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feathersandfibre

Working with schools

So we are looking at developing a business that will enable us to live 'the good life' instead of what we are doing now. We will be upsizing when we find the right property so we will be increasing our mortgage and will need to make a viable business. I am currently a primary school teacher so I am looking at how I can utilise this. As I have experience with poultry a chick hatching scheme and support package for schools wanting to keep hatched chicks or buy chickens in is an obvious enterprise along with selling eggs and pol hens more generally. I am in the process of costing some of this out.

I was just wondering whether anyone was doing a similar thing in a different area or whether anyone was running any other successful schemes with schools. I have a few other ideas whizzing around my head but am interested to find out what is out there.
Pilsbury

I have mentioned this before but in the nursing home I worked in there was a company who would drop off a 12 egg incubator full of eggs thst were a few days from hatching and leave it set up next to a plastic crate turned into a little pen with a lightbulb, drinker and chick crumb, the eggs would hatch and the chicks stayed in the nursing home for a couple of weeks and were then collected and they charged 250 for this, the home kept no chicks, there was no involvement from the staff unless there was a phone question....
might be worth a look
feathersandfibre

Yes, thanks. That's the sort of thing I have in mind, but from a school point of view I can also produce and provide a range of teaching resources at a primary level and potentially deliver a session in school. 200-250 seems to be the going rate from what I can tell and I can only find one place that does this anywhere locally.
Nick

If you can find a school with 250 in the budget for non national curriculum stuff good luck to you.

It might be worth asking the PTA, especially in middle class suburban areas, and rural ones.
feathersandfibre

In my current school we fund things like this partly through ptfa and partly through voluntary contributions direct from parents so for 250 in our small rural school we would be looking at 1 donation from parents and 100 from ptfa for example. Plus it does have many curriculum links and resources would be provided to support teachers with this. Finally there seems to be several businesses running schemes at this sort of cost.

In reality it would be a small extra income to supplement eating/hatching egg and pol hen sales so I wouldn't be looking at needing hundreds of schools signing up.
Nick

The more the merrier tho. And saner.

The first one you do will cost you hundreds. The next one only the additional time.
feathersandfibre

Yes, that's very true.
Bodger

Things in general are hard right now and although I'm not usually a pessimist, I don't see things getting better anytime soon. Too many people pursuing an ever reducing piece of the same cake.It's still very much a time of austerity, with departments in the public sector still having to make savings.
I never thought that I'd see the day when public libraries were seen as being expendable, so as someone else has already said, trying to convince schools and other institutions to spend money on what maybe seen as non essential items, is going to be extremely difficult.
You've obviously already thought about this a great deal and I don't know you or your circumstances but I wouldn't be looking to give up my day job anytime soon.
SandraR

Sarah and Claire (both on Facebook and Twitter) run incubator hire schemes for schools etc.
https://www.hensforhire.co.uk/
http://www.sussexgardenpoultry.co.uk/
Jam Lady

Or, there's rent a hen. I think it is a franchise over here, rather wide spread near assorted cities.

http://rent-a-chicken.net/rent-a-chicken-urban-farming/

Late in spring the company provides coop, feed, feeder, waterer, and a couple of laying hens, then picks them up early in fall.
feathersandfibre

Thanks, more food for thought there. The Sussex garden poultry is along the lines I was thinking with the extra school focused things. I'm not sure about the potential disease control risks with boarding or renting hens. There things I have thought about too though.
gregotyn

On a regular basis you can run courses in things you are good at ie you don't have to learn before you start! With your experience child minding comes to mind, but I would be inclined to go and see what others are doing by visiting attractions and seeing what catches most of the people there. Seeing how others do it, and look for improvements. Seaside areas perhaps? Remember that it costs less if they come to you!

To some degree Bodger is right about times being hard, I would be keeping the day job going as long as I could, even if it involves a longer commute, and saving like mad, especially if you find the place you want. Times are not easy, so if you can make it now you will do well when things pick up. They threatened to close libraries in Powys, but instead the libraries themselves took a 20% cut in hours and a few staff went too. This explains why I no longer post on Mondays!

There is little or no doubt that working for yourself is a wonderful experience, you will be penniless, but happy they say. My friends who bought a holding say they now argue more, have no money to speak of, but are so much happier growing and eating their own produce.
JB

My lad's school recently did something this. But it had to be done through the generosity of middle class parents lending incubators and fertile eggs as there wasn't a penny to be spent on the project. Which is a pity as the educational value of an incubator full of chicks far exceeds any number of pictures of chicks downloaded from the internet but it does illustrate that it's not something I would rely on as even an occasional source of income.
Pilsbury

I must admit now I work in a nursery I'm going to be buying a couple of incubators and making my own box, I have found homes for the chicks, hens and cocks alike so just need to get a couple lf small incubators..
Bodger

A long, long time ago, when I was barely out of shorts I did my teaching practice in Bolton and I did actually take an incubator into school for my class. The kids thought it was wonderful and so did I. I wasn't over enamoured with the teaching practice but thoroughly enjoyed hatching the eggs too. I was every bit as excited as the kids. Very Happy

I also arranged a farm visit for them too. I well remember the day that I took a full coach load of kids to the large farm, on which, my dear old mum had been evacuated on during the war.
Hopefully, there are a load of fifty something olds somewhere, that have fond memories of when Mr Bodger came to do his teaching practice with them. Very Happy
Jamanda

At mt school we have a lady who lends us a batch of eggs each year. We hatch them out in an incubator and then give the chicks back.
gregotyn

I have a friend who runs two play groups locally to me, she has chicks from one of her helpers/mother, but she also does things in the bug world too like moths and butterflies 'emerging/hatching' from chrsalis, which could be another string to your bow; I will ask how much she pays and how close to home she gets them from-but I think it is mail order. I will also ask her what other services she uses for her groups. I make lots of wooden bits already for both her groups.
What area are you in? I have a couple of ideas for early learners which are not "in production" by the big boys and so I don't want to give too much away as they could become ideas that get off the runway before they get poached, if you see what I mean and could give you an edge.
feathersandfibre

Thanks for all of the replies Smile
I am in north Nottinghamshire at the moment and hoping to find somewhere pretty local to where we are now.

