Tuesday, 16 October 2018

2018 at Frugaldom

This is your whistle-stop tour of Frugaldom during 2018

Apologies for my extremely lengthy absence but we stepped things up a gear and implemented many changes that we hope will benefit all our friends, family and followers of Frugaldom. It has been a very busy year so far.

Here at Frugaldom, we have tried our very best to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible, keep wihin our strict budget and stretch every penny as far as it can possibly go. So far, we are succeeding, although progress is very slow, what with mixed weather, lack of a workforce and trying to find companies (or even individuals) who will come out to Frugaldom and do the work required.

Site of the new 'Legacy Working Woodland' and track around it.
 In January and February 2018 we organised the next area for planting the working woodland. The area extends to over 3 acres, most of that made up of clearfell and bordered by a stream. We employed the services of local workers who were on site for several days clearing around the edge of the planned woodland and sectioning it all off with stockfencing.

Fencing of the new working woodland area was completed in February 2018
 We had no sooner completed the main fencing when winter returned with a vengance, blanketing us in snow and, at times, making it impossible to drive to Frugaldom - walked, instead. However, the ponies were happy enough and kept all the paths clear. They are fed a constant supply of hay, along with access to salt and minerals, so weather isn't a factor in their feed bill. They eat like horses and cost the same to feed every day of the year.

Snowy Frugaldom
The snow ceased temporarily, allowing us two nights away to celebrate a family wedding. Many thanks go to the brave Emily who took on the unenviable task of caring for the ponies, with further thanks due to her for topping up our water bottles when the pipes were all frozen at the caravans. 😊 Such help was greatly appreciated by all concerned.

Prolonged sub-zero temperatures in March
By late February, early March, temperatures had plunged further below zero meaning all our water sources, both at the field and at the caravan park, froze solid. At that point, we were collecting water in containers from the river and carting it to and fro, relying on bottled water for cooking and drinking, with the water from the burn being used for ponies, chickens and toilet flushing! With the big freeze came gales, so more windbreak mesh was added around certain areas as a temporary solution to problems caused by driving winds.

Anneka had returned from Germany to volunteer for a couple of weeks during her break so she got more than she bargained for with on the spot lessons in extreme frugal, off grid living while we were solely reliant on river water, solar power and cylinder gas. We were also trying to keep warm in a caravan in March.

Hay feeding, poop picking and tree planting
The daily chores at Frugaldom always begin with checking water, topping up hay feeders, feeding the chickens and collecting all the dung from around the tracks. This routine is relentless - it is seven days per week and gets done at least twice a day. It means that no matter who visits, these jobs always have to take priority. Luckily, even the youngest visitors are happy to help out with most things.

Ponies out on the marshy moorland
 Whenever we got dry weather during March, tree planting got into full swing. It even got dry enough to allow the ponies out onto the marshy moor grass, where they foraged for tasty snacks among the bog myrtle and heather.

Then the floods came
 By the third week in March, the snow had all gone, the ice had all melted and the rain arrived big time! The bottom field, which is parially planted with downy birch, alder, hawthorn and willow, went under water yet again. Fortunaely, it runs off almost as quickly as it floods, so the trees within our riparian planting ground continue to thrive and the ponies maintain the 'barn owl track' between the flood land and the rest of the project.

March also brought sunshine and Mallards
March is mainly about tree plantin. We received our next 420 saplings from the Woodland Trust, thanks to them and their sponsors at Ikea, Sainsbury's, Yorkshire Tea and the players of the People's Postcode Lottery. We have received 420 saplings each November and March since we began the Frugaldom project in 2014 and have been planting each phase as either woodland or foraging hedgerow. This tree planting project  (2014 - 2018) was undertaken as part of the World War I Centenary, and will culminate on 11th November, when we will be planting the final batch of trees into our memorial woodland. Here, too, will be displayed the Ecoarts war horse.

Our WWI Cenenary Woodland at Frugaldom is planted to commemorate all the people and animals lost to a war fought to defend and protect our freedom. For this, we are truly thankful.

Tree planting and new orchards
So far, Frugaldom has been awarded a total of 3,780 saplings from The Woodland Trust and we hope to continue planting to replenish lost hedgerow that will provide a safe haven for wildlife and free foraging opportunities for future visitors to the project. Alongside the native tree planting, we are also planting orchards that include heritage variety, Galloway Pippin apples.

