‘May we be nourished that we may nourish life.’
This beautiful sentiment is part of a traditional Buddhist blessing for food, encouraging mindfulness with every bite. It made me think more deeply about our company philosophy, too: it’s a full circle. It was said to me today that when you set up a new business you ‘eat, drink & sleep’ it – which in our case is literally true. We eat the lovely cheese, ice cream & yogurt; we drink the delicious, creamy milk; & at kidding time we are often literally working in our sleep, acting as midwives to our goats, when everyone else is tucked up warmly in their beds. And thus we are nourished by our goats; in turn, we care for their every need whether through physical work or through our sheer love for every single one of them. Indeed the nourishment we gain from them is not just fuel for our bodies; it stimulates our sentiments, encouraging compassion & kindness, generating a feeling of well being, all round. In fact when a Buddhist monk was here on retreat earlier this year, he said that the whole Ffarm reverberated with mudita, the Pali word meaning ‘sympathetic joy’ – a tremendous compliment from a wise man whom we hold in great respect. Our company motto is ‘Good Fayre & Welfare in Equal Measure’ which we feel sums up our holistic approach to the Ffarm & all it stands for: quality, not quantity (after all, the Ffarm’s name in Welsh – Ffarm Fach – literally means, ‘Little Farm’ – hence the simple logic behind the company name). Quality of care for our livestock – not farming intensively or overworking them in any way – produces ‘happy’ milk from relaxed, confident animals – milk which is then lovingly, carefully crafted into artisan foods – quality provender in every sense.
Today we had an important meeting regarding grant-aied funding with a representative from a Welsh organisation called Antur Teifi – but before that was scheduled my weekly Welsh lesson. Whilst Tony undertook the morning chores on his own I went to collect Boo from her home in Newcastle Emlyn; however we were slightly late leaving, as the decorator who was coming to work on their drawing room (dubbed ‘Pete the Paint’) had been delayed. We ran out the door as soon as he arrived & rushed to the school; however it transpired that unfortunately our teacher was unwell, so we opted to retire to a local coffee shop instead to do some revision. In the end we spent the majority of the time chatting about the reasons we’d decided to leave the RAF; & found our stories were surprisingly similar – as ever, the quality of life issues were what drove our decisions. And I know so many more who have either already done the same or are considering doing so, for similar reasons.
I returned home to discuss the afternoon’s meeting with Tony, which is to do with grant-aided funding for start-up businesses. I had concerns that he was essentially trying to ‘play down’ how much it might cost us to establish & grow the business; he thinks if we pitch our costs too high our application will be immediately dismissed. Conversely I think that if we don’t supply a realistic business plan, our application will be thrown out for similar reasons. Thankfully Colin Walters, our nominated mentor, agreed with my point of view, commenting he was surprised that Tony’s initial estimate for funding was so low. However it would appear that our overall projection – working on the basis that essentially in Year One, we fund the business; in Year Two, the business funds itself; & in Year Three, the business begin to fund us – is a good, workable foundation. And the fact that we supplied a briefing document outlining the company, its history, its goals & some financial projections, was all beneficial & hopefully demonstrated our serious professionalism. It was quite scary when we actually sat down & generated a ‘shopping list’, calculating the hard-cash cost of all the things we really do need; & if we focus on the ice cream side of the business we still require more equipment – albeit I do agree with Tony that we don’t want to miss this opportunity to corner the market. Our meeting lasted for three hours & we felt we’d learned a great deal: it was extremely helpful & got us to look even more closely at what we want to achieve & how we’re going to do it. It’s funny, but we feel uncomfortable asking for money: we have always tried to be independent & self-sufficient; however, if there is money available to fund enterprises like ours, we’d be daft not to consider such welcome & much-needed assistance. Ulitmately, if going ‘cap in hand’ is what will help our business to grow & permits us to employ personnel from the local area – thus enabling us to give back to the local economy – that grant would ultimately pay for itself many times over whilst giving us the financial ‘leg up’ we now appreciate we require. So hopefully a grant will nourish our business – & in nourishing us, we in turn can nourish the locality we so dearly love – satisfaction all round.