It’s the stuff that makes a middle class housewife wet her pants with excitement.

This giant beast of a room is to be our kitchen and bootroom.


The kitchen lean-to is the only part of the barn we have had to rebuild from scratch.

Toby had a riot swiftly demolishing the thing earlier this year.


And the lovely thing about oak framing is that the replacement timber went up nearly as quickly.

image image

Oli and the boys got the whole thing up in less than a day.

You can now really start to see our new home taking shape.

Note the opening to accommodate our massive Internorm sliding doors on the left.

I’m actually tensing my jaw with excitement just thinking about them.


Meanwhile, Oli’s also putting the oak shingles on the roof.


The wood fibre insulation in the walls is all very nearly on.


The oak cladding is poised for nailing into place on top of that.

The windows are being manufactured as we speak.

So it’s all go in Oli’s camp and he’s eating the build for breakfast.

Major progress. Major success.


I, on the other hand, am an abject failure.

For someone planning eventually to ditch food shopping and live off the land, my progress is somewhat stilted.

If it weren’t for Ocado my family would currently starve.

My vegetable boxes in our current home – on which I’m practising ahead of planting at Rowan Farm – currently look like this:


Not exactly abundant.

The Townie in me has come back to bite through my edible efforts.

A week ago these boxes were teaming with life, but not of the kind I fancy tucking into.

I’ve discovered growing your own food is actually a bit disgusting sometimes.

Last week I was sharing my veg with most of the invertebrate population of Hampshire. The stuff that made it to my plate was already pre-masticated by slugs, snails and caterpillars. And I dread to think what the rats and crows have been up to with it. The rest was too rotten to make it into the colander. It was all a bit gross truthfully.

I never washed my food before now. You can’t see nasty pesticides on lettuce from the supermarket.

But you can see a whopping great slug in amongst your chard.

It isn’t just the insects out to get me, but the plants themselves as well.

Vegetables misbehave in all manner of ways.

They get unruly and leggy; they throw up flowers and seed when you don’t want them to; they require constant watering and tending. They are bloody high maintenance.

This self sufficiency lark is going to be pretty constant.

Recently, I’d taken my eye off the ball and let my veg misbehave to the point of no return.

So I’ve razed the lot.

And they’re thinking about what they’ve done in the compost heap.

Horticultural guru Sarah Raven calls it ‘kerchunging’. Cutting right back or ripping out to start the process again from small sprout or seed. It’s apparently essential to do every once and a while.

A fresh start – having learned from my many mistakes – should hopefully see more successes in the next batch.

In the meantime, thank heavens for supermarket deliveries.


The pigs currently inhabit where my food will be grown at Rowan Farm.

I hope they will root up all brambles and fertilise the soil up there for me.

Basically I’m outsourcing all the hard soil preparation to them.

I’ll then thank them for their efforts by killing and eating ’em.

That’s the lazy townie in me – getting pigs to do the rotivating.

If only they did planting, watering, weeding, deslugging, harvesting, washing and cooking too…