The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Celia’s Purple Podded Peas blog birthday – 5 years old today!

Posted in Chickens, Fun, Gardening, Wildlife | 3 comments

Celia’s Purple Podded Peas blog birthday – 5 years old today!

To write a blog for five years is something to be applauded. But to create a blog as inspirational and well written as Celia’s Purple Podded Peas blog takes true talent. “I keep on thinking about what I would have done with all that time if I hadn’t been writing my blog,” mused Celia, “but then I wouldn’t have met other bloggers, or been discovered by galleries and so much more.” Blogging is a social activity. In most cases it’s a celebration of being human in its broadest sense. Celia combines a wide range of activities and...

read more

Rat invasion

Posted in Wildlife | 19 comments

Rat invasion

It is said that when you are in London you are never more than six feet away from a rat. I lived in London for years and never spotted one. Presumably they are holed up in attics and sewers. I did see mice out in the open though. Late night scampering amongst the metal lines of the tube. If I walked to the end of the platform and stood very still they would appear, nervously at first and then rush about looking for edible scraps blown down from the platform. They were quite black from a life living in the oily dirt of the rail lines. “What a...

read more

Dealing with an invasion of mice

Posted in Reviews, Wildlife | 39 comments

Dealing with an invasion of mice

This hugely sentimental (yet brilliantly airbrushed) photo that I discovered on the Internet indicates that I’m a bit ambivalent about mice. I love them, enjoy observing their balletic antics but do not want them rampaging in our kitchen. If they slept in their beds at night and went elsewhere for their food they would be more than welcome. We live in racehorse country, land packed with studs and stables that are magnetic to mice. Loads of free food, warmth and a rural environment. We also keep chickens. The sum of horse country and...

read more

Frogspawn but far less frogs in the pond

Posted in Wildlife | 12 comments

Frogspawn but far less frogs in the pond

  I think that my big pond cleanout in February may have rattled the frogs. Usually their annual bacchanal starts by mid March. Even though there have been a few frogs in the pond, there were loads of hopeful croaks but no frogspawn. “Perhaps they are all the same sex.” I mused. Last weekend when I was visiting TCL and S they proudly showed off their frogspawn. I was gutted. Why hadn’t I got some too? But this morning the pond had frogspawn, in different areas than usual but loads of it. I’m delighted. But instead of the forty or so...

read more

On the Plot with ‘Dirty Nails’ by Joe Hashman: a review

Posted in Gardening, Recipes, Reviews, Wildlife | 6 comments

On the Plot with ‘Dirty Nails’ by Joe Hashman: a review

  “Stroking seedlings to make them stronger. You’re having me on!” Danny was goggle eyed. I picked up the book and showed him the relevant section. “Apparently seedlings gain strength and build a healthy root system when exposed to air currents. So you need to stroke the leaves of your greenhouse or windowsill seedlings to stop them becoming leggy and weak.” At the moment I’m spending more time reading about gardening than actually weilding a fork. At times this can be very frustrating but the flip side is that I have the time to...

read more

A sleeping life

Posted in Cottage tales, Wildlife | 5 comments

A sleeping life

A year or so ago I visited Celia Hart’s Open Studio – the one and only Magic Cochin of Purple Podded Peas. There on the wall was a wonderful print of a hare asleep in a burrow. “I know that I would sleep so soundly with that hanging beside the bed.” But I was skint and couldn’t afford the print. I often thought about that print. Especially when I couldn’t sleep. Just thinking about it helped me drift off. A few weeks ago a mysterious parcel dropped through the letterbox. Celia had sent me a book and a card. It was a card of the...

read more

We have plans for our pair of guinea fowl

Posted in Guinea Fowl, Wildlife | 4 comments

We have plans for our pair of guinea fowl

I love our guinea fowl. Particularly Cloud, the sweet natured Stepford wife who doesn’t appear to notice her husband’s rages or his need to cosy up to Carol, our Maran hen.  Carol is not keen on this type of speed dating so rebuffs his advances. But I know that Thunder rattles her. Often I find her feeding with the younger chicken when I toss them mixed wild bird seed in the morning. Both guineas love these treats and don’t want to share.   The rest of the flock are frightened by his mighty pecks. Thank goodness we have an arrangement...

read more

New life and hazards

Posted in Ducks, Wildlife | 15 comments

New life and hazards

Today I was creeping gingerly up a roof to paint a gable. I looked up and spotted a collared dove sitting on a slim nest of twigs. If she was comfortable at this height why not me? I sat on the ridge and surveyed the view. A duck hatched out eleven ducklings yesterday and the brood were having fun on the pond. The moorhen’s chicks are growing fast. Unlike the ducklings they are kept well away in the reeds so seeing them is rare. But she still has three. After school three young lads (about ten years old) appeared by the pond with a fishing...

read more


Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder


FD