Those of you who follow us on Twitter (@Meddwl_Coed) or on Facebook know we never really went away, but this site has been neglected. I guess Jo did get distracted, as did we all. Setting up a smallholding continues to be a busy process, as we lurch from one project to another, frequently tripping over unco-operative animals and our own ignorance.
Since we last updated you here, we’ve acquired several more awkward beasts, made a lot of new friends, and progressed a lot of jobs, though not as many or as much as we’d have liked. New(ish) residents are Bathilda and Bellatrix (Muscovy ducks), Ceridwen, Circe, Constance, Carrie and Mrs. Cake (chickens), Tegeirion Dalwen, aka Dawn (cob), and Ollie (lurcher / spider / monkey / idk but it’s gotten into my breakfast again.)
We have built some pretty fine poultry coops, a hay store and most of a polytunnel, planted an orchard, put in willows for coppicing, built 5 permanent fruit beds and planted around 10 annual veg beds, with more to come. We’re behind, of course, partly due to Ed the Cob’s continuing wobble as regards doing anything resembling work. A few weeks ago he bolted in harness, jumped a 5-bar gate (chains, swingle tree and all) and got himself trapped in the woods, and so I am back to square one with overcoming his fear of towing (though I have an unexpected potential point-to-pointer on my hands..!) The polytunnel should be completed this coming Sunday, with the help of Permaculture Twyi’s May permablitz. We were due to host them in March, but the mud was so deep and treacherous at Nantymeillion we had to postpone.
Heather has completed her beekeeping course, and we have a hive waiting to be set up ready to welcome her first nucleus of bees. Jo has completed her Permaculture Design Certificate, which included working on an outline design for a barn. We’ve actually managed to submit our application for Basic Farm Payment this year, which, assuming we are awarded New Entrant entitlements (if you don’t know what that’s all about, be glad) allows us to apply for other grants: a Glastir Hedgerows Small Grant is in the works and due to be submitted by the 10th May.
Besides Ed’s one-horse cross country competition, we have had some trials (& tribulations) with the livestock. Anya, our transition duck, was fatally wounded by Lyra last summer and had to be put down (yes, we took him to the vet, no, we are not yet hardened farm types). She’s bitten a few other birds since then, most recently Mrs. Cake, who has thankfully made a full recovery. We continue to improve poultry defences. Bathilda has ‘wet feather’; her waterproofing does not work and when she swims she gets sopping. Repeated shampoo and blow dry treatments have been ineffective, but as long as it remains warm she’s happy enough. The ponies have all had lice, which is not fun to treat, but otherwise are in cracking shape.
The dogs have fared well, apart from Ollie’s tendency to an upset stomach, not helped by his tendency to eat unsuitable things, such as Welshcakes and, er, tea lights. Charley’s still bonkers but farm life suits him. We human beasts are also still bonkers, but though there’s been both mud and crying, there hasn’t been as much crying in the mud as was predicted before all this began.
There are a hundred stories to tell, and perhaps we will go back and recount some of them if time allows. But there are always new stories, too. If we keep on top of them that will be an improvement. Croesi bysedd.