The right stuff

It turns out that rhubarb is actually pretty strong stuff.

Recently while my back was turned on a business trip all the leaves from one of our plants – the Champagne variety – were stripped and the stalks were eaten. I’m not naming names but as I was away on business at the time I like to think that I’m in the clear.

On my return I was concerned that this excessive stripping of the rhubarb would have killed off the plant. After all, how can a plant photosynthesise if there aren’t any leaves? Or so I thought at the time…

It turns out that I was wrong and rhubarb is a bit of a fighter – who would have thought it?

I gave the pot a top up of compost, a good watering and added a netting cover to keep the chickens from getting at it while I was doing all that.

Now there are signs of new shoots breaking through and I feel like I may have overreacted when I first spotted the apparently empty pot. It’s almost like spring all over again …

Champagne rhubarb recovering
Champagne rhubarb recovering

How quickly time passes

It’s hard to believe that we have already passed the first anniversary of our move. Most days it feels like the intervening months have flashed past so quickly it can’t have been a year already. Sometimes though it feels like we have lived here for longer than that as everything seems so settled.

All things considered I think both of those must be a good sign!

The blog has actually been running for well over 2 years now – first post was on 12 Feb 2012 – because it dates back to the early days almost before our property searches.

I wouldn’t have missed the many highs and lows along the way but the journey has been a real education for all of us. Hopefully there will be many more learning experiences ahead as well.

Big lessons learned

The common advice from a variety of sources is always to take the first year to get a picture of the situation. I can recommend that from personal experience but I can also suggest that it can be ignored if you exercise a little caution.

Fruit Trees

Fruit trees are a good example where perhaps waiting a full year might have helped a little. It turns out that 1 or 2 of the new trees have been planted in an area which gets waterlogged after any extended periods of rain.

The drainage is just not good enough in those areas and I’d rather not take on a major civil engineering project to deal with that. At the moment most of them are holding their own but I’ve recently been forced to move one to a better spot as the new growth was starting to die off.


On the other hand, I’m really glad that we didn’t wait a year before getting pigs. Most of the equipment needed was already in place when we arrived so only minor rearrangements were needed.

Our first weaners were hugely entertaining while they were with us and with just 2 of them it was no problem learning as we went along. Now I can’t imagine not having pigs in future but I have put off the idea of breeding just yet and instead taken on 3 more weaners this year.

Raised Beds

It soon became clear that with too much grass to cut and not enough veg growing space the answer was to make some new raised beds. As much by luck as through judgement these have proved a great idea particularly since raised beds mean we avoid many of the waterlogging problems that could have come up.

Future plans

Having underestimated the importance of machinery I can now work on drawing up my extensive shopping list of “boys toys”. I may not be able to afford everything but I can slowly work my way down that list as our finances permit.

The second-hand quad bike is probably first up for replacement but that may soon be followed by a compact tractor. Perhaps I’ll skip the replacement quad and just buy a nicer tractor to deal with all the heavy lifting and transporting around the place!

Livestock plans are on hold for the moment due to work commitments but there is still plenty to learn from having our neighbours sheep on the fields in the meantime.

It has become clear now that land management is a major topic but bit by bit I’m getting an idea of what’s involved. The field drains were one aspect that I had not given much consideration to in the past but through the winter it became clear that action was needed.

Luckily our neighbour also had similar problems and was willing to help with ours while he had a digger on hire. There is still plenty more work for me to do though as the existing stone field drains that were uncovered are completely blocked and must be well over 100 years old!

If anything the number of possibilities and jobs to be done can be overwhelming at times but now we’re here I certainly couldn’t give it up!

Worth it in the end!
Worth it in the end!