Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Moneysaving Mayhem

May has been a busy money-saving month of mayhem, so far, but we have managed to complete the barn painting and have another corral, or small paddock, fenced, planted the last of this year's trees, sown seeds and I set up a makeshift wild bird feeding station outside the caravan, where the resident woodpecker is now visiting several times each day. That's my frugal entertainment. Life on site in a mobile home is great!

If you are lucky, John Irving quote

I'm going to begin this latest post with a quote from John Irving that definitely reflects the mood of the day. The photo is one I took of the nearby loch when it was perfectly calm and reflective. I think some of my long-standing friends and family are wondering if I have taken up permanent residence in the mobile home, now known as my micro-ranch. Yes, it's a far cry from a sandstone cottage, but it most definitely has everything I need and greatly increases the time I can spend working on the Frugaldom Project whenever the weather permits. The field is a mere half mile from here. What isn't there to like? I have luxuries here that aren't available at the house, such as Sky TV, an indoor heated swimming pool, golf, fishing, site shop, various free to attend social activities and all are included within the annual site rental fees that equate to about £40 per week, including WiFi, water and TV. (Swimming, fishing and golf are included in that price.)

Night and day at Three Lochs

The site is not a year-round residential site, but I can spend 11 months of the year here, leaving February as the month for catching up elsewhere, visiting friends and family or getting jobs done elsewhere. With the spare room and living room bed settee here, I can have friends and family to stay anytime, providing a frugal holiday option for many and also less travelling for those coming to help out at Frugaldom. The site has facilities for campervans, tourers and tents as well as renting out chalets, but I think the majority of the caravans may be privately owned holiday homes. To be absolutely honest, I haven't a clue why we didn't look at this option instead of renting an assortment of houses over a 10-year period while saving to buy! It could have saved thousands of pounds! I think I've spent more money moving house over the past 15 years than it costs to buy a decent ex-rental or secondhand mobile home on this site! I'm not being paid to say this, but if I could find frugalers to buy the two plots and 'vans next to me, we could have a great little frugal community going here - I could even provide allotment-style gardens at Frugaldom for food growing.

Raspberry muffins

Right now, I have a hand wash drying outdoors, pegged to the airer, and a tray of raspberry muffins baking in the oven, alongside quiche. It's taking time to accustom myself to a full size gas oven after using the microwave and mini oven for so long, but I've managed not to burn anything beyond use. There's also the fact that the cooker doubles as heating in the open plan layout of the caravan. I'm a few items short in the kitchen department, but am managing fine without having to buy anything else. My total spends have amounted to £4 for a plastic wash basin and a cheap frying pan. My latest frugal visitor was able to provide me with …

Continued here

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Moneysaving in May



Welcome to May's money-saving madness, when the weather should change for the better and we can all get out there and make some extra effort to curb our spending, tend the garden and attempt to grow some food. It's time to make do, mend, sew and sow!

It is great living practically next door to the Frugaldom project, where a mere half mile walk takes me from here to there and allows for a couple of hours work in between anything else, really. The fine weather broke and sent us back to rain and hail with heavy frosts in the mornings, so I took advantage of that situation and planted a few garlic cloves into the ground next to the caravan - with luck, they will grow… Read full post about Moneysaving in May

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Scottish Multimedia | How to Heat a Caravan


It's been just over two weeks since moving into the Frugaldom home-from-home 'ranch' and true to fashion, the good ole Scottish weather has thrown everything at us, from heat wave to snow storms; it has been an interesting learning curve trying to maintain a good balanced temperature in a caravan, that's for sure.

Wooden decking

The caravan is a static sited on the holiday park next to Frugaldom. As it will be home for most of the year, getting to grips with heating it (and cooling it) will take time. Again, this is something we have saved for, so site fees are paid in advance and it's up to us to budget the running costs for gas and electricity. We've also chosen to invest in having wooden decking built and they managed to almost complete this while the weather was in a transitional stage between heat wave and yesterday afternoon's snowy blizzard! The morning started out at -3C and white with frost, followed by glorious sunshine and then things went rapidly downhill after that.

