We love you mothers everywhere

I’ve had a wonderful Mothers Day today.

The most precious thing, although gratefully received was not the cup of tea brought to me in bed.

It was not the selection of home made gifts including a candle and a puzzle.

It was not the vase of daffodils picked for me.

Neither was it the awesome cards I was presented with, although they both made me all teary at the gorgeous words inside them.

It was not Davies’ fab poem, I particularly liked the disclaimed about it not being Pam Ayres.

It was not the delicious food we ate – from duck egg pancakes to roast pork all from our own croft, or the spectacular views from the windows or the extra hour of daylight which meant we all went out for a walk after dinner and wandered around the perimeter of our croft.

Nope. It was the simple fact that celebrating Mothers Day at all is only happening because I am a mother to these two fantastic, amazing, inspiring, creative, funny, adventurous, caring, loving, happy individuals.

Adventures in bacon

Yesterday we killed the remaining piglet. This time I was there for the whole thing (last time I didn’t witness it) and I am really glad I did. I worried that having been to an abattoir and found it really hard while we were WWOOFing I may find this just too challenging. But the deed was done with tenderness, respect and compassion and the piglet truly knew nothing from eating his last mouthful in the sunshine, stood next to both his parents, only a few feet from where he was born 11 months ago. It was a fantastic life and a best possible death. I am proud to keep pigs in the way we do.

This time the plan was to experiment with some curing, for some reason the idea of our own bacon has always felt like the holy grail of self sufficiency and so we are embarking upon doing just that. Several kilos of meat was bagged up and put into the freezer marked up for roasting, spare ribs and slow cooking. Ady cooked up the liver there and then and we all sampled it. My previous opinion of liver has been that I like the taste but hate the texture. I still feel the same. Next time I’d like to have a go at making pate with it instead.

We have 6 kilos of meat to turn into bacon, with a plan to smoke some of it too. So to start with I made a dry cure rub with salt, sugar, black pepper and some crushed juniper berries. The meat fits nicely into two large plastic containers and after reading several of the books on our bookcase and deducing a middle ground between the varying advice I am planning to salt it for a week or so.

 By lunchtime today the salt had already drawn out loads of moisture from the meat, so we drained it off and re-rubbed with more. This time Davies and Scarlett made the mix and rubbed it in. You can already see a colour difference after just 18 hours in the salt. The meat is darker and more bacon-y looking.

The kids think they would like to see the next pig despatch and I am really proud of them for their matter of fact way of dealing with the meat. We had the tenderloin cut of the pig with dinner today and it was delicious.

Barbara Pig is definitely pregnant – we are already planning adventures in salami and chorizo with the resulting piglets once the end of their happy life comes to pass.

Another soul feeding day

Spring has totally sprung. From the first primrose spotted today

to the stags roaming majestically across the croft this morning. The turkeys mating this morning (oh what a ritual that is, frankly it was on a par with the red deer rut, there was stamping, displaying, it was magnificent! – Ady taped it on his phone, turkey porn!), Barbara Pig is definitely pregnant, her teats are protruding and her belly swinging low, I reckon she still has a good month or maybe more to go though. The two broody geese are guarding their nests and a third goose is laying eggs in a clutch daily ready to go broody in the next few days I think. I am very excited to think that we may have goslings and maybe even turkey chicks this year – it will mean all of our Croft 3 creatures have bred successfully here after our piglets, chicks and ducklings last year.

I finished painting our new Croft 3 sign and we have put it up at the croft gate ready for our egg price list and poster about us and our lives here for passing curious tourists. We put the first layer of drainage into the ditch for the chicken house. I cut a load of switches to make stakes for the peas in the polytunnel

Davies and Scarlett went on another of their epic walks, they were gone for a couple of hours adventuring and exploring. They went off again later in the afternoon, this time on a shorter jaunt to the village to purchase fizzy drinks for Friday Night and secret purchases I believe may be linked to Sunday…

Days like these it is easy to forget the dark days of December and wakeful nights of worrying through January. Days like these are soul feeding, heart lifting, breath taking filled with wonder, sunshine and hope.

Fancy a slice of our life – check out Building the Dream to find out how.

Thank you for the days

After Popmaster this morning (before which I was making four trays of home made granola, which we call nic-ola in our house) I posted a facebook status update to say ‘off to plant seeds in the sunshine. I may sing while doing it’. And I did. I sang lots. It was a happy, shiny, sunny, productive day and I took some requests so I sang a bit of Thank you for the days and some Don’t Stop Me Now and because it is such a small leap from calling “Davies! Day-vies!” from the sporran when it’s lunchtime to a full on rendition of the Banana Boat Song when your voice echoes all around the cuillins I sang a bit of that too.

