Breathing space

The first frenzy is over. Even though we’re only about half unpacked, Mike and I walked the land in the sunshine and did some basic planning:

  • The chicken area will be fully enclosed including the top to foxproof it. Within the 50′ x 25′ area will be two identical 3m x 6m fully enclosed runs with a recycled plastic smart chicken shack each, so we can rotate them and let the land rest. More than enough space for 5 or 6 chickens to start with; hope to get that sorted by the summer so we can rescue some poor girls. Going to a local poultry auction on Sunday just to have a look – I didn’t realise there were so many different types of chickens. Ours will be the basic brown hybrids, probably in a tattered sorry state when we get them. Any eggs they give us will be gratefully received, and they’ll live out the rest of their lives in freedom.
  • Part of the existing chicken area behind the garage will be reclaimed for parking for 3 more cars.
  • Mike’s woodland and pond bed will be where the old pigpen is (need to find a home for that) and will be roughly 22m x 12m. There might be a firepit. Round the road-edges of the land we’ll be planting more hedgerow stuff to bulk up the boundaries.
  • The fruit cage will be 8m x 5.5m and I will fill it with yummy things for jams. Waiting for growing season to kick off so I can properly see what fruit and nut trees we have.
  • The main veg bed area is approx 8m x 11m; there’s a second area about the same size which is currently unallocated, but could be for permanent stuff like rhubarb.
  • Back in the formal garden, the 9′ x 10′ greenhouse will be replaced with a 10′ x 12′ one, with new cold frames and a proper heating system.
  • The existing double haybarn needs to come down before it falls down. It will be replaced with a two-room building – one half for a multigym and one half as a photography studio.
  • Behind the haybarn will be an additional storage building/bike shed.
  • We’re also planning purpose-built runs for cat fostering for Waltham Forest Cats Protection.
  • A hot tub will eventually go on the patio area but probably not this year; same with a chimenea.
  • The first room of the outbuilding is currently an overflow of kitchen and laundry, and will stay that way, with possible additional use for making and storing wine/cider/jams etc. The roof is infested with ivy and will be cleared when we have better weather. Then we can gasp at how awful the roof is and sort it out. The outbuilding is really only half finished throughout and I hate the sight of breezeblocks.
  • The second room of the outbuilding is ideal for storing big gardening stuff.
  • The third room is a loo – always handy! I remember our allotment days peeing in a bucket behind the shed.
  • Mike’s huge office over the garage has had a first coat of paint on the pine cladding.
  • The workshop and garage are just full of stuff – ours and the previous owner’s.
  • We’re going to have to spend a fortune on fencing and infrastructure stuff because it’s all falling down. We’ll do it bit by bit. At this stage we’re still doing housey stuff, so it’ll take a couple of years before it’s all fully functioning as a smallholding again, but we have the beginnings of a plan.