Skip to main content

Selling top hats on eBay

Got the hat. Time to feed the pigs...
It sounds like a joke - Did you hear the one about someone selling top hats on eBay? - But it isn't, it's a demonstration of how flexible and innovative our farmers can be.

Many farmers have had to diversify. These days, with a relatively small farm, it's difficult to make a living from agriculture alone. So, for example, some good friends of mine who farm cattle now also have a successful microlight airfield and skydiving school operating from their farmland.

When I was running a creativity session for the CIME Project in Wales the other day, I came across another example of diversification at its best from a farmer. In this case he's selling things on eBay. Specifically he's apparently now one of the country's biggest seller of top hats. This, was, I hasten to add, not one of your gentleman farmer types, all Barbour and Range Rover, but a proper, hands dirty farmer.

More than that he imports and sells hat adjusters - on the whole these hats don't fit very well. A cheap little plastic add-on makes for a perfect snug top hat. And apparently sales of them are booming. They're more popular than ever for weddings and such.

I thought this was wonderful. The need to diversify coupled with real imagination coming up with something highly unlikely but profitable. A lot of our businesses could learn a thing or two from farmers.

Image from Wikipedia


  1. Excellent blog, Brian, and sort of a pet topic of mine. I've long noticed how farmers in my native Cornwall do a great job of diversifying - wonderful farm shops where they sell their own produce and that of other local producers direct to the public, alpaca trails, educational activities for kids (run in collusion with schools), foraging weekends, you name it. It's interesting stuff, and just goes to show how wrong the rather stuffy image of farmers can be.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope