We held our first indoor meeting since March 2020 at the Tanardy Lodge in Carmarthen on Wednesday 13 October. Attended by some 25 members it was a great opportunity to meet up with each other and talk through many issues that the enforced break had brought into focus. In particular we discussed issues relating to communications and a significant outcome was the desire to set up a Whats App group. The Committee will be taking this forward shortly so look out for further information in the next Newsletter.
Please remember that all DSA meetings, farm walks and other events are NO SMOKING, which includes e-cigarettes.
Sunday 2nd September 11am. Farm Walk Brechfa We are invited to Dawn and Martins holding where they keep water-buffalo among other animals. Please can we ask no dogs are brought along.
A sunny day saw an excellent turnout for the walk around Dawn and Martin’s 20 acre holding high up in the Brechfa forest. In only four years, they have transformed the holding from a badly pony-overgrazed disaster area into a highly productive and attractive site. They are now almost self sufficient for meat, fruit and vegetables and are working to establish a willow rotation coppice to keep them warm as well. Much fencing work and erection of animal shelters has been undertaken and there is now a patchwork of permanent paddocks and further options for division using electric fencing. The current horticultural area, with its polytunnels, fruit cages and raised beds is destined for future extension. Much of the produce is preserved for year round availability by drying, bottling, freezing and canning. Goats provide milk and associated dairy products whilst Hebridean sheep give wool and meat. Alpacas provide fleeces for Dawns craft enterprise. Water buffalo are a recent arrival and are already proving their worth as high quality meat producers. Pigs complete the four legged picture Bees, hens and turkeys are all catered for and in turn cater for their hosts.
All-in-all the assembled throng were awed by the amount of work that has already gone into the enterprise and congratulate Dawn and Martin on their achievement to date.
Wednesday 12th September 7.45pm for 8pm. Monthly Meeting at Carmarthen Veterinary Centre Farming and Wildlife: A talk on by Alan, one of our members, who will hope to persuade you that farming and wildlife, can co-exist. It just takes the right mindset for the farmer and a few basic facts of life to consider.
Sunday 30th September 11am. Basic skills event at Blaenycoed Stock Fencing: A day to learn basic fencing techniques by actually creating a stock proof post and wire fence. This will be weather dependant so be prepared for postponement.
Wednesday 8th August 8pm. Monthly Meeting at Carmarthen Veterinary Centre. Steve Lucas from the Bat Conservation Society is coming to talk to us and give us a chance to do some bat spotting! Report Steve gave us an excellent informative and illustrated talk on bats. We learnt about the species found in Wales, their population status and the kind of habitats each species preferred. It would seem that Pembrokeshire is particularly well-endowed with bats both in species, type and numbers. Steve also covered bat physiology, emphasising their differing needs for feeding, breeding, overwintering and raising young. As well as emphasising that the best way to help conserve bats is to manage their habitats appropriately.
Sunday 12th August 11am. Farm Sale Mynyddcerrig, Llanelli This is a chance to pick up a bargain or sell a no longer needed item that is related to smallholding items. Pam has sold her holding and although her purchasers are buying it as a going concern there are still some items to sell. This is not an auction but more of a car boot or farm barn sale. If members have related items they would like to sell then they are welcome to bring them along.
Just to remind to members that it is normally necessary to bring a cup and sandwiches for lunch and if you wish a chair to sit in. We are often offered cake at these walks but this is entirely at the host’s discretion.
Wednesday 11th July 7pm. Summer Barbeque near Llangynog. It’s BBQ time and once again we will be gathering on one of our members holdings. BBQ basics will be provided – burgers, sausages, bread rolls, all cooked under the supervision of Andy but members are asked to bring along supporting eatables – salads, puddings etc – for the communal table. You will also need to bring your own crockery and cutlery and something to sit on. A £2.50 charge to members and £5 to guests will be collected on the night. Report Despite intense competition from a certain football match on the TV, 35 members turned up for our annual BBQ. Andy controlled the cooking with consummate skill whilst keeping an eye on his mobile phone for any news of England’s potential demise (later confirmed). The communal table was well laden with a range of very tasty contributions. Our thanks to Penny and John for once again hosting our annual summertime gathering.
Sunday 22nd July. Farm Walk at near Solva Pembrokeshire. There will be Icelandic sheep and horses, as well as goats chickens and ducks. The farm is also involved in conservation grazing.
