Question Time Again

Way back at the beginning of our WWOOFing adventure I put up a post inviting questions about our plans. It was really interesting to read and answer back then and it’s a post I have revisited a few times over the last 18 months.

We have spent a lot of time with real life friends and family in the last few months answering all of their questions but after a friend recently posed a load of her questions to me by email I realised it would be good to put up another post inviting questions on this next part of the adventure. So, on that basis, over to you!

Kay asked:

Will you continue to home educate on Rum? I remember reading that the island has a small school & wondered about your thoughts on that. Having made a big move ourselves from a very busy home ed community to living in the sticks with very little going on – we had to adapt. Though lots of friends came to stay, it does dwindle after a few years, as you become settled & make new friends. Are there other home ed families in the area?

Yes, it’s definitely our intention to Home Educate Dragon and Star for as long as they wish to do so. The school on the island is primary only, with children heading across to the mainland for school for secondary, boarding for two weeks at a time, home for every other weekend and school holidays. Dragon will be 12 in September so would only be in the school for a term before he’d be secondary age, Star would have two years. The choice to Home Educate has always been down to the children and should they wish to try school we would support them in that choice but it is currently not one either of them is considering.

In comparing a small island school to a larger mainland school there would be pros and cons for both. It is virtually impossible to compare Home Education to either for us because our approach is an autonomous, child led one which bears little if any resemblance to a formal, structured school environment – be it large or small.

We have discussed them attending the mainland school in a couple of years if they started to feel socially isolated or wanted more in terms of resources, education stimulation etc. For now neither of them are remotely interested but as ever we’ll continue to take such decisions one day / week / month / year at a time!

There is a Home Ed community (or certainly a handful of families doing it) in the Highlands and Islands so there would be the opportunity to hook up with others if we felt the need, although a ferry ride away isn’t exactly local. We have already got three firm bookings of dates for friends to come and visit us and the children have friends on neighbouring small isles who we will meet up with too. I guess as with all aspects of our new life this will be a ‘suck it and see’ one but in the same way as we have always had to work that bit harder as Home Educators to find social, educational and entertainment opportunities we will continue to do so from this new location.

Kirsty asks:

A question for you all 🙂 What are you most looking forward to in the coming year and what are you imagining will be the biggest hurdle to overcome?

Nic says: I am most looking forward to putting down some roots and creating a home for us again. After a year on the road I can’t wait to wake up to the same view every morning. I love the idea of having a front door and a sofa and a bed all in the same place every single day. I am looking forward to having my stuff around me in permanent places again and being able to cook what I want, when I want, have quiet peaceful time to myself and do stuff like baking, jam making and crafty stuff again. I also can’t wait to start growing stuff and keeping animals – I am particularly excited about the idea of pets aswell as livestock (cats! a dog!). Finally (yes I am being greedy with such a long list) I am looking forward to making friends. I love getting to know people, swapping lifestories,  sharing a cup or tea (or glass of wine) and forging new friendships.

I think the biggest hurdle will be the logistics of it all – what to do first, which decisions we can feasibly put off and make once we’ve got our heads round things and doing them methodically and sensibly and which we will simply have to jump in with both feet and make, mistakes and all, in order to get things moving forwards. It is all very daunting building a home, a business and a whole life literally from the ground up – looking at a bare patch of ground and trying to envisage it being our everything. I know we can do it but I also know there will be things we mess up and get wrong and then have to put right again.

Ady: I am very excited at the prospect of a virgin piece of land to do whatever we want with. All the other opportunities we looked at were existing crofts or smallholdings with buildings, growing and rest of the infrastructure already in place. Croft 3 gives us the chance to put all of our own experience and knowledge into practise without any previous people’s ideas in the way!

Getting used to the challenges of having no amenities will be the biggest hurdle I think. I know that is only temporary as we will get all of those things sorted over time and we have lived without being connected to water, electric etc. for the last year so we know we can do it but it does add a further dimension of difficulty.

Dragon: I am looking forward to living on Rum because, obviously it will be pretty cool to live on an island. I am looking forward to having lots of animals, being part of a community, making new friends. The thing I am looking forward to most is exploring the island.

Biggest challenge might be living in the static but we lived in Willow and that was quite easy. From where I am now staying with friends it sounds hard but I think it will probably be quite easy.

Star: I am most looking forward to living with lots of animals and having my own bedroom.

Star laughed and said the biggest challenge is answering questions like this one! When pushed she says (with one of those cartoon lightbulbs appearing over her head and a huge look of relief) building the house will be difficult. And then she ran off to play.

