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How far do you think people can go when combining self sufficiency with full time careers?
Sun 6-Dec-09
12:35 am
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Tim
Salisbury, Wiltshire

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This thread has made very enjoyable reading and started me thinking about all we achieve as a family.

I'm a full-time self employed plumber and the current Mrs Tim is a part-time School Nurse

We've had our allotment for eighteen months now and to see the way it has transformed from a patch of ground waist deep in docks, nettles and cooch grass to a well tended vegetable plot is highly motivating.  We have trouble with different types of fly, caterpillars, pigeons and cats but we have successes to.  In particular beetroot and parsnips, sorrel, pumpkins marrows and courgettes (neither my cup of tea) beans, runner to eat and broad to compost.  Not only that, with the disturbed ground come along more unlikely food sources; fat hen and shepherd's purse are good raw but best fried in a smear of olive oil then lightly salted and served as a snack.  In fact when I think of it we've done very well considering that neither of us have tackled this scale of vegetable production ourselves before.

In addition to this we have long been foragers even before we knew each other.  We eat nettles in spring the children aged 3 and 6 lovepicking hawthorn shoots and eating them as we walk, they even showed my Mum that we can eat primrose flowers and how lovely they taste.  Then there's elderflower for cordial followed by all manner of berries to preserve or add to gin and vodka to make a drink to look forward to at Christmas.  With the Autumn I'm out in the New Forest picking mushrooms (only the ones I know) and cooking them up for breakfast or supper. 

We do buy meat and the veg that we don't produce or have not been successful with.  The meat is either from the butcher and we are lucky enough to have friends who shoot (for this we barter) and sometimes we find road killed venison.  This gives us the chance to really connect with our meat during the butchery process as we have to do this ourselves, changes you outlook on life

We are by no means self-sufficient but we pleased with the progress we are making and the knowledge we are accumilating and passing to our children.  We buy what we perceive to be the best so we have smaller quantities but better quality.  With a few hours spent foraging, the kids have a great time and we can improve our larder and our knowledge.

I take my hat off to all who are or attempting to be self sufficient, good luck and don't give up, I'm hoping to make it one day

Well, that didn't go quite as expected

Sun 6-Dec-09
10:36 am
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Toffeeapple
North Bucks

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An inspiring story Tim, thank you. 

I'll try that again!

Sun 6-Dec-09
11:40 pm
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Tim
Salisbury, Wiltshire

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Thanks

It felt like I was boasting writing that but actually it was good to tell  no one and someone at the same time.  I had never thought about, or really told anyone about, our lifestyle until I read this thread.  I'm not naive to think everyone lives this way but at the same time I didn't think until now that our way of life was part of a minority or in any way out of the ordinary.  I've just always done it whether it be with my now family or out and about or in the garden with my sister and brother.

Well, that didn't go quite as expected

Mon 7-Dec-09
1:11 pm
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Toffeeapple
North Bucks

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Not boasting at all, though I am envious.  I love to hear of peoples lifestyles, so don't stop writing.

I'll try that again!

Mon 7-Dec-09
3:17 pm
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mutley
Didcot/uk

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Id love to get in to mine but it would take so long, it will be short. Work 2 days a week = 7 hours yes i know im working my self to death lol. have monday & wednesday free for car project will have a beer then clean the rats out then frogs .put place back to normal now jades gone home. then washup, pop around tonys /helping with hes landrover resturation .update bb,s,desing new banner/logo.

Mon 7-Dec-09
7:35 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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No chance of you being bored then Mutley? Laugh

Mon 7-Dec-09
9:17 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Good stories, Jane, Tim, mutley.

I think your situation is a bit like Fiona's, Jane, for different reasons. She gets tired very quickly these days so productive time outdoors or indoor preserving is limited. But I guess we all chip away as best we can and it adds up to a decent reward.

Never knowingly underfed

Tue 8-Dec-09
4:45 pm
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Glen
Northumberland

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I think you have to decide on an aspect that you can reasonably address. We don't have enough land near enough to us to go for the veg route. I work variable 10 hour shifts and sometimes it's a 7 day week, so growing veg or animals were a no-go.  So we looked at what we can do rather than what we can't, and we have managed to become self sufficient in that all our central heating and hot water is now heated by wood I cut and haul myself. That takes up quite a bit of time to achieve up here in freezing cold Northumberland and a lot of wood! (all replanted) It has taken us off gas completely and lessened our reliance on electricity too. We are currently working on rainwater & grey water, and after that it's back to looking at P.V for our electricity (waaay too expensive last time I looked seriously into it, but slowly falling).

