Environmentally Sensitive Smallholding
Olivia is in charge of the garden and has been since the family’s arrival to Gwalia in 1979. She has been dedicated toward self-sufficiency for 40 years and is quite an expert (although if you ask her a question she will always start the answer with “I don’t know really, but what I do is…”). Self-sufficiency is hard work and was not always appreciated by her children – it often involves long periods with limited variety (“Sprouts AGAIN?!”) but is amazing come July or August when there is an abundance of fresh fruit and fresh raw vegetables.
Since the dear old goat, Snowdrop, moved on to pastures new at the Dyfi Dairy we’ve been growing the small-holding. We now have some sheep and a beautiful Jersey cow called Daisy. We prefer cow milk to goat milk and also enjoy beef. We’ve kept pigs which was a real joy and know several other local small-holders who also uphold really high animal welfare standards so when we do eat meat we can be sure it’s local, ethical and grown with care and respect.
We have about 20 chickens in total. We have lots of space for them to run around. They are fed with wheat in the morning when they get up and before roosting at night. We have to keep them very secure at night to make sure they are protected from predators (Fox, Badger and Mink), and the door has a double lock – foxes can be very clever!
We usually have just one cockerel and we think he is very fabulous. The hens produce plenty of eggs, although they are not the most efficient of flocks as we keep our hens even after they stop laying eggs. The eggs are delicious!
Our cats, Nutmeg and Tansy are working cats in that they help to keep the mice, rabbits and squirrels away from ours and the animals’ food. They are both very effective hunters and happen to also be extremely friendly and love a cuddle. They are also opportunist so you’ll need to keep an eye on your food and your beds if you don’t want to find a cat napping there.
Surplus produce is often preserved in pickles, kilner jars or the freezer. Last year’s bumper crop of blackcurrants resulted in some interesting experiments – cordial, chutney, creme-de-cassis and of course, jam. Sometimes the surplus is sold to visitors, local restaurants or to friends.