Thursday, 25 November 2010

Life in Frugaldom: Catching up - 15th to 28th Jan 2010


The day of reckoning was upon us! The washing was done, there was a pineapple upside down cake in the oven, the biscuits were baked and I'd to wait for S2BN (soon-to-be-neighbour) getting back from town before the deed could be done - the preparing of the two brace of pheasants. I'd already printed off step by step instructions and S2BN had been watching YouTube videos of people making it look easy. Not going to go into detail on here but, suffice to say, the plucking was easier than I'd expected - despite the giggles! I slow cooked the four birds overnight, adding red wine, garlic and brown sugar for flavour. Thoroughly enjoyed the end result, although the other occupants of this frugal household weren't so keen. I didn't bother telling them that the broth was game soup or what was in the pies or casseroles from that day forward.

Went to a birthday lunch on the 17th, most enjoyable. Arrived home laden with leftovers of cake and trifle. The weather was dry and bright, so we got outside afterwards and spent an hour or so tidying the greenhouse, preparing seed trays and looking out the vegetable seeds.

After the fog cleared away on the 18th, most of the outdoor time was spent trying to clear up the aftermath of the mole-duck-hen wars. Then I managed to rescue a sole survivor, in the shape of a lonesome lettuce, from the big, covered tub by the back door. (Except it was no longer covered - ducks had demolished it!) It got emptied, refilled, more seeds sown and moved into the greenhouse. It was surprisingly warm in the sunshine! 18C in the greenhouse!

There were no parsnips planted here in 2009, so I was down to the last of the leeks, turnips and carrots in the winter veg beds. Aiming for more leeks, onions, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, and beetroot in 2010. The garlic has already sprouted through the frozen soil!

Bailey, the pheasant, was still with us, perfectly happy to eat, drink and socialise with the hens alongside. He got a newly revamped run with solid brick base that shouldn't let anything burrow in or out - Bailey bird seems to think he's a chicken!

By the 20th, it was pouring rain again, but there was a bit of excitement. People were starting to view the empty property next door! It'll be nice to see some life about the place, I only hope they've done their homework properly and can embrace frugal life by bartering with the neighbours.

Progress in revamping the kitchen was slow. I wanted to create a mini-farmhouse kitchen, complete with pot belly stove, but what I had was a shambles that sent a chill through your bones in the winter mornings.
Finished picking the last of the leeks and got them into the freezer - another item I won't need to buy in 2010 - then baked several carrot and sultana loaves to help reduce carrot mountain. The winds were howling by then, so candles were at the ready, along with some quick-fix snacks and flasks of boiling water, just in case of power cuts . More baking - gluten free loaves, to make a start using up the 10p bargain packs I'd bulk bought. First lot turned out like bricks, might make good fuel for the fire!

Laundry detergent getting low, so had to make another batch of that:
5 litres water
1 cup washing soda
1 bar of soap (or equivalent)
Few drops of essential oils - I like tea tree & lavender
Made 15 litres of the stuff, added some blue dye to half of it so it, hopefully, would make whites whiter. It should last for a good few months. Can't remember last time I bought laundry detergent. Cheated on the essential oils by using natural soap with lavender and tea tree oil added - makes it anti-bacterial and it smells nice.

22nd January - dragged a big wooden workbench frame from the garage, cleaned it up, then added an old piece of kitchen worktop. Re-jigging of the Frugaldon kitchen was now in progress. The charity shop bought stand was looking quite good once it was cleaned up and filled. Meanwhile, H had to do emergency repairs outside after last night's storm - replacing collapsed fencing, mending and pinning everything down with the surplus bricks from next door's messy corner. Share and share alike in Frugaldom, that's the number one rule of living here.

23rd January - Hens and ducks fed & watered, paths swept, new kitchen space admired and breakfast made. Attempted to make some 'elixir' for adding to the poultry water feeders: surely that would help encourage more egg laying.

ELIXIR
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup honey
8 cloves garlic

Blend for 60 seconds, pour mixture into a glass container, seal and leave in the frige for five days. Normal dosage is 1 to 2 teaspoonsful in a glass of water or fruit juice before breakfast for humans. Guess a tablespoonful will be enough in each hen water feeder. Hoped the duck eggs wouldn't taste of garlic!
Met up with S2BN for a cuppa and traded off some gherkins in exchange for a large jar of pickled beetroot. Next job was thinning out all the cookery books that I'd acquired, traded them out, too. Planted up a pot of mixed herb seeds, recycled a box of glass jars, started making a trifle and fitted in a two hour walk to take photographs. Between clearing out jam jars and having the walk, met landlord and had rewarding chat - got permission, at long last, to install the woodburner into the kitchen. CELEBRATING! (Elderflower 'champagne', anyone?)
The price of washing-up liquid had been annoying me, so an attempt was made at a DIY variety:
Washing Up Liquid
3 x litres boiling water
6 x drops tea tree or lime or lavender essential oil (or just use lemon or lime juice!)
1 x heaped tablespoon soap flakes
1 x heaped tablespoon of soda crystals
1 x tablespoon white vinegar
I grated a bar of my 'natural soap with teatree and lavender extract' to make the soap flakes. On measuring it, there's enough to make 8 lots of the above... 24 litres! My recipe worked out at the following prices:
Soap flakes - 33p (8 heaped tablespoons)
Tea tree - already in the soap flakes
Lavender - already in the soap flakes
Soda crystals - 16p (8 heaped tablespoons)
Vinegar - 8p (8 tablespoons)