We apologise but due to unforeseen circumstances this Walk has been cancelled.
Wednesday 13th June 8pm. Monthly Meeting at Carmarthen Veterinary Centre. ‘Buildings’ Ask The Panel. A panel of members, who have been Smallholders for some years, will give a short talk on the pros and cons of old and new buildings. There will be ample opportunity for questions and discussion. Report
Peat, Karen and Alan supported by Doug presented slides and information on the many and various farm buildings that they have been involved with and highlighted the joys and complications they have encountered in sitting, designing, sourcing materials – both new and reclaimed, and constructing or renovating the structures.
Peat concentrated mainly on new builds whilst Alan added in the challenges of modifying older farm buildings to modern needs. Karen introduced the use of recycled materials, in particular the value some reconstituted plastics as answers to the ever present problem of keeping things clean.
Sunday 24th June. Farm Visit This will be on holding near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, where cattle and horses are used for conservation grazing. There are also sheep and willow which is grown for a variety of different uses.
Report A good number of members turned out on this lovely sunny day and enjoyed a tour of the farm, heath and gardens. The long spell of hot weather had dried everywhere out and for once wellingtons were confined to the car boot.
Tea, cool drinks and cakes were an added bonus. Thanks to our hosts for an excellent and informative tour.
For further information this holding is featured in July’s newsletter.
Wednesday 9 May 2018 8pm. Monthly Meeting at Carmarthen Veterinary Centre. Goat keeping for beginners a talk by Alan & Margaret.
Report This was a well attended illustrated talk covering the basics of keeping goats as a productive resource. Breeds, housing, feeding, breeding, milking, fencing and shelter from the elements were all covered along with what to do with the milk, meat, muck and a bit on how to keep them reasonably healthy.
Sunday 20 May 2018. Demonstration at Blaenycoed Goat keeping for beginners in practice demonstrated by Alan & Margaret.
Report A small group attended and were able to see the way they kept their goats and now hopefully understand better the problems, pitfalls and pleasures of livestock management.
The highlight of the day was the opportunity to “milk” the somewhat undernourished training goat “Boardy”.
Margaret explained the various bits of equipment and the processes involved in cream separation, cheese making and ice cream making and samples were available for members to taste.
Wednesday 10th January 2018 8pm. Monthly Meeting at Carmarthen Veterinary Centre.
Arwyn Davies from Food Centre Wales will be coming to speak to us. Arwyn is their Business Development Manager, who will be talking about the services they can offer to small producers (such as smallholders) including training and technical advice, food safety, help with product development and business start-up.
Sunday 21st January 2018 1pm for 1.30pm. New Year’s Lunch at The Carpenters Arms, Broadway, Laugharne, SA33 4NS. Telephone: 01994 427435.
The cost for a carvery main course will be £8.45 and for two courses (main & dessert) £10.45.
This is a very popular event so if you would like to come along please book your place with our Secretary at the January meeting as we need to confirm numbers by Monday 15th January. Directions
Take the A4066 out of St. Clears to Laugharne. Continue through Laugharne on the A4066 to Broadway, less than a mile from the centre of Laugharne. The Carpenters Arms is on your right in Broadway village with their car park just beyond the pub.
Wednesday 13th September 8pm. Monthly Meeting at Carmarthen Veterinary Centre. A talk by Rob Thomas, Head of Development at the National Botanical Gardens Wales. This will cover the history of gardens, the organic farm, charcoal and their green technology. Meeting Report
Rob joined the National Botanical Gardens team in 2010, when the future of the gardens was uncertain, his role is fundraising for the gardens. The mission of the garden is Conservation, Education and Inspiration.
