Hello and Welcome to the Midlife Homestead Story
The story to date ....
My name is Sandra Bannister and together with my husband Jonathan we have developed our hobby of growing vegetables, fruit, rearing livestock and eating well into a tiny, yet aspirational business. As the name Midlife Homestead suggests, we are not in our first flush of youth. One of us has a bus pass and the other a taste for easy to wear footwear!
Having built the house in 2013 we have slowly developed our interest in growing vegetables, keeping a few chickens followed by adopting our two donkeys, collectively known as 'the boys' but known by the Donkey Sanctuary as Patrick and Soloman.
The installation of the polytunnel was a turning point as it enabled us to successfully grow in the Scottish summer, not a season known for its heat or reliable hours of sunshine. It also allowed us to extend the growing season at both ends of the year and soon we were being asked by friends and family for produce on a regular basis
By 2018 the Homestead was supporting chickens, pigs and their offspring,Shetland and Southdown sheep, the donkeys, our fabulous dog Connie and 5 cats. The decision to move from hobby to business evolved over the winter of 2018 and with a little wisdom gained over the years, a lot of determination and a high level of hope that it all went to plan, we launched our little homestead into the world of growing and selling our seasonal produce locally. The delivery of seasonal produce packed with our vegetables and fruit delivered to your home weekly or fortnightly started in June 2019. One of the small fields was changed into a large vegetable plot in early spring 2019 with a friends "Wee Fella" tractor, plough, and rotatavator being put to good use. With the addition of much natural fertiliser being incorporated... thank you Soloman and Patrick and lots of mushroom compost we had a successful 2019 season of growth.
The feedback and enthusiasm from our 2019 customers prompted us to extend and build more raised beds and potato trenches to enable us to support increased customer numbers for 2020.
Reflecting on 2019.....
As with any new business we had a few anxious moments with the Scottish summer weather not always being kind and resulting in the 'towel drying' of vegetables prior to being added to the crates. Pumpkins and Squash that wanted to take over as they grew enormously, carrots that were most decidedly 'wonky' but 'tasty' and too many varieties of courgette for anyone to cope with.
Taking part in my first local Horticultural Show enabled us to showcase some of our produce and gained us a number of 1st and 2nd prizes in many of the differing vegetable, preserves and house plant classes. We were on our way to possibly having a bit of recognition as a working Homestead.....
The appetite for homemade cake and bread was most alive and kicking and gave rise to
many late evenings and early morning starts to ensure everyone received their homemade treats each week. The provision of a weekly recipe that included one of the crates contents proved popular and resulted in some folk getting vegetables into the vegetable averse in differing ways... try the chocolate and courgette cake..
Driving around the local countryside allowed me to find places that previoulsy I had only seen road signs for.... lots of fun getting a bit lost then finding the customer.
Our first grandchild was born in the middle of the season meaning more juggling to ensure my duties as Grandma and market gardner were equally fulfilled....
Our planning for 2020 is well underway: organic seeds bought, potatoes 'chitting', raised beds built and our compost heaps emptied into the growing beds. The polytunnel has been cleaned and disinfected and now as April comes to an end the many seeds sown in trays and pots have transformed into healthy seedlings ready for planting.
As with our first year.... lets hope the weather is kinder than its has been recently and we have another enjoyable and successful season of growth.
We look forward to welcoming back customers from 2019 and meeting new ones in our second season.
In keeping with my interest to showcase homestead living I am keen to have a couple of afternoons per month when you are welcome to come along and see what we are working on and growing.Alternatively, lend a hand and you could leave with some produce... Our eggs and home grown pork get really good reviews.
Coffee pot and teapot always full and our fresh eggs are often used to bake cake and scones.
If you wish to come along just let me know so I can ensure you a Midlife Homestead welcome.