Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Frugaldom Microholding is Coming to Life!

Summer Sun in Springtime

We're labouring flat out to get as much of the garden converted into a working microholding as possible, before we actually move into the house. As long as the sun shines and the rain stays away, we concentrate most of our energies outdoors.

Yesterday, 29th April, was day 15 of our '50 Day Challenge'. That's how much time we have to pull the project together and make the house habitable. That means it's only 5 weeks until we start moving into the cottage!

It's one of our current next door neighbours who will be renting this house after we leave (start of June), so they asked if they could purchase the multifuel stove we had installed, along with the greenhouse and garden shed. After much to-ing and fro-ing, this was finally agreed, just in the nick of time, I might add, as H had already started dismantling around the greenhouse. This, however, has meant that we are left with the problem of no garden storage at the new place, so hard cash has had to be spent!

As luck would have it, there was a Royal Wedding this weekend - congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka, Prince William and Kate Middleton. Anyhow, everywhere had sales on in celebration of the great event. Some were 'Wedding Weekend Specials', others were extended 'Easter Sales' and yet others were 'May Day Holiday Weekend' specials. I'm not sure which I opted for, but we bought a half price garden shed, so we need somewhere to build it. That somewhere, is here, between the main garden and the orchard.
In the new garden, there are piles of discarded rubbish everywhere. As There have been several sets of matress springs amongst the debris, but also no fewer than 10 sturdy panels, each measuring at least 4' x 4'. So, I raked, dug, shovelled and raked some more to clear and level a space much bigger than needed and then we carefully laid the panels. (I suspect they've formed some sort of sectional animal shelter in the past.) By yesterday afternoon, we had this base all ready to receive the new shed, complete with enough extra space to sit some pots around it

On the opposite side of the garden, there's the huge patch of unruly rhubarb, so I tackled some of that. I'm trading it through our local LETS group, so it will all be used and appreciated; it will also help towards costs of hiring a trailer from fellow members.

Not sure how much rhubarb I picked, but I couldn't carry it all. Having sat an old fish crate next to the patch, (we've collected about a dozen from the garden, chicken hut and outbuilding) I simply kept pulling up stalks until the crate was filled. I then bundled it all up to the back door to top and tail it, ready for distributing. I reckon 2 Crees per kilo sounds a fair price, as there's plenty more where that lot came from, plus there's still a big patch of it growing here that's in need of picking. Rhubarb, anyone? Ideal for frugal wine making if you like a bit of fizz, or stewed in pies, tarts and crumbles.

On Thursday evening, I saw someone out in the street strimming the grass verges opposite a couple of the other cottages. I went out for a chat (everyone knows everyone else about here) and explained that we'd just bought the cottage and it would be unfair if ours looked scruffy next to the others. He totally agreed, commenting how bad it would look if the Royal bridal party had to pass along the street! 

The £5 charge seemed like an absolute bargain, although it's sheer luxury for a frugalite like me! We don't own a petrol strimmer, so I invited said gentleman to view the back garden. (Please note - this was not some random stranger).

He appeared back yesterday afternoon, strimmer in hand, and set about the back garden, strimming all down through the new orchard. What a huge difference it makes! We can now see the basic lay-out of what will soon become our main concern - the great outdoors, within the confines of our very own walls.

This photo was taken from the end of the soon-to-be patio, which seems to keep creeping further from the back door. Our future patio will end up being 15m x 5m, as opposed to the original plan to restrict it to the first 5m x 5m. It will be surrounded by patio planters, pots and trellis climbers, then divided from the main garden by a pergola-type structure, along which, I hope to grow the vines. All of the strawberries are along a south facing wall, so these are getting the best of the sunshine. They'll also be handy for nipping out the back door to pick for dessert during summer. There are 10 wooden planters and 3 troughs filled with them, so I'm hopig for a decent crop this year. We tend to eat them as they are picked, so I've never managed to get as far as making strawberry jam.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... H was working in 'poultry corner', digging, clearing and mending the chicken hut.

It'll take a bit of time, as we can't move the sheets of wood until we next borrow a trailer, but the shed now has a new door and some new interior lining.

The wire in the windows will be replaced with 1/2" weldmesh.

The entire shed measures 12' x 8', so it's a solid lump of a building, especially as it seems to have been reinforced in the past. It's built within a wired enclosure measuring about 30' x 30', so plenty of space for the poultry. The bonus feature that H discovered is the concrete slatted floor! Ideal, by anyone's standards.

Today is day 16 of our 50 day challenge and the sun is shining. I wonder what we'll achieve today?

Join us in the Frugaldom Forum to follow progress and to set up your own mini-challenges. These are 'Challenging Times', so why not make them fun?


  1. It sure is coming to Life! It was so worth having that strimming done - the whole land/orchard looks so much easier to really see what is what.
    And how fab to uncover the flag stones. I had no idea how old the cottage was: how fantastic. Would you be able to research census returns (back to 1861) - you can do a lot on line (in due course...perhap a job for winter)

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Are they flagstones or asbestos sheets, those 4'x4' panels?
    If not asbestos, then they are pretty useful!
    You have been working hard there.
    Have a great weekend.

    Sandie xx

  3. I love to see your progress, it's amazing what you have done in the time you have had. The idea of the patio sounds wonderful, a step away from all those strawberries and the bonus of a helpful neighbour, your cottage sounds hard work but worth it.

  4. Sandie, the panels are fibreglass, so quite sturdy but light enough for carrying. I thought, at first, they were asbestos and hadn't considered using them until someone pointed out what they were.

    Bee, I think the village will be a place where everyone knows and helps everyone else, even those who have the holiday homes. With only about 30 houses in the entire place, it's very rural without being in the least remote.

    K, I have already started asking around for info relating to the history of the place. One of the most amusing anecdotes we have heard was about how it changed hands about 60 years ago in exchange for 5 pigs. Whether or not the story is true, we may never know. I'd love to find the old well and will certainly be trying to find out about when the house was actually built. The houses are built on what used to be part of the old Monreith Estate, owned by the Maxwells, so perhaps the current Lord Maxwell will have some info chronicalled somewhere. :)


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