last 10-12 days swirling around in my head, and me, sat dead still in front of my laptop wondering, ‘where do I begin?’.

For those of you that don’t know my history, I had an accident as an HGV driver in September 2011 that ended my career.  The injury to my ankle has left me with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), which put’s me in a constant battle of wills between my determination to overcome all obstacles, and, the CRPS’s ability to bring me to a grinding halt, no matter how motivated I am to my ultimate aim.  For every day that I succeed and get something achieved on the land, I can pay with 2-3 days of not being able to do much at all.  I wear an Air Cast Walker for long day trips out and to parties so I can dance.

Some of my friends have taken to calling me ‘one 16th Storm Trooper’.  I mention the nickname, because Adrian and I were discussing it earlier.  When we use it with reference to my progress.  It means we’ve also reviewed the last 6 months, with the 6 months previous, always stating that the progress I’ve made with my ankle is astronomical. 6 months ago I couldn’t have walked easily around the land once, let alone once up to 4 times in a day in the last 2 weeks!  That’s 4 miles walking in a day.

This week I’ve exceeded even my own expectations of myself!

I’ve built a fire-pit!cuppa2

Well, I suppose technically, it’s more of a stove-pit… I built it to protect my gas stoves flame from the wind, so that the kettle might actually boil!

Whatever you call it, I love it.

I’ve been up to the land and walked Bob round a couple of times, then got back to the car and made myself a coffee before starting on a little project.

This weeks little projects have included clearing the mud from the entrance, building a fire-pit, and making a fake hedge out of branches and twigs.  All of this action inspired by the arrival of Draco the Christmas Tree and the farms tracks being laid out as we want them.

cuppa1Clearing the mud out of the entrance has also made it possible for me to reverse the car on to the land whilst the weather has been dry.  I’m not sure my none 4wd vehicle would cope with even the smallest amount of water on the land.  I’m hoping this respite in the wind and rain will continue for sometime to come.

The fake hedge is more of an experiment in using branches and twigs to make a screen.  I figure it will also help to shield you if you are taken short on the land!

It feels like things are finally starting to happen.  Although we still have the ongoing delays, at least something of progress has been able to happen.  It means that future visits to the land are becoming more and more comfortable, and the more time I can be up there, the more I am likely to be able to do…