The Cuckoo Corral, so named because the cuckoos visit it in Spring, now has around 70 fruit trees and is gradually being surrounded by a new hedgerow of dogwood, rosa ragusa, hazel, hawthorn and crab apple. Numerous wild flower seeds have been scattered around this orchard and it will soon also become home to our herd of creel ponies. (More on this soon.) As always, we welcome your contributions towards establishing the orchards and offer the opportunity to dedicate a tree to someone special. Details for this can be found in the Frugal Shop.

Try frugal living for yourself in 2019
During April and May, major renovation works were carried out at the new cottage. This one-bedroom cottage with adjoining garden room / studio and allotment-style garden will be made available to anyone who would like to sample a frugal lifestyle experience - you'll be tending the gardens and making the most of village life while here. The cottage is located within easy walking distance of the main London to Belfast bus route, plus it has adequate secure storage for bicycles, so no need to even bring a car! Reduce, reuse, recycle and keep an eye on your carbom footprint. Sample frugaldom for yourselves in 2019 at a price you can afford. Weekends, mid-week, all week, a fortnight or a month... you decide.

Frugal Breaks at Three Lochs Holiday Park
 April saw the first of our holiday makers arriving so it was fortunate that the weather improved. Our wall of daffodils gave a beautiful display behind the caravans and despite some wet days, we had plenty of good weather that allowed our guests the opportunity to explore Frugaldom and the surrounding area.

You can bring your horse
April also saw the arrival of our first ever equine holidaymaker for one of our frugal breaks. This gorgeous Thoroughbred seemed to enjoy every minute of her therapy break, as did her owner.

Duck eggs incubating and Phase 2 cottage work completed
 May proved to be a really busy month with the next phase of work being completed at the cottage, the arrival of our first renter, duck eggs going into the incubator and the usual chores being carried out daily at Frugaldom.  The ground gradually dried up in the sunshine and the plants and trees began to grow.

At Frugaldom
 The bog myrtle (Myrica Gale) lends its name to 'Myrical', the Ecoarts unicorn at Frugaldom. As the buds and cones on the shrubs changed to deep russet, the green buds of willow began to burst into life. Down in the marshy, moor grass field, the ponies have done an excellent job of maintaining the barn owl strip, which is flanked on one side by the marsh and on the other by riparian planting of a small woodland copse of alders, edged by wetland tolerant hedging.

Ponies going out onto the clear fell
 From one extreme to another - by May, the rain had left us completely, leading to water shortages of a different kind. This led us to move the ponies out onto the newly fenced track around what will become the 'Legacy Woodland', where they had access to the stream. It also meant that they cleared the area where the raspberries will be cultivated, which is brilliant. except that part of the project needs more funds raised to cover the costs of further fencing.

Dry, hot, sunny weather
With all the mud drying up, it was time to sow seeds and organise a bit more drainage, in preparation for winter. The main track dried out beautifully but so, too, did the wooden fencing. Now we need to raise the funds to get it all re-painted in 2019 so it doesn't start splitting. We still haven't finished the post and rail fencing but have, instead, been using electric fencing run off batteries topped up by solar panels in places. This one corner isn't electrified, it's just waiting for wooden fencing but needed to be protected from pony hooves after we planted some crab apple trees, herbs and wild flowers.

Another muddy gateway drained
While the rain's away, we shall play... with mud, pipes, groundcover and gravel. Many thanks to Lyn for all her hard work in ditch digging and sorry you got so muddy. Oops! This is Harvey helping rake out the last of the stone that was used to backfill the drainage ditch after the pipes went into it. We ran out of stone and had to order yet another lorryload! To anyone who supports our project, it really is a case of every penny counts. It costs over £200 for each load of stone and to do all the drainage we need done will take literally hundreds more lorryloads. It's back-breaking work that continues almost all year round so feel free to volunteer... you don't need a gym when you can have all your exercise for free right here at Frugaldom! It's almost like your personal outdoor gym!

I'm going to cut it short now and will continue into June 2018 in my next post. In the meantime, you may like to follow @Frugaldom on Twitter, like our Frugaldom Facebook page or even join us in the Frugal Living Challenge group, linked to Facebook. For anyone who would like to actively support the project, you can contact me via the Frugaldom website or social media. Holidays can be booked via Frugal Breaks and to contribute towards the project, see the options we have available in the Frugal Shop.

You got it! We love everything frugal and strive to stretch every penny as far as possible, whether it be feeding and caring for rehomed ponies, rescuing chickens, offering frugal holiday accommodation, inviting volunteers or just simply living a good life. We're here to provide you with a really good reason to get up each morning and celebrate frugal life.

Thank you to everyone who is helping make Frugaldom a shared reality.

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