Scottish weather

Today, the weather has been awful, ranging from bitterly cold to driving rain, sleet and hailstones bouncing. Staying indoors seemed like a good idea, so I cranked up the gas fire for a while and wrapped up in about 5 layers of clothing. The caravan has one small panel heater with towel rail in the shower room, eco-warm air skirting heaters (350w) in the bedrooms and a gas fire in the main living area, so I have added an extra layer over the mattress plus an electric blanket and my hand-knitted blanket over the top of the duvet on the bed.I also have fleece pyjamas, bed socks and a fleecy sleeved blanket. It isn't a glamorous site to behold but it allows me to switch off the bedroom heater through the night and switch it back on when I waken. The 450w thermostatic oil-filled radiator is left on in the main living area on a low setting and the bathroom panel heater is on overnight. Curtains need to be shut before dark to help retain some heat and then they get opened first thing, as the sun rises and hits the windows. So far, so good. I plan on getting a curtain hung up to separate the living area and kitchen, just to cut down on the open plan expanse at nights.

I have been reading the electricity meter as I would normally do at the house, so I can easily keep tabs on how much is being used and set aside the necessary funds for the bi-annual bill. I haven't been here long enough to estimate weekly averages.

Cooking is with a standard size cooker running off gas cylinders, so I have no idea how long these will last. They also run the living room fire and heat the water on demand via boiler - same goes for the shower. I have my slow cooker and my breadmaker and both have been in full use.

Homemade biscuits

Today I made a loaf of bread, baked a tray of oat and sultana cookies while cooking dinner in the oven and used up some bacon that son legt when he was visiting for the weekend. (The bacon bits got added to carrot and lentil soup.)

Frying bacon to add to soup

I haven't spent anything on kitting out the caravan, so I am cooking with my camping equipment for now. I'll get one of those supermarket £3 frying pans next week, along with a £1 plastic basin for the sink. Other than that, I think I can manage with what I have.

Not much outside work got done today, but I did go a walk out to the field just to check on the latest plantings - a rosemary hedge, two strawberry beds and a small copse of oak trees.

The Frugaldom barn, project HQ

View of the Frugaldom barn with the snow-peaked Galloway Hills in the background. As you can see, we still haven't managed to get the back of the barn painted but we have two sides done now.

A grey day but there's green to be seen

I got caught in one light flurry of hail that moved over quickly in the direction of the hills but despite how grey everything is, you can see hints of green… read more HERE

