Had a lovely visit to my friend, Alex Stevenson’s, inspiring smallholding (www.dalecottagefarm.co.uk). She has pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, beehives and, to Ruby’s delight, a tortoise and a labradoodle called Ruby. All in a gorgeous setting.
Alex’s smallholding nestles into a really lush little corner of rolling Worcestershire countryside, the ducks and hens share a wonderful apple orchard, there are great edible borders to paths (redcurrants and raspberries line the path from the kitchen to the pigs) and husband Rob makes wooden fencing, hurdles and great sheds!
As Alex has had pigs for several years now and tried many ways of curing the meat from air dried ham to chorizo, I was keen to find out what worked in our climate. So I’m ready to really do justice to our Berkshire pigs.
It was great seeing homemade chorizo still hanging under the shaded porch from last year. And I loved the outdoor woodburner, great for friends to gather around in the Autumn on a ‘pig day’.
But the other treat that I was keen to see at Alex’s smallholding was her flower patch. She grows gorgeous organic, English cottage garden flowers and sells them at farmers markets and for weddings. Buckets of flowers are becoming really popular, according to Alex. The village fete style look is popular and instead of opting for a costly, formal look, friends often simply fill vintage jugs or even jam jars or milk bottles with flowers.
The rainy start to our summer has made it tough for Alex this year, with annuals struggling to grow and lovely blooms being battered. But her flower patch still looks wonderful, with beautiful swathes of cornflowers and velvety Sweet Williams. She works so hard and has such a great country style, I hope the rest of the summer is easier for her.