Friday, 15 April 2011

The Time Has Come to Start that Microholding

Now the Hard Work Can Really Begin

One week old Black piglet
 Officially, this is our first day as the owners of our new house and garden, our very own microholding of the future. There is much to do and, as luck would have it, today has had to be spent here, getting workaday things out of the way in between contacting utilities companies, so we have some services at the new place.

We collected the keys late on Wednesday afternoon, so we were able to spend much of yesterday pottering about the place, picking up rubbish and peeling off soggy wallpaper from indoors. The first task, though, was removing the 'For Sale' sign that had been screwed into one of the wooden window frames at the front of the house. What a very satisfying feeling it is to see that safely removed.

For the purposes of the Frugaldom blog, the bulk of what gets written here is a personal journal recording progress towards creating a frugal microholding and self-sustainable, home based work.

After several years of scrimping, saving, renting, several house moves and a lot of hard work that, to many, may seem like a waste of time and effort, we have finally got a place worthy of turning into something that can help us to live a self-sufficientish lifestyle, working from home and garden to provide a self-sustainable income. It may not be everyone's dream home but it will be our home - no rent, no landlords, no mortgages - and we are more than happy with it. There's always more land available, should we decide to expand our project at any point in the future and there's certainly plenty of scope for development of the cottage, despite it being terraced - it's in a fairly rural street setting.

Almost quarter of an acre of overgrowth

This photo is a view of the strip of garden land at the back of the cottage. In days gone by, the land would have originally belonged to the estate, with cottages being built for the local workers.

People moved on, houses and land leases were sold, time marched on and modern methods of doing most things overtook the tradition of 'smallholding' from your back garden. But some people still did.

The house we have bought used to be home to hens, ducks, pigs, rabbits and, I believe, goats. Not much has survived from the past, despite the place only having been lying empty for the last couple of years, but the tell tale signs are all there.

The old poultry housing

At the furthest end of the garden, on the opposite side of the burn, there's an area that has previously been fence off completely. I suspect this is where the old hen coop and, possibly, goat house have been. There appears to be what's left of nest boxes, roosts and a fair sized area, big enough for a couple of goats, if anyone cared to keep them there.

Although we have no intentions of keeping pigs or goats at the moment, it probably would still be possible to register for a County Holding Parish number (CPH) that would enable us to do so. (The piglet in the photo is one out of two litters born recently on a fellow-frugaler's mini-smallholding.)

Along the length of the garden there are bits of posts and broken fencing where, once, livestock must have been. There's only a single tree growing in the garden at the moment, possibly an apple tree, but it won't be alone for long, as I have a whole micro-orchard planned for that area.

Poultry? Goats? Lambs?

This is the old shed that, for all its rickety, tumbledown looks, we may be able to renovate into poultry housing. It's quite big; at a guess, I'd think around 3m x 2m, so there's plenty of space to make it into whatever we feel is most needed. I'm desperate to get started on the garden but I know that we need to get the house fixed up first.

Gardening will be something that gets done in fits and starts during our first year. They do say that it is always better to observe the garden for the first year, don't they? No matter what, I will fit in the time to get something planted for this year, even if it means digging out a small deep bed closer to the house as a kitchen garden.

Outbuilding - previous use unknown
On the other hand, the youngest member of the family has set his sites on renovating a block built out-building. We aren't sure what this has been used for in the past, although family members of previous owners did mention there had been pigs reared in the garden in the past. One side of the building is mainly windows, so I suspect it could have been some sort of tool shed combined with a potting shed and maybe even a tomato house.

Then again, the other side of it could have been a pig sty. Had it been located elsewhere, I'd have taken it as a boat store, as there are buoys, creels, nets, floats and even oars in amongst the junk that's been festering in there for the past however long.

A stream runs through the garden

  Neighbours either side have all got beautiful gardens, so I hope we can bring ours up to scratch. There were pheasants in next door's garden and, further along the street, there seems to be hens and ducks. As yet, we have nothing more than a concrete crossing over our part of the stream, so this will need to be made safe for grand children (and me on slippy days) and secured against the ducks being carried off downstream into the wrong gardens!

My imagination is running riot on what could be done with this particular area of the garden and it involves my long awaited willow project.

I can't help but thinking of how lucky we are to have got the timing spot on for buying this little property. When I think of how close we came to dropping a chunk of our savings into the woodland at the end of our current driveway, the 'near miss' was less than 24 hours!

You'll normally find me logged into the Frugaldom Forums, as that's where most of the topic discussions take place. Feel free to join us if you have an interest in frugal living or anything else that the frugaldom lifestyle involves.


  1. Congratulations on the first day of your new journey to have your very own micro-holding up and running. It looks like a real challenge, one I'm sure you will be able to win.

    All the very best for the future in your very own new home.

    Sue xx

  2. Wow, looks fab - loads of potential. I'm sure you'll do wonders with it and I hope you'll be very happy there.

    Very lucky with the timing too!

  3. Wow - there's so much you can do with that! I'd get goats if it was me :)

  4. Thanks and yes, VERY lucky with the timing re the woodland and very glad we didn't do anything too rash. I think what put the lid on the woodland was the fact that when we were walking it the night before, a huge swathe of it was flooded from the incessabt rainfall we had that week. It would have been a fantastic bit of land in the long run, especially as it was within walking distance of here.

    I'm certainly feeling like we had a lucky escape on the woodland front, as we'll can, at least, walk out into the garden to pick the fruit and we have enough space to replant all the willow withies that I have been rooting over the past few months. They're all growing well in their pots and should look fabulous as a living structure down by the hen runs across the stream.

    Potential is certainly something the place isn't short of and I'm sure we're bound to unearth all sorts of interesting stuff once we get properly started. :)

  5. Well I may have missed all the nail biting run up to this, but I'm on board now. Congrats on your own new home. No landlord. No mortgage Woohoo!!
    And every bit of the hard work to come is investing permanently into your own piece of land.
    Very happy for you.

  6. I would like to add all my best wishes for many years of happiness in your new home.

  7. A dream come true, no rent, no landlord and best of all no mortgage:) Well done on all your hard work, it will certainly start to pay off from now on. Wishing all the happiness and good fortune as you begin your new life in frugal microholding, how exciting♥♥ Hope you don't mind me tagging along.... Linda xxx

  8. Just to say "Congratulations" on getting your new home at last. I think "potential" is the word LOL - but if its got the land then its got the main thing (envious of the stream...).

  9. Congrats on the house Nyk!

    Can't wait to follow your progress-transforming the place!

    Sft x

  10. Thanks everyone, for all the feedback and comments. It's certainly a project that has loads of potential, but I'm being reminded that we need to make it safe to move into the house before I'm to play for too long in the garden. :)

    First weekend there, clearing rubbish and what happened? I ended up playing in the garden! :)


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