Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Springtime in Frugaldom

Spring has, hopefully, sprung!

It's been a while since I last posted on here, so please accept my apologies.

Over the past few weeks, work on the Frugaldom household kind of ground to a standstill for one reason or another but we are now back on track, joiners on site and we have also made a little more progress in the garden.

Sadly, we lost one of our young ducks during the really cold weather but everything else seems to be thriving. We're now getting an egg a day from the remaining 4 ducks. My plan of having two trios didn't quite work out to plan, as Joey, our old drake, has adopted both Custard Cream and Oreo to his hareem, leaving poor Runty and Dunty as the odd-couple. Dunty, despite her slight defect, is laying us an egg every day and managing to keep up with the others.

To be fair to our Scottish weather, we haven't had it too bad over the past couple of months. That is adequaetly reflected in my lack of posting here, as the garden has been taking over much of my time, lately. Seeds had to be sown, potatoes planted, veg patches dug, raised beds filled and I've even created a tiny pond and planting area on the patio. It saved having to go to the expense of filling in the big hole in the middle of the concrete and working out how to drain surface water when it rained heavily. The pond now has a solar powered fountain added to help aerate the water for whatever critturs might decide to take up residence. I've incorporated a length of plastic pipe and plenty of bark and boulders so there's cover for lizards, frogs and toads. Whether or not they will ever visit is another matter, as is making it childproof for any visitors bringing little ones - still to be done.

I'm rather pleased with my mini-pond and adjoining crittur habitat. I used an old piece of plastic to shape the end then built it up into a tiered circular bed using rocks and logs. It is now home to some of last year's cuttings of strawberries, thyme and lupins, with the outside edge sown with perpetual spinach and radishes. The spinach, once it grows, should deter the rabbit from eating the strawberries, as she'll be too busy eating spinach - I hope!

Seeds aplenty have been sown into pots and fish crates then covered over with panes of glass or polythene. Everything seems to be coming on alright but it's still far too cold here, despite last months occasional heatwave-like days, to transplant anything into the garden. This photo was taken last month, the strawberry plants are now all flowering and the fruit beginning to appear already.

The icing on the cake, to date, has to be the completion of my herb spiral, as described by many articles on the subject of permaculture. Although we aren't following their 'rule book' too closely, a permanent, micro-agricultural garden is what we are aiming for by way of our microholding, so the theories fit well with what we are trying to do. I have already planted it up with herbs, marigolds and more strawberry plants, with only the basil having succumbed to the frost when I forgot to cover it with its bubblewrap hat.

Further down the garden, the cane frames are being reconstructed for beans and peas, then there's new 'edging' going around the fruit beds. Empty wine bottles are being collected by all for the purposes of these new edgings, so no expense spared. Of course, it could take some time to collect enough bottles when we don't buy any! :)

Indoors, work began last week to get the back of the house renovated fully, restoring it to a kitchen, cloakroom and shower room. We're back to the original stone walls what we think used to be stables and the joiners are hard at work fitting it all out for new ceilings, floors and stud walls, each section damp proofed, insulated using the sheeps wool and then lined with insulated/foil backed plasterboard. The concrete floors have been leveled (as best I could get them), a vapour barrier laid then insulated underlay with extra vapour barrier laid on top of that. Now the flooring is being fitted and should, hopefully, be completed by this weekend.

In eager anticipation of starting on actual living space, I now have, in my possession, a brand new replacement for 'George', our pot belly stove in the previous house. He was such a handy little pig to have around the place, eating his way through any scraps of wood, sticks, logs or the ocassional shovel of coal for an extra blast of heat.  The new arrival has been named 'Wilbur'!

We had a lengthy, in-depth conversation with frugal friends. They live off grid in their 'fixy up' and their recommendation was that we keep the open fire with the existing back boiler, radiators and hot water system, as it's all void during an electrical failure or power cut, which has happened several times since we moved here. Having a free-standing logburner as an extra source of heat and for occasional cooking will cost literally thousands of pounds less than replacing the entire open fire with a new solid fuel stove and boiler system connected to radiators, so we'll remove the crumbling old fireplace and replace it with something a little more secure and leave the existing back boiler to warm the radiators and hot water.

I am awaiting the arrival of a 'knotty pine' door for the bathroom and hoping it arrives soon. It's all been a bit "open plan" during this phase of the work. Then again, the joiner still needs to make the wall and door surround that will hold said door in position, so that's probably what's to be done between now and the weekend.

Plenty of phots have been uploaded, including step by step on creating the herb spiral in our frugal living forums. Feel free to visit.


  1. Welcome back- missed you! Kitchen pics, please!

  2. Hi Lynda :) I'm saving them for another blog, so I can put them all in sequence once all the walls are finished. In the meantime, I'll probably write up the story of building the herb spiral, as it was fun and totaly free. :)

  3. Can't tell you how much I've missed your posts - you have been sorely missed! All sounding great. Next winter, you should be as snag as bugs in a rug.

  4. Aah, it's nice to be missed, thanks guys. :) Sorry I haven't been writing much recently, but that does mean that I've loads to catch up with and bring this bang up to date.

    Still on schedule and still sticking to the frugal budget. The deadline for completion of the kitchen, bathroom and cloakroom is 6th June 2012 - one year exactly since moving in here. :)

  5. You've been missed, but I've been busy, almost as busy as you, so I understand.

    Welcome back, so lovely to see you one here again.

    Sue xx

  6. Thank you for the lovely welcome back message, Sue, I hope things are progressing in the right direction for you, too. Must catch up with everyone online! I haven't managed to read anything these past few months, other than trying to keep up with the forums, friends & family on Facebook and one solitary book (it was an ecxellent read) sent to me by Northsider.


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