Our homemade Polytunnel!

Ma Larkin:

Lovely blog.

Originally posted on Our Holistic Garden:

One of our first big goals at the smallholding this year was to build our own polytunnel. This structure is useful for growing tender crops, starting to sow crops earlier(pre-cultivating), extending the growing season and to offer us warm shelter when the rainstorms come around!


Materials for construction


Soil cultivated before the building work starts on the measured area


Measurements made, holes ‘pinch-barred’, metal posts thumped in soil a metre for stability, plastic tubing measured, cut and fitted…We should have enough bought a 100m of it!


Wooden ‘footer’ boards screwed together and secured to the metal posts, wooden door frame being made in this picture


Poly-tunnel sheeting fitted, tightened and secured down with more wooden footer boards, this is a hard job for two people, next time we will recruit a few others to help. But we managed it!


Just getting finished with the sheeting, then its onto building 2…

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Five star forever home wanted for two experienced driving ponies. Palominos. Matching pair



Sadly due to circumstances beyond my control, this year I will need to find a 5 star forever home for Bunny and Crystal, my two beautiful driving ponies. Aged 11 and 12. Such special girls xxx
They are palomino standard shetlands (Big chunky strong ponies)  They have competed in driving competitions and drive really well as a pair and as singles or as part of a team of four. (They have done all three and worked as a unicorn too (Unicorn =three ponies harnessed together, two behind one.)
They are full sisters and a lovely matching pair. Really eye-catching when working together. Good to do in all ways.. They live on fresh air..Are not laminitic. Will live out all year (with a shelter)
They are both currently worked barefoot and are sound as a pound, but they can be shod if needs be and are both excellent for the farrier. Good to box. Great in the stable or tied up. Good to handle in all ways/ groom/ tack up/ bath/ harness/ put to the carriage etc..
Both have been lightly ridden by my nervous daughter , Crystal more so….. and so they are suitable as lead rein ponies for lightweight jockeys but have done very little serious work off the lead…They are not novice rides. .But they are happy to be led about.

They enjoy driving far more than ridden work but are adaptable and easy going girls with enough va va voom to make them really fun and exciting too. They drive well in all paces and are more suitable for someone who knows how to drive as they are very responsive. They are good in traffic / farm traffic / passing cattle, dogs etc.

Please only enquire if you are serious about offering them a longterm home where they can stay together for ever. I am sobbing as I type this as we will miss them so very much.  This is a heartbreaking decision for me and my daughter, so I’d love them to go somewhere where I can stay in touch by email or phone etc.. Open to serious offers or longterm loan considered for the right people.  Sadly their harnesses and carriages are not available.   But they have outdoor and stable rugs each.

My daughter riding Crystal

My daughter riding Crystal


Leave a comment below if you have any further questions.

Based in Lincolnshire UK.. Prefer to sell or loan out locally. Thank you.


Blessings Naomi xx

Goat’s milk soap!


Yule is fast approaching and so I have been busy trying to make some frugal festive gifts for some of my friends and family. This year I made some pure unbleached natural cotton washcloths/ flannels (separate blog post to follow some time soon about making those) and some lavender scented goat’s milk and olive oil soap, and of course I used the raw, natural, creamy milk from my own goats to do so.


As you know I currently own a tiny herd of just 4 dairy goats. Boer and Toggenburg crosses, with some Saanen thrown into the mix for good measure. They have provided our home with plenty of milk for cheese making, ice cream making, drinking and for use in fermented products like kefir.  It is lovely stuff! Facebook video of me milking Tansy

Tansy, our matriarch goat, milked through two seasons happily, hardly lowering her yield at all despite not kidding this year. My other milker, Marigold, reduced her yield over time and dried up slowly and naturally by the end of her second milking season. Tansy has now been put back in kid, along with Marigold, Anemone and Heather.


We had a rather gorgeous British Alpine boy pay us a visit, a bit earlier this year and so (fingers crossed) the resulting kids will be a real mix of breeds and will hopefully have that all important hybrid vigour.  If all four of my girls give birth to twins then my herd may grow considerably overnight.  From four to twelve! Exciting times!


The female kids will be kept here to grow on and will be added to the Riverside herd, and any males will be castrated and raised for the freezer. All kids are reared on their mothers and weaned naturally. I simply share the milk produced ,by separating the kids for a few hours overnight, whilst the mums get some sleep, then I milk the mothers  very early, first thing in the morning (but I don’t strip them out completely) and I then let the kids back in with their mums by 8 am to finish emptying their udders… and the milkers simply produce a bit more milk for me as time goes on.  Demand increases production naturally. It is a nice stress free system.


We shall have to wait and see how many kids we get this time. Singletons would be just fine!  Triplets could be ..erm….interesting! Twins are the most common, so we shall probably have at least one set of those…. Two of the girls are due to kid at the end of Feb and two are due end of March. So watch this space!

