Welcome to my blog, where a 30-something couple from the UK renovate and extend an old cottage, build some outbuildings, raise some hens and grow firewood trees and vegetables on our Acre in Hampshire. It's a bit like a smallholding but without too many animals, so we call it a homestead - living within our means, relying on ourselves and having a wonderful life!


Saturday, 27 July 2013

We Have the Keys!

We had been so excited about this house for months - and today was finally the day!

A close friend of ours is a country Estate Agent and knew we were on the look-out for a new home with a little land, a moderate amount of seclusion and a lot of character. We were tipped off about the Cottage some time before it came on the open market - and this gave us time to complete on the sale of our previous home in West Berkshire. We had been dreaming about our new life for months before the Cottage was listed on Rightmove - and trying (but failing) not to get too exicted! The Cottage was listed with a 'guide price' which meant we had to submit a strong offer - inevitably the price climbed, but after a few (very tense) days we got the wonderful news that our offer had been accepted. It was above the self-imposed limit price we had set - but it was a decision made by the heart, not the head!

So we completed on a Friday, after much gentle encouragement of our wonderful Solicitor  The first saturday was spent grinning like fools and standing in wonder, amazed that we had managed to buy this amazing place!

A quick assesment revealed that we would have to tackle the jungle that the land had become. The Acre is split roughly in thirds - an area around the house which contains my workshop and a rickety lean-to, a fenced field to the north that used to contain Wallabys (yes, really!) and a paddock to the south which previously held horses. The paddock had been topped regularly, but the rest of the land hadn't been touched for about six months - the grass was literally waist deep.

My ancient Stihl brushcutter decided that today would be a good day to expire, so a trip to my favorite shop in the whole world Scats delivered a new Stihl FS55 Brushcutter to the Cottage. The strimmer line struggled in the deep dry grass, which was so long that it had collapsed under it's own weight. I bought out the three-bladed steel cutter which coped much better. Cutting 2/3 of an acre still took two full days - not helped by the 30 degree temperatures we were experiencing.

Inevitably we met a few of the residents of the long grass - Monty found them, and fortunately they had escaped the attention of the brushcutter. I rebuilt a mound of grass over the nest and a week later they had gone - the grass was undisturbed, so I hope they weren't found by a predator.

A huge pile of grass was produced by the brushcutter, for the cost of only a few litres of fuel. Our kindly new neighbour has a small farm, and offered to move our pile of hay onto his muck heap - we accepted this offer all to readily! We managed to completly fill the muck trailer with hay - I had no idea a small area of grass could generate quite so much biomass. It did bring on a pang of machinery envy for me though...

We also didn't have any running water in the house - and it wasn't until after lunch on the second day that we found the stop-cock! Kristy's head is smaller than mine, so she had to turn on the water...

Monty certainly enjoyed the fact we now had running water - he is very particular when it comes to drinking, and much prefers a running tap to a bowl of water.

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