We are always thrilled to hear from people who have been on our courses; we get frequent emails and photos updating us on your progress, and as you become more ambitious you come back to us with lots of questions too. There are too many to put on the website, but thought you might like to read a small selection:
Dear Debbie and Andrew,
I know that Tracey has already sent our thanks but I just wanted to add mine and say what a very good value for money weekend I felt that we had, the content was perfect and the way in which it, the time and people were managed was perfect. I have been on many courses throughout my working life and very often, on reflection the most enjoyable tend to have been the most unproductive - all too often the point is strayed from and we end up in rounds of subject related anecdotes and having some fun but don't actually learn a lot. The possibility that this might have been the case was in the back of mind when we arrived but was very quickly dismissed.
Tracey has always said that she would stick to the business/finance and sales side of this adventure and has been quite nervous about contact with livestock but after the contact with the sheep in the pen and close proximity to your beautiful cattle she has completely changed her attitude and realises that we both have to be involved in almost all aspects of smallholding to make it work well. In all honesty this was all that I hoped for from the weekend and having come away with so much more we both feel much better prepared.
My sincerest thanks to you both.
Many thanks for the photos of a memorable day. The drive home was thankfully uneventful - unusual for this journey!
I originally booked with you to find out the practicalities of keeping animals on our land, and your courses did that and much more. As well as pointing out the regulations, housing, feeding, diseases etc you gave us a valuable glimpse into the psychology of the livestock. It was obvious from both the animals and the land that you and Paula farm very sympathetically - in fact your animals' obvious contentment seemed to rub off on me in a surprisingly positive and uplifting way...As I drove home, I reflected that I have never been on a course before which has simultaneously satisfied the body, the mind and the soul - thank you.
All the best
Hi Debbie and Andrew,
Just thought I would update you following your wonderful course....I came back home ready to ditch everything in and go and live in Devon! - then I realised there were other things to consider - job, money, kids, husband!! Soooo here is what I am doing now whilst still holding on to the dream. My daughters would like to raise some chicks - this is under negotiation as we would not be keeping them all (particularly the boys) and they are still a bit concerned about eating ones they have looked after - this is an ongoing subject which I think I can persuade them - either that or we will end up with lots of chickens! I have ordered a book on turkeys and a quick survey of my neighbours and friends has produced several Christmas plates for them so looks like a go-er... In the meantime we are getting another 3 battery rescue hens.
I am in the process of making a new soft fruit plot and will be putting more currants and berries in over the next few weeks so lots of jam for next year. I am also putting in more veg beds to go with the 4 I already have and have decided to get a polytunnel as my poor greenhouse is always overflowing throughout the summer... I think you get the idea that the ornamental part of my garden is shrinking rapidly - I feel like Barbara from the good life! The kid's climbing frame is looking in the way too- perhaps I could grow something useful up it??
I have asked for a beekeeping course run at our local horticultural college for this years Christmas present and hope to set two hives up next year - the thought of our own honey is too much to pass up - I only hope the neighbours don't mind! I can't squeeze pigs in (shame) but am on the look out for somewhere else to house them.
And what does my hubby say about all this?? He is getting excited at putting up a willow screen and seat and new paths - everyone is happy! Your place is truly inspirational and whilst I may be a few years off a proper smallholding I do believe I will be doing it one day - we both retire in our 50s so there's always then....Thank you again for a really good weekend - must go now and do some more digging
Hi Debbie and Andrew,
I just wanted to drop you a very quick email to thank you for a wonderful weekend that exceeded our expectations in pretty much every way. Not only did you provide us with lots of relevant information for us to take away and digest, but you also allowed us a valuable glimpse into where we might be in five, ten or twenty years if we do commit to take certain (big and slightly scary) steps. Your honesty about the difficulties and sacrifices that can be involved was very welcome, but your clear passion for what you have achieved is infectious and I am not at all surprised that people have come away from previous courses and set off straight away on their own adventures.
You have a lovely home in a beautiful setting. More importantly, you are an inspirational couple, and we count ourselves very fortunate to have found your course so close to our home. We will certainly be in touch with you in the future, for meat and possibly livestock, and fully expect to see you on future courses. I have no doubt we will also be in touch with many silly and a few not so silly questions, and let you know how things get on.
In the meantime, thanks again, and good luck with everything on the farm.
[At] our small holding, things are progressing. We have 3 Gloucester Old spots ( 2 male 1 female). Initially they were all for meat but as we have the bug we shall save our female and put her into piglet production. A local farmer is going to supply some Dexter cattle; pregnant cow with calf at foot also a steer for fatting up for the winter. He will organise the servicing of the cow so we have our “flow” as he calls it. Really exciting and came across him quite by chance. He is in Bristol so low carbon food miles.
Our latest bit of meat production came about yesterday when we went to see another Bristol farmer who is going to supply us chickens for meat ( have ordered 15 ex bats for eggs due mid April) Quail, Guinea fowl table ducks and layers over the next month. Next it will be some Geese for security and the table. The idea of getting day old chicks never crossed my mind. The garage will be their home for the first 4 weeks then over to the small holding. Seed sowing is well under way. Even trying peanuts for oil production. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I want to try and grow Hemp for oil production but struggling finding any info, do you have any ideas?
Finally I can report that I have completed my Bee course and have a promise of some bees. Already managed to get some parts of hives and joined the local Bristol Beekeepers Association. Friendly bunch.
In your last e-mail you said I would be after more land and how right you are. Trying to rent some land next to me and ultimately move to a house with land. I can honestly say I am having a ball. It has given me a new lease of life. As my self sufficiency year starts June 1st I am confident of surviving.
Trust all is well with you and Andrew and keep in touch.
Hi Debbie and Andrew
A big, big thank you to you both for an amazing weekend, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves (yes, even me). It has really focused us in what we can and can't do and what we are looking for. I know my limitations, and although Mark and I want different things out of a smallholding I think as a partnership it will work really well. The course was really full on (in a good way) you and Andrew are an inspiration, we came back full of ideas, but also fed-up we can't get going on them now!
I have printed the recipe for the lovely, scrummy apple cake, and was surprised to see other recipes on the website, so here we go with the chutneys. Your website is very good and it is why I chose your course actually...
Thanks again, hope the lambing is going well, and you have not seen the last of us!
Rhonda and Mark, France
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