Frugaldom in 2017

18 Jan 2017

Welcome to 2017, even if it is a little later than planned. It has just been brought to my attention that the Frugaldom blog has been sadly neglected, so I am here to remedy that problem right now.

Happy New Year!

First of all, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Things have been so hectic over the past few months while trying to beat the winter weather and get things done that I completely forgot to blog, other than the brief (but regular) updates that get posted on the Frugaldom Facebook page or in the frugal forums.

To bring you right up to date... we are still money saving, we are still frugal living and we are still developing the Frugaldom field project. Most importantly, we are still loving the lifestyle that freedom from debt can provide, along with the health benefits of being able to relax and enjoy the great outdoors, communing with nature and watching the place take shape. Life is spent between home and the field project, more often than not with a stopover at the caravan. The long nights, lack of sunshine and daylight hours, cold and wet weather and a distinct lack of available workforce led me into joining groups such as Workaway, HelpX and Wwoof in an attempt to find some help and this has worked well, so far.

Workaway and HelpX volunteers

Since October, we have hosted 5 young people - 2 from Germany, 1 from USA and 2 from France - each of whom volunteered their time to help at Frugaldom for a few hours in exchange for accommodation and meals. During their time here we managed to get almost 500 more trees planted, the wooden fencing painted, more paths made, more track resurfaced, a bit more fencing done, the willows coppiced, more herbs planted, the chicken shack completed and the ponies benefited from all the extra attention they received. Into the bargain, I learned a few more words of German and French and somehow succeeded in cooking vegetarian for quite a number of weeks. That, in itself, was an achievement, especially while maintaining my frugal living grocery budget without visiting the shops any more often than normal. All visitors experienced Scottish porridge, soup & pudding lunches and 'use it up' dinners during their time here and, on the whole, I think they all managed to enjoy themselves, despite some very wet weather and rather chilly temperatures. Indeed, one of them is returning later this year, which would be fantastic. I'm really looking forward to welcoming our next 3 helpers, who are all expected to arrive at the start of March - 1 from England, 1 from France and 1 from Germany.

Unicorn and Green Man wild wood sculptures

Now we have a couple of months to ourselves. 'Mr EcoArts' has been working hard on the next sculptures for the forest garden (our garden of gratitude) and last weekend saw the completion of the green man. He is now seated on his log at Frugaldom, amidst willows and bog myrtle, overseeing proceedings in the garden, watching and waiting for everything to grow.

Once again, we have applied to the Woodland Trust in the hope of being awarded another tree pack for our ever expanding native woodland. The wetland selection of trees received in November was ideal for our marshy land, so I have re-applied for that same mix of birch, willow, osiers, hawthorn and rowan. Should we be fortunate enough to be awarded them, our March helpers will be on hand to help with the planting.

As herbs are going to be playing such a huge part in the future of Frugaldom, I have spent some time researching which are best for cultivating among the wild grasses so they can be freely foraged in the future.

Wild herbs

Herbs and wild flowers in corral #1 at Frugaldom now include: Bedstraw, Yarrow, Mint, Tormentil, Rosemary, Thistles, Lady's Mantle, Thyme, Speedwell, Selfheal, Common Sorrell, Ribwort Plantain, Red Clover, Harebells, Common Knapweed, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Meadowsweet, Herb Robert, Parsley, Sage, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Honeysuckle​​ and Buddleia. There is also a small hedgerow of Hawthorn and another of blackcurrants and raspberries. Next I am going to sow milk thistle and wormwood (absinthe), so here's hoping they all like where they are and grow well for us.

Plant flowers

And finally for this first blog post of 2017, and simply because I loved it when I saw it, here is a little cartoon, copyright acknowledged to J M Nieto. Thank you for that!

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