We have found a family doing almost exactly what we think we want to do! Dave and Rosie were able to buy their land five years ago and now have sheep, a few cows, hens, woodland, a polytunnel, orchard, are building their own house, and have horses that stay out all year round.
They have three children, one of whom I lost. I forgot Rosie had gone to the other end of the farm and told the four year old to "find mummy" whilst I was trying to get K to go back to the tent for bed. They were amazingly forgiving. I know I would have been quite angry if it had been K or J being sent to look for me such a long way away.
We had a great time with them, despite that. We made compost heaps using a square former, built wooden walls on their small barn. Dave has a mobile saw mill and used to be a forester, so seasons and cuts his own boards. We used a sickle for clearing weeds, which is actually just as quick and easy as using a strimmer. We also learnt a lot about having a small-holding and having reasons for living on your land. The polytunnel grows herbs and salad for sale, and needs constant attention, as do the horses that Rosie looks after as part of the business. Dave runs a portable compost toilet company, making Thunderboxes from old chemical containers and wood from his woodland. They are going to provide a terrace of ten toilets to Glastonbury this year. Rosie was telling us they need something like 80,000 toilets for the festival!
They home educated their children until they had to put so much time into running the farm. This has shown us that we will need to make a similar decision about our girls. They are lucky enough to live on the outskirts of a hamlet that is close enough to a medium size town to provide jobs for locals who do not work in agriculture so there is a real village community. Very nice.
After ten days in mid-Devon we have had a week off. A weekend at the Bodgers Ball, a brilliant greenwood working festival that really inspired V and myself to learn wood turning as well as hand carving.
I also saw a scything demonstration which amazed me as to how easy and efficiently you can cut grass, and weeds, by hand. I like power tools, but some things can be done just as well with human power and skill. I won't be selling my chainsaw in a hurry though. V and I did a timed log saw together, and took three minutes and forty nine seconds to cut through a 12 inch log. Really hard work as well!
Unfortunately we can't fit a pole-lathe into our van so we have started dreaming about a caravan so we can have a lathe and shave horse with us for turning bowls.
Big plans for the future :)