Forum home The potting shed

Would you buy a smallholding?

Wondered how many forum members have daydreamed about or seriously considered buying a smallholding?

It's been something I've thought about for years. Often had friends and family say, 'you should live on a smallholding' when they see my garden, 1/3rd wildlife garden, 1/3rd veg.

It seems to be getting for me almost a necessary move. Massive challenge, but I have a dream of around 8 acres, 5 acres food production, 1 acre garden, a couple of acres managed as a private nature reserve.

So have you done it? Do you dream of it? Would you never consider it at all?

I do sadly have a friend who lost his wife a few years back and I know his place became just way too much for him. Lots of pros and cons involved.




  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,331

    If you have a good strong back, no money worries and are an optimist by nature, go for itimage

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • as long as the small holding had a few acres of broadleaved woodland attached that I could manage then yes.

    I've always wanted 10 acres of woodland, 5 acres for mixed veg and fruit garden, a 1/2 acre orchard, full acre for a garden and maybe another 4 - 5 acres for farm animals.

    just need the money to do it now! image

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,279

    I got all the books in my twenties. John Seymour rules.

    Unfortunately I never had the money. I figure to have the simple self sufficient way of life, you have to have a lot of money first.

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    My Father had a small holding in the days way back when you lived off the produce animals and fowl. He was a superb gardener and lived in the walled section producing vegetables and fruit for the extended family. Even back then it did not pay he had his own Trucks and ran a Haulage and removal business, luckily the house was part of the small holding or I may have grown up thinking I did not have a Dad. Things were unregulated then and we could slaughter and butcher animals on the premises do not try that today there are more rules and regulations in keeping animals or producing food than there are enough books to print them.

    As Pansyface says, if you have buckets of spare cash and a good lawyer then go for it though it would also be best if you are ready for heart break. Week after week our papers say some sanctuary is closing down lack of funds, in hard times people give less to charity, My Son has a small farm but turned it all into paddocks and keeps other peoples horses, they stopped growing food, hard work no profit. It is up to you if you are young and enthusiastic it could be made to work but do not expect to get rich..


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    So long as youth is on your side and you never want to take a holiday, go for it.

    Do you relish working outside in all weathers? Are you prepared for the hard physical work? Lack of money? And on occasions sheer heartbreak?
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,653

    Not for me.   We have a large garden which I love but having lost one whole growing season to neck problems and surgery and then another season and a half to double foot surgeries i'm finding it hard to get it all back under control where pernicious perennial weeds have invaded and my own plants have got a bit too excited and gone invasive.

    We have a fruit plot, a veg plot, shrubberies, woodland corner, wildlife pond and shelters and a lot of grass for dogs to play and some stunning plants which are a joy but I don't want to be a slave to my garden and I don't want to be feeling it's a constant batte rather than a pleasure so when OH retires in 13 months time we're probably going to sell up and buy something a bit easier to manage.

    Definitely no question of having chooks or other critters now.  We can take the dogs and cat with us on hols if we're clever about where we go and where we stay but I wouldn't want to be tied to other livestock which limits even short stays away.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Been there and done it - as a farmer's daughter I'd always been involved with stock and when my brother took over the family farming business and it became totally arable I missed the animals. 

    By this time I was married with young children and living in a rural village - we were able to buy a run down 9 acre smallholding and redundant mill.  Bit by bit we cut back, the hugely overgrown hedges of hawthorn and blackthorn around the three meadows, making them stockproof (more or less) and made the buildings sound again (being married to a builder meant that this was possible - it would have cost a fortune otherwise). 

    I'd helped my mother keep goats on the farm, so the first animals we had were a couple of Golden Guernsey goatlings.  Before long I had a milking herd of 7 goats (producing milk and cheese), 60 rare breed poultry, assorted ducks, geese and guinea fowl. 

