Quotation for the Month:
"Give fools their gold, and knaves their power; let fortune's bubbles rise and fall; who sows a field, or trains a flower, or plants a tree, is more than all.."
-- John Greenleaf Whittier
Welcome to Country Living and Farm Lifestyles second e-zine on all things farming!
WHAT'S NEW SINCE OUR LAST ISSUE WENT OUT?
* Free Listings for Farmers
* Farming News from Around the World
* Sustainable Farming
* Farm Exchange and Farm Sitting
* Farming Jobs Worldwide
* Country Living
* Build a Website
We continue to rise in the Internet rankings, and are now in the top 1% of over 100 millions web sites on the Internet, so we are very pleased with that, although we still have a long way to go.
Well, I am sure that you are all wondering who the lucky winners were for the free listings that were offered in our last e-zine. Surpringly enough, I actually sent an e-mail to all 10 winners 3 weeks ago, asking for your photographs so I could get cracking on the ads as I was hoping to have them up a long time ago. However, I had not ONE reply! I am assuming that due to spam filters on your e-mail settings you either didn't get the e-mail or it defaulted to your spam box.
However, all is not lost, because hopefully you will open this e-zine and see that you were one of the lucky ones.
So, our lucky winners for an enhanced listing were:
So congratulations to each and every one of you! Could the winners please send me a high-resolution of your choice to appear in your advert as soon as possible? You can send it to:
If your name is not here, there is always the option of a free listing. Look at our web site for more details.
Feature : How to Succeed with your Farm Accommodation
Many of you have farm accommodation that you offer to the public. These may be self-contained country cottages, bed and breakfast guest houses, full-board, or even camping facilities. The travel industry is big money, so why is it that your farm accommodation is just not getting the traffic it deserves?
First of all look at your farm accommodation critically and ask yourself, Why should they visit your farm accommodation, rather than someone else's? What do you have to offer them that they can't get any where else?
Do you offer them value for money? Are your beds comfortable? Have you actually slept in the room to test this out? It's surprising how many accommodation owners have never done that. Why not? You need to know from first hand experience what it will be like for your guests to stay there. A lumpy pillow or mattress will neither bring you return custom, nor will it bode well for you via your best form of advertising; word of mouth. Is the room too hot in summer or too cold in winter? Is it quiet or is it next to the milking shed? Your guests have come to enjoy the quiet of the countryside, make sure they get what they have paid for.
When most people book into farm accommodation, they are not expecting decor that matches a 7 star hotel, but that doesn't mean that they will accept something that is mediocre either. What you are offering should either be better than what they have at home, or on a par. You will not have a happy guest if what you are offering is anything less. And why should they be happy with anything less, especially as they are paying you to stay in your accommodation. It comes full circle - people want value for money, they want to be comfortable, and they want to feel special.
Some of you do not sell yourselves properly on your web sites either. Although many people book farm accommodation to escape to the country for some solitude, you also need to let them know that if they feel adventurous during their stay, there are places of interest close at hand. So therefore you need to mention these popular tourist places on your site. These places are a draw-card for your location, which creates another level of interest as to why they should book your accommodation.
What sets you apart from the thousands of farm accommodation in the country? Your answer should be superb customer service.
Superb customer service means going the extra mile, getting to know your guests' needs and trying to be accommodating. Even if you don't offer full-board, if you have guests who has travelled all day to get to you and arrive late, offer them a cup of soup and a roll. What that has cost you in monetary terms will have paid you back ten-fold in goodwill and free advertising. A small basket of basics on arrival for your guests renting your self-catering cottage is always welcome. Some homemade bread, jam, eggs, butter and milk can all be built into your cost, but when it is presented on arrival, the feeling is that you have made them feel special and the gesture will be positively received. This is particularly so when people may arrive over a weekend where local shops are shut and food may not be readily purchased until the Monday. Always think of the needs of your guests.
Because you live in the area you are an excellent resource for what to see and do in the vacinity. Collect local maps and brochures of places of particular interest and have these on display for your guests to look at. Some travel books, magazines and a general small library is always welcomed by those who love to read, especially on those rainy days.
