Our lives since we left employment have taken on a different level of organisation and commitment. Once upon a time the rhythm of our lives was dictated by work schedules and meetings. We now have obvious demands such as animals needing feeding, people needing feeding, firewood needing chopping, gas bottles getting up the hill and so on but in the main we get to decide what happens when and work on our own job list prioritising. It’s fluid and flexible and a mix of what simply must be done in order to survive, what makes life nicer or more comfortable and things which make life move forward, are nice optional extras or are working towards the future.
We tend to create a Masterplan each year, an overview of things we’d like to carry on with or introduce to the croft in terms of animals, crops, infrastructure and business. A list of fun things we want to do – places to visit, new skills to acquire, experiences to have. This is a discipline we have been following for years as a family – it has shaped Davies and Scarlett’s education, family holidays and adventures, learning opportunities and new experiences. It was this sort of Masterplan over the years that led to us camping in Scotland dolphin spotting, Davies joining the Young Archaeologists Club, me attending a book group (which led to working at the local library), us getting an allotment and more. It’s definitely a technique from school and work where Ady and I learned about reviews and appraisals and succession planning. We then break that down into seasonal, monthly or weekly plans, all of which are fluid and often have to be reactive to other factors such as weather, health, what else might creep up and happen. A mix of proactive and reactive, being adaptable and having planning skills has served us well in moving things forward and feeling productive while still having a nice life with plenty of freedom to follow our dreams.
That same working backwards from an end goal is what I applied to our heading off WWOOFing and then again when we moved to Rum. A friend tells me it’s called Critical Path Analysis. To me it’s making sure that on November 16th the four of us, plus cat and dog are on board a ferry off Rum leaving behind us a croft that is packed up waiting for us to come back in March or with plans in place for our absence. We’ll need to leave equipt with everything we need to see us though the short and long term time away or plans for how to make that happen as we go.
I’ve divided this into the following areas:
Animals: Rehome, kill & process or organise food and shelter and supervision while we’re away for pigs, sheep and poultry.
Our pigs will be going next week. One will be processed for the freezer. One will be buried alongside the other pigs who have been killed or died for non food reasons. We will then dismantle and pack away all of the fencing . The housing will be reused for the other animals staying over winter.
The Sheep will be staying. There is sufficient food and shelter here on Croft 3 for them over winter and they will be regularly checked for health and condition. We will dose them before we go and again on our return.
The turkeys will be staying on Rum with a friend who will feed them for us while we’re away. We will supply the food so they will still be our turkeys. They will come back to the croft when we return.
The geese will be staying on the croft. There is a huge population of wild geese on Rum and they thrive here needing no special food or shelter. They will remain on the croft along with the sheep and continue to graze and keep the croft grass down.
The guinea fowl will do the same.
Most of the chickens and ducks will be killed and processed. A tiny number will remain and be fed and checked along with the sheep by a friend. We’ll leave sufficient food supplies behind along with lots of shelter on the croft. As a fully free range flock they are well used to finding their own food and shelter on the croft and have very few predators.
This plan for the animals means that if we return to Rum in the spring with the intention of staying here then we already have our starting livestock here for us. If we have decided we are moving on then we can make arrangements to take the livestock with us or rehome it.
Crops: I have the usual end of season clearing up to do in the polytunnel, fruit cages, walled garden and other growing areas. I will clear any spent crops, tidy away anything at risk during the winter weather, cover all the bare soil with a thick mulch of seaweed and prune the fruit trees and bushes. These are my usual activities at this time of year and for the sake of a few days work it is worth preparing the ground for next years crops incase we do return.
Caravan: The caravan will be sealed up against the weather and pests during our absence as best it can be. We will turn off the water to the caravan and re-route the supply to drain into the ground to ensure it does not freeze, burst or grow stagnant in the pipes during our absence. The wind turbines will be dismantled, the solar panels disconnected, the batteries disconnected and the generators emptied and stored (we may take the main one off for a service). We will cap the log burner, turn off the gas and seal any vents with fabric conditioner sheets to deter rodents from moving in. We will remove or cover all soft furnishings, seal closed the doors and windows which leak water in the rain and leave internal doors and cupboards open for the air to circulate as much as possible. All food and perishable stuff will be removed and precious things taken with us or carefully stored away.
The croft: all tools and machines will be drained of fuel, cleaned and put away securely. We will not be leaving anything of great value, mostly because we don’t have anything of great value! But we have moved things useful and specific to croft 3 into a shed which will be sealed up to keep things safe.
The Shed: Most of the crafts are listed on Etsy so will be coming with us to ensure we can carry on fulfilling any sales we make. Jams will be stored here ready for next season. The shed will be locked up against the elements while we’re away.
The logistics of leaving include booking the car onto the ferry (we have successfully completed the task of getting a new car and selling the old one – hurrah!), organising accommodation for our journey break down to Sussex (we have booked dentist and orthodentist check ups for the day after we leave which will dictate how far we get on the first leg of the trip), organising immunisations for Bonnie who has not needed them before by virtue of living here with no contact with other dogs. Planning things like mail redirection, emergency contacts and so on.
I have a masterplan for all of this laid out in a notebook with provisional and last possible dates for ticking things off the list. We have contingency plans for the variables and are starting to make plans for the actual things we’ll be doing while we’re off. But that’s for the next post.