The aims are for the gardens to:
♦ Provide a model for international botanical gardens
♦ Be dedicated to the well being of people, plants and the planet
♦ Give visitors a rich and rewarding experience
♦ Be good value for money
The estate itself has an interesting and intriguing history. The current Gardens take conservation seriously by working to demonstrate good practice they also support a scientific team who are working on a number of exciting projects. Volunteers are always welcome to not just help in the gardens but with one of the many ongoing projects including heritage restoration work. To find out more visit their very informative web sitebotanicgarden.wales
Sunday September 24th 11am. Farm walk in Meidrim. Visit a small plantation of young Christmas trees and see how the experiment growing biomass (Willow) is progressing. With easy care sheep & bees to add some animal interest. Meeting Report
About 20 of us were welcomed with tea & coffee to the last farm walk of 2017. The holding is rather steep, which makes clearing the bracken and gorse in order to succession plant their Christmas trees challenging. Other members talked about how they cope with managing steep ground. The up side is that it makes a good site for solar panels, which in turn provide shelter for their small flock of easy care sheep that shed their wool naturally. The bottom of their holding meets the river and after a lot of rain can flood its banks causing erosion and we could see how they had been working on trying to stabilise the bank with willow as well as plant it for biomass. Unfortunately they also have the very pretty but invasive Himalayan balsam growing along the bank, which is dealt with by cutting before seeding. As with all farm walks there is plenty of discussion and exchange of ideas as well as a sense of camaraderie. A very enjoyable day thanks to Adrian and Marion.
Wednesday 9th August 8:00pm. Monthly Meeting at Carmarthen Veterinary Centre. Mr & Mrs Rose who are Rhosyn (Carmarthen Market) will talk about making sausages. Meeting Report
The August meeting saw a really packed house all eager to listen to Emma & Neil Rose of Rhosyn Farm Produce talk about how they make their Sausages. First was an introduction to the animals they have now, followed by how from small beginnings, through sheer hard work and determination to produce the best that was possible, they developed the thriving Award winning business that they have Today. For more information head to their web site www.rhosynfarmproduce.weebly.com
The technicalities of making sausages from their Gloucester Old Spot pork was discussed in detail from the importance of at least a small amount of rusk, the source of flavouring, to the types of casing used and the final packaging, all helped by two important pieces of machinery and governed by lots of food safety rules & regulations. Thank you to Emma & Neil for giving up some of your very valuable time to inspire us all. A more detailed report is available in your September Newsletter.
Sunday 20th August 10:30am. The Big Kit Show & BBQ near Blaenycoed An opportunity to spend a day looking at all the equipment that DSA Members can gather together that a smallholder might use. From hand tools to tractors, kitchen scales to milking equipment, apple peelers to cider presses. If at all possible there will be demonstrations of equipment in use and an opportunity to compare different approaches to farm tasks e.g. scything versus mechanical hay cutting, an axe versus a 13 tonne log splitter, hand milking versus machine. Some of the equipment will have been bought new, some second hand from dealers, some bought at auction, some built by our members, or it might have been adapted from something quite different We will have a sort of Car Boot sale for smallholding equipment – but please keep it relevant! There will be a BBQ going with various burgers, sausages and possibly some other things available – but contributions of other foodstuffs would welcome.
From hand held seed/fertiliser spinners to tractor winches for pulling 4 logs up hills. It was all there as were a large number of members as it drew a different cross section to a normal farm walk. From tunnels within poly-tunnels and tomato support structures to having a go at welding. In the animal shed if the bedding builds up too much just mount some more bolt on gate hangers higher up the post. Lots to see and think about plus a boot sale and a barbeque. A good day. Well done and thank you to Alan and Margaret
Wednesday 12th July 7:30pm. Barbeque near Llangynog. There is a cost of £2.50 per person, £5 to guests/non-members. This includes burgers sausages, veggie option, buns, tea, coffee and soft drink. A contribution to communal table, in form of salads and sweets would be appreciated. Bring something to eat from and with, something to sit on and something to drink from. If people want to enjoy a tipple please bring your own Event Report
A good time was had by all who attended, with the gas BBQ proving a success.
Sunday 30th July 11am. Farm walk near Horeb. July’s farm walk is a visit to Barry & Julie Gwilt at Horeb. Meet 10.30 for 11am. start and don’t forget your picnic. Barry and Julie will welcome you to their 27 acre smallholding on the edge of the Brechfa forest. They keep horses, sheep and chickens. Walk around holding followed by lunch, then a small quiz. Hope to see lots of you. Event Report
Barry and Julie took us around their holding where they indulge their passion for horses. We met the exceeding tame sheep, which do an excellent job following their many lively horses’, so helping to keep the fields sweet. Once back at the stables we met two more horses who are shown. Then having feasted on sandwiches and various cakes we had a flower recognition quiz that got quite serious as there was chocolate for the winner.