In all honesty…

Selling eggs is one of our biggest revenue streams here on Croft 3. We sell chicken, duck and goose eggs. Some of them through Rum shop (at whole sale prices), some direct to businesses on the island and the rest from our honesty table at the croft gate. I was really surprised when we set the first incarnation of a camping table and jam jar up down at the croft gate at how successful it was. We are bordered on three sides of the croft by a nature trail which brings tourists walking along the top, one side and bottom perimeter of our croft; a fact we have never underestimated or taken lightly in terms of giving us a ‘shop front’. We are also a nice accessible circular walk that many of the villagers do regularly in their own personal ‘get out of the village / walk the dog / burn off their dinner / reconnect with nature’ quest. Now that they can buy eggs from us along the way I think it has become an even more desirable destination walk too.

The table was soon replaced as it was not weather friendly (eggs got wet in the rain, blown away in the wind, cooked in the sun) or crow / passing dog proof – a fact we learnt the hard way after crows pecked at the eggs from the bottom of the table up and an unidentified dog cleared a whole table full of eggs leaving only broken shells and muddy pawprints as evidence. The next incarnation was a brightly painted cast off bedside table from the castle hostel. We mounted it on the gate post and it stood up well for the whole of this years tourist season. But the Rum weather is not to be underestimated and underestimate it I did. The honesty bedside table fell to pieces having had it’s colour washed off by rain, bleached off by sun and the door blown off by wind and rotted off by, well by exposure to all of the above really.

If our business is to work here we need to do a lot of low key  unsupervised selling while we are busy getting on with getting the next lot of produce ready to sell and the honesty table / cupboard has proved itself as a winning way of selling our produce at retail prices without us having to walk down and deliver to the village. So the hunt was on for an alternative, more robust solution. Something sturdy enough to stand up to the wind, rain and sun, keep the produce safe from the elements and the predators, look appealing to potential customers and sum up all we are about.

Bring on the freezer!

I can’t think of a more appropriate and suitable solution than what Ady came up with. Here on Rum when white goods are no longer any use they are heaped up in a corner of Rum and left to die. In theory once there is sufficient numbers to justify it a trip out will be made by the council to collect and recycle them. In practice I have no idea how frequently this happens but judging by the state of the appliances living in this electrical graveyard it is not often. To be honest shipping them off by sea, then transporting them by road to wherever the nearest recycling plant on the mainland may be and then trying to make the best of these big CFC boxes is still far from a green solution anyway. So Ady and took a trip to the white goods graveyard and selected an old freezer. A bit grubby, a little rusty but still with drawers and the perfect size and shape for our new honesty larder. We bought it back to the croft and I attacked it with hot soapy water until it was fit once more to put food items in. Fully insulated against hot and cold, secure and rodent and crow proof, ready to live on as a useful item rather than languish in the pit of rusty white goods nestled between a dead cooker and an expired washing machine. When we were WWOOFing we came across several hosts who used old fridges and freezers as animal feed storage containers for all the same reasons. So we can’t claim full credit for the idea.

But for an off grid lifestyle treading lightly on the land, re-using and recycling whatever we can, being like modern day wombles making good use of the things everyday folk leave behind this seemed perfect.

But this needed to be nice looking, something you were invited to open and peruse inside, be attracted to and want to buy from. An old freezer, no matter how clean, which is no longer plugged into anything may send the wrong message… a sort of extreme off grid one perhaps…

It needed some beautification, a bit of Nic-love.

First of all I needed it to stop looking quite so much like a freezer. So I painted it black. Bear with me, I only had black, white or red paint at that stage. It was already white and Ady suggested if I painted it red people might try posting letters into it, so black was my only option.

I like to think of this as the upcycled freezers goth phase. A sort of uncomfortable teenage state in which is was reflecting on who it was, why it was here and what the end result of this chrysallis stage might be. A period of experimentation and self examination…

Briefly I (and the freezer) toyed with this look – stark, black and white, farm shop style. It didn’t feel right. There were too many connotations of school, blackboards and chalk for either of us to feel comfortable. It was as though the freezer was expected to be teaching the customers something and at any moment pi to thirteen decimal places might appear underneath the croft 3 produce heading. Also sitting as it does at the foot of the croft this is the natural point of vision – the first layer is a panorama of natures finest, sky, cuillins, trees and quite possible eagles circling overhead. Below that is Croft 3 – evidence of humans and animals, agriculture and life, some might say a shambles, others may see the permaculture beauty in it but one way or another it didn’t feel right ending with a big black box.

So we went green. Which felt far more appropriate!

On every level. And Ady found me a wee pallet to stand it on and build a little path to it so it doesn’t get all muddy when we get tens of visitors coming to buy stuff. Meanwhile I spent ages and ages trying to come up with a vision of what I wanted it to look like. I wanted it to be quirky, original, embody all that we stand for here on Croft 3. After some soul searching I came up with a design. It is indeed quirky and original. And a little bit gypsy. I think that sums us up!

It’s still a work in progress but I can share what I’ve done so far with it between rain showers, making use of a jam jar of petrol to clean out my brushes when the brush cleaner failed once again to arrive on the ferry…

with writing – white on green somehow so much more pleasing than white on black
With swirls on the writing and the first colour added – brown. Lots of guessing as to quite what that shape at the bottom was ranging from pig to hippp – none were right but it briefly had me pondering the market for hippo eggs… they do like mud after all and we have plenty of that!
Swirls and outlines complete the lettering. I am very happy with it, it looks exactly as I hoped it might.
No more hippos any more. Still no facial features but a comb, wattle, some eggs and a chick on it’s back hopefully identify the pig hippo to actually be a broody hen. Some ducks, geese and some beaks and legs for the chickens above. Next step is to turn those purple blobs on the lower left into something but rain stopped play once more this afternoon.

What do you think so far?

5 thoughts on “In all honesty…

  1. What a great idea…. I must say, i have followed your blog on and off for a while now. I was interested in how you have managed it all, you see this has to be my ultimate dream…to live in and run a croft in the Scottish Highlands. Having lived in Inverness for a while (i’m back in London now unfortunately) I would like that to be my next step. 🙂

    • Thanks Sam, it’s far from easy but the rewards are endless. If you don’t already have crofting knowledge then a SCF crofting course is a great starting point, as is membership of the SCF – they have a list of available crofts too I believe.

  2. Excellent. I’m glad it emerged from its teenage bedroom-dwelling phase and it now feels that other people do understand it, that life is fair etc. When you close the door is it still airtight (like it was when it was being a freezer)? If so, is this a good thing? I don’t know enough about egg storage to know if it’s good or not – does it need some ventilation holes drilling in it or would that make things worse?

  3. Great post and what a wonderful honesty stall you have created.

    I have read about gardeners storing their produce in old freezers and folks using old washing machine drums as great fire pits, just saying…..

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