|Willow's 'medicine hat'|
Monday, 1 January 2018
Photo Blog from September 2017 at Frugaldom
In a bid to bring the frugal blog up to date, I'll do a few more pictorials, as the photos can tell you more than the words in a much shorter time.
From drought conditions earlier in the year we moved straight into wet weather with a few hot, dry days sprinkled among the rainy days! Our new wildlife ponds more than filled - they flooded! Emergency measures were needed, so we dragged and rolled some big logs and began building a 'wall' along the edge of the small feeder pond and then dug links between this pond and the bigger one so flood water would run through the ponds rather than over the edge and down the path.
We managed to get a lorry load of old tyres for recycling, so these are gradually being rolled around the place to act as huge planters for future herb and flower gardens, plus a few stacked up around the tracks for stuffing full of hay that the ponies can munch on whenever they want.
The Siberian crab apple trees were absolutely dripping in tiny fruit but all of this got left for the wildlife, as we just never got around to harvesting any of it. 2018 should be different as we now have the holiday accommodation and can offer fruit foraging and preserving weekends.
Our first ever crop of leeks, onions and courgettes! All of the plants were donated or we traded fresh eggs for them. By December, we had used up or traded out all of the courgettes and I have enough leeks to last until the 2018 crop.
The new heritage apple orchard brought forth a bucket of fruit from the 2 year old trees, so these were all picked and processed. Galloway Pippins are fabulous apples for eating, cooking or preserving in jams, jellies or chutneys. We used most of them in crumbles but I held back a few for the chutney, which also had some of our onions and courgettes added to it. Tastes lovely, especially with cheese! Along with the other apples from the garden orchard, they filled a full section of the freezer. I now need to make an apple store and have the perfect object for recycling... an old fridge!
Plans began for the 'real' Trading Post, which is currently standing by the pallet fence. All going well, we'll build a designated produce store that will double as a pick-up point and actual trading post for trading our surplus produce in the future.
Muddy wellies! We get plenty of those at Frugaldom so we introduced our 'Muddy Wellies Weekends' and advertised these via our new Frugal Breaks page on Facebook. At a special price of £95.00 for up to 4 people for 2 nights, all the weekends throughout September, October and right up to mid-November. Two lots of our visitors have already rebooked for 2018 and the children who came along definitely had fun in the mud!
Drainage work at Frugaldom is still on-going. I think this is going to be the biggest job we'll ever need to do, as the whole place sits at the lowest point of the surrounding landscape, with peat bog and marsh all around us. Clearing out all the field drains is a slow and arduous task, so I think we'll need to allocate a budget to hiring in a mini digger again in 2018 to speed up the tedious, muscle-aching work of digging them all by hand.
Just to keep us all on our toes, don't forget about the snakes. We have adders at Frugaldom and they love nothing more than to come out and bask on the new stretch of access road that was laid at the start of the year. Sunshine + tarmac = warm basking surface for our slithery friends. Personally, I enjoy seeing them and love that we have them living here but I seem to be in a minority! Several visitors have looked at me in disbelief or shocked horror when I mention them. OK, so their bite is poisonous, but adders are still fascinating creatures and can be almost chameleon-like in their colouration, especially when basking on sphagnum moss! 👀
The adult hens that we were given laid many eggs throughout summer and continued to so so right through to December. The chicks we hatched in June turned out to be 5 cockerels and only 3 hens, but this will still give us a glorious selection of egg colours, as we have a white hen laying blue eggs, a brown hen laying pink eggs, a white hen laying white eggs and a brown hen laying brown eggs. All 3 of the chicks, once they mature, will lay blue eggs. (They are pure bred Araucanas.)
I couldn't make it up if I tried - rain, rain, rain, then blazing sunshine bringing temperatures topping 25 Degrees C. The hot, dry weather did not hang around Scotland for long, so we missed out on all that super summer they reported in the south.
More and more courgettes and leeks - they seem to like the climate at Frugaldom so I'll definitely be designating space for growing many more of these.
I love picking homegrown produce! 2017 was another year of cutting, hacking, path clearing and planting, so we didn't expect to have much by way of fruit and vegetables but the apples and herbs just kept on coming... soup and pudding is most definitely still the meal of the day. When it costs nothing to pick the ingredients, why would we spend on shop bought produce?
Tiny apples abslutely everywhere we look - please get in contact if you'd like to come and pick some in 2018, when we'll be offering our foraging and preserving getaways - the foraging will be free!
Foraging is so frugal that it simply cannot be ignored. Over the past year we have attempted to encourage as many of the brambles and dog roses to grow as possible. We also invested in many more briars - Rosa Canina and Rosa Ragusa in several colours - for planting around the slowly emerging tracks. Somewhere in the future we will have access paths all around Frugaldom and all edged in edible hedging that can be kept under control by the ponies, provide fantastic habitat for wildlife and provide us with a fabulously frugal foraging trail.
After all Anna's hard work digging ditches and dealing with the greenhouse, we reaped the benefits by way of a few cucumbers, more spinach beet than we could ever eat and a whole host of herbs grown from seed. I did try to get her to return but the warmer climes of the Continent stole her from us. The summer students kept up the watering and weeding, so we made the most of everything the little greenhouse produced. We did try 3 of these polytunnels but 2 succumbed to the storms and will need to be rebuilt once we have a more secure base on which to site them.
Yes, we even managed to get some tomatoes - enough to add to the apples and courgettes to make our year's supply of chutney!
Things I love about growing techniques now known by posh names like permaculture and biodynamic farming - allowing things to grow where they want to grow and planting accordingly to make the whole project more sustainable. We had Evening Primrose growing in the herb paddock that nobody had planted... it just grew from seed that probably blew from behind the barn.
The absolute biggest and best thrill of my year at Frugaldom was that I was finally able to go walkabout for a pony's eye view of our project. For those who follow or have followed for some time, we were given 3 young ponies in March 2016. With no proper grazing land, we decided to let the ponies live on the tracks that we're building around the project so, instead of fencing the ponies in, we are fencing them out of the growing areas and feeding them hay instead of grass.
Back again soon with October's summary of events so watch this space... we're working as fast as possible to bring everything up to date both on here and on social media. To keep right up to date, you can follow the Frugaldom page on Facebook and consider joining in our frugal living challenge group.