We have often been asked what it is like to be Smallholders, so we have decided to add this page to the website to describe via a blog the events of a typical day here at The Ark. This obviously does depend on the time of year, the type of weather and the breed of animals that we are keeping at the time, so this page will be updated to reflect each season as it changes. It is currently summer.
With everything that we have going on, we have to plan and manage as much of our time as effectively as possible, so we have a very large diary! If we want to go away on holiday or go out for the day, unless it is somewhere fairly local, this has to be planned around in advance, organising cover for the animals as necessary. It does sound like hard work, but it is a lifestyle that we both enjoy together, like anything it has its good and its bad sides; we are both constantly learning and it can be very satisfying and very rewarding.
Sunday - A Day of Rest? - 30/6/13 by Debbie Hillman
A 'day of rest in my eyes' very much depends on what you are doing, where you are, who you are with and whether you enjoy it!
I was up until 11.30pm last night completing an assignment for my marketing course, with only two more assignments to hand in by the beginning of September, despite feeling under pressure to get them finished in time, I think I am doing quite well time wise!
So my 'day of rest' started at 7am when I got up and went out to let the chickens and geese out.
Our Daughter Tara incubated and raised her first Embden goslings a couple of months ago and last night was the first night that they had spent in with a surrogate breeding pair of Dewlap Toulouse Geese. After spying on them all lying contentedly on the straw in their stable, I concluded that all was well and opened the door to let them out. I can't help admiring our surrogate geese for being so obliging by accepting the goslings at such a late age.
I purposefully left some of the hens in the large annexe pen that is attached to their chicken house as I know that Pat will struggle to catch the hens with his bad back when the morning customers arrive to choose their hens. The others are already busy scratching around under the fruit trees in the orchard and excitedly running along flapping their wings in an amusing attempt to leave the ground!
The pigs (Berkshire weaners that are growing like there is no tomorrow!) are already squealing in anticipation of their breakfast and greet me with grunts of delight as I feed them. They seem to have cleared their woodland run of most of the forage at their height already, so I will let them have a run in the paddock later. I made a wallow for them yesterday and by the look of their mud caked bodies they have made the most of it!
After putting on Freddie the horses fly mask and feeding the cats and dogs, I settle down with a cup of tea and my trusty laptop (or my 'comforter' as Pat calls it!) to catch up on some work emails and to raise some invoices for next months beekeeping for beginners course.
Pat has some customers come up to choose chickens this morning but he is already up and outside checking the little mating hives that he has strategically placed around the smallholding. He has been studying for this little project for some time now and to be honest I am astonished at how well he has done with it! 3 out of 4 of these little white nucs already contain mated Queens which he is planning on introducing to Queenless hives later today.
My lovely husband never ceases to amaze and inspire me; despite his day job, his number of projects that he always has on the go, our running of the smallholding business and looking after the animals here, he still manages to find the time to study and build on his knowledge of bees.
This afternoon after the last customer has been seen we plan to take time out for ourselves and spend some time walking the dogs, perhaps along the canal or to the beach. The sun is out today and the opportunity to get out and enjoy it can't be missed given the unsettled weather that we have had lately!
My 'day of rest' will be busy, but deeply fulfilling!