Anyway back to the soap making.
I store my excess milk in my freezer, in bags and plastic milk bottles, and so even after the girls had dried up, I still had home produced raw milk available to use.

This is the soap making method I followed for my soap bars > ( click here to see video link)  but remember that I substituted the distilled water for some very cold and icy defrosted goat’s milk. The milk being so cold helps prevent the caustic soda from boiling up too much, when you add it to your liquid, (goat’s milk in my case, but distilled water in the video). You must always add the lye to your liquid (carefully) and not the other way around.  It can react quite explosively if done the other way around, bubbling up and splashing the caustic lye all over the place. So take note and always use lye with caution and add the lye to the liquid.. carefully!


I also used a hand whisk rather than a blender to get it to trace stage, as I don’t own a blender. But feel free to use either. Both work!  As you can see below.. it reached trace just fine by hand and was thick and glossy when poured into the lined tray.
So my ingredients were just > lye (caustic soda), organic olive oil, raw goat’s milk and organic lavender essential oil.

That’s it!

You are advised to wear some rubber gloves and protective goggles when you are  making soap and it is a good idea to keep some vinegar nearby to neutralise any spills that get on your skin, as the lye is a strong alkaline and can burn your skin quite badly. The vinegar will help neutralise the alkaline and reduce any burning if you should happen to spill any on yourself.

(Keep pets and small children out of the room whilst soap making) .

But PLEASE don’t be afraid of it. My twelve year old daughter can safely make soap and we have incorporated  saponification into one of her science ‘lessons’ with great results. Here are a couple of links to saponification chemisty lessons/ resources for any other home educators out there .

Lesson Link 1 Lesson Link 2


And for all those of you still wondering if I have found a new home for us all yet..Sadly no I haven’t..I am still looking, so if you hear of anywhere in East Lincolnshire UK to rent ( as close as possible to Alford) then please let me know. Must be animal friendly and preferably have a very large garden in order for me to grow lots of fruit/vegetables and keep my poultry …..and/or have land to rent nearby.
Thank you. Blessed be xx

Feel free to make a small donation towards my internet connection costs and the running of Riverside Homestead. Any amount, no matter how small, really helps and is truly appreciated. Thank you!

The big let down. All packed with nowhere to go…..

Finally!…….I have been contacted by the owners of the tiny cottage that I was hoping to move into in a few weeks time.The owners initially contacted me via my online advert on 31st March. Unfortunately they have, at this late date, decided to withdraw the property from the rental market. After months of hoop jumping, including sending in several references, having an impromptu, uninvited visit from the father here one Saturday and a further planned visit from both parents on a Sunday, where I was questioned about my income, employment and transport options…and where I gave a tour of my current property and served tea,  with a smile! … it seems that they have only just decided to tell me that they are now unable to let the property due to the amount of work it needs doing to it. Nice timing!

In preparation to move I packed up the contents of a lifetime/lifestyle.. Emptied all the stables/ goat sheds/ poultry houses etc..and ran down my hay stores.. I didn’t get any of my kitchen garden sowed AT ALL this Spring……nothing!…  


So all this work has been done only to be left  in the lurch at the final hurdle…..More than anything I am disappointed at the absolute lack of consideration for my daughter and I…and the dreadful lack of communication and common courtesy they have showed us . I have sent several texts in the past two weeks trying to confirm dates etc….which have been totally ignored. 

This isn’t a game for us.. It is not a hobby or a fun pastime..it is our life…We grow our food!…..We had livestock to move.. A kitchen garden to transfer  (fruit trees/ bushes and perennial vegetables) and a season of growing our food to catch up on…..

I had already given  preliminary notice in to the owners of my rented  grazing land  and was awaiting a final moving date to enable me to hand in my notice to my cottage landlord.. My daughter is devastated..so much turmoil ……We are now living in a cottage full of boxes. So we are now looking for a home once again..

Please take the time to share the advert below.Thank you kindly in advance. 

Wanted: Rural cottage and land  East Lincolnshire UK.



Becoming What We Exhale

Ma Larkin:

Lovely post from Bealtaine Cottage x

Originally posted on Bealtaine Cottage:


Our personal journeys are sacred and find sacredness as they cross paths with other sentient beings.

IMG_0054As Christopher Hitchens said towards the end of his life, “there is only love.” …an Atheist who honoured his humanity.

IMG_0056The love we express forms an energy that feeds into the well-being of all life.

IMG_0057Good vibes and bad vibes…we can relate to what they mean.

IMG_0062Isn’t it wonderful to spend time in the company of good vibes?

IMG_0064C.S.Lewis said…”There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in…

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Permaculture preparations. Trying to focus on a future away from Riverside.

Although I am yet to secure a new property, I have in fact found one (or should that be, one found me?) that kinda fits the bill, albeit it with a fair few shortfalls compared to my beloved Riverside. It is very run down. Unloved. The garden is awful.. uneven…..just mud and weeds…no proper fencing.. no set layout or flow to it….( but nothing I cannot rectify) and it has just one medium sized outbuilding, that (atm) is not included with the cottage tenancy!….so that is a major sticking point…… The cottage is small. Tiny in fact. It has a rather nasty dated varnished cubicle sized kitchen..no room for a table or fridge or washing machine….or any of those normal kitchen-y things lol…… and  it has a tiny lounge.. That’s it!

