Farm life is idyllic, wonderful, peaceful, rewarding and for the most part thoroughly enjoyable. Working in nature everyday surrounded by our quiet happy beasts, tucked away in our own little corner of the world is like heaven on Earth! Even working outside in the elements, driving rain, snow, wind, freezing temperatures and on the odd occasion blistering heat (I’m in Scotland so this is rare) has its rewards. For the hours and work we put in the financial reward is very low, for me it’s a labour of love my farm doesn’t pay me a wage.
The farm wipes it’s face, by that I mean it covers its costs – just! The reward I get from the farm is bigger than a financial payment could ever be, I have my beautiful home, freedom to roam in an abundance of nature in stunning surroundings, I’m physically fit and healthy, I absolutely love what I do every day and I provide my children and animals with a beautiful life. What’s important is the farm pays for itself every year otherwise it just wouldn’t be viable.
That is not to say I don’t love money! I do have to have an income and make a living, I’m not frugal but I hate waste, I’m not materialistic but I love nice things but most of all I like to be able to buy the best quality that I can afford. After paying bills I choose to spend my hard-earned cash on excellent quality local food, farmers markets, artisan shops, home improvements, garden improvements, we love visiting agricultural shows, dog shows etc, etc. I’m not going to lie my cost of living isn’t cheap and I don’t compromise, if I can’t afford to buy meat for example from my local producer, we don’t eat meat!
Over the years I’ve started from scratch on the lowest budgets imaginable more than several home/farm-based businesses. I get really excited about making a living from home, keeping business costs as low as possible, starting something from the ground and building it up and with little or no budget. Some businesses were strategically planned and some a complete accident. Not every idea worked, some businesses ran out of steam and fizzled out, some I took as far as I wanted, achieved what I set out to achieve (usually proving people wrong) and then sold them for a profit and one business almost drove me to bankruptcy! I’ve always had something on the go and whilst it’s making money, fun and interesting to build and run I put my all into it.
My entrepreneurial journey started accidently 17 years ago when I got my first farm back home in Yorkshire, I’d bought half a dozen rare breed chickens and a few ducks for my children, we loved them so much I bought a few more, then a cockerel, we decided we’d like to hatch our own chicks and then collect different breeds. I ended up with about 100 quality, free range organic chickens, overrun with eggs and had a lot of spare hens! My daughter collected eggs every morning before school and put them at the end of the lane with an honesty box, she sold dozens everyday! I pickled them and sold jars to local pubs, then started getting orders for pickled and not pickled eggs, word got around that I had really good quality rare breed large foul and bantams for sale and soon started getting orders from all over the country for my birds.
I was still working full time and never had any aspirations to be a self-employed businesses owner when my little poultry hobby took off and evolved very quickly into a fully-fledged business, in fact the prospect of my own business scared me, people like me didn’t become business owners – or so I’d been told!
At the same time I’d just bought my first computer, discovered the internet and found ebay. I was absolutely fascinated by ebay and studied it intently, the whole concept of buying and selling all over the world amazed me. I dipped my toe in the water and bought a few things, then I put a few things on for sale and couldn’t believe the returns I was getting, I was even selling my hatching eggs on ebay! Within just a few months I was making ten times more than my monthly full time wage working from home doing what I loved every day, so I quit my full time job and never looked back.
Between then and now, I’ve published a magazine, written and published a book, grown my farm to commercial size and shrank it back again, had a recycling business, run a women in rural enterprise network, been a business coach, opened my home as a B&B, opened my home as a pop up tearoom and restaurant and bought and sold antiques, just to name but a few!
It’s easier now than it’s ever been to make a living or just a bit of spare cash using the power of the internet, social media and the hundreds of different selling platforms out there.
Now, I sell on Amazon (which was another accidental business) using Fulfil By Amazon (FBA) this has been the most amazing business I’ve ever had and I couldn’t manage without it financially and for the time it gives me to be on my farm. I started selling on Amazon 7 years ago, well before all the hype about FBA, I didn’t intend for it to become a full time business I just needed to get rid of some surplus stock I’d had lying around for ages, I couldn’t be bothered with ebay and all the packing and shipping so sent it in to Amazon – in less than 24 hours it was all sold. I was absolutely amazed so started some in-depth research on how it all worked. After a few test sales of different products I started my own brand of mostly generic products, this was great but short lived as other people jumped on the band wagon and I quickly had to look for new products.
I spent two years researching and developing a new product that had been close to my heart for a number of years previous but at the time was controversial, it was still a new thing to most of the general public but I carried on anyway, six months before I launched my new unique brand and business the media exploded with the health benefits of what I was about to launch!! The timing couldn’t have been better when I launched my holistic hemp blends at the BBC Good Food show in 2018.
Now, I’m busy getting ready to launch my second book and re-launch my hemp brand as well as some exciting plans for the farm.