The Good Life is the dream of many city dwellers, but if you are done with the dreaming and want to make this your reality, you’re going to need a bit of practical advice before you sell up and move to the country.
If you have come from a farming background, you will have some idea of the hours that need to be put in to manage livestock and produce year round. Unfortunately, your animals aren’t going to give you a day of just because it’s Christmas. However, if you are looking for a complete shift in lifestyle, to become self sufficient and work the land in an environmentally friendly way, smallholdings are ideal.
Here’s what you need to know
Prepare for Winter
When the days are long and the sun is bright, it is easy to forget that winter is always just around the corner. The old adage make hay when the sun shines, is absolutely correct and you need to make the most of your farmland to ensure a smooth winter. Gather and preserve your crops making sure that you have produced enough feed to see your livestock through the cold season.
As you are likely to be in pretty much the middle of nowhere (compared to your city life, at least) it’s also a good idea to have plenty of fuel for your home and tools. Bunded oil tanks are ideal for safely storing diesel and heating oil that may just come in handy in your moment of need.
As you bring in this year’s crops, you should already be thinking about what you are going to produce next year and how to make a decent profit from what you make. This process will probably take a few seasons to really fine tune and a bit of experimentation is always a good idea. Ask around the local area and see what everyone else is making and selling to see what is popular and maybe even spot an uncatered niche.
Preservation is your watchword and you might have jams and chutneys coming out of your ears come autumn. Consider making other preserves like sloe gins or big batch cooked meals you can store in the freezer. Modern preservation methods haven’t really changed all that much (other than freezing) so try all sorts of old recipes and give them a twist to suit you.
Reuse and Recycle
When you run a small holding, especially to begin with, money will likely be tight. This doesn’t mean that your small holding will be awful, on the contrary – it will make you appreciate things all the more. Reusing and recycling things on your small holding will become second nature as a money saving measure and as a planet saving habit.
Make compost to spread on your land, use old pallets to create herbaceous planters – you can even recycle your own waste! Everything has a use, you just need to find it.
As you develop and build up your small holding and your skill set and confidence increases, this lifestyle will really repay you for the efforts you put in. You won’t even crave the city anymore. Well… maybe just a bit.