But mostly I planted seeds. I planted herbs – majoram, basil, tarragon, oregano, chives, coriander, parsley, dill, savory, sage. I planted borage, tomatoes, peppers (sweet and chilli), rocket, peas, cucumbers, carrots. I transplanted the peas which had sprouted into bigger containers. And I sang. And danced a little bit.

 I also swore a bit. At the Bad Turkeys. Who had taken advantage of my lunch break to go into the polytunnel and roost on the shelving and poo on the seed trays and peck at the seedlings. Bad turkeys. I may have used other words too! Ady took pity on me (or maybe the turkeys) and put up some netting to stop them getting in any more.

My afternoon was all the better for it 🙂 Once I had finished in the polytunnel I enjoyed a cup of tea on the sporran with Ady and a friend who had dropped by, then took my singing down to the raised beds where I put in some red onion sets, white onions sets, dug over and weeded  a couple of raised beds, cut some hazel to make netting arch supports and did that. I started netting but the sun dipped low enough behind the hill for it to stop being T shirt weather so I called it a night. I was surprised to note it was well past 6pm by then. Ah, the longer days.

Davies and Scarlett spent the day outside- playing beside the river, doing the rounds checking on the broody geese on their nests (Scarlett counted eggs, one is sitting on 17!), playing with the dog and finally wandering down to the shop to buy ice cream.

Ady spent the day fixing up a couple of the sheds built from reclaimed galvanised sheeting to create a chicken house in hopes of persuading them to lay their eggs in one easy collectable place, and a duck pen to put them away in at night after the evening feed so we can collect duck eggs too. I took the first £2 from the Honesty Larder today from egg sales.

It’s such a perfect day,I’m glad I spent it with you. Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time. Thanks to Jo, Rach and Jay for the musical inspiration 🙂

Fancy a slice of our life – check out http://wonderingwanderers.co.uk/uncategorized/building-the-dream/ to find out how.

Bring on the season

It may not be April until next week but clearly the Rum weather fairies are already in the April zone. It’s been sunshine and showers all the way for the last week or so. Sometimes within just minutes of each other, sometimes for a day or two at a time.

We’ve been busy indoors with candle making, poster designing, making new logos for Croft 3 produce and the odd film and popcorn session.

Outdoors we have done several loads of laundry, which looked so pretty on our very picturesque washing line I had to take a quick photo

We’ve also been chopping and splitting firewood, our stock to last the winter had pretty much been used up (we did well considering how cold, wet and horrid a winter it was though) and I had my first ever go with a chainsaw which was both scary and empowering in equal measures, and took out some frustration on a pile of logs which needed splitting with an axe. Excellent therapy wood splitting 🙂

The spring like weather has everything greening up and growing like crazy – there are buds and shoots on the trees and bushes in the fruit cage, all over the island the gorse and broom is throwing bright yellow blooms out to compliment the ever greening landscapes and blue skies reflected in the rivers and burns. Most exciting of all though was these sprouting seedlings down in the polytunnel today

We have two broody geese sitting on clutches of eggs and I have my ear cocked ready to hear the first call of the cuckoo.

We’ve been spending time with friends – old and new, as the first visit of the year from the Kinloch Castle Friends Association who had invited us to dine with them on Friday and Saturday evenings. The food was delicious, the company splendid and of course the opportunity to eat ‘out’ is not one we enjoy often living here so we gratefully accepted and had two lovely evenings with them.

This week we are hoping for a continuation of the nice weather as we have a fair sized job list awaiting our attention and are looking forward to as much time spent outside as possible.

Building The Dream

Croft 3 is an ongoing project with many strands to our long term vision for what happens to these eight acres of croft land in the coming years.

Our dream of a self sufficient lifestyle, growing our own fruit and vegetables, keeping pigs and poultry for meat and egg production and providing a beautiful, rich, diverse and interesting place for us to live and raise our children, being active members of the small community here on Rum, and the wider community of the Small Isles and local area was the first part of our vision. That will always be an ongoing theme, requiring time, commitment and energy but as we come close to our second anniversary of living here on Rum we are ready to embark on the next step of our dream.

Our very long term plan for Croft 3 is 8 acres of productive land, providing food for us with surplus to share. We also want to create an inspiring, educational space where people can come and spend time, learn, gain new skills and experiences, volunteer, work and explore. We’d like to create a place which can support us, our grown children should they wish to stay and make their home here as adults and maybe others too. We want to learn and share our knowledge, bring in experts to share their skills on subjects as diverse and wide ranging as green building, alternative energy, permaculture, off grid living, wild food and foraging, growing food, keeping livestock, hunting and fishing, baking bread and making preserves, pickles and other produce from the food growing here, butchery and processing meat from the animals living here, arts and crafts such as knitting and crochet but also more traditional crafts such as spinning and dyeing, weaving, felting, basket making. Creating an inspirational place for artists, poets, writers, musicians, dreamers. Helping people access the wildlife here on Rum and surrounding sealife, experience the red deer rut, photograph the majestic golden eagles and sea eagles, spot dolphins, whales and orcas. Explore the wild beauty that is Rum from the challenges of the peak climbing  to the gentler walks taking in the rich geology and archaeology of the island, which historically has been home to hundreds of people, much evidence of which still exists to explore and discover. Making use of the woodland here on Rum to learn and teach about woodland crafts, woodland management, bushcraft, what can be made from the trees growing here and how best to look after them.

