Can we be mortgage free?

Should you feel bad for enjoying the lockdown?  I don’t think so.  It doesn’t mean we don’t feel for those who are suffering from it, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be enjoying it where we can, learning from it and adapting or changing our ways.  It has given us plenty of time to think about things, even more than normal and some great foundations for the future are coming out.

Whilst making this week’s scones, which were blueberry by the way and I say were as they are all gone already!  I’ll pop the recipe up shortly.
Anyway, I was mulling over financial thoughts and it dawned on me that when we moved in here, 4 and a bit years ago, we never thought we could be in a position to consider paying our mortgage off early.  We were just so grateful to have one and be able to buy the smallholding.  Now, 4 years on, we are putting plans in place to become mortgage free in 10 years!  Yes, that is a VERY stretched target and it may be longer but today it’s 3 times that amount.  Yes, really.  We always assumed we would have to work full time as we do now, not be able to be on the smallholding working and be stuck in the paid employment cycle until retirement.  
So what’s changed?  Research, people, experience, lifestyle, finances.  We have adapted our lifestyle, which we always intended to do when we moved here.  The main areas are the grocery bill, owning cheaper to run vehicles, cancelling luxuries like cable/sky and having a strict entertainment budget.  
As I said before, being in lockdown we haven’t spent anything on entertainment and we have missed it all over 0%!  Yes once the kids are back in school and I have to go back out every day, it might be nice to eat out every now and again or to take them to the trampoline park etc but this should be minimal cost. 
After all, who would not want to cook on an Aga in the kitchen with a poorly duck?
We have also created our own little beer garden, also known as a picnic table in the front garden which catches the evening sun.  
We can have the dogs running round, get to see the fabulous flowers come through along with the animals in the neighbouring field, and if we are lucky, get to see a baby deer run by.
Finally, one other thing I am working on personally right now is working towards less and less wine.  This sounds like I have an issue!  

Define issue haha.  
However drinking 1 or 2 bottles a week between us does not fit in with trying to reduce our outgoings so significantly to help pay off the mortgage, nor getting up early on the smallholding to tend to the animals that get up when it is light.  So I am on a challenge right now to only drink what we either make or what people gift us….so our address is…. 😉

We last went shopping at the supermarket at the end of April and won’t be going again until 25th May.  Remember that we get milk delivered (20 pints a week) along with a weekly veg box (£11) which supplements our home grown items.  We plan to eek supermarket items out to be 6 week intervals then 8 and so on.  This time we have ran out of butter, honey, juice so far.  There is an argument for doing without certain things on a permanent basis, more on that another time.  
I cook all of our bread from scratch now, having got a great delivery of flour from amazon.

As we move in to late Spring and Summer, we will most likely (hopefully) have no need for the veg box.  We are already starting to see lots of salads, greens including this beautiful kale and hopefully won’t be too long until we get our first courgette as look what we saw a day or 2 ago.
Here’s the newly transplanted brassica bed, right after planting when the plants went in a mood at being moved.  Hopefully they will pick up, they usually get over it quite quickly.
On the smallholding we have now got most of the laying hens in one place as Ste moves on with his next project of changing where the pens are that they have, to ensure we cover some of the overgrown areas.  Some hens are more cheeky than others.

The pigs are thriving and the (newly sheared) sheep and cows are only a tad jealous of the pigs having hard feed 🙂

Grace is busy rescuing animals.  This duck drowned in the pond.  Yes, ducks can drown.  She has a poorly leg and couldn’t get out.  We literally brought her back from the brink of death and Grace has done her usual and looked after it since then.

 Right, I better go and get on with some of these jobs I keep talking about.  These buckets won’t fill themselves!

Please do take the time to comment and stop by, we read every comment and love to have you along for the journey.  Thank you.

Early May update

Veg Plot Update
I am so excited!  We are starting to vlog, meaning we are capturing some things on YouTube.  It is very early days and you can tell we are new at it, but what the heck.  I have uploaded an end of April/early May walkaround of the veg plots, greenhouse and polytunnel.  We plan to do those monthly – I’m not sure what else we will do though a lot will be food related and there’s Ste’s quail brooder update on there now.  If you would like to check out the video, try clicking here. We would love to hear comments and feedback as always.  Its super exciting if not somewhat scary for us.
It is the time of year when things start growing with gusto and being outside as much as possible if the order of the day.  Be it before work or after tea (dinner to some), our daily schedule changes and adapts as needed.  We didn’t come in until after 9pm the other night, had a cuppa at the kitchen table and went to bed!  Here’s a few pics of what we have done in the last couple of weeks.  Brassicas are in and some are netted and tomatoes are going in to bigger pots of all sizes.  We are still going to get frosts here and they can catch you out, so all beds will be covered with fleece when the temperature threatens to dip.  We have reserves in the greenhouse for any plants we lose, it’s a fine line and all a bit of a gamble.  Sometimes it pays off and others it doesn’t, however we think by this weekend we should be good to go and I am planting out the outdoor tomatoes them, gulp!

