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. farmingfriends

    Hi Fiona, I’m glad you liked the award and as always I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Like many of your readers I try to check into your blog daily and read what you are up to and what is happening at your beautiful cottage. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, views and life with us.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  2. Thanks Fiona- I enjoy the blog enormously,always a pleasure to read it and very useful too.Have a good Christmas!

  3. morning fiona! thanks so much for the true blue award! that is so sweet of you!! i was so happy when i saw that! i have passed it on to others, including passing it back to you, if that’s possible! hope you are having a great run-up to christmas and wishing you a good monday, thanks lots

  4. Thank you so much Fiona – you’re so generous to all us bloggers!!

    I’ve just baked our Christmas cake using your ‘Last Minute’ recipe. As only have a ten inch or six and a half inch tin we reduced the ingredients (Cliff was called in to help with the maths after I was shocked by the enormous pile of butter, sugar and fruit next to the little cake tin!!!!!) It’s looking good, and smells divine. I used St Peter’s Organic Ale (brewed in Suffolk).

    Thanks again

  5. Thank you so much for the mention Fiona! Your blog has become a daily part of my routine. It’s the first thing I read every morning and I have learned so much from it in the time I’ve been reading it. When I have nothing to do I actually sit down and read all of your old posts too! I’ve ended up copying a load of your recipes into my diary cos I that way I will always have them even if my internet is borked or I’m back in Kenya and don’t have internet access. All I can say is thank you for the sunshine you bring into my day even in the depths of this Yorkshirey winter I’m stuck in. 🙂

  6. Thank you for the True Blue award! You were one of the first visitors to comment on my posts, thank you for that too.

    I have learned so much from the Cottage Smallholder blog; I look forward to checking in on it every day.

  7. Thank you Fiona, very much appreciated as is your writing. Things have been a little manic so I haven’t been getting my daily fix of The Cottage Smallholder.

  8. Thank you so much – I am touched by this! I also enjoyed reading about how you got your start in blogging. I love the blogging community and keeping up with my blogging friends’ lives. We are so lucky to be able to connect to kindred spirits around the world … who would ever have guessed we’d be doing this even a short 10 years ago?

    And where would I ever have learned so many cool things like making chilli sherry and marrow rum?

  9. aw Fiona, that is all so lovely! We enjoy reading and commenting on your Blog as much as you enjoy creating it!

    A great BIG Thank You from Mildred & Ian xx

  10. Fiona – thanks, I’m touched, it’s nice to know all the rubbish I spout is appreciated … for me, the best thing about blogging is the community of friends, supporting and challenging the way I think and act.

    I’m intrigued by your anti-spam software – I don’t use it, and I don’t get much spam. I’m much more irritated by the people who show up on Technorati lifting my posts (blogs with 0 authority) – and I suspect there are still others who steal the content and don’t bother with the link. I am not cyber-savvy enough to know why they do it, but I think it has something to do with advertising revenue.

    Thanks, Fiona, you’ve made my day


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