Friday, 24 April 2015

Frugal Living and the Frugaldom Project

Can you believe that I've been here for a fortnight, already? I'm well settled into the new home from home and finding it an extremely rewarding way to live, following work by the weather - outside when dry, inside when wet - it's the best of both worlds, even when the mundane stuff like accounts, website admin and other work needs to be done.
I am having the weekend off to make time for family visits, as the newest member of the family arrived on the 15th. My little ranch hand has already had his first visit to Frugaldom at the grand old age of one week! (Got to start them young so they learn to appreciate the land.) I also need to catch up with housework and paperwork.
So far, at Frugaldom, I have managed to build 3 small fruit/veg beds - one for blackcurrants, the other two have strawberries planted in them for now. These are being made by loosely following instructions on a permaculture site, so they are truly recycled using old cardboard boxes, rotting wood, moss, composted woodchips and some soil/compost mix.
It will all be slightly acidic as this was forestry at one point, hence the peaty soil, so I'm only planting things that can tolerate low pH conditions. I’ve got about 25 small strawberry plants so far and the same again still waiting to be planted. All of these were runners I potted on from last year’s plants, so free to me.
I have sown many seeds, including all the GrowWildUK Scottish wildflowers, Woodland Trust poppies and some very old Californian Poppy seeds that a fellow frugaler sent to see if they were still viable, It will be interesting to watch for them germinating over the next year or two!
H was here today helping out and managed to get another part of the barn painted - we still don't have big ladders to do the higher parts but I've spotted someone nearby who has a set, so will ask them nicely if we can borrow them. I'll need to rely on someone else to climb the ladders as my old knees/hips/back won't permit.
240415_toad_01The swallows are back swooping about and inspecting last year's nest, so I suspect they will soon be back in residence, around the corner from the bats. There are loads of frogs, toads, lizards, hairy caterpillars, butterflies, bees and voles about the place, but I've yet to catch sight of anything bigger. The cuckoos are very vocal in the nearby forest and there was a woodpecker down in the trees by the caravan this afternoon. I was also hearing of a close encounter with a barn owl and then we also have the red kite, white tailed sea eagle and plenty of buzzards in this area.
After a short delay, the tractor is being brought back on site tomorrow ready for the fencer to make a start on Sunday, so I'll probably end up back out at HQ on Sunday afternoon for a few hours - no rest for the wicked!
It is great to think that corral #2 could be completed by early next week. I have already planted the rowans, silver birch and willow between the two and have surrounded the adjoining areas with grey willow, wild cherry and crab apple trees.  
With any luck, I may also see the arrival of someone to build my caravan decking very soon!
The Frugaldom home-from-home and Thrift Cottage combined weekly food bills currently average £6.33 per person and are based strictly on zero food waste, batch cooking, baking and plenty of eggs laid by our own hens and ducks. 
Since arriving on site, I have spent the grand total of £2.40 and am still pursuing my goal to bring the joint-household grocery bills down to £5 per person per week – you can see how that and other challenges are coming along in 
The fine weather has now come to an end but the rain was badly needed. Having planted no fewer than 300 trees over the past week or so, the wild cherry and field maples in the dry areas were getting to the stage of really needing a good soaking and I didn’t relish the thought of going round the project with 180 buckets of water! 
I should soon be able to make a start on the mini-kitchen garden outside the caravan but will spend a couple of hours this weekend in the greenhouse at home, sorting out stuff there that needs to come here.
Don’t forget, if you’re in the neighbourhood, join us free as a member of the Frugaldom forums and find out how you can become a part of our woodland and market garden project.

NYK in Frugaldom

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Frugal Living, Frugal Working


After an abysmal start to the day the sun eventually broke through the clouds by around noon and then it shone the rest of the day. In fact, it was jackets off, sleeves up and sun cream needed by mid-afternoon and then a slow walk home, taking photos along the way.


This is a quick photo blog of how yesterday went. I had a meeting on site at lunchtime, so I was pleased the rain had stopped by then. Corral 2 has been properly measured and all the remaining blackcurrant cuttings have been planted among the edible hedging. I think I planted 110, possibly more, blackcurrant cuttings among the sloes, elders, raspberries and blackberries.

Edible hedging

It's quite difficult to see all the new trees and fruit bushes but you can just make out the plastic spirals - the edible hedge has now been planted around two sides of the barn. Left of this photo is the Buddleia, which will need cutting right back at the end of this year.

Logs and firewood

Does this count as biomass, I wonder? Since having the corral properly fenced, the logs have all had to be moved again so we really do need to look at getting them cut up and used in other ways - likewise with the pile of branches and twigs behind them. We've been using that as kindling for the camp stove but it could take a while to use it up at that rate.

Path to willow walk

The temporary path leading to what will be the willow walk is still in place and now needs to be kept under control until such times as it can be properly developed. Judging by the tracks, the deer seem to like it.

Flower bed

I dragged a few bits of log from the pile and have started marking out a flower bed in the wild garden. There is so much to do and I know exactly what I want at the end of it all but it has to fit with the lie of the land as it was when we bought it, so this fits nicely into the plan.

Area for vegetable beds

The area behind corral 1 is where the first of the vegetable beds will be going. It's quite well drained but will take a lot of work to get the beds built and filled, then they all need protected from the wildlife. We don't want the deer or the rabbits grazing on anything. While clearing bits of ground yesterday…

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