On the Smallholding
The sheep are hopefully in lamb and due at the earliest July 7th.  We took the tup (ram) on before lockdown started, meaning we still have him here as his owner is high risk with regards to the virus and would prefer not to collect him risking contact yet.  He will go back before the girls are due though.  One ewe we have, Nettle, is the orphan we kept and it’ll be her first lamb, fingers crossed we have no issues there.

We have had so many things going on since I last updated, in such a short space of time.  We’ve dramatically increased the laying hen numbers and have been hatching our own left, right an centre.  We’ve had 2 lots of ducklings, chicks and just a couple of nights ago, baby quail!!

The pigs are coming along very nicely and the smaller one has caught up and I think even overtaken the bigger one.  We’ve managed to get all the movement forms and things done, so that’s a load off our minds.

The chicken areas have been expanded to give them more space on grass and we have made a chicken tractor (moveable chicken coop) which will house the meat birds once they’re big enough to house outside.  They like my wellies it seems!
My Mother’s Day gift is growing up!

Our Rhode Island Red hens and their cockerel (plus the black one on the left of the photo) have been moved on to new grass too, which they seem very happy with.
In the kitchen
A few weeks ago we managed to get hold of 10kg bread flour which was a huge bonus as everywhere is out or low on it and our preference is to make our own, plus to only go shopping once a month and have to buy bread, that would use too much precious freezer space.  I have managed to find 16kg of all 3 flours I use on Amazon at a good, non inflated price!  Very pleased with that and they were delivered 2 days after ordering.
After running our freezers down just before the virus kicked off (typically) we are now starting to fill them again with lots of home made goodies.  I have started my menu plan page off again at the top of this page, so to see what we are eating each week, head over there and take a look.  It’s helping to keep me organised and hopefully may help others looking for meal ideas too.  I am really enjoying cooking meals every night for the family and making lots of lovely left overs to freeze too.  
One thing I have decided is that as Monday’s always seem borderline out of control with work and home schooling, I am taking the pressure off myself and using something our of the freezer for Monday’s.  That does mean I need to keep the freezer stocked up with suitable meals though, so I will plan in a batch cooking day when I am off work at the end of May.  I have enough in until then.

The house and us
As I say, I am working from home full time at the moment and everything is fitting in nicely, most of the time.  Sometimes the days need to adapt and I start early/late and so on, as the kids are home too.  We all sit around the kitchen table, whilst Ste is at work and crack on with the tasks for the day.  We are doing our best and that is all we can do.  The kids are adapting so well, I’m really proud of them.  We naturally have our good and bad days, so if you find yourself in the same situation, don’t be hard on yourself.  Everyone is trying their best and we are all in it together, one way or another.
Another huge thing we have going on is aside from work and school we are fully in to our thoughts on saying goodbye to our only debt and becoming mortgage free.  
We are at least 10 years away from that in our current situation and have plans afoot for trying to be mortgage free in 10 years.    
It is all about priorities and this whole covid situation is really helping with that would you believe.  Assessing what is important, something that might take you a long time to decide “normally” but when the decision is taken away from you, you can just get on with it.  For example, we used to spend money going out for a meal once a week which in the end was a habit and something we didn’t always enjoy.  Sounds crazy now, but we still did it.  That was £200 a month say.  Little things like that, we wouldn’t have easily stopped without this situation.  It’s giving us time to think and better still, save.  We aren’t spending as much money on fuel either, yet I am continuing to send the money to the savings as if I was still spending it on fuel and it soon adds up.
There’s other decisions too which are being discussed.  Something I have always wanted to do was change the hob and sink in the kitchen, along with put a couple of shelves in.  We don’t want to spend a lot of money on this, which could easily be done, so when my daughter decided she didn’t need her desk any more, Ste changed it in to a set of shelves for me in the kitchen.  They have replaced the dishwasher which we no longer use and an old set of book shelves.  Don’t they look marvelous?  I am SO thrilled with them.  We’re keeping our eyes open for bargains for the hob and sink, we aren’t in a rush.  Also, we’re planning on freshening up areas instead of redoing them all, to keep costs down.  I’ll keep you posted.

We are still in the middle of the bathroom and bedroom alterations, as we had to put a hold on that when social distancing was enforced and places stopped trading and we need a plasterer, however this too we will do as budget friendly as possible.
So that’s about it for now everyone, I have more recipes coming up, menu plans, preserving and so on, so please stay tuned and I look forward to hearing how everyone is, safe and well hopefully, and catching up soon.  I could write for hours and still not be up to date!
Looking forward to hearing your comments and catching up with any readers, stay safe 🙂
Tracy x