Im moving to Orkney, 1st time small holder - Gimme that knowledge

Good Morning folks,

Long-time lurker, one of those that only posts when they want something! So here I am to try to benefit from the years of knowledge available on these boards, ideas i've not thought of, focus the mind and maybe make some contacts, i figured im going to be using these boards for advice and have been, it only polite I introduce myself.

So in brief me & my partner have been slogging away in the southwest working fulltime jobs and renovating houses on the side always with the aim of ending up at a small holding before 40, well we have made it! just im 39. I grew up on farms and have fair farming knowledge but no real practical expearience (plant expearience, diggers mainly on our sites) my family was always into building so alongside my full-time job at merchants we have always built. My partner's work is not related to building or farming but she is the best labourer I've ever worked with from tiling, carpentry, paving, shifting blocks, driving dumpers, etc. With the exception of electrics, gas & plastering we are capable of most tasks and am always willing to learn.

Covid initially caused us grief mainly due to it making it not profitable for us to renovate anymore and our initial target area for a holding was Wales (in between my family in the south west and hers in Yorkshire) and we've all seen what prices have done there in the last two years, but the silver lining was it forced us to look elsewhere and pushed a "now or never" attitude we fell in love with an island in Orkney and have purchased just over 20 acres surrounding a 3 bed house with a nice selection of stone barns and sheds the land is mostly grass with a reedy/marshy strip but appears productive seeing pictures through the year with cattle, sheep and hay/silage making.
This all happened very quickly in the space of a month it went from booking a viewing trip up to a closing date being set before we could view and after a few video calls our offer was selected and im ecstatic to say it was selected not just with money in mind, We made it clear we are coming to work and want to reinstate the holding so believe we beat some retirees and holiday folk. We've been up once, plan another trip or two before the move.

So now we are in the "sh!t its real stage", We have to sell our bungalow down here (pay back family) finish up our jobs, small extension for mother, organise and go in January (best of the weather) with a pickup, livestock trailer & dog
We will be mortgage free have a couple of years living expenses put to one side which should leave us with 50-100k to make a start with. Our initial plans being to create a cabin/holiday let primarily for family & friends (the house will not be renovated for a while so we want somewhere nice for those that make the effort to see us to stay in but can also provide a little income definitely don't want to many tourists though, reinstate the veg gardens with a couple poly tunnels and just take it easy and integrate for the 1st year, The lands currently rented out (unofficially I believe) but that suits us and expect we'd slowly take the land back field by field when we have a use and until then he can use them hopefully with my help. When we start thinking animals we were initially thinking pigs and dairy goats, pigs might be out need to look into the abattoir abit more and goats well they seem high maintainance to me and what will we do with the males? When we were up there everybody was just saying beef to us which im keen on after some tuition from a local, Orkney cattle look to be tanks compared to our soft southern cattle! We do need to generate income but may well do some work on the island to integrate as much as anything, we aren't greedy we'll only need basic income to survive a d intend to keep it below tax thresholds.

We are realists we know this will be our biggest project to date and our initial main aim is to integrate so we are not going to arrive and start this and that, just ease into it see the lay of the land. Alot will depend on how our bungalow sells down here fingers crossed its good then im allowed to think of a excavator if I'm really lucky a tractor, mower, etc. but I have plenty of other things to think about, what are haulage costs? do I drive a trailer up with our stuff? can my timber suppliers drop up there for me? Should the small holding be registered as a business? Pickups just gone bang need a new one, so so much to do.

I know there's at least a couple of regular posters from Orkney didn't want to take liberties and tag them in.

I would appreciate your comments.
 

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Matt

First thing you should do is start a youtube channel. Explain who you are and what you have done. Within months it will probably be more lucrative than any farming you could do. Market yourselves and think about how you might capture the holiday/tourist market on your property. As this forum has no doubt taught you, you are limited only by your own ingenuity and there are endless people out there looking for a place to shoot and air rifle, pitch a tent or something else. The farming will be your main passion and what sustains you but don't make it your be all and end all.

Develop yourselves and your farm in time. Pitch your channel at anyone so interested, particularly the London sorts who all want a piece of the country.

I wish you all the best in your adventure.
 
Matt

First thing you should do is start a youtube channel. Explain who you are and what you have done. Within months it will probably be more lucrative than any farming you could do. Market yourselves and think about how you might capture the holiday/tourist market on your property. As this forum has no doubt taught you, you are limited only by your own ingenuity and there are endless people out there looking for a place to shoot and air rifle, pitch a tent or something else. The farming will be your main passion and what sustains you but don't make it your be all and end all.

Develop yourselves and your farm in time. Pitch your channel at anyone so interested, particularly the London sorts who all want a piece of the country.

I wish you all the best in your adventure.
Thanks for the reply Ollie, I know what you mean with the youtube thing its nuts and Twitch getting payed to sit and play video games damn my parents for making me work! We will consider it in all seriousness, due to families I am being forced to be abit more open on social media etc, not a fan but making such a big move they have all been so supportive I feel I must make an effort.
Yea the holiday let seems a nice safe bet, we'll definetly do the one as I say maybe 2 we'll see over time certainly wouldnt want a holiday camp love the island how it is so am very conscious about attracting the right people and not to many. Lots of shooting at the moment I believe its the Geese wars at the moment not sure whos winning, rabbits everywhere and no badgers or foxes brilliant!

