The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


The crows and our chimney

Posted in Cottage tales | 6 comments

The crows and our chimney

  Every spring we have our annual battles with the crows that want to nest in our kitchen chimney. They are a determined lot and have won the war several times. I’m a fighter but these are true gladiators. The problem is that if they do build a nest they fill the chimney with twigs. This means we can’t use the wood burning stove, no smoking of bacon or ham. It takes ages for the birds to leave – they usually stay from January until October. That’s nine months without heat and delicious treats. Having commandeered the chimney these...

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Discovering marsh and rock samphire, salsola and seakale. Edible plants that need a bit of salt if grown away from the seaside

Posted in General care, Vegetables | 13 comments

Discovering marsh and rock samphire, salsola and seakale. Edible plants that need a bit of salt if grown away from the seaside

  Even though I spent a lot of my childhood living beside the sea building seaweed castles to catch that special prince, I didn’t even meet the seaweed fairy and never tasted samphire until a couple of years ago. It was love at first bite, the saltiness and the crunch. The totally green tastiness of the thing. So when I spotted samphire seeds for sale in the new Otter Farm online shop they were slipped into my basket within a thought. Having ordered these seeds I began to fret about actually growing them – we are an hour and a half drive...

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Chicken legs baked with apricots and garlic recipe

Posted in Chicken | 8 comments

Chicken legs baked with apricots and garlic recipe

  I was surprised to hear that despite the recession the number of people eating out has shot up in the UK. I’m not sure whether this is people visiting places like Pret for a snack or proper sit down eating out with napkins, main courses and hovering waiters. Danny and I rarely eat out. Perhaps twice a year at most. It’s not that it’s expensive (although 35 quid for pizzas and a couple of beers was shocking) it’s because it’s often disappointing  in this neck of the woods. So good food has to be cooked at home. Two things that...

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In praise of Salley Mavor

Posted in crafts | 10 comments

In praise of Salley Mavor

  Have you heard of Salley Mavor? Looking for books on needle felting and working with felt I came across her stumpwork and appliqué  illustrations for children’s books. Her work intrigued me and I spent hours reading her blog  and examining her expert needlecraft. Superb and awe inspiring I just had to delve in deeper and deeper. Just before Christmas, I invested in two of her books Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects and Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. I must admit I never thought that I would be ordering a book of...

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Ordering seed potatoes

Posted in Vegetables | 10 comments

Ordering seed potatoes

  “So what potato varieties did your father grow on his five acres when you were growing up?” David was intelligent, Welsh, fairly left wing and intrigued that he had met a potato connoisseur. After a long pause Danny replied: “King Edwards, British Queens, Kerr’s Pinks and Home Guard.” Danny grew up in the Republic of Ireland. David chortled loudly at the imperialistic names of the potatoes and ever after never let him forget the paradox between Irish independence and the names of his dad’s favourite varieties. It became a...

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Tasty Baked sausages, bacon and flageolet beans recipe

Posted in Pork Ham Bacon Sausages | 7 comments

Tasty Baked sausages, bacon and flageolet beans recipe

  I’ve never been keen on beans, definitely was not one of the Beans means Heinz fans as a child. Even the recent change to Beanz hasn’t tempted me. In fact I was so out of the whole world of beans as a teenager that I didn’t even understand the flatulence jokes in Blazing Saddles. Now beans are almost considered the new ‘meat’. Economical, packed with goodness and promise. Some varieties can even be grown in UK gardens – come the revolution these could be a valuable source of protein. So I decided to experiment a bit with...

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Our favourite old lady

Posted in Chickens | 24 comments

Our favourite old lady

  I haven’t written about our chickens for ages. We still have them – I’d hate to give them up as they are interesting and fun to keep and some do become friends. Each has her own personality and a particular place in an ever changing pecking order. They have their friendships and their tiffs. When I’m working in the kitchen garden I am aware, amused and often shocked by their antics. They can be very cruel and astonishingly kind in a chicken sort of way. Do you remember when I discovered that Baby was not allowed to eat and drink...

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Bubba’s quick Seville orange marmalade recipe using a pressure cooker

Posted in Jam Jelly and Preserves | 16 comments

Bubba’s quick Seville orange marmalade recipe using a pressure cooker

  When The Chicken Lady tweeted that she was going to try out a pressure cooker marmalade recipe I was a teeny bit dubious that it could match the flavour of old fashioned marmalade lovingly stirred on the stove for hours. But I was wrong. I was surprised to discover that it tasted pretty good, sweet but with that hint of Seville bitterness. In fact the first thing that I did when I woke up this morning was to rush downstairs and put on two chunky slices of toast so as to guzzle some as soon as possible. If you have a pressure cooker and not...

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