About paulrainger

Smallholder trying to be selfsufficientish. Previously an environmental campaigner, and Founder of Bristol's BIG Green Week Festival. Me, I'm just a lawnmower, you can tell me from the way I walk.

The Noodle of Serendipity

There is a new soul with us at The Secret Acre.

Meet Noodle, the labradoodle!

When our beloved Ruby passed away before Christmas we were very clear. We were not going to have another dog for at least a year in order to go travelling. But fate had other plans for us. Continue reading

Heartbreak Hotel

There have always been three souls here at The Secret Acre, the third person in our marriage being Ruby, a little rough-haired Jack Russell.

She even carried the rings down the aisle for us.

So it was heart breaking this Christmas when Ruby died at the ripe old age of 13, from what we have now all learned to call ‘underlying health issues’. The first of a string of devastating bereavements as it turned out. Continue reading

It’s beginning to look a lot like Winterval

Sadly it’s turning into a Christmas Horribilis for us. More about this at a future date when we feel we can write about it.

But before the proverbial hit the fan, we were busy preparing for a happier, socially distanced Yule.

The Christmas tree arrived on a tractor, delivered from the farm a few hundred yards down the road, where we had often walked the dog past the field where it was growing.

Just six inches needed trimming off the top to get it in. Continue reading

The Parsnip of Promise

Much excitement on The Secret Acre winter veg patch.

“Look at the size of this parsnip” Emma calls over pointing at the giant disc sitting surrounded by topsoil.

“That would be a great one to dig up for Christmas.”

So we did….. Continue reading

Winter Clearance in the Orchard

Regular readers will know that our usual approach, as slovenly smallholders, is to do everything about two to four weeks too late.

Hence writing about some of our winter clearance work in December, instead of in March, feels slightly wrong. We blame it on lockdown 2.0! Continue reading

Leaping into Leaves

Autumn, according to Winnie the Pooh, is “A time of hot chocolatey mornings, toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves.”

And who are we to argue with the great Tao of Pooh?

So all three have been enjoyed at The Secret Acre this autumn, while England endured its second Covid lockdown as you can see!

These autumn months always just seem to whiz by in a flash. Continue reading

Harvest 2020 – Part 4: Squeezing the final Pips

Last month saw some of our final summer harvest pickings as the decent into autumn gathered pace.

It’s been a long lockdown summer in the garden.

From the early broad beans, onions and garlic, through the traditional gluts, and welcome summer helpers.

Here’s another pictorial roundup of the final action. Continue reading

Fun Guy?

It hasn’t just been biodynamic tear peas that we experimented with this year, our plans for a mushroom bed progressed too.

The idea germinated some years earlier when we visited GroCycle in Devon to see their project growing mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds, as a possible business idea for The Secret Acre. Continue reading

Cash Crop?

Like most smallholders we still work part-time, the holy grail of living off the land proving elusive in the current unsustainable era of cheap industrial food which hides the true costs of production. Continue reading