The self-sufficient SCROOGE
How would Scrooge have advised you to save money on your smallholding? John Sones has some suggestions.
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.