@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.