Small­hold­ers’ World

Country Smallholding - - Inside This - @small­hold­er­sUK UK Small­hold­ers are pro­filed week by week on twit­ter @Small­hold­er­sUK Fol­low James and Dee @Hap­pyRe­moteHome Com­piled by Deb­bie Kings­ley who tweets from @SouthYeoFarm and set up @Small­hold­er­sUK

This month: Small­hold­ers James and Dee Gar­rett who live on a 2.5-acre hold­ing on the re­mote Eday is­land in Orkney.

WE USED to live in South Wales, had full-time jobs we en­joyed and went on reg­u­lar geo­caching week­end trips and hol­i­days. Then one day James woke up with the idea of liv­ing on an is­land and here we are. We live in a one-bed­room stone cot­tage built be­fore records be­gan in 1740. The house has 3ft thick walls and a wealth of his­tory. We wanted a lit­tle gar­den and a cou­ple of chick­ens, but find our­selves liv­ing on 2.5 acres of open land. You might think that’s great, a huge bonus, but we of­ten find our­selves over­whelmed and dis­cour­aged. It will take a lot of work to get it es­tab­lished.

James served in the armed forces for years and learned many prac­ti­cal skills which are in­valu­able on our re­mote small­hold­ing. He is pre­pared for var­i­ous emer­gen­cies, able to solve prob­lems cre­atively and al­ways looks on the bright side.

We have just had our first baby, Ron­ald Si­mon, and we’re so ex­cited to be par­ents. Eday is a per­fect place to raise a child as it is peace­ful, clean, safe and we are sur­rounded by the sea, open fields and wildlife. We are also a part of a small and car­ing farm­ing com­mu­nity.

We keep chick­ens, ducks and quail and are work­ing on estab­lish­ing a gar­den in the harsh windy Orkney cli­mate. Orkney has an abun­dance of fish, lob­sters and crabs, so the fish­ing in­dus­try up here is boom­ing. We also like to wade in at low tide to place a cou­ple of creels for an easy lob­ster din­ner.

We are very new small­hold­ers and our first suc­cess­ful hatch of baby chicks this June was such a great ex­pe­ri­ence. The chicks were fluffy and adorable. Many peo­ple told us that the Orkney cli­mate is too harsh for keep­ing quail, but we wanted to try it for our­selves. Now we have an abun­dance of de­li­cious quail eggs which are highly sought af­ter and great as gifts or when trad­ing items lo­cally.

James loves mak­ing home­brew from any­thing and ev­ery­thing which some­times re­sults in some strange con­coc­tions, but there is no such thing as a failed ex­per­i­ment: we give it a new name, a new pur­pose and it is all used in the end — if not for an evening glass, then to cook with.

An at­tempt to make some de­li­cious homemade cheese was one of our lat­est ex­per­i­ments and it was so suc­cess­ful that we now rus­tle up some reg­u­larly. It goes so well with freshly home-baked bread and a wee bit of chut­ney.

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