Land Sharing

After almost 15 years at Shawpits, I am moving out to a smaller property about 5 miles away. I have loved living here but it is time for a new era now that my children have all flown the nest, and I am moving away from running courses and the practical involvement of a beekeeping operation. I have no room for poultry at my new property but thankfully I have reached a mutually-beneficial arrangement with a friend nearby, and we are going to pool our resources.

Vicky and I have run sourdough and chicken-keeping courses at Starnash Farmhouse, which Vicky owns and runs as a B&B. My coops and runs and chickens have now been transferred over to her smallholding area, and I am helping out on a weekly basis with the cleaning and coop-moving. The upkeep of 25-30 hens split in to 5 groups is a lot for one person (I should know!) and this way we both get to enjoy the poultry and share the work. The separate housing is more effort, but means each mini-flock can be utilised in different ways and especially with bird flu, having smaller enclosures moved frequently is preferable during the winter as the ground quickly gets sour once the grass stops growing.

It’s also good to have a regular meeting with someone who, like me, has a lot of ideas and plans but too many other things going on to execute them effectively! We are hoping to map out some strategies so the hens earn their keep regarding ground clearance and pest control even when they aren’t laying, as this is all part of the circular economy that Vicky and I are so passionate about.

Starnash Farmhouse is a beautiful property, and having some space to let the dogs run and get on with some gentle manual work is really good for me as I have always enjoyed the rhythm of animal care; seeing poultry with fresh bedding in their house, and fresh grass underfoot brings a sense of achievement and contentment, and a few laying of the younger hens are still laying at this late stage so there are precious eggs as a reward.

My new house has a much smaller garden than Shawpits, but I am looking forward to expanding its potential and using plenty of greenery to provide shade and food, and of course I will be using my guinea pigs to mow the lawn! There are some lovely south-facing fences and it would be great to explore some climbers around the house to shield it from the sun, and produce some fruit and flowers. I will be vlogging the progress and sharing my plans on this blog, as well as keeping up with the beekeeping over on my Patreon.

Part of my incentive is to show that while it is relatively easy – albeit a lot of work – to produce a homestead on a property with more land, I want to show how it can also be done on a smaller scale.

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