Pretty ambitious plan isn’t it? Having spent two years here we now know how slowly life dawdles along on islands. Nothing ever goes quite to plan and just when you think you have all bases covered the wind changes direction – often quite literally, often metaphorically – and you have to think again. Life is at least half chance but having made several pretty big life changes we know it is also about seizing the day, making things happen and grabbing every opportunity to make your dreams come true.

So that’s the first part of our dream made happen and the grand plan at the end visualised, we need to start working on the middle bit. In order to make a start on bringing people to Croft 3 to volunteer, learn and be part of the project we need somewhere to put them. Our original plan was to live in our static for a short time while we built a house for ourselves and then use the static for visitors and volunteers. This summer we’d like to build a nissen hut on Croft 3 which will provide us with more suitable accommodation over the winter and eventually be used as office space and indoor training space along with a little farm shop to sell produce and crafts from Croft 3.

In order to raise the funds to build the nissen hut this year we are looking to do some crowd funding, asking people to invest in Croft 3 now in a very small way, in exchange for rewards in the future. We need to raise £15,000 to put down the groundworks, put up the nissen hut and install a woodburner. As our first pledger of £100 said to me, ‘that’s just 150 people giving £100 each – now you just need 149!’

What do you get for your money?

If you invest £10 you will get a gift of a packet of Croft 3 grown dried herbs sent to you from this years herb croft.

If you invest £100 you will get a weekend stay in the static caravan on Croft 3. Three nights in our off grid, three bedroom static caravan with full self catering facilities, compost loo, shower, stunning views. We will collect you from the ferry, bring you and your luggage to the Croft and settle you in. You then have time to explore the island from a comfortable base or just sit back and enjoy the view.

If you invest over £500 you will get a week long stay in the static caravan on Croft 3. You can choose either a fully catered (with as much Croft 3 or local Rum produce as we can lay our hands on) holiday, free to explore the island and make the most of the amazing wildlife, scenery and walking or you can choose to have a working holiday and work alongside us getting a taste of our lifestyle. From feeding and tending to our animals, helping with crops in the polytunnel and raised beds or getting involved in whatever project we happen to be working on at the time, it’s a week long slice of our life.

To invest through paypal, simply click the button on the sidebar on the right marked ‘Donate’. We will get in touch when we get notification of your investment and give you full details of how to claim your herbs or arrange your stay.

We’ll be keeping a running total of money invested in the side bar of the blog. We’ll be sharing this on facebook, twitter and appreciate any help putting the word out to anyone you think may be interested in getting involved.

Untrapped Life

We have a lot of amazing friends. I definitely think keeping inspirational company stands you in good stead for doing inspirational things.

I have friends running successful businesses in toy and craft retail, cake baking and decorating, life coaching and NLP. I know published authors, freelance translators, artists and crafters, textile artists, fashion designers, tutors and more. All of these friends also home educate their children – I wonder if being a Home Educating parent makes you more creative and alternative in your approach to earning a living by doing something you love or whether it is people who are that way inclined who are more likely to Home Educate…

I do know that I have many friends who are self employed and have turned their passions, interests and hobbies into the way they earn their living than friends trapped in unfulfilling careers stuck in ruts.

Our friends Kirsty and James and their children are shining examples of this – in 2012 they had a fantastic adventure and went off traveling and now Kirsty is helping other people realise their dreams with her fab website Untrapped Life. Alongside the website Kirsty is putting out a series of podcasts included interviews and today’s interview is with me! Do go along and check out the website, have a listen to Kirsty and I and sign up for the newsletter which is packed with hints, tips, inspirational ideas and ways in which to start making your dreams come true.


I think the winter is finally coming to a close. The wind is currently blowing a gale around the caravan, the wind turbine is tied up to prevent overload so it feels a little premature to be saying such things.

Yet, over half the fruit trees and bushes in the fruit cage have buds and new growth on them.

Yet, Barbara Pig looks like she may well be pregnant, we are planning a maternity wing…

Yet, two geese are broody and sitting on nests. There may be goslings ahead….

Yet, all my peas have sprouted in the polytunnel, the salad leaves are poking through the soil and the chitted seed potatoes are ready and waiting to go into the ground.

It’s coming….