In the March issue of Country Smallholder, a survey conducted by the rural insurer NFU Mutual has revealed that almost half of the population (47%) dream of getting closer to nature and living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Realising the dream however is not for the fainthearted or work shy, running a farm or small holding is a lifestyle choice, livestock will always find a way of deviating you away from even the very best of plans, whilst the challenges of both winter and summer supply the brave with an endless list of tasks all ranking as highly important to urgent always commanding your attention.

The right property in the right location with the scope to realise your dreams will be the one that commands the highest value on the open market.

Running our family farm stay in our early days required us both to hold down 2 full time jobs to develop the right infrastructure, we had to invest significantly to cut our electricity bills through installing solar panels, planning and conversion of properties on the farm. The development and growth of the business and our desire to reduce our business carbon footprint led us to invest in a Biomass Boiler to heat all of the properties on the farm, none of our investments were cheap however have placed us well for moving our business forward, in a climate where more and more people consider booking with companies that are doing their bit for the environment.

Key learning points for making the leap of faith:

Be sure to calculate the true cost of livestock, including feed purchase and storage, vets bills and abattoir costs, have a clear marketing plan in place for selling your produce.

With land there are many obstacles, however owning land will not automatically give you the right to put a building on it and where there is a building it will not necessarily come with the permissions you want to use it for.

Owning land will require you to think outside of the box, to not become reliant on any single income stream.

Plan to work with the seasons but have a plan for when the seasons let you down.

Build and maintain relationships, this for us has been the single most important thing, having a supply for winter firewood, a great accountant, a good builder and vet are all key to ensuring that your land can work for you, never underestimate the value of good friends.

For more information on our Family Farm Stay follow our progress at https://visitoaksbarnfarm.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/celebrating-12-years-in-the-family-farm-stay-business/

Better still come and stay with us: http://bit.ly/AccommodationOptions

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