It’s continued to rain today. And by continued to rain I mean didn’t really stop raining pretty much all day. The river is high, the ground is sodden and the mud is taking over. Even a year on we are still in awe of the changes to the landscape that nature brings about in an hour, a day, a week. Back on the mainland in Sussex nothing really changed regardless of the weather. You might turn the heating up a little, have to dry the washing indoors rather than on the line, put off or bring forward mowing the lawn by a week or so. Here a lot of rain means the car has to stay the other side of the river, getting food, firewood, animal feed up to the static becomes more of a challenge and takes more time. Wearing full on waterproofs takes longer to tog up, means a brief nip to the bottom of the croft to feed the animals takes twice as long and you need to have a space cleared to take off those waterproofs and somewhere to put them to dry off. Today has been one of those days I long for a bath to soak in, warm up and a washing machine to take dripping wet, muddy clothes off and chuck them straight in to.
Another egg has hatched bringing the chick tally to three so far. We’re still hopeful for more and very chuffed. Star is particularly delighted as the cousins arrive for a two week stay on Monday and she is just desperate to show cousin M the piglets and the chicks. Much discussion these last few days about rearing livestock for food has gone on. This afternoon when Star came with me to deliver some eggs to the village and collect something from the freezer for Sunday Roast tomorrow she requested the chicken that Bonnie attacked earlier this year and has been in the freezer ever since. There is not much meat on it so we took out a second chicken with the intention of roasting both and making curry with the leftovers and soup with the bones. I’m proud of Star for her considered, informed and educated choices in her diet.
Ady has been working with one of our fellow islanders who is a talented joiner making some beds for one of the neighbouring Small Isles which has a hunting lodge about to open. They are beautiful works of art, each a unique creation making the most of the beauty of the wood they have been crafted from. Ady is enjoying both the learning experience of working alongside someone with a skill he is in awe of but also the camaraderie of working with a group of blokes. There are four of them at times as two other islanders have been helping out as well. He was there this morning while the kids and I did various things. Star and I made some candles, I did some work on the Rum community newsletter, sent some emails on various things and tried to make some headway with the Rum Venison website design. Star did some painting, she’s working on her landscapes just now so we talked about perspective, distance and how moving away from drawing a quarter of a circle in one upper corner of the paper to be the sun is a real milestone art moment. She took that leap today and proudly went to bed declaring ‘I am better at art tonight than I was when I woke up this morning!’. Dragon worked on a new postcard design as his current four have been selling well and he has two additional places to sell them from lined up so needs some more stock and thought he’d take the opportunity to create a new design based on customer feedback, sales and seeing what the finished printed products look like compared to his originals. I think he has a real winner this time so will get him some more stock ordered next week.
Ady came home for lunch and then we sat down with pen and paper and did some Planning. Planning for this year about housing, planning for the short and long term on the croft for horticulture and livestock and long term planning including what we’d love to do to earn an income, working out just what it costs us to live here and what is worth earning more for and what isn’t. Dragon and Star also participated in the conversations talking about business ideas they might want to explore. Currently Dragon wants to learn more about herbs – growing them and the possible uses for them. I have a couple of books on the subject, various packets of seeds and some small plants already on their way and a plan for a herb spiral or two. Dragon knows that there are herbal remedies, aromatherapy aswell as culinary uses for herbs and wants to know more about all of them. He also wants to do more bushcraft type stuff with a long term view to teaching it or holding survival based retreats here on Rum. Star wants to learn more about rare breed animals, particularly birds and see if there is scope for breeding them here and a market for them afterwards. Ady wants to further explore the idea of a mobile slaughterhouse business and I am still wanting to do something educational to do with self sufficiency.
The upshot of our plans is loads more research – energy, water, permaculture training courses, maybe some more books for reading. We have an updated croft map plan and renewed excitement for how much Rum and Croft 3 has to offer. Not easy, not without challenges but certainly the right direction. Re-evaluating once again what our priorities are, what our bare minimums are and why we are doing what we’re doing is always a helpful and valid exercise.
Our tenants were due to move out of our house in Sussex today, I assume they have. This is both scary in as much as we now have an empty house with a mortgage to be paid but exciting in that hopefully an empty house is much more saleable than one with tenants in it. Fingers crossed we get some interest and things start to move so we can finally say goodbye to those last few ties of our old lives and fully throw ourselves at this one.