I often think I should have written something about an event that's happened here, or I feel neglectful to not have added to our blog for some time, but then is anyone really reading these? Does anyone actually want to read the car crash of a time we've had? Do they care if it goes well for once?
I'm not sure, I don't read blogs by other smallholders I must confess. I did though. Once. That time long ago when I sat in normal clothes (as I call them) wishing for the day we had our own place. Our own mud and our own sideways rain.... Well perhaps those details I hadn't factored into the whole life changing event but they loom large at the moment. Perhaps that is why I don't read other blogs at the moment. I live it, I don't always want to read the same accounts that could have come from me any day of the week. I know I will pick up my favourites when we have more time, hopefully those people will also have some positive and uplifting posts to echo our own.
Whether someone is out there now reading this or not I will continue. You see I do think that what we are doing is interesting and I believe its about to get a whole lot more exciting and very interesting indeed. I really can't think of a better way to show like minded people what the realities of living in a place like this really are, and to show people just how fulfilling life can be here (despite previously mentioned mud and chaos).
Our aim moving here was to live a simple life. Or as simple as life lets you really get it (assuming you still want a mobile phone, have a WIFI router that needs attention about once every 6 months and you want to keep livestock, which by the way are not simple and do not do what you either need them to or want them to do). We could make life even more simple by moving out into the wilds and living a life based on survival like in some of the episodes of Ben Fogle New Lives in the Wild. I have to confess I love these programmes and often wonder if I could cope in a more isolated location. However we moved here, to Maes Mawr. Translated it means Large Field, and it is. Kind of.
The reality of moving to the country was not lost on us. We came with plans to renovate a very old cottage into a lovely home. Neither of us is fussed with the details of interior design, and I don't covert a pristine house such as those in the pages of country magazines... although you do know we did feature in one right?!
What we both love is just nice things. Things linked to this house like the old bottles dug out of the ground in the garden, old blankets knitted by hand and furniture which has lived another life. Being surrounded by our books with a fire on is a perfect evening, seeing all the dogs lying about I can sometimes be overcome with a sense of 'life is complete', albeit the feeling is short lived for now. We've nearly finished, and by that I mean the bigger jobs. No house like this is ever finished, it becomes an ongoing job of repairing and fixing over the years but we love it.
The outside space is what we bought this place for. The goats are Stevens passion, and mine is gardening and plants. Together we are creating two businesses which will run side by side, and on occasion come together in the middle.
The Clean Goat Soap Company is running well. We have invested more cash this year to increase our production, and will be releasing our own recipe of shampoo and solid lotion bars. Everything you need for that totally natural and plastic free bathroom routine. We believe that everyone can do that little something for the environment by not using so many bottles of plastic and cheap chemicals washed down the pipes.
The Blue Cottage Plant Nursery & Gardens is my passion. I've had to address some changes this year and I won't be selling plants online. Due to Plant Regulations and the requirement of Passports to be produced the cost of being visited and accredited in creating passports is simply too high to balance against any potential revenue of my online sales. However, I will be selling direct and when I can confirm all this I will let you all know. If you're in North Wales you can come say hello, and of course buy a plant off me. That's compulsory, as is buying the soap, just so you know.
The gardens aspect to this is to grow plants that I want to sell here, to show you the customer how they perform in the ground and what you can achieve with a little plant combination here or there. I want to inspire people to have some fun with their outdoor spaces and to not be put off by the weather or the initial growing conditions. My vegetable garden is nearly fully set up and you'll be able to learn from us and grow a little home grown veg in your own back garden.
Both businesses will then in 2021 come together to offer courses, and this is the bit that gets really exciting. You will be able to come to us, spend the day, enjoy some lunch in the gardens and take tea on the lawns as well as learning about smallholding, keeping goats in general, dairy goats, poultry, gardening, vegetable growing and self sufficiency. You will be able to have a relaxing day taking in the scenery we have here to learn all about this lifestyle. You can ask any questions you like and enjoy taking part to see if this is really the lifestyle for you.
So perhaps whilst I write this up knowing that there is mud outside (we need to spend a small fortune on grass seed this year), things are finally turning a bit of a corner. We have mostly finished the bigger jobs around here, so much so that the idea of raking flat in excess of 60 tons of slate to cover 500mtrs of track and lane this spring is going to be a walk in the park.