It’s been a whole month since we took ownership of our new home and what a month it has been!
We’ve been so busy, that January has just flown by, but we have still reached the end of the month wishing that we had done more. The winter weather has slowed us down, as we knew it would, with very strong winds making a lot of jobs unfeasible. And yet, we have been there every day and progress has been made, even if not at the speed that our impatient souls would like.
The first really big event to happen at our new home, was the homecoming of our four ducks, Tonka, Clover, Sorrel and Flax.
Friends had looked after them for us, while we were homeless and we couldn’t wait to get them back. I picked out a suitable outbuilding for them and set to work cleaning it up. We are fortunate that most of the outbuildings are dry and although we will repoint them and do some maintenance work on the roofs, doors and windows in the summer, they are fine to use as we need them.
The ducks settled in very quickly and I am so glad that they have this big indoor space for bad weather and bird flu lockdowns. I will be very happy to see them wandering around the garden when restrictions are eased though, they are excellent garden companions!
Our two rabbits, Otto and Muffin, also got to move in to their new home. They also have their own little outbuilding for their winter quarters, with room for them to both have pens to freely run around in, whatever the weather.
While we were clearing out these two little buildings, we discovered that an old flagstone path ran between them. It was buried underneath grass and a few inches of earth. We decided to start clearing it, because the comings and goings were turning it into a mudbath.
Wren thoroughly enjoyed helping me with this job. She is a big fan of mud and the wheelbarrow rides in between, were an added bonus!
A few days later we realised that these enormous flagstones extend right around the barns to the house, so we are tackling one area at a time, when the weather permits.
It’s not all bad weather of course and I have wasted no time in making a start on the garden.
The garden will be a big focus for me this year. It is a fairly blank canvas at the moment, once cleared, and I have a craft garden, flower garden and vegetable garden to establish. Not forgetting a small orchard and mixed hedgerow around the perimeter.
This will all take years to bring to life, but it will start to grow this year and it will be wonderful to watch it change.
Although much of the land is just rough grassland, there are signs of a once loved garden and these have begun to show as I have been clearing. There is an enormous and very well established rhubarb patch, which we are very pleased about, as we will be starting from scratch with all other fruits.
I was also particularly pleased to find a large border of crocosmia, which I quickly cleared of old growth, to encourage new shoots to come through. This will give me a great source of sustainable weaving material, later in the year.
As I have been clearing the small walled garden, I have discovered various bulb plants, that once uncovered, have already put on a good amount of growth. It will be lovely to have some spring flowers, as we had so many of them at our old house and won’t be able to plant our own, until autumn. We will be planting lots of bulbs for next year, some just for looks, but many for weaving and dyes.
After spending weeks deliberating over which polytunnel to buy, I finally bit the bullet and ordered one. It will offer me 35x14ft of indoor growing space, an absolute luxury after making do with our small porch area (which doubled as a pantry), for the past two years.
It arrived this week, a week of winds of up to 70mph! It has made me incredibly nervous about choosing the right spot for it. I am trying to weigh up some sort of balance between shelter from the harsh winds, and maximum light in an already short growing season.
I am hoping that some well positioned, wooden wind fencing might save the day.
With a bit of luck, we will find the time and a few calm weather days to put it up before the end of February, but if not, I have a plan for starting the first seeds. I will make use of the upstairs windows in our farmhouse, as renovation work won’t begin on it for a couple of months at least.
I have ordered an enormous quantity of seeds this year. My enthusiasm for growing as much of our own food as possible, coupled with my passion for growing flowers, has resulted in what might possibly be absolute chaos – even with a 35ft polytunnel!
I can’t wait to get started though. That joy of watching tiny seedlings appear and then tending to them and willing them to grow into healthy plants, is truly special and something that I have really missed over the past few months.
By the end of February, we will be living at our new home full-time, something that we are all looking forward to. It really is such a special place and our youngest two already have so much fun there. It is a place where dreams will come to life, simple pleasures will be enjoyed and it is a place that we will call home for many years to come.