Some very close friends of ours are about to head off on a travelling adventure. One family, one campervan, it all sounds very familiar. They are in search of different things to us, have a different agenda and different hopes and dreams for their experience but we are able to empathise with a lot of what they are going through as they pack up one life and get ready for another. Meanwhile closer to home we are getting all excited at the prospect of our new neighbours arriving on Croft 2 in the next few months. New people for the island, coming full of new ideas and plans, full of fresh enthusiasm and energy – again they are different people to us with different plans and schedules but we have been where they are headed as the new folk on the island, getting their heads around how things work, getting to know the people here and facing challenges you’d not even really appreciated might exist until they crop up and hit you from behind.
Ady, Dragon, Star and I have been talking about the coming year, what we are hoping to achieve and what our plans are. As ever life is not quite what you anticipated it might be and while we are much further along in some areas of our plans for Croft 3 and life on Rum than we’d have hoped in others we still have far to go. We have come to terms with the idea that growing fruit and veg is more of a long term project that we will need to be further down the line with before we have time, energy or ability to take risks with failed crops. We are hoping to get a few raised beds in where the pigs have cleared land, bring up some seaweed to start conditioning the soil and at least make a start on growing some of our own food but turning that into a business or anything even close to self sufficiency is a long way off for now.
Our livestock is a different matter and while we won’t be embarking on my dream of dairy goats or beekeeping for another few years yet we will be increasing our flock of birds. Our egg sales for last year already turned profit on initial outlay on buying in the birds and their feed. We are planning to get some drakes, another pair or two of geese, some more laying ducks and some more hens too. Once we have more stable electricity we will look at an incubator but for now we’ll be buying in birds and hoping some of our brood hatch their own too. We are also determined to start turkeys this year – we’ll be sourcing some in the spring and fattening them for Christmas as we think there is a big market for them and it is within our previous skills and abilities to manage without too much investment of funds, learning and risk taking. We’re very hopeful that Tom and Barbara pig will produce some wee piglets for us this year too which we’ll either sell on as livestock or fill our freezer with for our own consumption – getting them off to slaughter and butcher is simply not cost effective not to mention against our ethics in terms of ferry rides, long road journeys and stress to the animal on their final destination.
I will be starting work at the local school in the next month or so once paperwork comes through so will actually have a proper job again albeit very part time, combined with the venison processing and various other small endeavours so we are ticking over nicely there regardless of making the croft a living just yet. We can afford to ensure we are making the right moves that balance properly with our family, our desire for a quieter pace and a more outdoorsy, less stressful lifestyle. When your living costs are low it is easier to not fret about feeling you have to work full time – as long as we have enough we don’t need to answer to anyone else and enough here is not very much at all.
So our big project for this year is a house. And we’re chucking everything at it – time, energy, fight, headspace, money. It’s our priority and what will ultimately decide whether we stay here or not. We have a finite pot of funding (which is still currently tied up in our house back down in Sussex. We have just put it back on the market and this time will hope that it sells and releases us entirely from our previous life, pays off our mortgage and other financial ties and gives us enough funds to build a home here) and a housebuild here is still rather an unknown quantity. Getting materials, finding labour, battling the weather, getting access from the ferry to the croft will all be challenges. That is assuming we reach that point when we still have finalising an actual house plan, getting planning permission, working out how to build it at all in the second place. In the first place we have selling our house and getting the money to start it at all. So we’ll be pretty busy with that.
More on house stuff to follow – we have plenty to decide, ponder on and learn about and as long as it takes our house to sell to do it.