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  • Writer's pictureMarsh Farm Glamping

Chapter One or... Don't Bet The Farm

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Welcome to the story of how Marsh Farm Glamping really began. This starts right at the very beginning of our Somerset smallholding journey, before we'd even thought of shepherd huts and all they entail...

"Nooooo! Not again! Stop! Please...". It was futile, and I knew it. With a mounting sense of impending doom I launched myself over the three lines of electric fence in a vain attempt to catch up with the three small, slippery piglets, as they legged it towards my prize squash.

"Keep them out of the pumpkins!" I bellowed, before catching my foot in the top line of wire and toppling in spectacular style into the piglets’ latest offering.

Half an hour later, piglets restored to their rightful location, fencing secured and clothing changed, we reconvened in the kitchen of our tiny farm cottage to discuss options for keeping them better contained.

This was a conversation I had never imagined us having when we were reclining on our green velvet sofa in the bustling utopia of North London, imbibing wine and worrying whether the tubes would run on time tomorrow. I never thought for a minute that we would swap that reasonably priced and very pleasant bottle of shop bought sauvignon blanc for home-brewed elderflower wine that could put even the most hardened farmer under the table.

I never dreamt that we would be battling pigs with sunburn, wrestling recalcitrant sheep or herding hysterical ducks, or that we would spend our evenings working out how to move fifteen hundred kilos of ill-tempered cattle across three acres of field using only a roll of baling twine, a couple of plastic posts and a healthy measure of good luck.

So just how had we arrived at this point in our lives? Why had we given up our perfectly pleasant life in the fast lane? Just exactly how had we ended up knee deep in mud and pig shit, and face deep on a couple of memorable occasions, in the middle of deepest, darkest Somerset, when we’d only just relocated one hundred and fifty miles to a rented property in Devon, because we really, really wanted to live in Devon?

It all began about 8 years ago when hubby suddenly announced that he would really like to start a smallholding. A what? I said. Closely followed by... Err, why?

At the time I had followed an eclectic career path starting as a primate keeper at London zoo, migrating to veterinary nurse, segueing into eleven years as a molecular biologist, followed by artist and finally launching myself as dog groomer extraordinaire. Why not become a pseudo-farmer I thought? I've successfully grown a bowlful of spuds, carrots and peas out of a builder's sack that blew into the garden of our rented property (and a lovely pink cauliflower - just the one mind), how hard can it be? The sum total of my produce at the time is amply demonstrated below... is pretty... if you ignore the Day of the Triffid carrots.

"Why a smallholding?" I asked.

"Well," he replied, "I think we need a new challenge. New challenges are good - you enjoy our Friday night jigsaws don’t you?”

Well yes, but I wouldn’t want to admit that in public.

"Yeees," I replied carefully, "but I’m pretty sure that that type of challenge varies somewhat from the type of ‘challenge’ you’re suggesting. The first involves drinking wine and catching up on the day’s events whilst attempting to fit random pieces of cardboard together. I have a feeling that the second may involve slightly more than that."

But that was it, it was decided, pretty much after one conversation. We would read up on smallholding, find out what it involved, and just, well, do it. So what if we didn’t know one end of a rotovator from another? So what if we didn’t know the difference between roundworm, lungworm and Paralaphostrongylus tenius? Who really needs to know when to sow cabbage and when to harvest celeriac? And what the hell do you do with salsify anyway?

About a year later our landlord served notice and we were forced to look for alternative accommodation.

"Let's move to Devon!" hubby said.

"Err, we've never been to Devon," I said. "I barely know where it is." I said.

"Ah" he said, "But I've looked into it and the weather is MUCH better down there. And it looks nice. There's beaches and all sorts. We must move to Devon where we shall find our perfect property".

And so we duly packed up the house and the three dogs and sought out another rental that would accept us, and the three dogs, that was based in the mythical land of Devon.

We were lucky to find a lovely house that was absolutely filthy with the most eye-wateringly bad carpets anyone had had the mis-fortune to come into contact with since circa 1972. This was good. Very good. This meant that when we moved out, the wreckage left by two charmingly rambunctious (not my words) young dogs and one very incontinent elderly dog, would blend seamlessly into the filth already present when we moved in. Happy days.

And so the search for our smallholding dream began. In Devon. Until we found Marsh Farm and fell in love at first sight. But, but, hang on, it's in Somerset. Another county about which we knew virtually nothing.

However, we viewed Marsh Farm in the bleak mid winter, fell in love, put an offer in, it was accepted and we were finally on our way to a smallholding baptism by fire. We had arrived.

Please leave any comments here... thank you :)

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