    Each year we bought in 4 weaner pigs at a time and these were reared and fattened (the whey from the cheesemaking came in handy there) and we had a small flock of Southdown ewes (a lovely gentle natured breed who can rarely be bothered to try to escape - they were traditionally used for grazing orchards and it is said that if you paint a white line on the ground they won't go over itimage

    We started off with a Manx Laoughtan ram but we didn't have enough ewes to keep him happy and he became rather stroppy and broke my thumb( making milking the goats tricky for a while).  After that a local farmer lent us a ram when needed, and sheared the sheep in exchange for the wool - we also took our sheep to his farm for dipping. 

    Since then the regulations on movement of animals are even tighter and I think taking sheep to be dipped on another farm would not be possibe now. 

    We also bought in 4 Hereford x steers at 4 months old and kept them on grass, hay, barley straw and barley meal getting them to slaughter at around 16 - 18 months.   We used a small local abbattoir owned and run by a friend - superb welfare conditions and the animals were never stressed or anxious there, resulting in the most tender beef (adrenalin toughens meat). 

    In one of the brick-build mill buildings we had three large chest freezers. 

    We had a small grey Ferguson tractor and a few implements - the most useful of which were the grass cutter and hay turner for the meadows.  A friend who worked on another local farm would borrow his boss's tractor and baler and help bale and stack the hay when it was ready. 

    We repaid friends for their help with joints of beef, free eggs and geese at Christmas etc.  We simply could not have managed without them.  Friends were also beyond price when we discovered that a gate in the meadow with the footpath running through it had been left open and the cattle were munching their way through the village allotments and churchyard - half the village turned out with great good humour to help herd the cattle back up the lane and into their meadow again.  Several rounds of Adnams beer were provided in the local pub that evening with much gratitude. 

    I'd always ridden so we also had a ride and drive Exmoor pony - he was a bad tempered so and so and a total liability - I sold him on to someone who had far more time than I and could re-school him and keep his brain busy so he didn't have time to plan his devious schemes.  After that I borrowed a friend's lovely Haflinger mare to ride.  Much the best way. 




    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Cont'd

    We also grew veg for the house - there was no point in growing more than we needed - everyone in the village grew their own.  We grew the usual veg plus a few early potatoes - by then brother was a huge potato and veg farmer so we were kept supplied with maincrop potatoes, carrots and parsnips.

    Sadly after a time I suffered a period of ill health and was no longer able to do the work needed.  By this time my husband had lost interest in the smallholding life and was involved in some charitable work overseas.  We sold up.

    It had been lovely - the children still talk of their wonderful childhood running free in the countryside, playing in the woods, rivers and meadows, but it was very very hard work.  We had hard winters and I actually suffered from mild frostbite one year when carrying water to cattle when the pipes and troughs froze.

     It was fine as a hobby, but it was definitely subsidised by my husband's business.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    I'm overwhelmed by all the feedback so far, thanks guys!

    Definitely looking into it being subsidised by either my current business and perhaps other high income schemes related to the smallholding Dovefromabove, I've had my own bouts of ill health in the past few years, though heavy gardening work strangely gives me more relief from back pain than the medical profession ever manged to achieve. With my OH being a lung cancer survivor and unable to do heavy work, it is the physical work aspect I need to consider the most. It seems I thrive on the outdoor life, my main problem is my work is very seasonal then I seem to get health issues when stuck indoors over the winter months, it's almost like I need to be out doing heavy physical work on a daily basis just to keep my body going.

    Definitely true what people have been saying regarding needing money to live a simpler life, I've seen though that it takes a lot more than just a wodge of cash. We've seen several people come from the city and buy small packets of land locally with big plans. None of them ever seemed to work out for them. I think some were a bit shocked there was more to it than just buying a Land Rover Discovery.image Don't get me wrong, nice people, nice ideas, but not a clue how to make it happen or even if their plans were legal. Much research and thinking required on my part still I think. image

  • If I won the lottery and could afford it, then yes!

Sign In or Register to comment.