What Smallholding Really Costs
When I moved to my first smallholding 18 years ago I was completely naive to what I was walking in to.
I’d moved my two children out to the countryside without a clue how much time, effort & money my new smallholding life was going to cost.
I just knew we were about to embark on an idyllic journey of growing our own food, collecting eggs from our own hens & looking forward to rearing our own sheep.
It wasn’t long after moving in to our own smallholding that I began to realise being a smallholder was going to be expensive.
I had one income from my full time job as a restaurant manager, but so many big dreams. Adding livestock to my holding, improving my buildings, work on my little farmhouse.
I knew I couldn’t DIY everything even though I’m not afraid of hard work, there was so much work to do! That reduced the amount of cash I had to do all the things I wanted and grow my smallholding.
My new place needed pretty much everything doing to it. The old fencing that hadn’t been touched for decades needed to be replaced, field drains had collapsed, the barn roof was just about done. That on top of feeding livestock, garden equipment, etc, etc.
By my planning it was going to take years to get even half straight. Trying to cut corners buying cheap materials, doing it myself with inexperience was pointless it only costs more in the long run.
It felt like one step forward, and two steps backwards ALL THE TIME.
It all started to feel very overwhelming & stressful, I started to question if I’d done the right thing and as much as I hated admitting.. may be everyone that told me not to move to my smallholding, that I’d never cope, were right.
I had to stop and think about what I’d done, was it worth all the stress?
absolutely! Of course it was. Nothing worth having or doing comes easy!
blogging all those years ago was still a relatively new thing. I stumbled across blogging whilst doing research for my smallholding and started to explore it for myself.
I started my first smallholding blog to ramble about my small farm life in the hope a few people might find it and be interested in what I had to say. But blogging has set me on a path I could never have expected in a million years, and it’s easily just as much of a passion for me as my smallholding and all my other businesses.
But this blog alone isn’t what has supported my smallholding!
There’s another piece of the story that took me on an a journey which has been almost as exciting as my smallholding journey.
The Dream Started with Neals Yard Remedies
In 2005 I decided to turn my two bedroom apartment at the back of the farmhouse in to a holiday let and wanted include organic products as part of the package, I’d made my own organic skincare and toiletries for a few years but because of red tape I couldn’t include my homemade products in the holiday let. Previous to making my own products I’d always bought Neals Yard (which is what inspired me to start making my own) so I decided these would be the best products to use. I went on the website and noticed that I could become an independent consultant, I didn’t want to do direct selling but the generous discount would really help my small start up business so I applied anyway.
I got a call from a lovely lady and after explaining to her what I wanted to do and realising I could become an independent consultant and benefit from the discounts so, I invested in a starter kit and from there it just snowballed. Holiday let guests bought the products, friends and friends of friends bought the products and I decided to take the products out to events, shows and exhibitions.
Within a year, I was making more from my organic skincare business than any other business had started and it was so much fun!
it took hard work and determination, just like when I moved to the smallholding. But when you are doing something you love it makes the long days pass by filled with joy, fulfilment and a sense of utter achievement.
We always have a choice and we don’t have to stay in a place where life is stressful. We just have to be willing to make a change and go for our dreams!
For me the change was doing multiple things along side my smallholding, one of the best things was starting Neals Yard.
It meant I could start building my smallholding dreams and meet some amazing people along the way.
Im so please I took the chance at an opportunity that crossed my path and realising that by stepping out of the box, increasing my income and working hard I could move forward quicker with my smallholding dream.
I took a leap moving to the smallholding and have taken many more since then, it’s all become part of the journey to my self sufficient life.