The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


jackdaws nesting in our chimneyA few years ago Danny admitted that he had considered leaving me.

“The problem is that you are so untidy. You have too much stuff and too little space. At one point I just felt I couldn’t cope.” He stared at me with a slightly pop eyed look. Probably expecting an explosion.

I could only agree with him. Luckily he has very little in the way of possessions. Even the Min Pins have more toys. His arrival at the cottage had a big impact on my life and a small impression on the space. Until he tired of living out of a suitcase and suggested that his own wardrobe would be a better option.

I averted disaster by buying a small shed. Not as a chilly walk in wardrobe for Danny rather a place to move all my stuff that was compressed in the wardrobe. We spent a morning shifting the stuff from wardrobe to shed.
“When are you ever going to use a shooting stick? That outboard motor’s leaking oil. What about this roll of lino? We have carpets.”

“The lino is for lino cuts.” I often buy in bulk. It’s cheaper, if you actually use the stuff.
“OK, keep the lino. Why don’t we just chuck the rest?”


He has benefited from his magpie princess. Once I raised the money for a weekend away by selling some early 20th century fishing rods and reels that I was storing in the barn, just in case.
“Surely if you take up fishing, you’d want a super, lightweight rod and reel. This stuff is over a hundred years old. You wouldn’t cut a dash on the riverbank and they’d be difficult to use.”
Cheffins auction rooms obliged.

Before the terrible day when he hired the giant skip and cleared some of “the tat” from the barn, we usually had a selection of replacements if something got broken. Some of them were older than me and a few still worked with a little care and the gentle touch of an oily rag.

Things have got out of hand over the past few months at the cottage. Even I am finding it hard to locate ingredients in the larder and cope with the buffeting landslide when I open a “stash” cupboard door. Suddenly the idea of the practical use of space is appealing.

As D is away on business this week I decided to take a few days off and tackle the kitchen. Already I’ve found lost treasures. A Rose Elliot cook book, my phone charger and an unrecognisable object under the cooker which could have been an ancient potato or a large anaesthetised slug. It was guzzled so fast by Inca that I’m still not sure.

Already I’m fighting the seductive trill of the magpie daemon.
“Why not just shift some stuff into the attic before Danny gets back and think about it later? He’ll never know. You might need the weighing scales without weights one day. You could probably make your own weights if you put your mind to it.”

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Plumsource

    Gazing at your clutter made me feel a lot better!

    Thanks for the link.

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