So here we are it's 2018, a New Year, a fresh start with a new blog ... and a brand new Challenge.
We have both talked about this, discussed ideas and made plans over the last few weeks. There has been lots of reading of all sorts of books ...
... country living books of all types ...
... thrifty books, foraging books, self sufficiency books ...
...challenge books and 'eating well for less' type books.
But the books which inspired us the most and which rang true to what we want to do over the course of the coming year ...
... were the ones with right back to basics type recipes and tips.
The ones where people had to tighten their belts and make the best possible use of everything they had, could get hold of or could produce for themselves.
So we have been taking inspiration from recipe books that took the most minimum of ingredients to help feed a nation at the time of the most stringent belt tightening period of our recent history.
Using all the know how that we've picked up over the last few years of living our country lifestyle, we intend to spend this year living as frugally as we possibly can, so that we can put every spare penny we earn this year into paying off the small mortgage we took out eighteen months ago to buy the tiny property that is our pension fund.
This has now had a lovely couple and their young baby as tenants for six months, and it is their wish to stay for as long as they can, which is very reassuring for us. Then in the future when we can no longer manage living here on our Welsh hillside surrounded by the five acres we currently call our own, the little flat with it's pocket handkerchief sized garden will be our own little easy to care for home and the money released from the sale of our smallholding will be our retirement pot ... and our children's inheritance.
But in order to live comfortably here we now need to pay off the mortgage we owe on this, so that the rent we receive, instead of being swallowed by the mortgage repayments becomes instead our regular income to pay for things we cannot and never will be able to produce ourselves.
So now you know the why of this Challenge I guess you'll be interested in knowing the how!!
Well as you know for the last few years we've been gearing up more and more to growing the majority of our own food and this is where the 'Digging for Victory' part of the sub-heading comes in. The more we can grow ourselves the less we have to buy and this will hopefully lead us to victory in that we can pay off this mortgage.
So the polytunnel, the net tunnel and the veggie patch will be our main food suppliers, the chickens will supply the eggs, with the surplus being sold to pay for their feed, corn and bedding. Meat for Alan will come in the form of bargain buys with our limited money *, rabbits from the hillside, that which he can produce himself and the occasional meat bartered from friends for other services, for example the half lamb currently residing in the chest freezer that we got from Will at Christmas for letting him graze his sheep in our fields.
We will refrain from buying anything that we do not actually need. For example clothes, unless I miraculously wake up a size 12 I will not need to buy any clothes for the coming year as I have enough T shirts to see me through the Summer, and enough cardigans to pop on over them when the weather turns colder later in the year. We both bought new underwear a few months ago and we have enough shoes to more than last the year out. I am actually going to keep a list of all the personal items we buy during the course of the year to inspire us to be good and stick to our plans.
For entertainment during the coming year we have our cinema passes, which as we have enjoyed having them so much for the last two years, we renewed at the beginning of December as Christmas gifts to each other. We also have a small 'splurge' budget for the occasional cup of coffee or bag of chips when we are out with the dogs. This is not a 'hair shirt' type of year, we know ourselves well enough to know that a small relaxation of the rules every now and then will re-invigorate and renew our resolve to carry on.
Enough for now, if you have read this far you will be ready for a break and I have waffled on for long enough. If you want to join us for the year and follow our progress please click on the Follow button, or simply save the web address however you normally save it.
I will also leave a link on the old blog for you to continue using if this is easier.
* I'll be back tomorrow with a post about our limited money.