Saturday, 30 April 2011

When Renovation Becomes Excavation!

Out with the old... or NOT, as the case may be.

Our 'new' house is an end terraced cottage. It's probably about 200 years old and adjoins what was formerly the Inn and, adoining that, what's known as the weaver's cottage. We have no idea who lived in ours, originally, it could have been the Innkeeper's cottage, for all we know.

These particular stone cottages in SW Scotland are all under some sort of conservation order and, as such, are listed as historic buildings. We need to renovate carefully and in keeping with the original design of the buildings. We need to do this on a frugal budget, so the easiest and cheapest part of the proceedings is preparing to create the microholding in the back garden and tearing out the interior of the house - these things cost nothing to do and it's all time well invested. So, I was delighted when I excavated down to a stone flagged hall floor!

We've already put many hours into clearing the garden, it will take many, many more, but the micro-orchard has now been transplanted from the old garden, several borders dug and planted up, the first of the raised beds dug and sown and the hen house repairs have begun.

12' x 8' hen shed

Replacing rotten wood in hen shed

The old hen house at the bottom of the garden measures 12' x 8' and is situated within a 30' x 30' run, which is fenced almost entirely to a height of about 6'.

The roof of the shed is solid and seems watertight, although we haven't had much rain to try it out properly. Anything that has rotted or been chewed, burrowing or damaged is being repaired and crittur-proofed. It will be a brilliant place for the hens, separated from the main garden by the stream. 
Concrete slatted flooring in chicken hut
There looks to have been a lot of added 'security' in the past, so I'm assuming it's been to protect against mink coming along the stream and foxes from the adjoining fields.

Only the hens will be kept in the enclosure at the bottom of the garden, as the ducks will have their own space in the orchard. Beyond the trees, I am planning on digging a pond and an adjacent seating area, for relaxing in summer.

Duck pond will go here
The main garden has now been split in two, one half for poultry, the other for veggies and fruit bushes. In the bottom half, I have covered over a patch that will become the duck pond. We found a whole stack of plastic piping of the 10cm diameter plastic type, so this will be used as drainage for overflow and to make cleaning of the pond an easier task. Coupled with the metres and metres of hose pipe retrieved from around the property, we should be able to create a good flow of water, topping up from an outside tap and draining off any excess into the stream at the foot of the garden.

8' x 7' raised bed split into growing sections

I've dug out the first deep bed and now have it filled with compost. It's split into three sections - main part has onions planted, then there's a block of carrots. The smallest corner is being kept for the lettuces, once I start thinning out the seedlings.

The wooden frame on bottom left supports two 4' windows to form a cold frame for the carrots. This can then be netted to deter any carrot fly.

When H started digging out the contents of the chicken hut, it looked like it hadn't been cleaned out in years. We know the previous owner also kept pigs, goats, rabbits etc, so the soil and manure have now broken down into lovely compost. I used some of this for the raised beds, but there's plenty more to be moved.

There must easily be the quivalent of ten bags of compost piled up along the wall, so no excuses for buying any extra and it will also help start off the new compost once we get the bins moved over from the old garden.

On what will be our patio, the platers are coming to life. The salad leaves (Speedy Veg variety) are growing very quickly. Thank goodness, as the number of salad sandwiches we're getting through whilst unable to make any lunches at the new house seems to be increasing by the day. All this good weather means packed lunches outdoors, sitting in the garden.

I also noticed that the first of the peas, carrots, nasturtiums and sweet peas have germinated, so things are startig to grow all over the place.

Trees awaiting planting

One of my priorities was the orchard, as I wanted the trees into the ground as soon as possible. The cherry trees had already started blossoming in their tubs and I didn't want to wait a day longer than necessary. So, I measured out the plot of land allocated as orchard, marked out where each tree was going and then H got to work digging all the holes. These were soon filled!

It's been a busy two weeks, since getting the keys to the new house. It's also been a sunny two weeks, so more has been done in the garden to start off our microholding than has been done indoors, making the house habitable.

Follow the Frugaldom Microholding progress in the Frugaldom Forums, with daily photo updates and progress reports. You'll find it listed as our '50 Day Challenge' in the 'Challenging Times' section.


  1. fantastic progress, i can see such a difference already, I cant wait to read more

  2. Thanks, I've just posted yesterday's progress blog as well, hope you enjoy that.

    There really is a huge difference in the place already. I wouldn't appreciate how much that difference is without the photos and blog, where the evidence is much clearer to see.

    It's great fun making the most of the sunshine, but it means cramming the paying admin work into mornings and late evenings and slotting indoor jobs in between gardening stints. ONly 5 more weeks then we can relax a little, as we won't be against the clock.

  3. Wow!!!! looking forward to seeing the microholding unfold!!!!! Hard work but what a soul affirming project!!!

  4. Great progress and I love that floor!



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