The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Energise your day. Frogs and two great blogs.

Posted in Cottage tales, Wildlife | 6 comments

Energise your day. Frogs and two great blogs.

It’s the first day of spring! The frogs must have known this. Our annual bacchanal had started in the large pond when I went down to feed the chickens on this cold and blustery morning. Six couples were clinging on and having fun. And then I spoilt it all by appearing with a large camera and small black and tan Min Pin. All frogs submerged as one. Still attached. I didn’t know that it was such a special day. I love frogs but still don’t speak their language despite living alongside them for 16 years. Two superb, upbeat blogs...

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Ducks on the pond

Posted in Wildlife | 19 comments

Ducks on the pond

It won’t be long before wild Mallard ducks find our pond again. They see the long stretch of water and swoop in. It must seem the perfect spot. A generous pond with a good supply of goldfish and frogs. A safe and secluded haven for a pair of ducks to nest and raise a brood of ducklings. Perfect without the Min Pins. These are hunting dogs and our pack work as a team. Running at speeds in excess of 23 miles an hour a waddling duck wouldn’t have a chance. I try to avert disaster and actively discourage ducks in our garden. As soon...

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Guest spot: Back to the woods! By Huw Woodman from The Bushcraft Magazine

Posted in Wildlife | 6 comments

Guest spot: Back to the woods! By Huw Woodman from The Bushcraft Magazine

Here’s our February contribution from The Bushcraft Magazine. This great magazine is a brilliant publication, packed with interesting and inspirational articles. We reviewed it here. Each month an article from the magazine will appear on the Cottage Smallholder site. Huw Woodman’s been walking around our woodlands in the early spring. The southeast has some of Britain’s most beautiful woodlands. They may not be the most spectacular, but they have a quiet charm that is unbeatable, especially as the year begins to unfold;...

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Dogs and poisoned rats

Posted in Cottage tales, Min Pin dogs, Wildlife | 19 comments

Dogs and poisoned rats

Last night I returned from work and found the dogs squabbling. I suppose our three and Great Aunt Daisy Beatyl make up a pack. A flock of hens can be tricky to manage but a small pack of dogs can be a nightmare if you are tired and just want to chill. If they are not dozing in their baskets they are sorting out their pecking order. Inca, the youngest, challenges each dog in the pack regularly. It is not restful. Yesterday The Contessa growled and snapped for far longer than usual. The key dog beds are two small cat igloos that sit under the...

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Guest Spot: How to build a hedgehog villa and nurture hedgehogs in your garden by The Mildred Mittens Manufactory

Posted in General care, Wildlife | 41 comments

Guest Spot: How to build a hedgehog villa and nurture hedgehogs in your garden by The Mildred Mittens Manufactory

I like hedgehogs. Even though they are partial to eating frogs. The few that have visited our garden caused a first night opening uproar with the Min Pins and had to be escorted off the premises in a cardboard box. Clearly intelligent beasts, hedgehogs no longer visit our garden. Only an Einstein amongst hedgehogs could coexist safely beside a Min Pin. This week I had an interesting exchange of emails with Mildred who happened to mention, in passing “And last night we watched our 7 hedgehogs trooping round the garden looking for the...

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Why not make your own fat balls for the birds?

Posted in Discoveries, General care, Wildlife | 74 comments

Why not make your own fat balls for the birds?

Watching the birds feeding just outside the kitchen windows gives me enormous pleasure. Since the bird eating cat that used to lurk in our front garden has moved away there are many more ground feeding birds and quite often I spot mice collecting seeds. Mice in the shrubs are fine. When they come into the house they are a problem.We give the birds mixed seed and fat balls all year. We only put out peanuts in the colder non nesting months as baby birds can choke on peanuts. Finally my large tub of fat balls for the birds has run out. So I...

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Robins are nesting in our garden

Posted in Wildlife | 5 comments

Robins are nesting in our garden

I wrote a post at the beginning of April about the pair of robins living in our garden. A few days ago I glanced out of the window and saw a robin feeding a small fat brown speckled bird. This was so unusual that I stopped and waited. It had to be a baby robin. The adult robin flew to the fat ball and back to feed this little chap for a good five minutes until something startled them and they both shot back into the undergrowth behind the Japonica, where they must have a nest. Robins are ground feeders but they can access fat balls easily if...

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Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus

Posted in Wildlife | 0 comments

Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus

When I returned to Anna’s house this week, deep in the Essex countryside, something drew me to the window of a peaceful upstairs bedroom that overlooks the moat. I spotted a moorhen swimming with two chicks. Moorhens are shy creatures. They are enchanting wild birds but rush for the cover of the reeds if they hear the gentlest footfall. If you are lucky, you just see a fleeting foot and a flash of white tail. Then they vanish. For ages. I shot down to fetch my camera from under Jalopy’s front seat. By the time I returned to the...

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