I have set a target to post this before December arrives, its now the morning of the 28th and we have just had a power cut, which has motivated me to start typing this. The motivational power of having no internet.We have woken to a wonderfully white frosty morning after a calm night dropping to around –5c (23f). A real bonus for me as I’m about to take Malina to nursery and the mud that masquerades as a road across the field will have set hard, or at least I hope so.
Back already with my heart melted once again by Malina who, worried that I didn’t have my gloves on, started to rub my hands to keep them warm as we walked from the car to the nursery.
And still the power is intermittent, I must search google ‘how to make your own UPS’ (uninterrupted power supply) a nice little project for the winter.
Ok on with the update and where better to continue than with soaps:
In fact the title should probably read cosmetics (too clinical?) as Gosia has extended her range of products to bath bombs, lip balms, hand and body creams and body scrubs. Rarely a day goes by when she isn’t making a batch of something for this order or that. I have updated the website winkos.co.uk and am slowly linking the products to images on our Instagram account (which a friend is kindly doing for us). Although truth be known the website is purely a shop window to the world, ideas of creating a full blown shop are most definitely on the back boiler now, considering Gosia pregnant condition and the level of business we already have. Don’t mistake this for a lack of ambition, but we chose this lifestyle to get away from the rat race and don’t want to get trapped into a world of commerce and strict working hours, which is surely where it would lead to if we pushed for more business. We truly do appreciate your support and look forward to sending our soaps far and wide, just don’t expect to see us selling on Amazon, Etsy or Dewanda. After all we are into organics, and that includes the growth of the business!
One final word, if anyone would like any soaps for Christmas then please get your orders in soon, we have more than just the postal delivery to worry about!
Dry toilets and composting
It is about time that I corrected the mistake I have made over the last seven years; we don’t have composting toilets, we have dry toilets. The composting doesn’t start to take place before said dry toilet contents are added to the compost pile along with kitchen waste and straw to cover. That’s when the magic begins and with the pile still registering close to 60c (140f), soon after I feed it with fresh buckets, whilst the air outside is hovering around freezing, I’m happy we will have another batch of nutrient rich compost for planting again in eighteen moths time. Eighteen months been the time we leave the piles to rest after they are topped off with a generous helping of straw from the stable.
We had a group of students from an organic farm school visiting us in the summer and our toilet system was the highlight for most of the visitors, although it did take some persuasion on my part for them to pick up a handful of completed compost and bury their nose into it to smell. They soon followed my example once I started to joke about them coming from the city and not wanting to get their hands dirty. Hopefully we have converted a few more households to at least run an experiment and start completing the cycle and stop producing waste.
The farm and finance
As it has just turned the 30th of November, I know its taken me two days to get this far, I now have the numbers for the last 12 months of living, which always makes for interesting reading.
The farm actually broke even for the first time, in fact it would have made a profit is is wasn’t for repairs to the tractor. Unfortunately a coupling block and drive shaft had sheered and we were looking at £300 for spares alone once I had managed to find a supplier in the UK. But then a little bit of Polish magic happened and the mechanic had a brainwave as well as a friend who could manufacture new parts for us. We still ended up spending £300, but that included the labour, a host of other little jobs, including a key that worked, and an additional spare coupling block. I just love polish ingenuity and the willingness to try something different, rather than just buying everything new.
A good crop of oats, potatoes, corn and beet have and will feed the animals and we have our second freezer full of frozen veg and fruit. Cordials made, jams a plenty, pickled salads, chillies and peppers, not to mention ready made pasta sauces and tomatoes a plenty in various forms. A bumper crop of more than 250Kg this year will mean we can cross tinned tomatoes of our shopping list for yet another year.
The real bonus from all this food, besides knowing that it is chemical free (including the animals) is that our shopping bill for the entire year is less than £3000 ($4000) a year, or £250 ($340) a month and that includes toiletries, cleaning products (although we make most of ours) and clothing, although I admit we rarely buy new, preferring the second hand shops. Oh and pet food.
Fuel for vehicles is still quite a big chunk of money, around about £100 ($135) a month, although we have invested in a new (second hand) car that runs on LPG, which has gone a long way to offsetting the extra cost of driving Malina to the school everyday, 50km a day of extra mileage. Add the insurance of the vehicles and you have to start thinking how much a horse would cost.
Add electricity and gas and we soon reach our target of about £5000 ($6700) a year, although I should work in Zloty (25,000) as the exchange rate for the pound and the dollar is falling though the floor at the moment thanks to Trump and Brexit, just as well we don’t have a stash of pounds anymore.
Goats milk and cheese now provide a steady trickle of money and our cash crop of pumpkin seeds did well, more next year, although we have given up on the idea of trying to produce our own oil in house as we simply cant find a machine that will reliably and consistently press the oil. However we may consider sending seeds to Austria, where I have family, to see about having the seeds pressed there, although I will have to send 25Kg or more before it becomes a viable money earner. We will see.
As I mentioned earlier the soaps are doing well and contribute the bulk of of living expenses now, Gosia has registered the business and we have a favourable tax rate as farmers, so all is good on that front.
We are also recipients of the Polish governments 500+ child benefit system, which is a nice added bonus and ensures that Malina has everything she needs for school.
Occasional paying guests, donations, English conversation lessons, visiting schools, the list of bits and pieces of income is quite extensive and it’s only because I log everything that you begin to realise how it all adds up to make this life we live possible.
Pete recently asked about peoples bucket lists (nothing to do with toilets) in a post he wrote and my honest answer was that I don’t have a bucket list, I’m happy with what we have. Although ask me again if we win the lottery, I don’t think I would have much trouble spending at least some of it.
A quick mention to the software that we use to track our finances as it does a great job and its simple and free: MoneyPoint available as an app from the Microsoft store. I’d also like to mention Open Live Writer as a great offline blogging software which has taken over development from Microsoft of the Live Writer product. Free to download and simple to use, it even shirks your pictures for you automatically, a real plus if you are running short of space on a free blog account.
By the way my next post will be a product review, so watch this space only if you are interested in milking machines