Thanks for your encouragment.
Matt
 
get in touch with mcadie and reeve if you want to know about cost of transporting stuff they move tractors as well as house stuff. its who i use to take pallets up there
Thank you Massey just sent them an email for some price guides, we dont have nice stuff so pallets and general haulage should do! I also might have a chance of getting timber dropped at a northern port so interested to explore that option.
I'd much prefer shipping as the other option is livestock trailer and up we go but with not alot of trailer expearience I need some practice first, nice of the gov to drop the trailer license just in time though.

Matt
 
Polycarbonate polytunnnel?
We were up earlier in the week and I saw a couple polycarbonate tunnels but most just seemed the polythene ones, we have a reasonably sheltered area that previosly had a tunnel on it. I've actually just sent of for some quotes on packs of polycarbonate thinking i can make my own with that but the polythene ones are like £800 for 30ft by 14ft and thought if I fixed some horizontal timber supports on the outside might break it up enough.
What ever we go with will be well embedded in concrete despites all the warnings to strap everything down im sure the 1st winter is going to be a huge learning curve.

Thanks for the idea
Matt
 

ski

Member
Good Luck.

Very rough guide I would say:
Honeymoon period 0 - 2 yrs. (it is all new and exciting)
Tough going 2 - 7 yrs (as reality sinks in)
Make or break 8 yrs ( the point at which you weigh up your choice)

It will be tough, but then it wouldn't be an adventure if it wasn't and everybody needs testing at some stage. Generally people rise to it if you throw yourself in at the deep end.

I have been sat at many tables and heard a new arrival say something like "we'll when I was in so and so we used to do it like ......," resist that temptation however well intentioned it may be. Remember the adage, "you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion"

I well remember listening to a friend recounting an insight to moving somewhere new. The story was of a newly promoted RAF officer taking over a whole base, He asked the leaving commander, "how do you find the locals?", and the leaving commander replied, "how did you find the locals at your last base", "oh, they were fine" said the new arrival, "then I am sure you will find them just the same here" finished the departing officer.

I have no experience of Orkney but some from personal history, and I would observe that there is a lot of what I would term 'ancient wisdom' in these sort of areas and it is impressive, it has made me see my own failings very clearly at times but that was a good thing in hindsight though quite tough at the time. Now I aim to embody that sort of outlook which is not easy when your upbringing was 'darn sarf'!

I do congratulate you and wish you well. I think you will be fine.
 
All the best.
Different world up there possibly?
The moment we got of the boat we knew it was a different world, our first stop the shop we were there 2 hours being introduced to anyone who wandered in some called in to come meet us! absolutly blown away by the greeting and welcome we received and it was insisted we take the van to drive around in as it was raining, everybody waves as they drive past a proper community all helping and working together,

Good Luck.

Very rough guide I would say:
Honeymoon period 0 - 2 yrs. (it is all new and exciting)
Tough going 2 - 7 yrs (as reality sinks in)
Make or break 8 yrs ( the point at which you weigh up your choice)

It will be tough, but then it wouldn't be an adventure if it wasn't and everybody needs testing at some stage. Generally people rise to it if you throw yourself in at the deep end.

I have been sat at many tables and heard a new arrival say something like "we'll when I was in so and so we used to do it like ......," resist that temptation however well intentioned it may be. Remember the adage, "you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion"

I well remember listening to a friend recounting an insight to moving somewhere new. The story was of a newly promoted RAF officer taking over a whole base, He asked the leaving commander, "how do you find the locals?", and the leaving commander replied, "how did you find the locals at your last base", "oh, they were fine" said the new arrival, "then I am sure you will find them just the same here" finished the departing officer.

I have no experience of Orkney but some from personal history, and I would observe that there is a lot of what I would term 'ancient wisdom' in these sort of areas and it is impressive, it has made me see my own failings very clearly at times but that was a good thing in hindsight though quite tough at the time. Now I aim to embody that sort of outlook which is not easy when your upbringing was 'darn sarf'!

I do congratulate you and wish you well. I think you will be fine.
Very wise words, your so right it will be tough and we work best throwing ourselves in the deep end but oh boy what an adventure. With a community of 550 or so it is crucial we heed your advice. We intend to spend the 1st year treading very lightly, listening & learning, meeting & greeting.

Thank you for your very kind advice
 
Brilliant. Clearly you've both got the work ethic in shovels full.
The YouTube idea is a good one, I probably watch more you tube than telly nowadays.
I sure that you'll succeed, but good luck!
I often wish that I had followed your route rather than the "Big Ag" route.
 

Tractorstant

Member
Location
Monaco.
Sounds Idilic, congratulations to you both.

you'll need an Orkney Longliner or Fastliner to complete the set up..... :)

As @ollie989898 said, a Youtube channel or even worth putting a call into one of the TV types to see if they want to do a documentary.

Lux holiday cottages based on a "digital detox "

Bon Chance.
 

scholland

Member
Location
ze3
We were up earlier in the week and I saw a couple polycarbonate tunnels but most just seemed the polythene ones, we have a reasonably sheltered area that previosly had a tunnel on it. I've actually just sent of for some quotes on packs of polycarbonate thinking i can make my own with that but the polythene ones are like £800 for 30ft by 14ft and thought if I fixed some horizontal timber supports on the outside might break it up enough.
What ever we go with will be well embedded in concrete despites all the warnings to strap everything down im sure the 1st winter is going to be a huge learning curve.

Thanks for the idea
Matt
Search for polycrub on Google
 

Campbell

Member
Location
Herefordshire
I spent a few days there about ten years ago. Recall the Gin clear water in Kirkwall harbour while looking at wave turbines being assembled, serious lack of trees, very breezy, great accommodation and food, the Highland Park Distillery tour, after which the memory faded somewhat. Not forgetting the 'rollercoaster flight' back to Edinburgh..;)
 

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