Child minding is an option I have considered too and as a qualified teacher with the 'novelty' of a small holding I think I could charge top end of the going rate. I'd also have potential customers for other aspects of the holding then too and good opportunities for word of mouth from people who get to see how well the animals are cared for.
alison

I am in the "Don't give up your day job camp".

As a governor and often going in to help, I know schools won't consider this an essential spend. Redundencies are happening all over the place. Whilst hatching is a lovely thing to do I would think most schools could borrow from someone, somewhere.

I bought some pigs from someone who did child minding on their small holding. The husband wasn't coping on his own, and the wife couldn't assist on jobs, because the children weren't safe to be helping too. In the winter it gets very muddy, and no-one wants to be outside, everyday.

High end meat prices take a lot of time and energy to build up.

Depending on how much money you wanted to clear each week, I would consider part time in the local school, and look at any smallholding activity as food in your own larder and a little bit of pin money.
Bodger

thumbup Spot on. This is advice coming to you from people who've been there and done that. There are very few people who have been able to make a profit from smallholding activities, let alone a living.
feathersandfibre

Thanks all for the honest advise, it is appreciated.

There's a place on the market locally that has been up for sale for quite a while now. It is a little over budget but has nearly 12 acres and loads of outbuildings. Looks like it has potential and means we could continue working as we are while we do the work it will need and then hopefully transition to part time as we are ready, but 12 acres seems a lot to take on all at once if we are still working full time. Considering taking look. But then of course there is the question of why it hasn't sold already...hmmm.
Bodger

Renting a place ( If possible) could be a less daunting prospect. It would allow you to retain your capital.

We currently have a smallholding for sale with 200 apple trees, a small but busy cider and apple juice business and a set up for pigs which eats the profits from the cider. Rolling Eyes
feathersandfibre

We are definitely open to renting.
gregotyn

I have been talking around and bee keeping is another potential string to 'cash' cropping.
Another factor of having 12 acres is that if all grass then you can let that for sheep keep-winter and summer if you want and only let as much as you need to ie keep a bit back for you-but it would be money coming in and no work as long as the ground is well fenced. You could also let for cattle keep, and collect the manure for your veg. garden. 12 acres would probably keep at 2 per acre of young cattle-starting grazing at about 12 months old and out at 18months old. If the holding is all arable then you let it to a farmer for one season's crop-spring barley for example, this way there are no ties of tenancy and you insist on half payment up front and the other half on exit. You supply water and they supply their own fertiliser/applications and cultivations-harrowing, rolling etc. you can stipulate if spraying is allowed or not. It is important that the letting you create for your own property is temporary and does not exceed a year as the 'tenant' could create a tenancy from you! Short term lets mean you are in control-long term lets almost mean you are not in control-beware!
In the past I have had horse grazers, and those I have had don't pay very quickly-one still owes 200 and promises to pay, but has never got the money! So if you go that route then get the dosh up front-all of it!
If you go for renting there may be ingoings-money you pay to an outgoing tenant for their improvements, new gates and so on. Subletting-summer grazing/other folks cropping may not be allowed if you take a tenancy, by the landlord.
Nick

Aye, the more land there is, the cheaper it will be, per acre, possibly in total. Ask Tahir why he's got half of Essex, when he only wanted a couple of allotments.

Too much land isn't really an issue. You don't ave to do anything with it, and there's usually someone else who will take it, or a crop, off you annually. Even if it's as simple as letting someone take the hay.
gregotyn

That is how I do it Nick,I allow a chap to make hay off my land, I don't charge and that way I am not chasing money.
Bodger

Letting the grazing can be a good idea as long as your fencing is adequate for whatever livestock you decide on. If it isn't and you need to fence prior to letting, then forget it. Fencing costs an arm and a leg even if you do it yourself.
feathersandfibre

On closer inspection the whole site needs fencing, it currently seems to be hit and miss hedging and a bit of old fencing in places.

A second option came up, a stunning plot of 3 acres in a lovely hamlet with fabulous views but there is currently no house or even planning for the site, although there are 2 small buildings. We love it, it would be perfect. Sadly we cannot get the money together to buy the land before getting planning permission to build and then a self build mortgage. Shame because it would probably work out a very affordable option in the long run. So the search goes on...
gregotyn

Fencing is expensive, but if you let it to one occupier then a boundary fence is all you need. But, if you sold the grass as a hay crop then it would pay for most of the fencing if not all, but in any event at least half of it, so that you can make a start. I would look long and hard at the 12 acres.
I once heard said,"you will never get the opportunity again to buy at the current price", and someone else said "Always buy a place you think you can afford in 3 years-'cos in 3 years you would wonder what you were worried about and wish you had bought more land!"
Prices are not likely to come down dramatically, but will go up overall.
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