Having never written a blog before, I thought well why not give it a go! If anyone is interested enough to want to read about the goings on at The Paddock, I guess this is the best way to share it. So here goes!
I guess the best place to start is with a little bit of info about how The Paddock came about! We've owned this beautiful little spot (we being my family - I'm lucky enough to have 2 wonderful parents who worked very hard to secure us somewhere we could keep our horses, an expensive but fulfilling hobby!) for almost 12 years now. Dad always had an allotment as a kid, kept horses, chickens, even had a pig who escaped and dug up the next door neighbours veg! When we were younger, dad always had chickens in the garden and grew a bit of veg, so that's where it all started really.
After uni, a little confused about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to do it, I decided to go off to New Zealand, working, living and travelling there for 2 years, an amazing experience from which I learned a great deal, working on farms and in exchange for accommodation, doing anything from picking fruit, making jam, shearing sheep, herding cattle, horse trekking and hunting possum to make pie, I became more and more sure that when I returned home, the outdoors life to which I had always been lucky enough to have access to was for me! My experience of working in an office even further reinforced the fact that I wanted to be outside so I began to think about how I could turn our little smallholding into a business.
Meanwhile, I started trying my hardest to shed those excess pounds (or should I say stones!) gained through excessive eating, drinking and partying throughout uni! Having always been pretty fit and active as a kid, things went a bit haywire during the uni days and I decided when I was in New Zealand to do something about it so I began exercising most days and eating right. I did a whole load of research into what to eat and what not to eat which opened me up to a lot of foods (especially veg) that I hadn't tried before (I was 19 before I tried a sweet potato!) This coupled with my existing passion for great tasting food and cooking using local produce, along with my knowledge of the smallholding and skills I had learned while I was away sparked the idea for a fruit and veg box scheme using local produce and free range eggs and from there it began!
Upon returning home in March 2013, I set straight about trying to make it happen (with what little money I had!) and quickly learned a few lessons along the way! I was skint and was probably going to be for a long time to come, it was going to cost a lot to set up, I couldn't grow and do everything myself and I probably didn't know as much as I needed to!!!!! With a lot of help from mam, dad and James (my brother - often roped into chicken duties!) and some very good friends who know a lot more than me when it comes to things like chickens and pigs, and after quite a few financial set backs, I finally secured some funding from The Prince's Trust and the Regional Growth Fund to help things get started in September 2013, and here we are today.
50 chickens, 2 litters of piglets, the van, a lot of hard work, late nights, long days, hours of digging, emailing, leafleting, markets, blood, sweat and tears, The Paddock is approaching it's first year of trading, and what a year it's been! I'm very proud to have made it this far and couldn't have done it without the help and support of friends, family and most importantly The Paddock's lovely customers along the way! I'm really happy to be doing something I love and I hope I can share a little bit of what goes on at this lovely place with you all through the blog, so keep checking back and I will do my best to update it regularly. I'm trying after hours of practising to become more with the 21st century when it comes to social media so bear with me! I would love to hear any thoughts, comments and feedback you might have so please feel free to comment!