Piggott Farm.

The other day regular commenter Hans begged me to write something along the lines of “cars or bikes or boats or guns or flat earth……anything except women.”

In the move to The Netherlands I sold my car and my bike, (great sadness), and the only thing I know about guns is that I know nothing about guns, (although I plan to rectify this in the future).

So flat earth it will have to be.

This is more apt than it looks, as the good wife and I are hunting for a property to purchase over here, and as no doubt many of you know, The Netherlands is flatter than a lesbian’s chest.

The property planning purchase has been ongoing for a few months now, and we have inspected quite a number of abodes. When we began the search we were just looking for a house, a place to live if you will. My own requirements were quite basic – a wood burning fire or stove as a necessity and the garden facing to the South. The good wife doesn’t want to look out the window and see acres of parked cars and houses, which is rather difficult in this part of the world.

Thus over these few months our parameters have shifted somewhat. First we had to work out in which region of Holland we wanted to live. The North of the country is protestant, so they’re pretty uptight. The middle of the country is known as the Randstad or ‘green heart’. This area is characterized by the people being a little obsessed with making money.

The South is the Catholic area and this is a little more laid back. Last Saturday we took a day trip to the city of Den Bosch in the North Brabant region of the South. The city was gorgeous, overflowing with bars, restaurants, and cafes, with hordes of people relaxing and strolling around in the autumn sunshine. It was notably more laid back than other areas we have seen thus far.

So South Holland it is, most probably the region of North Brabant. But the area in which we are looking is not the only major change to our list of requirements. Now we are after a small landholding as well, around 4 to 5 acres. The plan is to build up a farming sideline to supplement our regular income. It’s also something that I have wanted to do ever since I lived in a small village in the Italian Alps as I enjoy the rhythms of rural life. However, the nice thing here in Holland is that everything is very close, so you can have the rural life but easily pop into the larger towns and cities as well.

At this stage we’re thinking of Berkshire pigs, an English breed that has marvelous fat concentrations which make it ideally suited to the noble art of barbequing. In my time in the alps I got to help the neighbors butcher their yearly pig a few times, and I got a good understanding of how they make local delicacies such as speck and other cured meats. The idea is to have the pigs on pasture.

Of course this is just a plan at this stage and plans have a good habit of changing and evolving which I have no doubt that this will too. But this could be a nice topic for a good discussion that has nothing to do with the wymens, or the politics, or the usual downfall of western civilization, blah blah blah. So if you know anything about small scale farming, let me know your thoughts. And if you know nothing at all, let me know your thoughts too.

If instead I get a wall of silence then the future will be clear: only posts about the wymens from now on.

22 thoughts on “Piggott Farm.

  1. Good choice for going to the south. As you are self-employed, you do not need the Randstad job concentration. With 4 to 5 acres you should have enough to also grow your own hog food as well (and some veggies for yourself) as you love to cook well.

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      1. Bernd

        I can’t vouch for that. I once helped out a friend with a farm for 2 weeks. He raised pigs and cows, they were outside on the fields most of the time. The smell was horrid. He had a stable for them near the house. Inside of this stable, the stench was unbelievable. I had to burn my clothes after being inside, because no washing whatsoever could get rid of the smell lingering in the cloth. After that time i decided that farming is not for me. Maybe the plant-based version.

        On the other hand, i can fully understand to live on a farm in the countryside. Planning something like this myself later on in life. For now i’m making good money in the city, but when i have big enough savings maybe i will switch over to some kind of remote work and live somewhere in the sticks. Or switching to some kind of remote work and going wherever i want whenever i want.

        On a sidenote: I’m thinking about visiting Amsterdam for a weekend, any tips for what i should go seeing?

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  2. MarkT

    Small farms, otherwise known as “lifestyle blocks” in NZ are a lot of work. They are often purchased by naïve city dwellers who underestimate the amount of work, and end up back on the market within a few years because they struggle to cope with the work in conjunction with a full time job. I’m not saying that’s you necessarily, but something to be conscious of.

    We own a 1 ha (2.5 acre) weekender an hour from the city that only has some vegetables and 4 alpacas on it. I enjoy the physical work after sitting at a desk all week – but I have no illusions about ever making any money from it, and everything is geared to be as low maintenance as possible.

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    1. David Moore

      “Small farms, otherwise known as “lifestyle blocks” in NZ are a lot of work. ”

      Yeap, that’s my experience too, I grew up on one and it cured me of any desire to ever be a farmer!

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  3. Having been in the ranching and farming business for some time as a sideline I have a few thoughts hard won through experience. I’m assuming you have gauged your wife properly and she is 110% behind this idea. Your wife will be your biggest asset or your worst nightmare, and she has to be tough.

    Get a good dog, a working breed, and train it well. Your dog will be a working partner. It will know all the ingress and egress points on your land, its territory, and will make you aware when things are amiss if you learn its cues.

