A Spring of Firsts
We're now in to our 2nd Spring at Demelza Cottage and feeling more confident with the annual smallholding cycle. Last year, we muddled through, lurching from one priority to another. This year we're not winging it quite so much and we're a little more in control of what needs to be done (famous last words). It was a late start to the year, we had so much rain, tractor work was impossible, if we were to preserve our field, so it has been a little redundant until May.
We had our lambs in March, three in total and we inherited a couple more from a local farmer which we have been hand-rearing. Our first encounter with bottle-fed lambs, and a real delight. We also had our first problem ewe, twin-lamb disease and with the help of the local farm where our son has been working we managed to treat her and get her through the lambing season, although we thought we might lose her a couple of times.
So, we now have nine sheep and our neighbours would like us to have more, so that they can have some on their ground. My son's sheep empire could be growing before we know it. In July, he starts as a full time apprentice for a farm near Wadebridge and he can't wait. He has already been helping out on a sheep farm during the busy lambing season and seems to have found his vocation. It really has become a way of life for him, he's learned a lot and I hope that he still has the same enthusiasm for it in a few years time.
Other firsts for me recently - gutting and plucking a chicken, skinning a rabbit and beekeeping. Last year we inherited a swarm of bees in Stuart's old hive, but sadly, they moved on for the winter. This year, I have been getting ready, joined the local beekeepers association and have started to learn more about the art of beekeeping. Hopefully, we'll get a bit of honey this year, but we may have to wait until next year before we get into full production.
Last autumn, we had quite a lot of tree work done and I'm hoping it will be enough to allow more light into the veggie patch. I've had a bit more time to think about what I want to plant and so far, the seeds I've planted have germinated well and I'm hoping for a reasonable crop of veggies this year. The orchard that was planted last year has survived the winter, so who knows, we may be able to make a jar or two of jam this year too.
The apartment is going well, even during the Winter, I've been surprised at how booked up it has got. Reviews have been good, so long may that continue, and with some repeat bookings, next year should be even better than this year.
I'd say we've become part of the community now and I'm loving how much the children have adapted to the community too. The other day, they were walking up the lane and were late home for tea because they bumped into 3 neighbours who were all out and about in their cars and stopped for a catch up. They have no problem popping up the road to ask a favour, or help out with something and are getting to be quite well-known in the area, for the right reasons. Joby is in demand for his rabbiting skills and has most of East Demelza wrapped up for rabbiting. It's a dream come true to have so much on his doorstep!
Egg sales are also growing. I have quite a good customer base through my PR contracting work and dancing, as well as from my little stall outside. A local farm shop also takes my surplus duck eggs, so the poultry is finally paying for itself. Currently a broody hen is doing her job and sitting on some eggs, so we should have some chicks in a few weeks time to boost the numbers.
After all the problems and heartache we had last year, so many people have asked whether we would move back to Reading. The answer from us all is a resounding 'no'. We love it here, it has its challenges, but gradually we're taming them, taking more in our stride and becoming part of the Cornish community. Winter can be bleak, but isn't it everywhere?. Spring is here and we can look forward to beach days, walking in the country, camping in the field and BBQs in the garden. Apart from having Stu here to share it with us, what more could we possibly want?