This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Our livestock have increased in numbers. A friend of ours rang up and said that the date had been fixed for their emigration to the Antipodes and please would I have the last two of their rabbits. They had rehomed the other four but these two were still in need of a home. So the animals now are: three cats, three rabbits, four Warrens, three bantams and Mrs Speckledy Hen. I am going to need more than my little bit of hay to cope with three rabbits over the winter. It is just as well we have an allotment and can provide lots of greens and other veggies for the bulk of the year. I tend to buy a 20Kg sack of rabbit food from the feed merchant where I buy the hen food and it works out way cheaper than the pet shop - just a few pennies per rabbit per week.

We've just been away for a few days to stay in a friend's caravan. It was a kind offer to let us stay there and we've really appreciated it. It was not far from home - just 40 minutes to drive there but it was a wonderful rest. I kept falling asleep and so did my husband. We are two poor old souls! We read and pottered and went for a little drive to a pretty village and then had a little walk round and did nothing very much really. It was really wonderful! I had taken a few tins from my stock cupboard with us as reserve supplies and then went to the nearest Tesco at the time when I thought that fresh and chilled goods would be reduced. If there were no bargains to be had, then the tins would have come into play and I was going to bake some quick breads with a bag of flour. We were fortunate and got lots of their nicest bread reduced to 10p. We froze it in the caravan's freezer and it lasted all week and we even brought a bit home with us. We also got some salad stuff reduced and the sort of veg (eg baby sweetcorn) that I can't ever bring myself to buy unless reduced but love eating and had a great stirfry and a pastabake the next night. So even our holiday food came at a bargain price. I had baked a cake to take with us and we bought a tub of nice icecream so we felt we had lots of treats and ate like kings. But the rest was the best thing. We really needed a time to recover because the end of term was just frantic and the moving of the Library had drained me.

And now we are back home and need to make a list of all the jobs that need to be done before we go back to school at the beginning of September. I will need to rank them in order of importance to make sure that none of the urgent ones gets overlooked. Sometimes a job has needed done for so long that it just blends into the background and somehow becomes "normal". But - I still want a few times to "play" with some of my craft stuff. I'm hopeful that I might manage to produce something that will become a Christmas present for someone. And I definitely want to prune a little stuff that is sitting in piles round the house. Maybe I'll be able to sell one or two things on ebay and put a little more aside in the coffers.

While we were away, we naturally looked at properties for sale that had most of our requirements. There was absolutely nothing in that area within £100,000 of our budget. Very disheartening. We talked around the possibilities of mortgages, staying at work and commuting and every way we could think of because we would be close enough that our children would probably visit us more than an obligatory once a year - but it is not going to be possible with the kind of prices that properties are going for in that area. Ah well, back to looking at Wales again.

I also talked seriously to my husband about ways to prune our spending even further. We really need to have as much money (ie cash) behind us as possible so that we can repair any property we find. We are thinking that any property that we find that "feels right" is going to have a lot wrong with it if we can afford it... He is not thrilled about me paring any more off our budget but he knows that most things that I try, work. He is helping as best he can. He sat down at the computer when our car insurance was due last month, and managed to knock £50 off the renewal premium with our insurer from last year. Our house insurance is due next month so he is keen to reduce that payment as much as possible. I'm happy that he is willing to do this as I seem to be in charge of squirrelling away pennies from day to day living expenses. After all we don't often get an opportunity to reduce a bill (and therefore not spend) by £50 but there are hundreds upon hundreds of opportunities in a year to save (and not spend) 10p or 20p or 50p and these can really add up. Also if we develop the mindset of trying to reduce the spending on small things, it carries over into larger things as well.

Time to make dinner. The cats are certainly telling me that it is dinner time!

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Just eight working days to go. Yay!

I'm collecting a box of bits and pieces together because I would like to take a bit of time out from one or two days over the summer and make some cards. I used to enjoy it so much but like most other crafty things, full time work put a (temporary) end to it. I'd really like to play with a few bits of paper and card and end up with something I could use. I'm not good at doing things without a purpose of some kind. I used to have trouble walking the dog without posting a letter or popping round to the bottle bank or something of that kind. Sad! I think I need to slow down a bit.