Pool Cottage is a smallholding located in the heart of North Shropshire run by Ruth and Andy Williams, we've been here since 1996. Our aim is to enjoy where we live, what we grow and what we produce in an environmentally sensible yet pragmatic way. What this means is that we want the “Good Life", but realise that in the modern world it’s not really possible to be truly self sufficient. That’s not to say that you can’t give it a good bash even though we both have “proper” day jobs. Ruth works full time during the week and takes a full and active role in running Pool Cottage in any free time she gets. Andy is semi retired splitting his time between working 3 days a week and working on the smallholding.
We strive to grow much of our own fruit and vegetables and are self sufficient in this area throughout the growing season and getting close with the use of the freezers and dehydrator over the winter months.
At Pool Cottage, we now produce the vast majority of our own meat through the keeping of the various animals on the smallholding. Other meat such as beef and venison, which we don’t produce, is generally bartered for locally, exchanging some of our range of charcuterie products, and more recently our hay harvest, for the meat. This way we know the provenance of all our meat and can be sure that no growth hormones or horse meat is found in our food! We also try to reduce the food miles, for example, the sheep we buy comes from a neighbour and simply moves the grand total of 200m from his field to ours. Once slaughtered and butchered, they will then travel a further 500m to the freezer.
We also build our own bespoke farm buildings using Andy’s engineering skills and wood from the local wood yard (not 2 miles from Pool Cottage). These have been much admired and we now take the occasional order for bespoke farm buildings of all shapes and sizes, in order to pay the necessary bills. Apparently, Shropshire County Council refuse to take hand raised pies and smoked salmon in payment for the council tax.
Over the past few years, we have also delivered a number of courses to help fellow smallholders get the best from their animals, in the form of Smoking and Curing Courses as well as Sausage Making Courses.
We believe in a sense of community and are so lucky to be surrounded by so many like minded neighbours. Bartering or swapping goods and services is a way of life in our community rather than a concept. Help fix a neighbours tractor and you’re thanked with a joint of highland beef. Swap a box full of empty jam jars for a couple of full ones. Keep a neighbour supplied with eggs and you get to borrow his mini-digger to dig out a new duck pond. The list is endless and this sense of community was at its strongest early in 2014 when Andy was seriously ill and all the neighbours pulled together to help in countless ways, a debt that cannot be repaid, except perhaps in the supply of our home-made beer, cider and pizza whenever we hold a clay oven evening.
We love this way of life and hope that this website will give anyone an insight to life on a smallholding. The life can be hard when having to balance a day job and the upkeep of the smallholding, especially on a cold, wet and miserable winter’s day, but coming back into the warmth of the house to the smell of your own warm bread and frying bacon, or a steaming stew made from all your own ingredients makes it all worthwhile, especially when washed down with your own beer.
If you would like to know more about what we do at Pool Cottage, or about life on a smallholding please contact us using the contacts page, we will be happy to help if possible.