Katy Runacres, Switzerland
Hi I’m Katy and I am a 24 year old smallholder. I love trying new ideas out each year be it growing a new crop or researching new upcycling ideas for old wooden pallets.
Also I enjoy seeing the seasons change and the different jobs that come with them. I am currently living in Switzerland with my boyfriend and our ex-pat cat Podge but am from Suffolk in East Anglia. To record our smallholding adventures, failures and successes I have a blog called ‘The Good Life In Practice’ http://thegoodlifeinpractice.wordpress.com/. Please take a gander at it and I would love to hear from other likeminded people. I have been writing articles for Country Smallholding Magazine, Home Farmer Magazine and am also a monthly writer for ‘Smallholder’ Magazine. One day I hope to pursue Smallholding more with the increase of livestock and to write for magazines and books alongside the muddy work!
Our Smallholding is as it says ‘small’! We haven’t got much land-no bigger than 1/8th of an acre! We have not got large livestock or a polytunnel but our challenge is to try to be as self-sufficient as possible in a small space. We live in a small flat with a balcony that has a small allotment area nearby. We are currently living in a small Swiss Alpine village coming from Suffolk in the UK. We grow our own vegetables and fruit, make chutneys and jams, bake, cook, recycle compost and keep chickens. We have been planning out a new chicken run and house using old bits of wood and fencing and have also made a draw horse to do green wood craft with.
Katy's first onions!
On the growing side we have herbs and salad crops on the balcony and windowsills and other crops we can plant in the outdoor space.
Home-made rhubarb, ginger and apple jam
Additionally, we have always enjoyed trying to grow some of our own food, keeping chickens, preserving and trying new recipes be it baking or cooking. I enjoy making jams such as Rhubarb, Ginger and Apple and even got 2nd place at a local fete for my plum jam!
Katy with Bryher - their first hen
On the Poultry side of things our Chickens are Rhode Island Red Hybrids-back in Suffolk we have 4 ladies currently and out here we are picking up 2 Point of Lays end of spring time. I love my chickens! They are all such characters and are very high egg producers-even in the winter time! They are just for eggs not meat and I have named them after the Isles of Scilly (off Cornwall, UK) after my time spent there working for the Wildlife Trust doing conservation work and assisting with Exmoor ponies and Ruby Red Cattle herds.
Our lifelong dream would be to have a large smallholding with pigs, sheep and goats so we could build on what skills we have already of growing our own food, keeping poultry and being more eco-friendly with our compost for example. We have been reading up and researching as we go along checking tips on allotment blogs and reading livestock books. Luckily we have family who smallhold or have done in the past so they are a great source of knowledge and help. Additionally, I went to ‘Hen School’ for a day to assist me with extra information for chicken keeping - the advice on illnesses and problems was most useful and interesting. On return to the UK we would like to attend a livestock training session, carry on WWOOFING (working on Organic farms) or join a Smallholders Association. On our return to the UK we hope to settle in Cumbria - if any smallholding Associations or individuals have any good advice or contacts please feel free to say hello on my blog! Overall, here in Switzerland we have made the most of the limited space we have at the moment and will relish the chance in the near future to extend our smallholding ideas with more livestock and a larger area to grow vegetables.