We took the children to visit the new allotment for the first time last week. The twins were happy enough to sit warmly wrapped in their buggy whilst the boys wasted no time in investigating the overgrowth that we proudly declared was ours.
The plot was already divided into 15 raised beds by the previous tenants, with room for a 16th bed in place of where the greenhouse once stood. We told Eddie that he could choose one of the beds to have as his very own for his vegetable and herb-growing business. Thrilled, he quickly chose his bed and set to work at clearing it. In a somewhat positive nod to his future business plans it wasn’t long before Eddie found a £1 coin buried within the dirt.
Over the weekend Mike and I discussed our plans for the allotment further. Long-time readers will know of our dream to one day own our own smallholding and live as independently as possible, and so we view the allotment as a chance to learn on a far smaller scale until the time we can finally sell up and move. We did think at one point that this year might have been the one – having already found the perfect place which has been on the market for at least three years. Unfortunately, given the work needing doing to the empty house, and having only so much by way of finances, both our offers were rejected by the owners as being way too low so, disappointed, we resigned ourselves to waiting a little longer.
Anyway, thinking positively we set our plans out for the allotment. As we did so we started calculating further with a list of ‘what ifs’.
‘What if we made our own butter?’
‘What if we made our own cheese?’
‘What if we made our own bread?’ – well, made it with more frequency than we do now – and milled our own grain instead of buying flour?
All of these things are quite possible to do but would it be cost-effective, we wondered?
So we sat down and did the maths and worked out that if we replaced the shop-bought versions of the three products above alone, we would save a hefty £260 over the month! In fact, working out that we spent over £100 a month on bread alone was quite an eye-opener! Working on the theory that a penny saved is a penny earned, that is an awful lot of money to save.
We are now looking into how much of an investment we need to make into the various equipment needed. It seems that rather than purchasing separate things for separate jobs – a butter churn alone would cost around £100 for example – it looks like it would make more sense to invest in a more expensive all-round kitchen machine with various attachments such as this Kenwood Major. One the one hand it is an awful lot of money yet on the other, when you calculate the savings, we’d recoup the outlay in a couple of months. Not only that but it would also make light of what would otherwise be relatively time-consuming preparation and effort, making it even more appealing. We are thinking that we may make it our Christmas gift to each other, even though it’s something way more extravagant and expensive than we’d normally even dream of getting!
In the meantime, we’ll settle for starting small. There’s nothing wrong with egg and cress sandwiches made with the eggs from our hens and windowsill-grown cress by Eddie! You’ve got to start somewhere, after all!