The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

A True Blue Award

True Blue AwardSara at Farming Friends has given me this award! Thank you Sara -I’m bowled over. Sara is very supportive of The Cottage Smallholder blog and we have had enormous fun with our Interblog guinea fowl breeding event this year.

If you write a blog, blogging friends are important. These are the guys that support your blog leave comments and get involved. This award made me think about my short blogging history and commenting in general.

My sister Sara had been suggesting for months that it might be fun to do a blog.
“You could talk about your bees. And the chickens and the vegetables.”
Danny was enthusiastic too.
“How about your fantastic sloe gin and fruit vodka? Not to mention your great Christmas cake and pudding?”

I was uninspired. They kept on needling.

In August 2006, almost 500 posts ago, I finally started writing this blog. Danny researched the software and I wrote my first post. I hit the Publish button not knowing what to expect. I’d hoped for more than the deafening resounding silence. After a couple of weeks I was longing for a comment.

Everyone had warned me that you need to make people jump through hoops to leave a comment. Otherwise you get spam.


Insisting that visitors register and login before making comments means that, except for the 0.1%, you will get no feedback. Even if you have written the ultimate post on how to be happy for ever, win the lottery, eat tinned peaches to double the size of your brain, you will be unlikely to get a comment.

The answer is to install the best anti spam software that you can lay your hands on. Generally this is free. Created by a generous spirited blogger who would appreciate applause.

Comments create a dialogue. This conversation should be easy. I discovered this after 8 lonely months through an email conversation with Judy an intuitive American gardening writer.
“I do hope that you don’t mind me contacting you through the back door, so to speak.”

I didn’t like to say but I did mind. I wanted comments on my blog. Then she set me straight and explained the complications of registering, passwords and the general palaver of not being able to leave a comment easily.

So I installed Askimet Spam and lowered the drawbridge. Askimet happily announces how much spam it has sent to jail every time I go onto the dashboard (the main operating theatre of the blog). To date it is over 17,000 spam comments. Every week or so I sift through the comments as occasionally a genuine comment gets caught in the net. These can be freed if I spot them.

Everyone needs feedback. My heart lifts when someone bothers to take the time to leave a comment. I appreciate all comments. Comments increase the knowledge base and most encourage me to continue to write every day. Someone out there is making contact and answering … — …

Comments transform a blog from a single voice into a community. On my blog there is a small group of virtual friends that regularly leave comments. Some of these are fellow bloggers and some are non bloggers. I have chosen a handful of these to receive this award:

I give the True Blue award to

Joanna at Joanna’s Food
Amanda at Little Foodies
Celia at Purple Podded Peas
Pat at Pat’s Food Blog
Kate at Kate Smudges
NÃ? at Shadows and Clouds
Sarah (and Basil and Berry) at Garden Dogs

There are also non bloggers that contribute enormously to this blog in particular
Mildred at The Mildred Mittens Manufactory
Virginia (fellow breeder of guinea fowl)
The list could go on and on so I’m going to stop there!

  Leave a reply


  1. Holiday Cottage

    Blogging is a great way to keep everyone updated with things your doing, a great way to share opinions and loads more, did you know theres over 1,000,000 blogs online with over 40,000 being created daily!

    Nice touching article and its a shame you dont enjoy the sport

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sam

    These blogging awards are fun for us bloggers. I suddenly twigged that they could be spread further a field! And I think that I’ll do this from now on.

    Fruit liqueur making is highly addictive. Generally because the results are so good. Making something delicious is a “grand experience” as Danny would say.

    You have finally tempted me to try lime gin. Will start it after Christmas. Thank you so much for the idea.

    Happy Christmas, Sam. Drive carefully in 2008. You have valuable grog in your boot.

  3. hi Fiona, thank you for the mention, it’s really lovely! your website has taught me so much and i have sadly become addicted to making fruit liqueurs! i plan to decant some blackberry gin and b/b whiskey ready for the in-laws visit on Christmas day. the lime gin is in the back of the car…I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
    thank you for sharing daily life with us all, it allows everyone to try your fab recipes, learn from you and swap hits and misses. it is an invaluable site and well deserving of an award!

    merry Christmas, i hope it won’t be too busy

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sam,

    Of course it is!

  5. hi fiona, just logged onto your site after a frantic few weeks of christmas preparations….hope yours are all going well?
    i know it sounds silly……but is that me?

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Virginia,

    Happy Christams and Happy New year to you too!

  7. Hello Fiona. Very flattered by the mention! Thankyou. Only just signed in to your blog, usually I get there first thing but just a bit busy these last few days. Like your other followers, I look forward to reading all your news and tips but am not up to doing a blog myself.
    I hope you all have a very happy Christmas and New Year.


  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna,

    Your blog is great. One of my daily reads at breakfast.

    I couldn’t do the blog without the spam filter. Some days it’s as little as 20 on a bad day it can be over a hundred. If I didn’t have the filter I’d have to spend hours trawling through the blog deleting them.

    I also have people that scoop up content – most link back to me some publish it as there own. Maddening. These sites make money from their advertising click throughs.

    Hi Mildred,

    Thanks for all that you contribute to the blog.

    Hi Kate,

    Yes it’s great having virtual friends in different countries. It can be quite lonely living in the heart of the country.

    Hi Amanda,

    I always enjoy your blog and your writing. Your blog is a real breath of fresh air.

    Hi Sarah,

    You have a garden to die for and also have Min Pins! Your blog is packed with interesting tips and gives a real flavour of your life. Always well worth a visit.

    Hi Minamoo,

    Your comments add a real zing to the blog!

    Hi Celia,

    I enjoy your blog. It’s always interesting and so well written. Sorry not to get to Saffron Walden on Sunday – things are frantic here. Did make my Last Minute Christmas cake on Sunday too. I used Duchy Original ale in the cake and doused it with scotch this year!

    Hi nà

    Love your blog. Loads of energy and you are living in Italy – one of my favourite countries!

    Hi Kate(uk)

    Thanks for all that you contribute to the blog. You have taught me loads too!

    Hi Sara,

    I love awards. They are special. Thanks for giving me this one.

    Your blog is good to visit. Well written and packed with useful information. I get a real sense of what it is like to be a farmer’s wife. Also it appeals to all the family with projects for children too. A great resource!

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