Monday, 4 December 2017

Frugal living and working through July 2017

Frugal Living has plenty of perks!

Summer work, rest and play a Frugaldom

Our visiting students all had archery lessons
 Throughout the past year we have hosted numerous students and volunteers at Frugaldom, each here to experience frugal living, life in the country and, in most cases, practice their conversational English, albeit with a certain Scottishness. It has been great seeing the progress made during their stays here, even if the good old Scottish summer weather was as unpredictable and unreliable as ever. We still managed to fit in fun between bouts of work.
The cuckoo corral orchard
 After receiving an unscheduled pruning session by the visiting escapee sheep that were with us for several weeks, the newest fruit trees in the cuckoo corral decided to start growing again. The dog roses also took a severe pruning when the ponies managed to push down one of the fence rails and stretch their necks through far enough to reach them! No rose hips this summer!
Caroline (France), Olivia (USA) and Anne (Germany)
Our 3 students shared a caravan while here and seemed to gel well, despite the fact that the French lass spoke no German, the German lass no French and the American lass no German or French... we all managed perfecly well with Scottish English. 👌😊
We finally managed to hire in a mini digger and driver

The digger and driver were here for just a few days, as the cost was slightly prohibitive at almost £250 per day! However, in that time, the 2 main drainage ditches leading away from the central project got cleared, a big straining post dug back into the ground and the 2 ponds dug - one for ponies accessing the running water and the second, larger one, for planting around to form a new wildlife habitat. At the point the ponds were dug, we had a drought, so the entire area was almost dry and scraped down to the clay base, where old stone, possibly from previous drainage, was found.

Strawberries growing in the recycled milk caron 'Mishy Pods'
 A few new strawberry plants plus many runners from existing ones were potted up into the milk cartons, so plans are now afoot to build new strawberry beds.
Nick (Bulgaria) is our regular hoof trimmer
 The ponies have been having their hooves trimmed every 5 or 6 weeks, when Nick stops for an overnight. Learning about keeping and working ponies barefoot has been a real revelation for many of our students and visitors - it's quite shocking how many people think that the poor animals need to have metal nailed to their feet before they can do anything! Here a Frugaldm, we strongly support the theory that 'you are what you eat, right down to your feet' and that can be said for equine species, too. The Frugaldom ponies will never have shoes on their feet as long as they are with us - nor will they ever have bits (more metal) in their mouths. We have metal-free mud monsters, who live out all year round without rugs, stables, fancy feeds or 'posh' saddlery. Hay and herbs serve them well and everything else is from whatever they browse around the edges of the project - mostly marsh and moor grasses.
Blistering sunshine for bringing in the hay
Having ponies that don't get let loose on lush, green, monoculture grass means we need a plentiful supply of meadow hay and that isn't always easy to find. We want freedom from chemicals and a good mix of grasses and herbs, so it serves us well that we have friendly neighbours who believe likewise. But boy! Is it hard work bringing in several hundred small bales of hay against the clock within what little sunshine we get here! In this game you really do have to make hay while the sun shines, but I think the girls enjoyed their tractor driving lessons and their ice lolly breaks.
All our students learned to drive the tractor with baler
 The last bales were stacked in the barn at around 10pm, after another brief stop for chips! It was like carb and fat-fest for energy replenishing!
After a long day bringing in hay - about 600 bales
After our brief call to action for doing the hay it was back to the Frugaldom work. One of our regular volunteers who builds the benches from the surplus fencing wood single-handedly built us a new foot bridge so we could get across the newly cleared drainage ditch! She's a whizz with offcuts, that's for sure!
Celebrating near completion of footbridge over the newly cleared drainage ditch
Wheelbarrows and stone are the most common features at Frugaldom nowadays. Drainage is a top priority but we don't have the necessary funds to bring in contractors so it's all down to hand digging, laying in pipes where necessary and backfilling with an assortment of stone. From all this work comes the benefit of better toned muscles and a deeper appreciation for the morning swim in the pool at the caravan site - that definitely starts your summer days off in fine style.

Barrowing stone for the drainage is an endless task at Frugaldom
 After trying to fit as much work as possible into the dry weather slot, it took only 3 days for the new ponds to fill up completely and from that day to now, we haven't had a solid week of dry weather! It's been wellies every single day.
Olivia, Caroline and Anne by the newly dug pond
 Both ponds almost filled to capacity. They are interlinked so the small one runs into the larger one and then it can overflow into the drainage ditch that carries it off though the field via Anna's ditch.
The new ponds at Frugaldom - wildlife and drainage areas
The hens at Frugaldom are well settled into their new 'chicken shack'. We lost a few to a mink attack and then gained a few more, when we had 4 given to us and 8 chicks hatched in the incubator at home. At the moment we have 7 of the hens and a cockerel at Frugaldom and the rest at Thrift Cottage.
We have a hen laying pink eggs!
 The 2017 hatch of chicks were all pure bred Araucanas and 2 of the donated ones are x Araucana, so we do get blue eggs. However, we don't know what types the brown hens are, so when one started laying pink eggs, it was a complete surprise.
The ponies began their training to work barefoot, bareback and bitless
 Thanks to 'Auntie Anita', we now have a lovely bitless bridle for the ponies. Until this was given to us we were simply using rope lead reins and headcollars but this is so much 'posher' looking. This is Willow, our medicine hat 'spirit' pony, modelling it.
Leeks and courgettes were plentiful
The small vegetable plot behind the barn produced plenty of leeks and courgettes but this area will now be turned over to garlic and herbs, as there just wasn't really enough sunshine reached this area to make it worthwhile expanding it.

While here, the students learned a bit about wild flowers and herbs, so we have been drinking plenty of rhubarb fizz and our first ever batch of pineapple plant cordial!

At the caravans, we decided to use the 3-bedroom one for our Frugaldom work exchange students and rent out the 2-bedroom one for visitors looking for an affordable way to take a countryside break. This brought about the official launch of Frugal Breaks on Facebook and our new online booking platform. It's been an exciting year, so far!

Our fundraising is being done via where you can get dedication discs for our posts and trees, sponsorships and holiday home accommodation to come and visit us in 2018. We've also had several wildcampers at Frugaldom but without any services on site, you need to cart your own water. I'm now investigating portaloos, composting toilets and filter systems for river water.

This about sums up July, other than one surprise that came along the way... a telephone call that resulted in us buying another house, this one only 7 miles from Frugaldom!

As always, I love to hear from anyone with any questions or comments and please let me know of any typing errors, as I'm attempting to blog on tablet or Kindle in an effort to use mobile internet at the caravan. all going well, we should soon have mobile internet at Frugaldom, but it's all dependent on availability of signal and Pay As You Go sim cards. Vodafone is looking like the most promising for there but Three is definitely the best for caravan park.

Back soon with the August whistlestop tour! 


  1. Hi Susan, didn't realise that you had kept this blog going. Found it whilst investigating what has happened to "Frugal Queens" blog, which seems to have disappeared. Will be back soon to read some old posts.

    1. Hi Kim, sadly, it seems that FQ has removed her online presence. I saw reports of cyber bullying but have no further knowledge of anything untoward. I do hope she is alright and hasn't let them get to her. Online anonymity can turn even the most mellow of people into what reads like complete nutters!


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