    Maintain your fences at all times. Your animals on your neighbor’s land tends to piss them off, and you are financially and morally responsible for anything your animals do.

    There are three government officials you need to develop and maintain a good working relationship with: (1) the land use official they will tell you what and what you cannot do on a given piece of land you should talk to them before making an offer on a place, (2) the health inspector for obvious reasons, (3) the local agricultural official they often have a wealth of knowledge and will want to see you succeed.

    Find a good local source for weather forecasting both long range and short range. In the midst of a hard winter it’s too late to supply good fodder at a reasonable price.

    Your hands are your most valuable tools after your brain. Protect them and always use good quality gloves. You will be surprised how much down time you will experience due to hand injuries.

    Good fortunes.

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  5. “The Netherlands is flatter than a lesbian’s chest.”

    And there you go writing about womyn.

    Being a Southron, I’ve seen a lot of pork raised in Tennessee and it always stinks, even if not raised intensively. Now the noble Bovine isn’t nearly as bad and also is well suited to the noble art of BBQ. Just ask any Texan and they’ll be glad to inform you of the truth of this assertion – at length.

    No, I’m not a Texan. I’m from the SE US. I’ve lived in Texas, however, and much prefer Texas style BBQ to SE style.

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  6. One of the advantages of growing up in a farming area and doing farmwork from age 11 is it dispels any desire to get involved in it again in adulthood! I’m a city boy now, and there’s no way I’d go back to farmwork voluntarily.

    I miss the tractors and machinery though. If I could do a summer job on a tractor, even cultivating, I’d enjoy it.

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  7. BWV

    A few things…

    On buying land: We went through a similar process recently. First idea was 4-5 acres. Then we looked at a place that was 10 acres. That raised us to the 8-12 acre range. Then we looked at a place that was 20 and from then on it was 20 or bust. We ended up buying a house on 55 acres, most of which I haven’t even seen. Beware the slippery slope!

    On guns: There’s a lot of senseless nonsense to wade through to become knowledgable about guns – or you can just read the next few lines.

    First: Avoid exotic/unusual calibers. The common ones are common because they work. Stick to .45, 9mm, 5.56, 7.62, .22, and 12 Ga. Ammo will be cheap and easily found – and you can kill anything you need to kill.

    Second: 9mm in the list because it’s common, cheap, and almost anyone can shoot it well with comparatively little practice. If you can shoot .45 with confidence and accuracy that’s the one you want for a self-defense handgun. Forget big mag capacity. The real question is, “If I only get one shot, what do I want to hit him with?”

    Third: Guns, like boats, must be functional, but they both can be visually appealing at the same time. There is value in this. You will feel it and enjoy it every time you use either one. When you shop, look at the high end stuff first – so you know what you’re giving up if you decide to save a few dollars.

    On the smell: I have a pig. He’s a little guy, about the size of a corgi dog. No smell at all to him – but he lives like a king in the house 99% of the time. I can’t really speak as to the scent of pig peasants.

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  8. Hans

    Thanks Adam. Good article.
    Are you planning to brew your own beer when time permits ?
    Do the Dutch have an October Fest of any sort?
    Cheers.

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    1. If there was an October Fest then I definitely missed it.

      As for brewing beer, there’s not really much point here as the beer is excellent, plentiful, and cheap.

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  9. Pingback: COTW – Pigs don’t stink, do they? – Adam Piggott

  10. Ben David

    Small farms fail by trying to play the game by big-boy rules.
    There are plenty of ways to have a steady income from the land.
    Rule #1 is to have several other income streams – good advice for all in these times.
    A corollary is to set up your farm to generate several income streams – rather than trying to duplicate large farm mono-culture.

    My coworker combines work in hi-tech with running his family’s vineyards and orchards – and orchards are a great example of what I’m talking about: what is a liability for the commercial farmer (“tying up the land/big upfront investment”) is just what the part-time small guy wants: plant once, harvest many years, with a built-in floor on the price of your crop precisely because of its unattractiveness to commercial field-crop farmers.

    Graze livestock among those trees and you have added another income stream.

    Google “Permaculture” and “Sustainable Agriculture” for more about this – the farm as a carefully designed multi-layer ecosystem with minimal inputs and multiple salable outputs, rather than the commercial approach that bets the house on a single annual crop – and spends heavily on agri-drugs to make that crop happen.

    Depending on your closeness to (sub)urban areas you can profit by serving niche markets. Lots of people are concerned about their food quality and willing to pay. Other small farmers use their location to add Bed-and-Breakfast or “petting farm/pick your own” business streams.

    An essential book for this was “Backyard Market Gardening” which is has that hype-y American aw-shucks tone, but is written by a guy who actually did it – and at least will get you thinking…

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