Downstairs there is a basic bathroom tacked on the side and there are three teeny basic bedrooms upstairs, which altogether do not add up to the space in the two bedrooms we have here…….and here is not big!!! It has a walk in pantry in the hall and an under-stairs larder in the kitchen entrance. But that’s the sum of it.. It is very small indeed…But I can work magic with it if given the chance..I want to take it back to  how it should look..a traditional Victorian  farm workers cottage.. strip paintwork..  paint walls.. clean quarry tiles… make it tasteful and classic and quaint!..and most of all LOVED!! XXX

However I now realise that I shall have to sell a lot of my furniture and do a fair bit of juggling to get essential items like my Victorian iron bed and at least one  of my comfy sofas inside this new tiny living space…that is IF we end up there????… Nothing is set in stone yet…… and my new potential landlords/ ladies ( It is a family thing) have yet to get back to me in reply to a question I have asked regarding sole use of the garden  plot/outbuilding… I have two more places to look at, if a couple of things concerning this tiny potential home cannot be resolved..  *sigh


As most of my readers know, about 6 yrs ago  I came to Riverside when it too was unloved and in need of some tlc.  The garden was full of nettles, brambles, creeping buttercups, poorly/diseased trees,  hogweed and docks, the pond leaked badly and there were piles of old building materials, a rusty trampoline frame and broken sheds scattered about the place. But I could see the beauty….

Slowly, but with determination and lots of hard work, H and I have created a peaceful permaculture sanctuary here. We have lived so very happily here.. it is private and peaceful…and within months  of moving in an abundance of wildlife soon became residents or visitors here too.


We grow / have grown a huge amount of food here: Veg, Fruit, Herbs etc.. We planted willow along boundaries as goat forage ..installed a bee hive in the side garden……. and planted nut and fruit trees wherever we could……as well as soft fruit of all kinds….We keep our tiny dairy herd of goats here on the plot and raise poultry for eggs and meat… We have installed water butts..compost bins and dozens of nest boxes about the place,  as homes for  insects, birds and bats…  We have repaired the jetty over the river after floods washed part of it away last winter and we have sat there on that little jetty watching the brown trout, water voles, dragonflies and damselflies every summer since we moved in.  We love it here..  I am sure a part of us will remain here when we leave <3 xxx


We have a  rather motley collection of outbuildings both here at Riverside and on the land we rent for the ponies. These buildings include goat sheds, feed stores, an aviary for quail, wood sheds, tool sheds, greenhouse, a large store on the side of the cottage, a milking shed, mudroom for wellies,  plus a lean to room to hold incubators and heat lamps….. plus we have the two field shelters at our paddocks and a tack-room/feed-room too.  We shall need at least SOME kind of  storage-space/outbuilding at any future property we move to.  That has become very clear as we try so very hard to whittle down our belongings and tools to the bare minimum. I think it is hard for people to truly understand why we need space to store stuff. Self sufficiency/ smallholding require lots of  tools/ equipment . They are the tools of our lifestyle..x.


So at the moment H and I are in limbo..STILL not knowing what is happening about the cottage we viewed, despite doing EVERYTHING  we have been asked  to do….. We sent in excellent  references.. I have had phone calls and texts with various family members… I was happy to view it whilst it was in a bad way…. .. and  then I  had an  impromptu visit from the farm owner….and a planned visit from him and his wife here at Riverside the following day, where I answered all the questions asked of me…. We don’t know what else we can do?….. So we are left  waiting for people to get back to us……..STILL no moving date or confirmation over the use of the outbuilding on the site….No idea of  the actual rent ( despite asking for a figure and being reassured it will be below what I pay here) … and the constant not knowing is EXHAUSTING, unsettling and demoralising….and I am losing the will to continue with it tbh :/


We are now surrounded by boxes here at Riverside….. Packing inside the cottage has proceeded in readiness for all the other work we will need to do to move the outdoor stuff/ plants/ tools and livestock.. eventually!..I am trying to be organised… and   I am trying very hard to focus on a new start somewhere else…. I am just hoping we don’t have to unpack it all again in two or three months time and start looking all over again… I need some certainty so I can hand in my notice here….. and get  ready to move…..I need to be fair to my current landlord too and let him know my plans…. but  I can’t do anything til I know more myself..The joy of being a tenant smallholder.. *sigh….. xxx


Please feel free to make a donation..Paypal button below… Any donations usually go towards the cost of running this blog  (internet costs) but any future donations are being used to fund animal housing at my new home..  The goats  will need a new stable/shelter so any donations, no matter how small,  will be greatly appreciated x

Thank you kindly, from all of us at Riverside  xxxx