TOTAL = £0.57 for 24 litres

Can you believe that? I couldn't!  Homemade, own variety eco-friendly washing up liquid for less than 3p per litre when shop bought stuff costs about 98p per litre! Awesome frugalicious find! I will never again buy W.U.L.! (Or so I thought!)
24th January - Whole list of stuff added to the 'to do' list while waiting for the porridge to cook. Ive been baking regularly - bread, biscuits, macaroons etc. Found time to start researching logburners and multifuel stoves and also managed to get several hundred single sachets of sugar split and emptied into a tub. A friend rehomed them this direction from a cafe closing down clearance. Counted out the £2 coins stash - £100 exactly! A good start to the stove fund.
Made a list of products I should no longer need to buy in 2010. It currently stands at:

Eggs
Pasta
Bread
Biscuits
Cakes
Jam
Lemon curd
Jelly (preserves)
Pickles & chutney
Laundry detergent
Washing up liquid
Greetings cards
Kindling for the fire

The longer the list grows, the less I need to spend. The less I need to spend, the more I can afford. Every penny saved is a penny earned and put in the bank for the longterm. 'Project logburner' was well and truly underway with every penny (and £2 coin) counted.
25th January: Happy Birthday, Rabbie!  Burn's night was a chilly affair. Temperatures had plummeted and everything had frozen solid, back to defrosting everything and thawing out drinkers, feeders and door catches at dawn. Indoor work seemed more appealing, so the freebie sewing machine got set up, the pinny got mended and then a curtain made for hiding the wooden work stand that now graced the Frugaldom kitchen. I couldn't fix the broken dial for setting the stitch type, but I was able to turn the spindle with a pair of pliers. This was the only reason someone wanted to discard this machine to landfill!
An electrician called, so the faulty light fittings have been repaired and he'll call back as soon as a date has been arranged with landlord for the removal of the broken storage heater in the kitchen. That will, at last, make way for the new stove. Electricity spending was standing at anything between between £30 and £50 per week plus the cost of coal & logs for the open fire.
Did I mention we had a psychotic Silkie? Dear little Captain Cornflake had grown up and turned into a grumpy psycho-cockerel that hated the mere sight of moi! He'd taken to sitting behind things, just waiting for me to appear, then he'd pounce - all fluffy feathers, beak and spurs!! Rehoming enquiries were ongoing after one too many attacks - beak and claws tearing at my legs when I stupidly went out wearing shoes instead of wellies! Ouch! I'm a complete coward - psychobird won the fight despite my pathetic efforts at shaking a big stick at him! Pheasant casserole for dinner again - I called it stew, the others ate it with puff pastry. It was either that or I'd have had to buy a haggis, befitting the occasion. What we should really have had was that damned, fluffy psycho of a cockerel. Woe to the woosies who walk among us, for thee shall starve in the event of attempting real self-sufficiency on such a small scale.
To round the night off, I did a bank sweep of all the extras that had accumulated from not spending plus the surplus raised in sales etc - £550!
Approaching the end of January, the following is what's now being saved for recycling:

paper - shredded for paper bricks & nesting material for hens
cardboard - for kindling
toilet roll & similar inner tubes - stuffed with paper for kindling
tins - to the recycling
glass - mostly for storing preserves or else sent to recycling
clothing & material - sewing projects & recycling
egg shells - washed, dried & crushed for hens
duck egg shells - going to attempt blowing them for decorating
tea bags - making plant food then composting
all fruit & veg peelings etc - hen feeding and composting
breadcrumbs - frozen for future use
hen bedding - recycled into compost
wood ash - dug into garden or used as dust bath material for hens
fallen cones & sticks - for kindling
dry leaves & wood chips - for hen runs
seeds from peppers & tomatoes - for growing the following year
candle ends - for kindling
soap ends - for making laundry gloop & WUL
Plastic containers & tubs for storage & planting
Tomato puree tubes - make excellent embellishments & decorations
After another powercut, I was back to 'project logburner' - I spotted a really cute little pot bellied stove / log burner on eBay that has the much needed hotplate on top! Stove cheap, all the accessories and fitting not cheap. Keep on saving.
Managed to get given four large railway sleepers, so plan for a new raised bed for square foot vegetable gardening was put into action. All three of the compost bins were full, so a good basis for getting the new veg patch started. Hens and ducks got very excited about the arrival of the sleepers. They all had a great time helping. The overly exuberant ones, however, went and dig up my garlic!
Son still wanted to look like Arnold Swartznegger, which meant feeding him copious amounts of chicken and eggs - told him he'd to buy all the extras himself, so he brought me three extra chickens to cook, 'because it was cheaper'. I'm so proud! Glad he likes cous cous with it - bulk bought that from discount food store, cost less than 10p per pack.
28th January 2010 - Read the sad news of the death of J. D. Salinger. The man was a literary genius who influenced so many, yet actively sought neither fame nor glory. Decided to read, 'Catcher in the Rye' again.
Spotted an offer for two free sachets of baking yeast on http://www.bakingmad.com/ while wasting time waiting for  biscuits to bake.
Apologies for these posts being a bit disjointed. There's just so much to summarise and so many photographs to consider for inclusion.
There ends weeks three and four of January 2010. Managed to spend a total of £86.49 over the fortnight and made back £6 in egg sales. With a son who eats half a dozen eggs a day and chickens that don't want to lay full tilt in winter, having 3 dozen spare eggs to sell was a miracle in the first place!
£3,651.19 remaining from the original £4,000 but there's now £117.52 in the 'Everything Else Kitty'.
More info and photos HERE
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