Category Archives: Uncategorized

What’s in a nap?

So here’s an insight into our life (with a baby!) on the smallholding…

Yesterday, Jules was busy doing scrub-clearing in preparation for hedge-laying (one of those dastardly jobs that must be done before the spring and leaves you looking like you’ve had a fight with a cat). Nowadays, of course, if one of us is busy the other is on Melinka watch and so their ‘productive’ time is limited to nap times or doing things one handed or with a a baby on your back.

As a snapshot, yesterday I managed to clean out the chickens and Dimple, feed the pigs, collect and stack straw from a local friend and make a small dent in some house jobs during Melinka’s 3 hours of naps. It’s a race against her waking up that most parents must be familiar with but perhaps a less usual mix of jobs and we have more reliance on the range of the baby monitor!

Anyway, apologies for the slightly outdated photo – that’s one thing that we don’t seem to find enough time for…

New Year’s Resolutions

We are just taking the Christmas tree down and I am ┬ámaking some belated New Year’s resolutions. One of them is to try to update this blog every Sunday night in case people are interested (I hope that, on Mondays in the office, hearing about our muddy shenanigans might make people smile?!).

Our progress has slowed (thanks to a little bundle) for the last six months, but we are still slowly ticking off jobs and here is a little summary of the most recent projects:

  1. We have put down membrane and gravel between the vegetable beds to try and help with the war on slugs and weeds.
  2. We have demolished our old corrugated iron shed and we have builders currently building a replacement. This project is not as environmentally friendly as we would have liked thanks to time and money, but at least it will be a sturdy structure that will be there for a very long time and is sorely needed.
  3. Tree felling, hedge laying and general clearing and tidying outside is an ongoing winter project.
  4. Jules got a butchery course and lots of knives for his birthday and Christmas so when we slaughter a pig next week, Jules will butcher it himself for the first time!
  5. On the animal front, we hope that this year will bring us a new calf, more piglets, more chicks goslings and hopefully ducks too.
  6. Renovations inside the house will be the main focus for 2013, in particular the bathroom and kitchen as well as beefing up the insulation and battling the damp.

Well, that’s all for now folks. We ┬áhave added loads of baby photos to the gallery for those who are interested and we leave you with this photo of Jules bringing Barbara back from her little walkabout to the neighbours’ house!


Tips on Stock Fencing

A blog entry for fellow smallholders…

Here at Penybanc we have (or had) essentially NO ‘proper’ fencing. By that I mean anything more effectual and less dangerous than a couple of loose strands of rusting barbed wire. As we hope to keep some larger livestock soon (more on that later!) there is a fairly urgent need to get at least one of the paddocks stock fenced.

This blog is a very brief summary of some things that I’ve learnt about putting up stock fencing. You can, of course, get a contractor in with big pile drivers and post bangers… but that’s not really our style!

I won’t repeat the other and more knowledgeable articles and books on how to stock fence, but what I will say is read lots of them, or ask someone that knows – it’s not as simple as it may seem!

Here are some key points that you might not read elsewhere:

– If you’re scared of hard physical work, don’t try this. It’s pretty tiring, but FUN!

– It sounds obvious, but don’t try and fence when the ground is rock hard. It’s difficult enough as it is…

– We ended up using high-tensile netting and barbed wire, which, although slightly more expensive, can be tensioned to a greater extent and will last longer. It is also slightly more difficult to handle as it is stiffer and recoils with some force.

– Tensioning the fence against its strainers is the key to a good looking, long lasting and functional fence. There are a few different ways of straining the fence, all of which require different bits of kit. We used a combination of two methods. Firstly we took up the majority of the tension by attaching a home made gripping bar to the netting and then to the back of the land rover. We then pulled slowly away until the fence became taut and we could fix it to the strainer. Before this point we had introduced ‘gripples’ into each horizontal strand of netting and now we returned to these and used the gripple tensioning tool to apply further tension, up to the desired level. This has the added advantage that we can go back at a later date and apply more tension if necessary.

– Buy well-treated posts. If anything is going to give up in a few years (especially in damp Wales) then it’s likely to be the fence posts. Make sure that they have been well treated so that they will last (we opted for Jacksons that come with a 25 year general rot protection guarantee).

– Buy a hole-digger tool thingy (like this). The one thing you can’t skimp on is how deep you bury the strainers and gate posts and to dig deep holes, you’ll need more than just a spade. You can get auger-type ones but I can’t vouch for how well they work.

If you’ve got any questions on this fire me an email and I’ll do my best to help.



Welcome to our site!

Before we go any further you should be aware that we both flagrantly abuse the exclamation mark So if you’re the literary type that shudders at their lack of precision then be gone, this site will offend!

Anyway… over the next few weeks we will be aiming to catch up with the goings on at Penybanc Farm.

V and horse

There are a few reasons for doing what some might consider a self-important thing like creating a website when we are not a commercial business. The first is that it provides an easy and effective way of keeping those that are interested up to date with what we are up to. Websites make a great ‘take it or leave it’ method of spreading information.

The second reason is to let you know what jobs, other visitors, shindigs etc. we have going on so that you can plan your own visits accordingly (I recommend timing your stay with Cider making…). If you want to see what’s going on check out our calendar.


Finally, we hope that we can use our experience to spread some interest about the world around us and maybe even start some discussions or offer a forum for support to others that need advice or encouragement. Posts will rapidly expand to cover subjects ranging from hedge laying to solar panels to the Welsh assembly (maybe).

We hope you enjoy it.

Oh, and of course send us feedback!