How could it possibly be made to work from an ordinary house with an ordinary garden? My answer to this isn't smallholding, it's microholding! We haven't any land for grazing livestock or cultivating orchards but we do have a garden and that's enough to be going on with for now.
Self-sufficiency needn't exclude generating cash, it just means gainful employment and state benefits don't count. Being self employed means we need to earn sufficient money to pay bills, taxes, National Insurance, overheads, running costs and day to day living expenses. Self sufficiency is simply the term we use to mean personally sufficient in all our needs, bill paying included. The lower the overheads, the less need to worry about how to generate sufficient cash to survive. Understanding the overheads is paramount to success, as is fully comprehending the differences between needs and wants. At this precise moment in time, we are entirely self-sufficient on the financial front but not in the homegrown produce department. The proof that it could be done is something I have always wanted to witness.
The following is a breakdown of the estimated amount we, as a household of two adults, would NEED in order to survive until such times as the microholding was working to its fullest potential. As an ordinary household, rearing livestock is out, but there's still space for poultry.
Electricity £450.00 - £1 per day plus standing charge
Coal £115.00 - multifuel stove for hot water, heat, cooking
Logs £200.00 - multifuel stove for hot water, heat, cooking
Internet £216 including phone calles
Mobiles £0.00 - no mobiles
Telephone £144 - line rental
TV Licence £0.00 - no TV, it isn't an essential
Clothing & footwear £40.00
Gifts £0.00 - homemade
Household Insurance £45.00
Other insurance - £360.00 - 2 lots
National Insurance £250.00 - 2 lots
Council Tax £935.00 - no water rates as no water mains, reservoir fed
TOTAL - £4,000.00
Although a TV is not an essential, the telephone and Internet access are. These are your basic contact networks with the outside world, a source of income, advertising, marketing and PR. Most of all, it's the quickest way of keeping in contact with what's happening in the world of finance - where you can source the best bargains and really work your money. The above scenario assumes that you own your own home outright - no mortgage, no rent. Between two people, it's only £5.47 per person, per day that needs to be earned in order to survive. If you have rent or a mortgage, add that in, too.
But move on from that for now, we're still preparing the microholding. We need to grow fruit and vegetables as well as have fresh eggs. Cheap Fruit Bushes - Aldi special offer was 3 for £2.49 in February 2010, so that's at least a dozen fruit bushes for under £10. I set aside a tenner.
I was still mulling over the incubator conundrum for quail egg hatching and had decided to sell 2 of the 3 portables and invest in a more substantial one. Promptly listed them on eBid and sold the first one overnight. Result!
The usual chores get done on a daily basis - sorting out the fire, stocking up the kindling (cones and sticks), chopping logs, breadmaking, laundry, seeing to the feathered friends and stopping for coffee whenever a visitor arrives. Rural living doesn't need to mean being anti-social, there are always friends and nearby neighbours who'll visit.
Despite the frozen ground, we pushed on at getting the new raised bed completed in the front garden. The railway sleepers allowed for 64 square feet but I wanted 16 of those squares to form a path along the middle, so every square was easy to reach. Filled up both sides with compost and molehill soil. The hens and ducks had a great time helping by scratching and pecking, so they got left to do the job of breaking up the clumps of frozen soil.
Aldi fruit bushes came on special offer. Remained strong, though, and only bought the 4 packs of 3, as planned. Managed to get:
4 x Raspberries
2 x Gooseberries
1 x Redcurrant
3 x Blackcurrant
The incubator was ready to set half a dozen Silkie and Pekin eggs. Wasn't 100% sure which were which, so set half a dozen.
Took some time out to go over the 2007 challenge notes to see if there were any glaring differences and there's an entry about seeing the first bumble bee of the year - in February! There's also a note saying that cigarettes were £4.29 per 20. Same brand now is £5.30 That's a 23.5% increase! If only I'd invested heavily in cigarettes, I could have made a small fortune! Are there sell by dates on them? No!