Big am­bi­tion for small site

Country Smallholding - - A Smallholder's World - * Com­piled by Debbie Kings­ley who tweets from @SouthYe­o­Farm and set up @Small­hold­er­sUK

@small­hold­er­sUK UK Small­hold­ers are pro­filed week by week on twit­ter @Small­hold­er­sUK

This month on Twit­ter: Keesje Craw­ford-Avis from Perth

I’m Keesje, and my hus­band and I run Bur­mieston Farm and Steading in the hills near Perth. We have been here for three years but are still be­gin­ners on the small­hold­ing side. We have 2.5 hectares so are too small to claim any sub­si­dies. Our small­hold­ing am­bi­tions are big but our cur­rent set up is small with sheep, chick­ens, geese and an or­chard. We have spent most of our en­ergy and cash on ren­o­vat­ing the house to live in and the steading for self- cater­ing guests, courses and events.

Hubby and I met at the Royal Agri­cul­tural Uni­ver­sity a long time ago but life took us else­where un­til our deep in­ter­est in food, the land and en­vi­ron­ment brought us back. Our chick­ens are an odd bunch; hardly any eggs for months but fi­nally pro­duc­ing to sell eggs at the farm gate. We have grown and sold geese for Christ­mas for two years with a break last year and are de­cid­ing if we should do it again as part of our grass man­age­ment plan. We are hop­ing the geese will lay and even hatch eggs but it’s un­pre­dictable; geese don’t seem to ex­cel at moth­er­hood. The gan­ders are SO hos­tile at the mo­ment; fas­ci­nat­ing watch­ing the flock dy­nam­ics through the year as they are usu­ally at the bot­tom of the rung. At breed­ing sea­son we need to keep them away from our farm stay guests! Another as­pect of our grass man­age­ment is fenc­ing. Any tips on how to get con­trac­tors to ac­tu­ally show up? The prob­lem of be­ing small scale is the big­ger jobs seem to take pri­or­ity.

Our other live­stock are our Ja­cob sheep. We tupped them late, ex­pect­ing lambs in May to match best grass growth time. They are pretty skit­tish but their har­di­ness is per­fect for our cli­mate. I planned on spin­ning their wool but not man­aged that yet! I did wash it in the wash­ing ma­chine to get it clean and it worked per­fectly. We tried hand shear­ing last year and man­aged one very pa­tient sheep but we re­ally strug­gled to keep the blade sharp. We’d love to host some­one here to teach both hand and ma­chine shear­ing.

Do fol­low Keesje Craw­ford-Avis’s progress @Bur­mieston and https://bur­

Keesje Craw­ford-Avis with Ja­cob sheep.

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