One of those days……

Today I admit to feeling defeated. Amongst a week of broken plans, dead laptops, rain and tiredness- I throw in my towel.

Yesterday we ran at the overgrown weeds with my garden lawnmower

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Limited by electricity, we could only get so far.

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But it looks good! Its a start. Not niave about how fast it can grow back Im eager to get further afield. At the very least I would like to harvest some of the apples, or the upcoming blackcurrants.

Then the rain fell, and all plans had to be abandoned. So inside we sat, lazing around. I watched a few shows, read a lot of blogs on smallholding. I felt so inspired I wanted to run screaming into the acre and build a hut. But instead all I could do was dream.

There comes a point when you need to stop dreaming,  and come down to earth. Im at this point. I feel too many things weighing on me at the moment. Life can be filled with too many complexities, I’m dying to escape them. Im bored of the mundanity too.

I cant even escape with a book. Nor can I even have a cup of tea at the Jokers place. And he’s not been in high spirits either. This kinda puts a halt in my dreamworld. We just cant seem to agree in the past few days. My suggestions are ridiculous,  and his are going nowhere. His brother and friends of ours have scoffed at how ridiculous this all is… which kinda made me more determined. Batman’s at his dads, so only a few days break to get on top of all of the demands life has been asking.

So I must admit I had my moment of insanity. I attempted to clear the acre with a hedge clippers. 

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As you can see it barely made a difference,  and this was an hours work. I admitted it was silly, but I wanted to do something.

So my towel has been thrown in for today. Im fed up, tired of disagreements.  And Im going home for a bath. And a cup of tea. With almond milk of questionable date. Payday tomorrow so the cupboards are bare. Here’s hoping a good night’s sleep will help all around.

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Oh, and here’s a lovely spiders nest I found down the acre.

I’m tired of being trapped

I let my mind imagine our future; I conjure up the image of our self-sufficient small holding. We make little waste, generate most of our power. We sell produce small-scale at farmers markets, craft fairs or online. Everything will grow from seed, and flourish year on year. Eventually there will be self composting toilets, outside rocket stove and inside wood-burning. I will master the art of bartering, even if only among friends. We will become part of the natural cycle of things and help heal the earth, at the very least- have little impact. We  grow an abundance of veg. There are six chickens for eggs, and two goats for milk and cheese. We shop for a handful of items once a month. I imagine myself exhausted, with a scrap patchwork blanket for draped over me, and a glass of home-made wine/ herbal tea in my hands- looking out at the land we have worked hard to restore. Home-made bread and Jam for Batman. We are content being penniless. This dream gives me the strength to get through each day.

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I know we are fortunate  to have access to rent-free land. But, this certainly doesn’t make the dream anything short of a dream. Currently, I am a single mum living in a council estate with just my son and dog. We are on state benefit for summer, until I return to college in September. The Joker is also an un-employed student, albeit a rent free one. My son starts school this year, so my outgoings have massively increased. I’m not splurging, but school does cost! In fact, I’m lying to myself when I say I’m retuning to college;  currently I can’t afford my fees, or even contemplate childcare. Batman’s father (not The Joker) doesn’t chip in for anything. It’s a shame because I passed all my modules with distinctions, and my tutor told me he could ‘count on one hand’ how many times students have done that.

A major road-block along the way is debt. Everyone in Ireland has some form of debt. Ours comes from low income. Its quite simple, even frugality cant save you from high taxes, rates and utilities. We have switched everything to the lowest cost possible and even only put our waste out once a month. It is still not enough. Last year, I could barely afford buses to college due to creche fees, material costs, medications and general running of a  household. We often skipped lunch and breakfast, to keep shopping costs low.  We live hand to mouth already.

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I am tired of being trapped in a world where I am what I have. I am a hard worker, who has run myself into the ground for a chance to earn my way. The work simply isn’t there. The change in weather is a reminder that it will get cold once again, last year I did my coursework wrapped in a duvet and hot water bottle, while my son had the rest of the blankets. A local charity worker dropped in and seemed astounded that I could live this way and pleaded with me to take a donation for heating. How could I not live this way? What choice did I have?  The Joker and I cried many nights over debts. We argued. My local council do not answer my calls to help a sick woman and her asthmatic child with a major damp problem because we owe rent. I am being punished in the most cruel way. It is hard not to feel it as a personal failure.

I have avoided, and lost friends because a blanket of sadness coated me. How could I possibly have tea and make small talk when my world was closing in? I turn on the radio and I hear people cry over the same problem. I have friends who worry about banks taking over their home. My stomach churned when I would put on my coat at a friends house to go home, home to nothing more often than not. I spend a lot of my days alone, not having bus fare to leave anyway. Everyone is suffering, yet it is something we do alone. This is why I am tired of being trapped. I no longer want to cry about money. I no longer want any money. This journey is about empowering myself, and others. We might want out in different ways, but I hope we can all learn to help one another to find a way out. Let us be alone no more.
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Blessings xx

“People see me on Sky News and assume I’m loaded. They forget I sleep on a mattress on the floor in a house I share with five people.” The Guardian.

This woman is an Icon for us all without a voice. I cannot say if I would be heading down the road I am had I not have to face what I do every day. I have lived her post Hunger hurts, and I know I’m not alone.

When will the politicians remove the rose-tinted glasses?

 

JACK MONROE

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To read the full article by Patrick Butler, click here.

Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

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Rain, catterpillars and waiting patiently

This week has been a quiet one for us. Ireland has been reminded of what rain looks like! While it’s nice to have a break from Mediterranean heat, it puts a pause on our plans to clear the ground on the acre.

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We are currently debating getting goats once done. He thinks it’ll be way too soon, yet I dont see how else we will get rid of a blackcurrant bush the size of my current garden.

