Country Smallholding

The self-suf­fi­cient SCROOGE

How would Scrooge have ad­vised you to save money on your smallholdi­ng? John Sones has some sug­ges­tions.

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Scrooge has had a rather bad press. But maybe small­hold­ers can learn a thing or two from his fru­gal ways. In this ar­ti­cle, I am go­ing to fo­cus on 10 ways to re­duce waste and re-use ma­te­ri­als which will also save you cash. Hope­fully, Scrooge would have ap­proved!

Elec­tric­ity and gas

Do you com­pare tar­iffs reg­u­larly to see if you can save money or do you just re­new your con­tract with the same provider? With com­par­i­son web­sites and com­pa­nies ar­rang­ing the switch for you, it is so easy to do. Us­ing en­ergy saving ap­pli­ances, en­ergy ef­fi­cient lights, mo­tion ac­ti­vated de­tec­tors and switch­ing off - not to standby - when not in use can also re­duce the bill. Even boil­ing just suf­fi­cient wa­ter for what you need will help. By mon­i­tor­ing your en­ergy us­age, you can also see the saving made.

Mon­i­tor feed amounts/stock growth and out­put

By keep­ing records of the amount of feed used as well as vis­ually check­ing what is not eaten or trashed, you can re­late this to the growth of the stock. In the case of chick­ens, you can re­late it to the num­ber of eggs pro­duced. Any ma­jor changes can be picked up quickly and dealt with ac­cord­ingly.

Save and re-use rain­wa­ter

Rain­wa­ter is free, so by col­lect­ing it in butts or us­ing pre-used bar­rels or con­tain­ers (pro­vid­ing they do not let in light), and prefer­ably made of plas­tic to re­sist cor­ro­sion, you have good qual­ity wa­ter for the veg­eta­bles and save on your wa­ter bill. Also, by us­ing th­ese with a hose and pump, re­stric­tions dur­ing a hosepipe ban don’t ap­ply.

Save seeds for next year

Re­cently I read a tip in our small­holder so­ci­ety news­let­ter that vac­uum pack­ing spare seeds, par­tic­u­larly car­rots and parsnips, for next sea­son helps pre­serve their vi­a­bil­ity. Also carry out a ger­mi­na­tion test by putting a sam­ple of seed on a damp kitchen roll in a shal­low dish e.g. a cof­fee jar lid or take­away con­tainer. If they don’t grow then you haven’t wasted com­post try­ing.

Joint pur­chase of an­i­mal med­i­ca­tions

Keep­ers of sheep, for ex­am­ple, will know that sheep drench and fly-strike preven­tion prod­ucts of­ten have a lim­ited pe­riod of use once opened and do not come in quan­ti­ties suit­able for a small flock. By shar­ing with a neigh­bour, not only can waste be pre­vented but also the cost to each is re­duced.

Saving and re-us­ing pack­ag­ing and left­over ma­te­ri­als

Ev­ery­thing seems to come with pack­ag­ing th­ese days and this can of­ten be re-used. For ex­am­ple, the sides of crates can be used in fenc­ing and left­over ma­te­ri­als such as odd bits of wa­ter pipe make good hoops for cloches. Some ma­te­ri­als, such as old sacks and bub­ble wrap, can also be used to stop drafts in out­build­ings.

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