Hiya, Mrs J reporting. I dont get much chance to blog, what with feeding and cleaning up after 3 smelly boys and 3 stinky cats. But you will notice a slight difference between Mr Js blogs and Mrs Js blog, mine are more about the practical everyday issues of living on a farm far far away from home, with 3 smelly boys and 3 stinky cats, and soon, 5 stenchsome goats. Mr Js are more regaling witticisms, albeit full of spelling mistakes (I’ve beat him with my broom about this issue on many occasion). [At this point I really must interject! Actually, I won’t say anything, in my defence I’ll just highlight a few things in red.] He is Mr Optimistic, I’m Mrs Pessimistic. It takes Jamie 5mins to bang out a blog, it takes me all day, what with spell checking, thesaurus.com to peruse, a bit of googling…
Anyway, you may be wandering how on earth we mean to put clothes on our backs, feed the goats, boys and kittens, and pay the bills. Well our first aim is to reduce our expenditure by becoming more self-reliant – ‘to rely on ones own capabilities, judgement or resources’ – I’ve stopped saying we’re going to be self-sufficient – ‘able to provide for oneself without the help of others’ – as it seems to me to infer a family being able to provide everything needed to survive, from food to power, a mission impossible for us, at the moment anyway. ‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ is my new mantra, so we’re aiming on producing our own food to cut supermarket bills, reduce packaging and so we know exactly what the boys are eating. In the UK we had chickens for eggs and meat, a veg patch, we made our own cleaning products (lemons and baking soda cant be beat), bread, beer, pasta, yoghurt and cheese, BUT we had hefty Tesco bills for flour and milk to make all this stuff, and we were sometimes up way past midnight, sieving cheese curds! So on the farm we are hoping to produce our own dairy and grow our own wheat. Our neighbour has beef as of 1st December, the local fisherman has already been around to drop off mackerel and we have haddock on order. We are very lucky not to have a mortgage. Annual Property Tax here is the equivalent of 1.5months of our previous UK Council Tax! There is a well for water, drain-away for waste water, and a mountain spring for drinking. We are trying to use our woodstove instead of burning oil for heating and propane for cooking (Jamie has been out with The Neighbour hauling and splitting logs, very manly). So that all cuts our outgoings considerably. Internet connection, car maintenance and fuel are our biggest expenditures.
Another of our aims is to spend more time together as a family and, if we can, not to work for other people but for ourselves, involving the boys in the work as much as possible. We want to earn a living from our land whilst also improving its biodiversity and productivity. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been on major factfinding missions to find out what other businesses are around and what state the markets are in. Whos doing what where how when and why. We’ve been to wool and craft shops, dairys, bakeries, butchers, goat breeders, sheep breeders, pig preeders, grocers and even had a visit from the Islands Agricultural Resource Co-ordinator! (This fellas colleagues are in Wales this week recruiting young farmers to come to Cape Breton!!). Today we were at a local farmers market touting for a stall next spring. The market today was very heavy with crafts, every other stall seemed to be selling knitted socks, there were only 2 stalls selling meats from cool boxes, piles of baked goods, 1 veg stall, honey, pickles etc. It was very busy and produce was being moved very quickly! I nabbed the co-ordinator who said she would be happy for us to sell whatever we like but is particularly looking for producers of chicken and prepared meats (sausages etc), eggs and “green asian veg” (?bok choi?). This is great news for us as we had planned to focus on chickens and eggs next spring, and speciality veg the following year.
Of course I want to sell knit wear!!! I’ve already knitted 3 twirly scarves so I have to now! But I’m also toying with the idea of doing crocheted jewellery which will hopefully be a bit different from the norm. My baby business which I’m really excited about is to create our own yarn from angora goats and sheep. Now this may sound a bit demanding but after much research its not that impossible!! I’ve talked with a couple of businesswoman who have done this and are doing this, and more importantly are about to start spinning classes locally! So now I just have to find some angora goats. (Ok I’m waffling now). Watch this space. xx