It's a much a green agenda as a self-sufficent one, but the two seem to often happily coincide don't they.  Smile

 

Meus terra erro est frigus

Tue 8-Dec-09
6:57 pm
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mutley
Didcot/uk

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Glen said:

I think you have to decide on an aspect that you can reasonably address. We don't have enough land near enough to us to go for the veg route. I work variable 10 hour shifts and sometimes it's a 7 day week, so growing veg or animals were a no-go.  So we looked at what we can do rather than what we can't, and we have managed to become self sufficient in that all our central heating and hot water is now heated by wood I cut and haul myself. That takes up quite a bit of time to achieve up here in freezing cold Northumberland and a lot of wood! (all replanted) It has taken us off gas completely and lessened our reliance on electricity too. We are currently working on rainwater & grey water, and after that it's back to looking at P.V for our electricity (waaay too expensive last time I looked seriously into it, but slowly falling).

It's a much a green agenda as a self-sufficent one, but the two seem to often happily coincide don't they.  Smile

Have not the time too help now as off out but will reply soon and will have some qusetion for you too try and help as im in a simlur boat just a differnt port as it were.  Some times you can have two slices of the pie and eat it. will keep in touch through forum ie here or throught ps's if private


Sat 12-Dec-09
12:04 am
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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That sounds like a good approach, Glen. Working away at one achievable bit of self-sufficiency at a time. Mutley has similar activities going on. We can't all do the same, like Fiona and I can't chop our own timber, for example. But tomorrow, Fiona is setting up a little stand (complete with fairy lights!) at our front gate as a trial for selling her autumn preserves and chutneys. She spent this afternoon printing off labels and planning pricing and so on.

I love that. I love to hear of enterprising people who try to achieve various means of cutting costs, increasing income or trading to reduce reliance on store-bought stuff. This week, Fiona spent a few hours sorting out a neighbour's computer problem. She didn't ask for anything in exchange but mentioned in passing that the fax bit of our all-in-one inkjet was faulty. The husband later appeared with a spare fax machine that they just happened to have lying around. A result!

Never knowingly underfed

Sat 12-Dec-09
12:23 pm
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Toffeeapple
North Bucks

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I hope the 'garden gate' enterprise goes well.  You will let us know won't you?

I'll try that again!

Sun 13-Dec-09
12:35 pm
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Glen
Northumberland

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Wish you were nearer - a jar of jam is worth a bag of logs! Everyone wins! If there were enough people within a sensible distance of each other I guess  those of us who can only be partialy sufficient due to work or circumstances could achieve self-sufficiency by group. - i.e I can't grow enough veg, but I can cut enough timber to heat more than my own home - whilst some of you gardeners can produce veg who can't produce fuel - I get some dinnders, you get hot water and central heating Smile -  wouldn't it be great to be able to swap things AND that way we wouldn't be giving Mr Brown 30% of everything to do whatever it is he's doing with it! There's definitely not enough producing people within distance of where I live for such a scheme to work unfortunately. 

 

Meus terra erro est frigus

Tue 15-Dec-09
11:57 am
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Toffeeapple
North Bucks

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Glen, that would be wonderful, to be able to exchange goods or services.  If only it were really possible.Frown

I'll try that again!

Wed 16-Dec-09
7:11 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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There are different organisations that do barter http://www.u-exchange.com/barter-uk is one, no idea what that one is like, http://www.letslinkuk.org/ is one I have heard of before.

Whereabouts in Northumberland are you? My hubby is from there and I would have thought bartering was in the blood. I wouldn't be surprised if more people were interested in it than you thought, as there are plenty of folk who are more prepared to do something different now than they were a few years ago.Cool

Just one other comment, as much as I hate to pay taxes I do believe they are a necessary evil, otherwise roads would not be repaired, schools funded etc etc. Mind you if we did more for each other and tried to make our community places worth living in then not so much tax would be needed. Just my penny's worth that's what comes of studying development management.LaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaugh

Wed 16-Dec-09
7:43 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Just found this site which gives a better incentive to barter http://connectedcommunities.rsablogs.org.uk/2009/1.....any-money/, quite thought provoking regarding how we view the value of something. In my course we call it building social capital.

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