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Snail Farming Training

I've got another one day course for would be Snail Farmers on 23 November and requests for places are rolling in.

THE SMALLHOLDER GUIDE

TO FARMING EDIBLE SNAILS

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I really enjoy meeting the next generation of snail entrepreneurs, showing them my small enterprise and trying to help them get started. Sometimes the snails are the fascinating starting point and sometimes it's the business idea that's been growing in their heads and is just dying to get out.

I'm often asked to predict start up costs but that's really hard to do because it depends on what farming system you are going to use and what facilities and space you already have. Then there's the question of which species of snail to farm. Helix aspersa is not doubt the best choice for most people and it is just a matter of personal preference whether to go for the 'muller' strain of smaller snails or the 'maxima' strain that gets bigger. Anyone who wants breeders needs to order now for delivery in Spring.

But what about African snails I'm asked? They certainly have some advantages because of the number of eggs they lay but the economics would need careful consideration because they have to be kept very warm.

So I'm looking forward to meeting the next group of would be snail farmers in just a month's time.

The Smallholder Guide to Farming Edible Snails booklet has the written material that supports the course and is available separately from the online shop on the website. (www.snailfarm.org.uk)

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Party packs and restaurant packs

This weekend I've been revamping the online shop. It all came about through spending three days talking to other entrepreneurs about business. Doug Richards of Dragons' Den fame runs the course S4CS and he and his team are very good value for money! As a result I've taken a fresh look at who my customers are and what they want. Now I've got party packs for enthusiastic cooks, who will buy on those occasions when they have invited a few friends round for dinner or running a supper club.

It's that time of year when I'm keeping a close eye on the weather in case it suddenly gets cold. A lot of the snails are still outside and happily munching their way through spinach and apples. I've managed to get a few lovely big marrows which cheered them up - they can polish of one of those in no time. When it gets too cold they will 'shut up shop' - stop eating and start going into hibernation then they have to come indoors. Their winter quarters are not quite ready yet but I think I've got another week at least to finish that off. This is what they look like tucked up in their shells:-

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Andy Hunting has posted a piece about me and the book and a recipe onto his food blog - http://andyskitchen.co.uk/blogs////blog1.php/recipes/molluscs-and-me. I'm now starting to prepare for the paperback launch next Saturday at Brogdale so if you are in the area do come along and join me between 3 and 5 in the afternoon. I'll be in the Marketplace so you can go into the Apple Festival if you want to but you don't have to.

E-book and paperback both available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Molluscs-and-Me-ebook/dp/B00FBFQHYC

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What sort of week have you had?

When I get my copy of Mslexia I always read the guest week of tweets which give a brief insight into someone else’s life. I decided to have a go at writing one myself but got stuck:

Monday - cleaned out and fed snails, posted orders, dull and cool

Tuesday - cleaned out and fed snails, collected large order, slightly warmer and sunnier

Wednesday - cleaned out and fed snails, posted orders, dull and drizzly

You get the picture?

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Not very riveting for the reader really.

But on Monday evening I met Whitstable Women Writers for the first time and enjoyed their company a great deal. We did a writing exercise on similes. It’s played like consequences. Each person takes a sheet of A4 and at the bottom writes the beginning of a sentence, e.g. The sky was as bright as …; His face looked like…

The sheets of paper are passed round the group and each person in turn writes as many responses as they can think of, at the top of the sheet and then folds it over and passes it on. You couldn’t easily put that into a tweet!

I spent most of Tuesday morning writing an article for Smallholder magazine. There’ll be a double page spread with 4 pictures in the August edition which comes out on 3rd July.

Wednesday evening was a meeting with Nanowrimo friends. It is so good to get together with other people struggling with the writing and publishing process and talk things over. I came out feeling refreshed.

On Thursday I posted out an order and then got an email from the customer asking if he could cancel it and get a refund because he’d ordered by mistake! Looking at the time when he placed the order – early hours of the morning - I’d guess he was probably drunk… or maybe it was a practical joke played by a ‘friend’. Told him to send them back as soon as they arrived and impressed on him the urgency. If the poor creatures survive I might give him a refund.

Friday brought in another request for me to tell someone everything I know for nothing in return. I get several of these every week.

Spent a couple of hours on Saturday weeding the outdoor snail pen which is quite a pleasant activity on a fine day. But it was irritatingly windy and it hasn’t rained enough to keep the soil malleable so it was hard work getting a fork into the ground.

Today is another day. Hope there aren’t any more orders from the USA. I have to spend time refunding their money and explaining – yet again - that the USDA won’t allow live snails to be imported. There’s a note to that effect on every page of the online shop but people keep on ordering anyway. Perhaps they’re hoping the computer won’t notice their address.

Lots of hungry mouths to feed as usual!

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