Wednesday, 19 January 2011

An Eggs-cellent Frugal Business

January Sale Now On

I'd like one of these, please!
 2011, year three in Frugaldom and we're still pursuing the debt free, frugal living, frugal business, frugal blogging plan but now incorporating a frugal business plan for the future. Afterall, we still need to earn a living in order to pay all the bills.

There's no such thing as cash free living, no matter how much we want to believe it exists. In a nutshell, it doesn't!

Not wanting to carry all my eggs in one basket, making Frugaldom self-sufficient in all things, including cash, means diversification from ground level. There are no employees, there are no doors to be opened to allow the public access and there are no lengthy meetings or negotiations to fit into my day. What I do have is a small poultry flock that needs caring for from dawn until dusk, literally.

If you have any plans for keeping and rearing poultry or deriving part of your income from them, you'd probably be safest registering via Defra from the outset, get your flock onto the GB Poultry Register. At the moment, registration is voluntary for small keepers, but it is compulsory as soon as you reach 50 birds, including quail. Registration is completely free and it can be done online, so there's no excuse for not meeting minimum legal requirements once your flock is built up to a productive level. You'll also need to complete an annual questionnaire to confirm and/or update the numbers. This can also be done online.

Freerange eggs
Being of a frugal nature, keeping hens means that eggs become part of the staple diet. It's not just hen eggs we eat, there are also the duck and quail eggs, so there are always plenty on the go, especially once the better weather gets here. Birds usually need around 14 hours of daylight to produce eggs, but there are always a few appear through the winter. We've been really lucky in that we've managed to have an average of half a dozen per day right throughout the worst of the winter weather. The main problem was collecting quail eggs before they froze solid - something for which the cat was extremely grateful, as she got all the defrosted eggs.

Homemade Lemon Curd
 Spring will soon be creeping in and then egg production will soar. If the household can consume 40+ eggs per week then what happens when we're getting 100+ duck and hen eggs and another 100+ quail eggs?

There's a limit to what we can sell, especially as the law dictates eggs can only be sold directly to the consumer. There's all sorts of legislation governing eggs and egg sales, so best stick to selling directly to friends, neighbours, family and colleagues. Quail eggs, on the other hand, are a delicacy that can be traded retail or wholesale, to the consumer or hotels, restaurants and wholesalers.

Here in Frugaldom, I breed and rear Japanese Coturnix Quail mainly for eggs but it's the surplus eggs from the hens that get channelled into my small scale lemon curd production. I'm still tweaking the recipe to give it that 'something different' but feedback, so far, has been very positive for both the lemon and lime curds. I even make meringues and coconut macaroons in order to use up all the extra egg whites left over from using the bright yellow yokes.

But before you jump for joy and rush out to start making and plying your wares, one word of caution: In order to make and sell food, it is mandatory that you have a valid and current Food Hygiene Certificate. Your certificate needs renewing every 3 years. On the plus side, it costs only £25 and you can do the short course and sit the exam online within a few hours. As long as you are only making small quantities when you have surplus eggs, this project shouldn't need further certification for the premises. This is a handy publication (downloads as a .pdf) about starting a food-based business.

In the long run, I'd love to be able to build a Log Cabin and live the good life, but let's not try to run before we walk. In the meantime, if anyone has a scrap of land available for sale, please get in contact.

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