This is a busy time here at Lackan, not least because July appears to be the most popular month so far for visitors to Birch Cottage and the Off Grid Horse Box. We’re kept busy preparing the spaces for guests, the process of being self catering hosts is a constant learning curve, and we’re delighted that so many people are enjoying being here at the farm. For instance –

Highly recommend this cottage for anyone looking to get away from it all. Short drive away for anything you might need to pick up, but the place feels like you are miles away from the real world. Fantastic views, gorgeous animals and a simply beautiful cottage to relax and unwind.

2017 is also proving to be a bumper year for fruit, and we’ve been working hard to keep up with the picking and preserving – we are determined not to let any go to waste. There isn’t time to turn it all into something right now so we’re freezing it all until things calm down a bit.

One exception was elderflower, which we made into many gallons of elderflower champagne, and promptly drunk. Luckily we also made a great deal of elderflower cordial which should last considerably longer.

The summer months are also a busy time on the land – keeping the vegetables free(ish) from weeds, maintaining paths, clearing around the fruit trees and bushes, harvesting in the tunnels, and ensuring that new seedlings are brought on and readied so that we don’t suddenly harvest everything and end up with masses of bare soil. This is one of the hardest things to get right, and we’re continually learning how to do it better.

Now that the rainwater harvesting is installed, we’re watering predominantly with the stored rainwater, although the overall rainwater is well down here this summer, and we’ve run out a couple of times. We’re in the process of adding yet more storage so that we can capture rain from other roofs for when it is needed.

Other jobs around the place are include all the fences mended that the horses have a knack of breaking. A lot of the fence posts around the fields are probably 20 plus years old now, and the wet ground means they rot and snap once a horse leans on them. We’re gradually replacing them all as they go, and continually fixing and maintaining to keep the horses in.

The woodland is probably our greatest asset here, and we’ve been working on developing a circular walk around it so that guests can enjoy a stroll, and sit in the clearings on their way. Now that the new plantation is at the stage where you can’t see out of it, we’re establishing new paths and it feels more like a single woodland. The hedges along the lane are recovering from decades of over cutting, and the new tree planting connects the woodland to this vital habitat corridoor.

Someone commented today that this looks like an idyllic lifestyle, and although it often is, it is also incredibly hard work creating and managing a space that provides all our income, energy, and a substantial portion of our food, water and fuel. The main difference, I observed, between this and my old day job is that this is hard work on my own terms, which means it is never a chore. Certainly though it is hard to switch off entirely as there always seems to be something to do.  One day maybe..