Lastly, you need to advertise. You know you have beautiful accommodation to offer, but then millions of other farm owners around the world think so too. The competition is fierce. You only have to Google farm accommodation in any country and you come back with thousands of results. Some of you have your own web sites, but you are still not getting the traffic. This is because your web site is buried. Have you ever seen where you rank in the official Alex Rankings? Out of the 100 million pages on the Internet they will give you your ranking. If you are not in the top 1% you need to seriously re-look at your web site, because it means that you are just not being seen. Try Alexa out here, and search for your "site ranking": Alexa
If you are in the doldrums with your farm accommodation you need to re-invent yourself. Think of what the customer would want, and look at your establishment with a critical eye. Does it check all the right boxes? If not, it's time to make those changes!
Article of the Month: Gardening with Vinegar
Gardening with vinegar has many uses and benefits and best of all, it is safe to use, doesn't harm the environment, is freely available and it is cheap! It really is, therefore your organic and eco-friendly pesticide, insecticide, and herbicide.
Here you will learn about these benefits and pick up a few tips along the way. It can also be used full-strength or diluted depending on the job at hand. It can also be used quite readily in the kitchen, bathroom and other areas of the house, but today, we are going to just concentrate on the outside areas. One word of warning, however...
Read the rest of the article here:
Gardening with Vinegar
Occasionally one comes across a book that one just has to share, and this is one of them - 'A Place in My Country: In Search of a Rural Dream' by Ian Walthew.
If you want a good read, look for this book at your local book store. It's a poignant story set in the Cotswolds that will give you a deeper understanding of the area once you have read it, and will give you insight to changes that are sadly eroding a wonderful heritage. For those of you living in rural England, you will immediately be able to identify with some of the author's concerns and experiences.
At some stage in our lives we have almost all wanted to change our lives and swap them for someone else's. Those of us who work or have worked in high-powered, executive and managerial positions, I was one of them, know that with high salaries come high-levels of stress and one starts to ask the 64 million dollar question; "What's it all about?" With introspection and the addition of personal tragedies one realises that status, position and monetary gains are not that important. What really matters is quality of life.
Ian Walthew was one such high-flyer who decides to opt out of the rat-race he has found himself in. One weekend, on a whim, he and his wife buy a cottage in the seemingly idyllic Cotswolds to live a less stressful life and to enjoy their beautiful surroundings. However, it soon becomes apparent, that the rural England that he has always known and loved, has not stood still during his absence and the quintessential fabric of the English countryside is slowly unravelling, little by little.
In this book you will laugh and you will cry. You will become so engrossed in the lives of his neighbours, whom he so cleverly portrays, that you won't want the book to end. Ian has crafted a wonderful story that will remain with you long after you have turned the last page.
Even the famous British Actor, Jeremy Irons took time out to read the book. He was more than enthralled quoting: "I read A Place in My Country with utter unalloyed delight. A glorious book." (2008)
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, British celebrity chef, television presenter said, "Compelling and often deeply moving...a page turner."
Financial Times, "Required reading for anyone who claims to know or love this country."
Clover Stroud- The Sunday Telegraph "Funny, touching and ultimately very moving, this is a beautiful, unsentimental account of a personal loss that is reflected in the rapidly changing texture of life in rural England."
Recipe of the Month : Courgette Soup
Courgettes are still in season, and this is a beautiful soup that I am always asked the recipe for. It is an elegant soup that I often serve for friends.
600 g young courgettes, sliced in rings
12,5 ml melted butter
12,5 ml oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 rashers of bacon left whole
Top and tail the courgettes. Melt the butter and oil in a large pot. Sweat the chopped onion and the bacon. When soft, add the sliced courgettes. Saute gently for 5 minutes.
750 ml seasoned chicken stock
250 ml milk
2 ml onion salt (ordinary will do)
5 ml sugar
2 ml mild mustard
Simmer, half-covered, about 15 min or till soft. Remove from stove, and remove the bacon.
125 ml skimmed milk powder. Liquidise till smooth. Either reheat gently and serve, or chill thoroughly. Add chopped chives and a teaspoon of thick cream if you are not watching the waistline!
Well, we hope that you have enjoyed reading the second issue of our e-zine, as much as we had fun writing it. We also hope that you will stay with us for a long time, visit our web site for updates, and feel free to contribute to the articles. We have a special page for farming stories. I am sure that you have one or two to share.
Until next time!
Philip & Kathryn Bax
Country Living and Farm Lifestyles
A Worldwide Farmers' Market for Farm Food, Farm Accommodation, Game Farms, Wine Farms, Farming Jobs, Farm Swaps, Rural Services, Country Living and much, much more. Buy local and support your local farmers.
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