I thought I’d do a post about our plans for the year ahead., and now somehow it’s well into January.
I don’t usually do resolutions, but having goals and things to look forward to is always a help to get us through the darker months.
I found it particularly hard, after spending time in a cottage over Christmas with my Mum, returning to life in the hut. The long stretch of winter and Spring ahead before we can move on with renovations to the croft house. But after a couple of weeks I’m back into the swing of hut life, most days anyway!
1. Growing our own
By the end of 2022 we will be self sufficient in meat. The beginning of this was at the end of 2021 when we processed 2 turkeys that we had grown since June.
The next stage will be finishing our first litter of pigs in April, then sending off our 2 steers (castrated male cattle) at the end of summer. In addition, we plan to hatch and raise chickens for meat from our flock of Sussex buffs.
2. Social Enterprise
At the end of 2020 we started a non-profit called Transition North Ronaldsay, with the view to help the island become more self sufficient and reduce our carbon emissions. In 2021 we secured funding for 2 projects: a community garden, and on-island plastic recycling facilities. This year we plant to get the community garden growing and start recycling beach and household plastic waste to create new products. You can follow our progress here. It will be wondefful to see these projects finally come to fruition.
3. Renovating the croft house
At the moment we are still waiting for the house to be “decrofted” - the croft will still be a croft, but the land that the house sits on will not be a croft. This is the only way for us to get a mortgage and have the funds to renovate. This was supposed to be a relativiely quick process (6 weeks) but because there is also a shed and barn on the house site, we had to fill in a different form, the processing time for which is 3 months. And now the Crofting Commission are reporting extra delays if 12 weeks. We have everything crossed that it will be decrofted by Spring so we can make plans to replace the roof on the croft house. I really really don;t want to seond another winter in the hut/cold wet shed.
4. Buidling a longer table
My hero Kat Goldin (check out her magazine Life in the Making quarterly) talks about building a longer table, not a taller fence, in order to share abundance and build community. That’s exactly what we want to do with Milldam Croft. This year we have plans to open the croft to visitors, you can read more about that here. I’m desperate to share what we’re creating here with others who are interested in making room for some more handmade & home grown in their lives. Part of me thinks we’re not ready to have people here, it’s still a 'work in progress', but will it ever be ‘finished’? So I’m just going for it, and you’ll have to excuse the mess!
5. Regenerative farming
Over the autumn the RSPB dug some wetland scrapes into our land, with the view to create excellent habitat for breeding waders (birds). Alongside this we will be experimenting with mob grazing our cattle during the spring and summer. We are also using our pigs to dig over areas that ourselves and the community garden will use for growing veegtables. I’d really like to experiment with growing oats for straw, so we can become more self sufficient for bedding for our animals, and of course, back to scything hay!
Since taking on British Fibre Art Magazine as the new editor & publisher, my passion for sustainable, British wool and clothing has grown and grown. Since then I have started to naturally dye North Ronaldsay wool yarns, using locally foraged plants and organic extracts. My next step is to create a limited edition knitwear range using North Ronaldsay wool. For anyone interested in soil to soil textiles, you should check out The Fibershed movement. Originating in the US it now has communities in the UK. Another project that I have on the go is the Great British Wool Shop - for all things made from British wool.
Well, that seems enough to be going on with, but I’m sure I’ll find more to add along the way!