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Stuart Trussler turned his dream into a reality when he built his smallholding in Hampshire from ground zero to 44 acres. “It has been the most rewarding and demanding venture I have ever built. It is just so wonderful being with nature, following the seasons and life cycles of the farm livestock.”
On his smallholding, Stuart keeps sheep, alpacas, chickens, two farm cats, and from time to time a couple of ponies. Wild campers also enjoy the location and local pub! This year he welcomed Zen, Zorro and Blossom as new additions to his herd of alpacas. We ask Stuart why keeping alpacas is so popular with smallholders? “Alpacas are like big sheep. Very friendly animals, very calming and they enjoy being walked, fed grass in the summer and alpaca nuts across the winter months. They hum, with a sound like “mmm,” which can be very soothing.”
Stuart’s smallholding is fully operational using all the equipment the large commercial farmers use – just on a smaller scale. “The workhorse is the tractor unit, with flail mower, harrow and rollers a must have kit…. a good heavy duty brush cutter helps keep the ditches in order”.
Let’s take a closer look at Stuart’s recommended Essential Kit for a Smallholder:
The increasingly popular Flail Mower is a good all-round mower which successfully tops a meadow, slices through tough woody brambles, and if used regularly is also effective on short grass leaving a polished lawn finish. The Framed Harrow and Field Roller are perfect for paddocks and fields. A Ripper and Pipe Layer is a simple piece of equipment for laying pipes to water your trees, plants and vegetables in a matter of hours instead of days, and avoids the costly hire of a digger.
Other gems include a Stone Burier: This nifty machine can perform several jobs simultaneously: till the soil, bury stones, debris, and old vegetable stems, break up clumps of soil and clay (like a cultivator), and level a field ready for planting. The stone burier works on all types of soil, and even in uncultivated meadows. The combined process of the stone burier’s tilling rotor; digging, lifting, and breaking up soil with its special spade blades, and its rear rake for filtering soil, pushes stones and debris deep into the ground whilst bringing a layer of lighter refined soil to the surface. This process also improves ground drainage and reduces stagnant water. The burier’s rear mesh roller then leaves a level seedbed ready for rolling, planting, or seeding grass, and is fully adjustable for sloped areas.
Future aspirations? Stuart hopes to grow his smallholding to 100 acres. “Running a smallholding is rewarding although it will test and challenge you. It’s so important to ENJOY it. The good times far outweigh the tough times, and it is great to tune back into nature and let your soul run with the rhythm of the seasons.”