The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Repairs at the Cottage Smallholder HQ – Part Two

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Repairs at the Cottage Smallholder HQ – Part Two

Image: Pushkin in the kitchen “Well have you got the first cabinets in place?” It was Pete the plumber on the phone.“They’re in the kitchen but so heavy. They don’t fit the wall which is wonky.”“Expected!” When I was ripping out the kitchen Pete had dropped by“I want to help you fit the kitchen. I fitted my own one.”I was delighted but realised that if I accepted Pete’s offer I would be under The Rule of Pete It had taken me a couple of days to strip out the old kitchen and fix the plumbing so it was still...

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Repairs at the Cottage Smallholder HQ – Part One

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Repairs at the Cottage Smallholder HQ – Part One

Image of the kitchen “The cottage is not fit for human habitation. It’s freezing cold and very damp. There is only cold running water, and that’s just from the tap in the kitchen. You just can’t come home!” This was my plumber, Pete “So what’s new. It’s been cold and damp for years. I’m coming back.”After a very long pause he replied“Well bring a torch. You won’t have electricity in every room.” Pete is a glass half empty kind of guy. He’s in his seventies. Everything is a problem, he is an expert...

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Peppers stuffed with a versatile Veal, Mushroom and Tarragon Sauce

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Peppers stuffed with a versatile Veal, Mushroom and Tarragon Sauce

Simple lunch in the sunny garden I make a lot of Italian style sauces. To accompany pasta, stuff vegetables and even to top with mashed spuds for a comforting supper.  I also make a more traditional filling for shepherd’s and cottage pies. All these sauces and fillings are made in large batches frozen in flat one portion sizes that can be defrosted in minutes in a saucepan. Until yesterday all the Italian style sauces that I made were tomato based. Everything changed when I scored 500g of high welfare veal mince for a song on...

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13th Cottage Smallholder Blog Anniversary

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13th Cottage Smallholder Blog Anniversary

The Little Red Hen + Mrs Grey Lacey I can’t believe that it has been 13 years since I made the first post on this blog. So much has happened in the world since then! I can remember that day so clearly. It was one of those chilly, rainy August days. The backdoor was firmly closed and Danny made a spicy smoked fish chowder. Of course the star of the post was not the soup but The Contessa – the little Min Pin Prima Donna who is still sadly missed. Quite often at the Vets we would be called to the consulting room with the one...

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Can it be recycled? Does it come in pink?

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Can it be recycled? Does it come in pink?

Gudrun Sjoden sun hat A few years ago an old friend was talking about replacing her bicycle. She had just returned from a trip to Holland and wanted to replace it with the sort of Dutch bike that she’d ridden in Amsterdam. She spat out the drawbacks of her present bike and finally topped the list of reasons with the condemning cry,“And it’s pink!”“I rather like the colour pink.”“It’s embarrassing. Who wants to be seen on a pink bike?” Personally, I’d love a pink bike! I was secretly amused by this conversation as...

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Adventures with Kombucha

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Adventures with Kombucha

Home brewed kombucha I started brewing kombucha when I discovered that it can lower cholesterol. Having been prescribe statins and wasn’t keen on taking them I bought a scoby, tea leaves and a large glass vessel and started brewing. I drank kombucha for 18 months, gave it up for 8 and now have started drinking it again. I thought that you might be interested to hear about the effects that it had on me. That 8 month break was key to noticing the effects or lack of them. In a nutshell Kombucha fermented tea is a source of probiotic...

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Pushkin. The cat who couldn’t be placed

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Pushkin. The cat who couldn’t be placed

Pushkin relaxing in the sitting room “We just haven’t been able to place him. He doesn’t settle. And then we thought of you. The only person we know that is laid back enough to deal with him?”It was the lady from the cat rescue centre. I was rather flattered. Had never thought of myself as laid back. So I said OK. I did want a cat. The mouse war in the cottage was never ending. I hated killing them and think that the humane traps are cruel. The large and rather beautiful tabby cat arrived with an amount of luggage that...

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Sunday walks

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Sunday walks

At boarding school Sunday walks were compulsory. My memory is filled with images of gumboots, mud, mist and slightly damp tweediness. I hated them – they were worse than the ghastly sports. Even in summer it seemed like winter. But now I look forward to Sunday walks with my dogs. We venture further and mooch for longer. New landscape, smells and joie de vivre for us all. During the week we step out in the village – there are a couple of trails here where the dogs can kick up their heels and run free but by the end of the week I...

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