Pocket Farm is an online community for anyone, experienced or complete newcomer, who has an interest in small-scale farming, self-sufficiency, rural crafts, permaculture, ecology or conservation. Our ethos is simple, it’s about providing our readers with interesting, useful, varied and relevant information in an attractive, easily digestible format.
Across the county there are individuals and groups enjoying the full gamut of country lifestyle pursuits and craft activities and you may be surprised to know that many are doing it, not on farms or estates with acres of space, but from flats and houses in every town and village. Front room, windowsill, backyard, garden, allotment or smallholding wherever you find yourself you can get involved – we’ll show you how.
Our aim is for Pocket Farm to become a community of like minded-people who can exchange information on the subjects that interest them most. Tell us what you want to read about or contribute ideas, tips, features or pictures – the more feedback we get the better we can tailor content to give you the resources you want.
I also know that the mainstay of any magazine is great content and that is where I have to thank the team of expert contributors I have on board. Their expert knowledge and passion for their subjects shines through in a way that is infectious. I want to encourage people to try something new, maybe something they had never considered before, and I believe that my contributors enthusiastic approach will help achieve that aim. So roll up you sleeves and get stuck in on your very own Pocket Farm.
Devon Association of Smallholders
Publishers of Pocket Farm Magazine
Eirlys Goode – Poultry
Eirlys’ first encounter with chickens was twenty years ago when a young couple moved into the farm labourer’s house next door to her. They brought with them a dog, two cats and three beautiful Rhode Island Red hens.
When these hens sadly succumbed to a fox attack they were replaced with Pekin bantams and these fluffy little creatures fascinated her.
Being one of those people who likes to fully immerse themselves in their interests, she spent hours on Google trying to find out all she could about them. Regular visits progressed to caring for them when their owners were on early or late shifts, particularly during the winter when mornings and nights were dark.
In 2004, following the death of Eirlys’ husband, the young lady who owned the pekins persuaded her that it would be good therapy for her to have chickens of her own and the two of them duly returned from Boston with a new flock.
It was during one of her internet sessions that Eirlys learned of the work of the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) in re-homing ex-battery hens so, true to form, she joined its forum in order to learn more about them. Her conscience was well and truly pricked and she went on to give as many as she could the chance to live out a normal chicken life.
From thence forward Eirlys concentrated on re-homing ex-battery hens and soon became known as ‘The Chicken Lady’. As word spread she would often find a box or plastic bag left outside her gate containing unwanted chickens; both hens and cockerels. She had found her calling.
After the BHWT forum closed in 2006 another member of that website, Wendy Bell, took up the baton and set about creating her own site for ex-battery hens www.ex-battery-hens.com. Eirlys has been a member since its inception on 23rd December 2006.
Unfortunately, Eirlys had to give up her own hens when she had to move and tenancy rules forbade the keeping of chickens. These were sad times for Eirlys but she is now helping many other keepers through her involvement with the forum and her enthusiastic and knowledgeable contributions to Pocket Farm.
Eirlys is the author of Starting from Scratch – The Complete Guide to Keeping Ex-Battery Hens. The second edition of this book containing essential information for ex-battery hen keepers will be available in 2014.
Pat Mercer – Pygmy Goats
Having chosen to take early retirement from her professional life in the field of education, Pat Mercer, in seeking a worthwhile alternative venture in advance of the event, decided to pursue the notion of keeping pygmy goats. Knowing nothing about goats of any description, she was eventually put in touch with Karen Jephcott, the Membership Secretary of the Pygmy Goat Club, from whom she bought a female kid and a companion wether.
Twenty years later, she has, over the course of this period, held the position of Membership Secretary, Editor of the club’s magazine and is still a Regional Advisor for Wales. She has written a series of articles on pygmy goats for the Smallholder magazine and makes regular contributions to ‘Notes’, the official magazine of the Pygmy Goat Club.
She and her husband Peter run management courses and judges’ training days for the club and both act as judges at shows throughout the country. They are members of the P.G.C’s Judges Panel and were heavily involved in the production of the ‘Guidelines For Judges and Show Secretaries’ manual, which is frequently revised by the Panel and works in tandem with judges’ training days.
Pat and Peter’s Maesgwyn herd of pygmy goats have had many successful years in the show ring.
James Marsahll – poultry and rural life
James has lived in rural Somerset for all his adult life, where a keen interest in agriculture was piqued by frequent work on farms during university holidays.
As such, James has experience of looking after a range of livestock and has developed a strong understanding of the domestic smallholding and agricultural industry; utilising this knowledge to become an agricultural freelance writer in his spare time.
Memories of happy, clucking chickens around various farms inspired James and his wife to purchase a few free range birds two years ago and since then, he has been dedicated to exploring the bird’s habits, specific breeds’ history’s and providing advice to those who are thinking of establishing their own flock.
James is particularly interested in raising small numbers of birds within a garden environment and investigating the steps that can be taken to ensure that the experience of doing so is a mutually beneficial one; for garden chicken and chicken keeper alike.
He is constantly surprised by the cunning, intelligence and level of personality that chickens display and is keen to dispel the myth that chickens are boring animals.
To read more about his own chicken keeping experiences and his analysis of various aspects of the agricultural industry, you can visit James’ blog – outdoorsandmore.wordpress.com – or follow him on Twitter @outdoorsandmore.