Smallholding Courses

Introduction to Smallholding

Spend the day on our farm, meeting the animals and learning about what is involved in keeping them happy and healthy.  Suitable for anyone just starting out, or dreaming of a smallholding of their own.  Or just come and enjoy a day on the farm!

A comprehensive handout will contain all the information covered in the course, so you won't have to spend the day taking notes.

Lunch is included - we'll take a break for a delicious homecooked lunch, featuring fresh produce from our smallholding.

By the end of this course, we'd like you to feel inspired and and confident in taking the next step on your own smallholding journey.

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Course Content:

Getting started: Legislation, registering - all the legal bits you need to know before your first animal arrives on your new smallholding. Essential equipment and machinery.

Chickens: A look at our free range chickens - suitable housing, fox proofing, feeding, worming, dealing with common problems.

Sheep: Meet our 2 flocks and get some practical handling experience. We will discuss different breeds, grazing and feeding, vaccinations & worming, avoiding common illnesses, and get hands-on with some routine handling and healthcare tasks.

Pigs: Our free range Oxford Sandy & Black pigs will be delighted to introduce you to the joys of keeping pigs.  We will look at suitable housing and fencing, feeding, handling and loading pigs for transport, and routine healthcare.

Cattle: A look at our small herd of Shetland Cattle.  Keeping and handling cattle safely, and the facilities required.  Winter feeding and housing.

Grassland: A walk around the farm to look at our rotational grazing system - how to grow and use more grass. Fencing, hedges and maintenance.

The Vegetable Garden and Orchard: See our raised bed system, polytunnel and greenhouse.  Crop rotations and making compost.

Produce from the Smallholding: The end result!  Producing your own meat - preparation for the trip to the abattoir, and what cuts you might want to ask for.  A quick look at marketing and selling your produce, and the legal requirements. 

We'll show you some of the other delights your smallholding could produce too - willow baskets, handmade wool rugs, sheepskins....

Lunch is included:

A homecooked lunch, including some of the delicious produce straight from our smallholding. 

There will also be plenty of tea/coffee and chances to ask questions during the day.

Your Instructors:

Catriona and Jonathan Benson run Argae Cottage, alongside their roles as veterinary surgeons.

We moved here in 2011, starting out with just 4 acres, 4 sheep and a few chickens.  We've come a long way since then - expanding both the farm and livestock numbers significantly.  We now run a thriving meat box and Christmas turkey business, sell pedigree livestock for breeding, and hold three Great Taste awards for our produce  We can still remember what it's like to be starting out, though, and would love to pass on some of our experience to you.

We have a strong focus on animal welfare and aim for our animals to have as healthy and happy a life as possible.  

Following the course, we are very happy to offer ongoing support for your smallholding adventure - and will be available to answer questions and give you further advice via email.

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