Wotcha. I’m Rob.
With Lucy and the bairns (Cai and Mia) along with another, older, bairn who does some of his own Miniholding in Hipsterville while at University, and a rag-tag of assorted scum and villainy we call friends and family, we make up The Miniholding.
So what is The Miniholding?
Well, basically we’re trying to implement as many smallholding / homestead principles as we can into a small urban setting. We have no land (although we do borrow a small back garden for veg and barbecues), and no livestock. We’re all in full time employment or education with all the time constraints that comes with. We have no wealthy benefactors, relations or a lucrative TV deal to fund us (although open to offers on any of these 🙂 ) and we don’t have a large team of experts or labourers to help.
Our aim is to learn as many traditional crafts as we can and then pass those on in as many ways as possible to help like minded individuals and families to do the same. The money we save by up-valuing any produce we get, we use to buy source books and the equipment required for more complex projects (and there’s still lots that we haven’t yet got). We don’t sell this produce but, as we can make very good bacon for a fraction of the supermarket prices, that’s where the savings come from.
So far those crafts are mainly centred around food and drink. It started with Homebrew, including beers, wines, meads and ciders. We’ve since begun butchery and charcuterie, baking and breadmaking, cheese and dairy, various preserves and gardening. Of course we also do a lot of home cooking and some simple foraging and some of that may find it’s way here.
We probably should stress that we are not ‘experts’ in any of these areas. Our aim is to become proficient in a wide range of skills rather than masters of one. Nothing here should be considered professional advice and we’ll try to present alternatives to our methods in a reasonable way. We’ll probably tell you why we decided on a particular method but it is down to the reader to decide on their own. Needless to say, we don’t accept liability for what you do or what you make. Do remember to be scrupulously clean when dealing with food and learn to use your senses to judge if it’s safe.
Our principles when we source our produce:
Of course there is no stipulation for anyone reading the blog to follow our sourcing principles. However, we have found that by making our food from scratch we can produce food that is actually cheaper than intensive, or factory produced items of the same kind. For example, all our bacon is free range and costs us less than ‘standard’ supermarket fayre.
- Homegrown first. This is limited to some vegetables and fewer fruits. We try to get as close to Organic standards as we can.
- Local. Anything we can’t grow ourselves, we try to source as much as we can from within our county and those surrounding us. We try to use smallholders and farms where possible, and a local butcher also sources from the surrounding area, so we use him a lot too.
- Free range. Buying whole carcasses local and free range, then butchering ourselves costs around the same as the sum of it’s parts from a supermarket. It is, of course, extra work but we think the effort is worth it.
- Organic. This one’s clearly a little trickier. Certified organic produce can cost much more than even free range. Where possible, we do buy Organic if we can. Milk, for example can be tricky to get as just free-range, so here we always buy organic.
- Short date or ‘condemned’ as we like to call it. When we do go to a supermarket, if there is produce that is reduced, we would rather use that than let it go to waste. We tend to use these items for experiments where we are trying new recipes or techniques.
We’d be downright liars if we said we never use the supermarket. However, the more of these techniques that we learn, the less we find ourselves doing so.
Long term plans:
Ultimately, we would very much like to have a smallholding of our own. If we get that far then we would (hopefully) have come a small way towards gaining the skills required to make it a success. Of course smallholding / homesteading is about far more than just food and drink, but those are the elements we will concentrate on here; at least for the time being.
There is also the potential to turn The Miniholding, itself, into a viable business, although how or what that would mean, we’re not quite sure. We do intend to keep this website going though, and it will always be free information for all.
Have a look around. I promise that most of the processes are as easy as they are delicious and you can replicate them in the simplest of places. We’ll make sure to let you know if a process is more involved and highlight other projects that you may want to consider first.
Finally, if you find any of the information useful, please do let your friends know about us. You could be helping someone take the first steps in a long and joyful road of discovery.