Jay asked:

I know self sufficiency in food is also agoal for you, Nic. What grows well there? Other than turnips, swedes and raspberries 😉 it looks quite exposed and presumably has a shorter growing season than further south

It’s going to be an exercise in trying and seeing what works in lots of ways for food growing. The weather is fairly mild thanks to the island being within the Gulf stream so although it is wetter and windier than the south coast (where we used to be) the climate is not terribly dissimilar. There are few frosts / snow and thanks to being so much further north the extended daylight in summer makes up for the shorter days in winter. The croft is in a valley and on a south facing slope so a little protected with decent sun exposure. We will grow using polytunnels to help extend the season.

Plans are for fruit and nut trees – orchard and soft fruit and we will be researching good types for the climate, traditional Scottish apples etc. Tatties and other roots will grow well of course and nearby Eigg had great crops of berries and currants when we were there WWOOFing. Inside the polytunnel we’ll be able to grow tomatoes, peppers etc. Outside should be fine for garlic, onions, brassicas, legumes. We will be getting the soil tested once we arrive and finding out what treatment it will need in terms of making it more fertile.

We’ve been told stuff has been grown on that land within living memory and certainly historically the island supported hundreds of crofters. The ground on the inner hebridian isles seems to be mostly machair which is nice fertile stuff.

Joyce asks:

As you would expect (!!) I’m a little fixated on toilet arrangements. I know that you will be going down the compost route, but what happens meanwhile? Also interested in the water issue – as someone who got a horrific intestinal infection from an untreated private water supply on Harris, I’ve felt nervous about that ever since. That aside, how are you going to get water into the static – is it going to be carrying your needs in all the time?

Really? Fixated on toiletting? 😉

Long term plans are for very decent compost loos – we’ve been looking at some fab places such as free range design. Short term we’ll use the chemical toilet in the static to contain waste and adhere to Wild Camping principles for burying / dealing with waste. (clearly with no actual chemicals in the loo!)

Water will be brought in to the static daily to begin with, there is a chlorinated water supply in the village. We will begin harvesting rainwater from the start for uses other than cooking, drinking and bathing. Eventually we’re planning to either harness water from the land or rainwater and put in a filtration system for bringing it to drinking quality (fully tested!).

7 thoughts on “Question Time Again”

  1. Hi Guys,

    Will you continue to home educate on Rum? I remember reading that the island has a small school & wondered about your thoughts on that. Having made a big move ourselves from a very busy home ed community to living in the sticks with very little going on – we had to adapt. Though lots of friends came to stay, it does dwindle after a few years, as you become settled & make new friends. Are there other home ed families in the area?

    Kay 🙂

  2. A question for you all 🙂 What are you most looking forward to in the coming year and what are you imagining will be the biggest hurdle to overcome?

  3. I know self sufficiency in food is also agoal for you, Nic. What grows well there? Other than turnips, swedes and raspberries 😉 it looks quite exposed and presumably has a shorter growing season than further south

  4. As you would expect (!!) I’m a little fixated on toilet arrangements. I know that you will be going down the compost route, but what happens meanwhile? Also interested in the water issue – as someone who got a horrific intestinal infection from an untreated private water supply on Harris, I’ve felt nervous about that ever since. That aside, how are you going to get water into the static – is it going to be carrying your needs in all the time?

  5. We too have been completely autonomous & only know of one other family within our group that is… Our girls both opted to go to college at 17 & Hugo’s at an age where he does his own thing – which is mainly staying up late, being on the computer, lying in until afternoon & reading a mountain of books – well, that’s how we see it!

    He was 5 when we first moved down here & loved the freedom of being out on the land, climbing trees, messing about in the river & being with the wwoofers who stayed with us. He still retains everything he’s learnt over the years & at some point he’ll use that knowledge again, but for now – he’s living his life how he chooses to. We’ve seen both our girls go through this stage & sleeping pattern, then they come out the other side – raring to go!

    We’ve let them be & maybe that’s why we’ve never had any difficult times with them…

    Either that or we’re just very lucky!

    Kay 🙂

  6. Kay I do think this approach is a few and far between one, it does take faith and trust in the process at times, particularly when you seem to be the only ones doing it like this. But I see how happy the kids are, how they still learn something new every day and that sees me though the odd moments when I wobble! Great to hear your girls are doing so well, I love reading about all of you on your blog when they make their appearances there 🙂 And yes, I veer between feeling either we have it spot on, or we are just very lucky too!

    Helen, thanks for that link, will go and have a look 🙂

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