Friday, 1 December 2017

Another year of frugal living

Another year of Frugal Living

2017 is nearing its end.

We're less than 3 weeks from winter solstice, so what has happened over the past year at Frugaldom?

So much has happened and so much has been achieved that I now need to split this blog post into at least two whistlestop photo tours just to bring you all up to date. Here goes...

I'll quickly run backwards from June 2017, as July to December have been exceptionally busy months for us, with many new developments that will take a little bit more explaining. All along our journey, we have stuck rigidly to the frugal living challenge of running the household on the £4,000 budget (excluding council tax) and every other penny has been invested into the future of Frugaldom. But more about that in the next blog post. For those who follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook, you will probably be aware of most of the developments - for everyone else, here is a brief summary to bring you up to date.

The lean-to got built
 Having cleared out the barn and made several improvements, some of which still need to be completed, we decided it was time to start preparing for our future food growing. We were really fortunate in having Anna - a horticulturist - arrive as a volunteer for a couple of weeks so she was a fantastic help in kickstarting this aspect of the Frugaldom project. The lean-to was built up in moveable sections made by the local timber mill but we hope it will soon become a more permanent feature with insulation, lined walls and a covered floor. It will be used primarily as a potting shed and drying room for the herbs but also as a learning zone for the children when they visit during wet weather. (Did I mention I now have 4 grand children? #4 arrived earlier this year.)
Anna working in the polytunnel
 With Anna being such a dab hand at all things planty, we got the ground cleared and set up a portable polytunnel, which was soon full to bursting with all sorts of herbs and vegetables.
This is now known as Anna's Ditch
 We also made loads of progress with the drainage, a massive job that is going to take a long time to sort out, especially when covering in drainage channels and topping them with stone and dust to make them safe to walk along. This one, now known as Anna's ditch, is being left as an open ditch and has, since, had pipe laid into it and is working hard at carrying away the surface flood water from between the cuckoo corral orchard and the herbery (herb nursery paddock).
Recycling pallets into composting areas
 With no shortage of composting materials or manure, 3 pallet bays got set up for the purposes of storing the compostable waste and pony poop! It is quite a struggle trying to keep on top of this very overgrown area but it is gradually being brought under control one square metre at a time!
Setting up the portable polytunnel
 This is the area that we fenced into a small enclosure and have planted several more fruit trees. We had the ponies completely clear out all the grass and wild herbs (we don't have weeds at Frugaldom) and then we drained the muddy mess before laying down ground reinforcement grid and weed fabric. The polytunnel is 5m x 2m but we hope to replace this with a 6m x 4m cabin in the not so distant future. This will provide us with office and admin space, visitor reception area, a place to sit for a break/cuppa and some secure, dry storage for things like seeds and order processing / packaging goods. It will all be off grid, using solar power for lighting and, hopefully, a logburner for heat and kettle boiling.
'The Galloway' survived the storms
The ecoarts project is one that means a great deal to us and as Frugaldom progresses, more wild wood is cleared and salvaged to turn into more sculptures. We plan on setting up a display of these along the access paths that will lead to various areas within Frugaldom - mainly through the orchards, willow, bog myrtle, foraging areas and down to the maple grove. Along the way, we have planted rowans, crab apples, hazels and hawthorn.
We had visitors for spring
 In spring 2017 we actually had a short drought! For 5 weeks, we saw next to no rain, so the burn flowing around Frugaldom dropped to levels that allowed even the labs to cross it. Each day we arrived at the yard, there would be an assortment of sheep and lambs meandering around, usually with a pony following them. They trimmed plenty of overgrown areas but it got a bit annoying when they sarted on the new fruit trees. Still, I guess pruning is needed!
We did a huge amount of clearing during the drought 
 While the water levels were so low, we donned our waders and went paddling along the burn to cut out all the snagged up branches, bits of fallen trees and debris that had been washed downstream in previous floods. I can't say that we have completely remedied the flooding problems but the flood water definitely recedes far quicker since the clear out - the above bend was previously like a dam!
We planted a new orchard in the cuckoo corral
 The new cuckoo corral orchard, above, was planted with over 60 assorted fruit trees - apples, pears, plums and cherries - with 10 very special Galloway Pippin heritage apple trees along one side. Along tthe front, we now have dog woods and crab apples to grow a foraging hedge and along one side, dog roses that should provide us with rose hips in future. The hares are frequent visitors to this area and during spring the cuckoos did, indeed, return to perch on the fence posts.
Ecoarts - The Green Man of Frugaldom
 This is our green man. He was made from bits of wood and branches collected while clearing access tracks and made by our resident artist, Harvey, as part of the ecoarts project. Following on from this, a second green man was commissioned, so there is another one locally - I'll need to find out if he has been put on display yet! Our green man is tucked away by the side of a little path that will eventually become part of a willow walk. We're coppicing as much willow as possible to plant along the paths.
Ecoarts - Myrical our magical unicorn
'Myrical' is our ecoarts unicorn and has proven to be the firm favourite with the children. (Did you know that the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland?) The name 'Myrical' is in keeping with the location of our unicorn, as it is in the centre of one of the bog myrtle fields. Bog myrtle is also known as 'Myrica Gale' and forms the basis for yet another of our exciting projects involving herbal concoctions, infused oils and soapmaking.

Caravan breaks for frugalers
Having finally got around to organising things between the two caravans, we set about preparing for our first paying visitors, offering an affordable alternative to expensive foreign holidays - frugal breaks in the Scottish countryside. We have a small membership base forming here and have now begun working towards upgrading this caravan for a more modern, double glazed and centrally heated model so we can offer affordable shor breaks all year round. They have proven to be very popular, especially during our themed weekends.
You can now come and stay to learn more about Frugaldom
The wildlife about here is interesting and diverse so we have set up a feeding station right outside the caravan for visitors to observe nature through the window! There is always great excitement when the woodpeckers or nuthatches appear and it's always fun to spot the treecreepers, even if I haven't managed to get a good photo of one yet.

We now have online booking for Frugal Breaks
To find out more about the frugal breaks options, we have a Facebook page set up at Frugal Breaks and have included a 'book now' button on the page. I haven't had the time to develop the website but will hopefully recruit the services of a willing student next year.

We have hosted over a dozen students and work volunteers over the past year and we're hosting a young lass over the Christmas break, so we must be doing something right if they are coming back for second visits. :)

Throughout the spring and summer months we were swimming almost every morning, thanks to the local holiday park allowing owners and their visitors the use of the indoor heated swimming pool free of charge. It is a great little pool and definitely gives us a great start, swimming before work begins for the day.

Frugal Breaks visitors can use the holiday park pool
I'll follow up this post with the next whistlestop tour of months July to December but please feel free to ask any questions or request any photos. I think I take an average of over 25 photos per day so there are plenty to choose from and many more things achieved than I have crammed into this post. Other things you may be interested in are ways to become a part of the project. For this, we have introduced our crowdfunding and rewards page, offering dedication discs, short breaks and even corporate sponsorship of various projects.

Back soon, hope you are enjoying the catch-up and will return to read the next installment. :) 


  1. I am in awe of your accomplishments. Lots of hard work without a doubt but I'm sure it must feel great at the end of the day when you can sit and reflect on the day's productivity. I LOVE the ecoart pieces imaginative. I am going to visit!

    1. We will look forward to welcoming you to Frugaldom! :) 2018 will bring many more changes, just as the latter half of 2017 has done. I should be able to get the next post done tonight, all going to plan. Thank you for reading and commenting here. Knowing others are interested in this frugal living, rural lifestyle is what keeps me motivated. :)


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