Our next guest blog is from El Hoskin from Newhaven Smallholding in Cornwall. She writes about their decision to move to a smallholding and run it themselves…
I think most people who knew me thought I was slightly mad when I said we wanted to sell our nice, comfortable, spacious Georgian town house and move to a neglected small bungalow with equally neglected land filled with junk. But when you think about it all the signs had been there. I hadn’t eaten meat since I was eleven (over 25 years) because I didn’t like the way animals got treated and were pumped full of drugs in mass production – my mum thought it was a phase but even when I was eleven I had a strong will! I had grown vegetables in the garden and eventually after waiting years me and my husband got our own allotment which was a project in itself! We turned an under used allotment into an oasis of vegetables and fruit within a season impressing all the long standing allotmenteer’s which isn’t an easy feat.
And finally, through the landshare website we met a lovely couple who let us use their land to keep chickens, ducks and to grow vegetables. Not only did they let us use their land and poultry enclosures but they had a wealth of knowledge about poultry which they gladly shared and proved invaluable. So surely the next step was to get a place of our own with a little bit of land? Well that was the dream but in reality was it madness? The housing market wasn’t exactly buoyant for selling a house. House prices for those with land remained high and we both worked full time in busy jobs so would we have time to run a Smallholding? But you only have one chance to live your life and the thought of waking up and walking to feed the chickens in my PJ’s made me happy so I became a rightmove addict! (rightmove is a house selling website)
I still to this day believe it was fate that we moved to Newhaven. We spent hours trawling through the Internet, days viewing properties and had ruled the property in and then out just as quickly – after all this wasn’t just a house move with Newhaven it was a massive project. After endless deliberation we both decided that Newhaven was the property for us and that we wanted to take on the challenge. Then out of the blue we got an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. The people selling Newhaven wanted to part exchange with us, Newhaven for our town house plus some cash – all our dreams were suddenly within our grasp!
Well as they say, the rest is history and we have now been at Newhaven for 18 months and we haven’t wasted a moment of time. The house has been completely renovated but then that is no surprise given the state it was in when we brought it. What we have however achieved is building up our knowledge and experience with various animals and we now have chickens, ducks and geese for both eggs and the table, pigs for the table and sheep as lawn mowers and in time lambs for the table. I can’t quite believe it myself but we are actually self sufficient in meat and above all the biggest change is that I made the big decision to start eating meat after 25 years of vegetarianism! I will only ever eat our meat but knowing that the animals have been treated well, fed good food and killed humanely and above all live a happy and free range life made me change my mind.
We still have projects we are working on and I can’t wait to get our kitchen garden up and running and I hope daily that our newly planted orchard will survive and prosper in our rather exposed field. We have learnt so much in this short time and we still have challenges ahead but I can now walk out of the house, in my P.J’s down our field, with my dog, in the sunshine feeding our animals and it makes me smile. So is this the Smallholding dream or madness? A bit of both I think. We have had tears and tantrums over the last 18 months but we have also pulled together and risen to the challenge and after all it was fate.