The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


The Italian Cockerels must go

Posted in Chickens | 31 comments

The Italian Cockerels must go

Yesterday evening I noticed a brown envelope on the front door mat. I assumed that it was a circular and turned it over just in case. It had our address hand written on the front so I pulled out the typewritten letter and as I read the first few lines, my heart sunk. “Danny, it’s a letter from our neighbours. The cockerels are waking them up at 4.30 am – they can’t cope.” We have four cockerels. Beatyl, the diminutive cockerel hatched by Mrs Boss, Baby the tiny undersized Leghorn and the two Italian cockerels. Danny is not over keen...

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Crocs: a review

Posted in Discoveries | 22 comments

Crocs: a review

  Inca and I are still regularly attending the Animal Health Trust. She is undergoing a course of Chemotherapy which seems to be working well. Inca is very lucky she is been treated by Lara Matiasek who is one of the Senior clinicians in neurology. Inca likes Lara although there is often a bit of a struggle when she is carried away! Generally all the vets wear loose blue tops and slacks and very strange brightly coloured shoes. These shoes intrigued me and eventually I just had to ask about them. “I do hope that you don’t mind me asking...

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Climbing courgettes: basic care

Posted in Discoveries, Vegetables | 8 comments

Climbing courgettes: basic care

  This year I’ve had a series of disasters on the courgette/zucchini growing front. Seeds haven’t germinated, pots have been knocked over snapping the contents and when I finally planted the remaining three out in big pots in the kitchen garden they were guzzled by slugs. “I can’t face the thought of a summer without home grown courgette salads. “ Danny  exclaimed. “We’ll have to buy a plant.” As home grown courgettes taste so much better than shop bought ones I was hoping for a courgette glut too. Apart from raw courgette...

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Diabetes in dogs: The Contessa has just been diagnosed with this condition

Posted in Min Pin dogs | 13 comments

Diabetes in dogs: The Contessa has just been diagnosed with this condition

  We noticed that The Contessa was suddenly pencil thin, drinking a lot, having accidents around the house and generally off colour. She was eating well and responding with delight to cuddles and massages. But the weight loss was dramatic, fast and worrying. The Contessa is a sprightly 10 year old Min Pin. She is Danny’s secret favourite gem. And we’d both hate to lose her. Yesterday I crept down with her into the garden at dawn and managed to get a urine sample by slipping an old saucer under her. A dip stick test at our vet’s (Swayne...

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New wheels

Posted in Cottage tales | 12 comments

New wheels

  My first independent mode of transport was a red fairy cycle with cream wheels and a bell. This was my horse, my chariot and even my wings. At five years old I swooped about the park and relished the freedom and excitement of speed for the very first time. Jalopy is still snoozing in the drive. She has been there for the last eleven months. Her battery is flat and she needs a service. But we’ve decided to let her sleep on until I’m back to work again. She attracts a lot of attention. Every few days someone drops in wanting to buy her....

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Skirt of beef steaks recipe

Posted in Beef and Steak and Veal | 6 comments

Skirt of beef steaks recipe

  “This is the first time ever that I’d be happy if you left your other shopping on the counter.” The pretty woman in TKMaxx joked. We had been talking about the skirt of beef that I had just bought. She had never heard of the cut but as you know it has become a bit of a mission for me to spread the word on the cheaper cuts. Her interest was really tweaked when I mentioned that we at it as steak. “It doesn’t cut like a fillet but it’s far better than a lot of sirloins that I’ve bought and at £6 for 800 grams it’s a...

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Great Aunt Doris and Great Aunt Lillian. Flowers bring back old memories.

Posted in Flowers | 11 comments

Great Aunt Doris and Great Aunt Lillian. Flowers bring back old memories.

  It must be 40 years since I last saw Aunt Doris and Aunt Lillian. When my mother married my stepfather he came with a great big pack of relations – Doris and Lillian were amongst my favourites. I first met these elderly aunts at the wedding reception. All I can remember about the event was that we ate Baked Alaska, I was wearing my first new shop bought dress and those Aunts. Aunt Doris peered at us and exclaimed “You are so thin – we’ll have to fatten you up!” From then on they were always referred to as The Thin Aunts. Both...

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How to maximise your space for planting. Take a long hard look and think laterally.

Posted in General care, Watering | 22 comments

How to maximise your space for planting. Take a long hard look and think laterally.

  “Danny I’m thinking of renting some more land. We just don’t have enough space for all our projects.” “I’m sure that you could rent some land very easily around here but let’s wait until we have maximised the space at home first. Our land is free.” “But we have maximised our space – increased the size of the borders and made the paths quite slim in the kitchen garden.” “Well the forsythia in the front could go for a start. I’m having problems getting out of my car.” He’s had it in for the forsythia for months...

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