WHEN my family and I moved to our smallholding/farm more than a decade ago it had been devoid of any four-legged life, bar a local farmer’s cows, for quite a few years. It felt soulless, so what do you do but refill it? The first arrival was a cat, followed by quite a few more, and then a Tamworth pig, two rescue ponies from World Horse Welfare, a dog and a dozen ex-bats, more or less in that order. It was winter and freezing and I quickly learned that rehoming in January could be challenging. One chicken damaged a leg and ended up living in our kitchen. She was impossible to house train, but we developed an incredible rapport to the point that she was so jealous when I made phone calls that she would shriek her disapproval.
I developed a passion for animals from my pram. One of my first memories is of slipping over in calf muck, aged about four, while my horrified grandfather looked on. I was in the calf shed because I was desperate to get closer to the black and white faces and those sand-paper tongues. The life of a smallholder isn’t easy. I understand as I walk across my six-acre paddock and the grass crackles underfoot that people with more animals than me are already worried how they will feed their livestock through the winter. A neighbour has started to make a dent in their 2018 hay crop, and there is unlikely to be any more put in the barn at the current (zero) rate of regrowth. So when you write in and tell me about your smallholding experiences I will understand. And please do write (editorial.csh@ archant. co.uk). Tell me what you would like to see more of — and less of — in the magazine. Tell me your ideas and your stories.
I am delighted to be taking over at Country Smallholding. I love the way of life and I love the magazine, which has been brilliantly edited by my predecessor, Simon McEwan. I hope to hear from you soon.
JULIE HARDING, Editor