Small­hold­ers’ World

Country Smallholding - - Contents - Fol­low Tina and Jim @Oak­track 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: Tina and Jim Wells, who own Oak­track, a four-acre tra­di­tional small­hold­ing in Hamp­shire where they keep live­stock and have a vegetable and cut­ting gar­den

WE BOUGHT our small­hold­ing back in 2000 and started with a hand­ful of chick­ens. We ob­tained some or­phan lambs and Here­ford calves from the lo­cal dairy to lead a self-sus­tained life. We now buy in young weaned Belted Gal­loway and Ir­ish Moiled cat­tle from a lo­cal farm. We love na­tive breeds for their size, highly mar­bled meat and har­di­ness and be­ing able to graze out­doors all year round.

As live­stock num­bers in­creased, we re­lied on lo­cal graz­ing and were lucky enough to se­cure con­ser­va­tion graz­ing on some lo­cal water mead­ows. The cows love it. We now have a flock of 300 sheep, in­clud­ing Lleyn x Llan­wenogs and pure Shet­lands. This year we lambed more than 80 ewes — our high­est num­ber ever.

The first pigs we kept were Ox­ford Sandy and Blacks, which we still breed to­day, a firm favourite with us for tem­per­a­ment and meat qual­ity, but we’re also try­ing Berk­shires for the first time this year.

We have 100 lay­ing hens, a med­ley of ducks and ban­tams, all of whom roam freely around our or­chard and pad­docks. The eggs are used in our home bak­ing and are sold in our farm shop, at mar­kets and to pubs and cafes lo­cally. We like to be a part of all these smaller vil­lage, farmer and co­op­er­a­tive mar­kets as it en­cour­ages peo­ple to buy lo­cal. Our farm shop is stocked with lots of sea­sonal pro­duce, home bak­ing, pre­serves and meat from the small­hold­ing. Any sur­plus fruit and veg we have is used to make sea­sonal pre­serves, pick­les, chut­neys and jel­lies.

We’re in our fifth year of keep­ing tra­di­tional bronze tur­keys. We are de­lighted with the qual­ity of their meat and have come to love their char­ac­ters, es­pe­cially their singing cho­rus.

We haven’t al­ways lived on site and for many years did a lot of trips back and forth check­ing, feed­ing and wa­ter­ing the live­stock, plants and flow­ers, but fi­nally last Septem­ber, af­ter a six-month build, we moved into our new home.

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