We’ve tasted our first batch of homemade wine. I think the elderflower will have to mature more for flavour, and it was a tad weak. But there’s always something about homemade things that make it taste sweeter,  despite the faults. The Joker made another wurzel this week of cranberry wine.
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Thats blu tack in place of a stopper.

Ive been researching a lot on heirloom plants we might grow for our plot. We managed to scribble up a plan for where things will go. This sits happily on a shelf to remind us of the adventure that awaits..
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I’m known for my thrifty ways among friends. I enjoy frugality; it breeds creation and contentment with what yoy have. In fact, I get rather upset about the waste and rubbish we all create.. all the skips households need in order to make way for more things. This week I was rather shocked at the price of food. I knew it was high, but I just couldn’t seem to squash it right down. I need to eat! It saddens me that I must pay so much for a basket of veg, that will have been sprayed and treated also. I cannot wait to taste my carrots- the Joker says they will taste sweeter than I can imagine
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(That’s a dresser, made into a raised bed)

My plants are so few, but bring a lot of tranquility.  I cannot wait to stand at my door and look out at nature in abundance.

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This is a mystery heirloom squash I brought home from a farmers market this week.

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Our first ever pepper!

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This, sadly happened so fast I was left scratching my head…. until I found these:
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Little green catterpillars… Believing that I dont own this earth, im not off to grab some poison to wash them away. They have as much of a place here as I do. Yet, Im not happy to let them ravage the plants either. So, time to boil the kettle and research what else I can do.

I would love to hear your thoughts on goats, heirloom plants, catterpillar control or anythin else

Well wishes xx

You have to start somewhere

ImageThis is is my current garden, last year. Not much of anything. I tried my hand at growing but the local cats liked the soil as a litter tray, and my dog liked to eat plant pots.

This year changed everything for me. I had a very hard time and felt like I just couldn’t keep up with the world. In truth, I was very depressed. Sometimes we work ourselves tired, until there’s no life left in us. I was a student, trainee journalist, radio show host, girlfriend and mother all rolled into one. Let alone how stressful that was, I had absolutely no time for just me. in fact, by the time I gained some perspective I realised I had no time for my family; sleep was the only thing on my mind. I have an auto-immune disease, so continuing this way was asking for collapse.

The saying “it’s always darkest before dawn” springs to mind when trying to tell you just how bad it all got, and then gradually better than it ever had been in my life. With a little determination, my garden now looks like this:

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Some other changes came about. I spent quite a few penniless weeks and learned to survive on a shoe string. My sons birthday came durning this time: I cried with fear that he would think I failed him. He happily proclaimed it had been ‘the best birthday ever’. I quit eating meat and (mostly) junk food and promised myself I would take proper care of myself and loved ones. I want to be here, and have the time to do it!

Now I make jam, sauces, breads and host a whole range of skills that I take pleasure in knowing. A person I believed was helpless, is now doing it for herself.

 
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This week has been a busy one. we made an Apple wurzel.
(I’ll post recipie for this soon, its the easiest wine I have ever made!)

 

 

The Joker and I decided we would work on making this way of life our way of life. 

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  My mind has been racing, thinking through so many things. Slow and steady wins the race- but we have still a lot to decide! We eagerly visited the acre.

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(Yes, that is a car that the feild has eaten)
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(And an apple forest)

This frightened, and lit the fire under us. We haven’t got any seed money.. Quite literally- we haven’t even got the money for seeds! However, I believe we can borrow a petrol ride on lawnmower to cut the mess back and head to the drawing-board. 

Since we aren’t even able to afford something as frivolous as a lotto ticket to build a house we looked at alternative options. Say hello to the future abode:
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This two bed mobile home belongs to himself, and has been quite the batchelor pad. I’m not mean enough to post before pics, but here was the result of some scrubbing.
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We are not sure how to get it off the front of the land, and down to the acre. Then there’s the question of heat and light. Will we keep chickens, or goats? Will my son stay at our currently local school, will he even enjoy the change…. You can see what I mean by a racing mind, eh?

Not to worry though, my smile is wider than ever. It’s a beautiful day and I have made myself some freshly picked herbal tea.

(Chammomile, stevia, rosemary,lemonbalm, mint and pineapple sage)

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and some yummy smelling granola
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I’ll post up recipes and pictures as I go along. Best go dust of my shovel first… and pray for a freecyle lawnmower!

The beginning….

Did you know the EU have passed a ban on all Heirloom seeds? We wont even be allowed to give them as gifts! This news really stirred something inside me. I have heatedly talked my poor partner to sleep with my thoughts; our freedoms are slowly fading away, our skills are being lost. Soon GMO foods will just be known as food.

We as a race shrug because we either don’t care, or don’t know what we could possibly do. Tomorrow I could get out there and really give it my all asking for change, but I feel defeated. I’m shuddering at the admittance of that, but it is sadly true. This doesn’t mean I will actually give up- no! I plan on gaining some control back over my life. Orwell’s 1984 changed my life. I have this ever burning resistance to get sucked into the mundanity that is expected of me. I crave to be free! I cannot tell you how much I squealed at the first plant I grew, or how often I watch the bubbles escape an airlock on a demijohn. I want this, and nothing more. I don’t want a fancy house, car or holidays in France.

Just when I thought my love had been thinking of having me committed- he told me he was in.

So this is just the beginning. The beginning of our penniless smallholding. He has a desolate over grown acre, and I have a pair of wellies. It might seem downright impossible (in this last week I have paced, cried, smiled, laughed and run away from a lot of bugs)- but I refuse to give up on this dream. This is going to be our warts and all account of our search for the good life. I hope you will follow us on this journey. 

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