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yellow10th March 2011

 

Bealtaine-garlandFour years have flown by, we have become one with the earth and energy here. Our connection is so intense that to leave it even for a brief time is becoming increasingly difficult.

We have created a vegetable garden which we enrich each year with manure; farmyard manure, that we get from a local farmer in exchange for cleaning out his sheds, chicken manure from a chicken farmer who finds it difficult to spread it on his farmland during the winter months. so now we are growing enough to feed us for a year.

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We dry herbs to keep us in Tea for the winter. Camomile and Peppermint being our two favourites, Sage, nettle and Rosemary make for a tasty tea when blended with others. We hang our onions, garlic, chilies etc. in the kitchen as the winters are so wet we found they rotted in the sheds.

 

We make jams, chutney, rosehip syrup, and tomatoe sauce to enhance our winter meals. We have also been busy making wine, using wild flowers, fruit and vegetables. We found that wine was an expense that we could do without as we needed to cut out anything that will reduce our spending. So for the price of 2.5 kg of sugar we can enjoy a gallon of wine.  Rhubarb, strawberry, Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Redcurrant, Rosehip,Sloe, Honeysuckle flowers, Meadowsweet, Dandelion flowers, Broadbean, Artichoke, Parsnip wine and Sherry(delicious in the christmas trifle) Elderflower champagne, Elderberry and Apple cider. We make an adventure of gathering the raw material to produce these beautiul, fruity and flavoursome drinks. The beautiful colours and fresh taste with no preservatives means that we can enjoy and share with friends without expense or after effects.

 

 

 


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We are planting trees twice yearly. Ash are self germinating in the vegetable garden so we weed around them for a year and then transplant out at a height of 18"-2' Alder are also self seeding and we coppice willow and re-plant them.  As a result we are planting 400-500 trees a year. Our aim is to be sufficient in fuel  in  the range for cooking and the open fires for heat.  At present we are sufficient in power with our 1kw. wind turbine, 4 solar panels, also in water , as we collect rain water into a 3,500ltr tank for the house and 1,000ltr for the garden. Our pedal power pumps  water into the attic tank.  We have constant hot water in wintertime from our Stanley range which we use to heat the house and for cooking.

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We hope to introduce a solar heated coil to give us hot water this summer as it is not economical to light the range in summertime. We are also in the process of constructing a composting toilet  structure using locally sourced marerials, such as stone, wood, clay and possibly straw.  This toilet will allow us to conserve water to use in the veggarden if the summers continue to become increasingly drier.

It is difficult to do a daily costing of expenses as we are reducing our expenditure all of the time. Our food is down to zero cost, unless we decide to treat ourselves occassionally to chocolate or goats cheese. We have about 300 bottles of wine in the attic. We hope to grow sweet cicely to use as a sugar substitute.

We drive a vintage Land Rover which we have had for 20yrs. So our Road Taxation is smaller. We cycle our high nellies as much as possible for all local journeys and picnic outings. (mine was my mothers and Jimmy's belonged to his grandfather).

So heat for the house is our only weekly expense in the winter and diesel for the Land Rover. It is not really a comparison with our diary of a week four years ago as our lifestyle has changed. We kept the Stanley range lighting 24 hours a day during the bad winter of snow and temperature drops of -17. It was more fuel efficient than letting it burn out and re-lighting it daily. Our fuel costs are about €2 per day and diesel costs €10 per week as we only drive if Jimmy has a music gig.  This paysfor our mobile internet connection, mobile phone, tax, insurance and fuel expenses, approximately €50 per week.

As the economy dropped so have the gigs. We re-think and find new ways to constantly reduce our spending. How low can we get to ? well at present we could get rid of the transport and Phone which would almost leave us free from money altogether,  And we could get rid of this laptop and yokie.    (mobile  broadband )  ....but then you would not be reading this!

It makes for a very interesting and enjoyable lifestyle. Everyday is exciting and different and brings it's own rewards.  If we need something we figure out a way to create of make it from disgarded reusable materials.

Life is for the living. It is our duty to enjoy. Live simply, don't just simply live. 

redgoldpen

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