Part 2

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:

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.

DSC01023.jpg

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.

And finally

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 Smile

 

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Author: Eddy Winko

Trying to leave the rat race and live a less hectic and harmful life. From the building of a straw bale house to the composting toilet diaries; read my blog https://winkos.wordpress.com/

24 thoughts on “Part 2”

  1. I am really impressed, breaking even is wonderful, a profit of any size is quite remarkable. It is nice when you look back at a year and see what you didn’t need to buy and what you made yourself. Onwards and upwards, all the best for 2018 or Blwyddyn newydd dda as they say in these parts.

    1. Thank you, and you too, I wont even try to copy and paste that or send you a Polish greeting, language, even English, is a challenge!
      Of course the real profit is all the food we have for free, if we converted that to money we would be quids in.

  2. Bravo!!
    You have managed to convince the visiting kids to put nose into the humanure derived soil.
    So far I haven’t been so successful :-(.
    As to income source, how about starting to concoct a beer ?
    IMHO A small brewery would fit your place’s image perfectly and It requires almost no investment

    1. One day maybe, but to be honest we have enough projects on the go for a few more years. And of course as soon as you make something for consumption then sinepid get involved, then you need investment 🙂

      1. I’m pretty familiar with polish conditions but…
        what I meant was really low-scale brewery.
        The batch is ~23 liters.Nothing for sale of course.
        Just an offer to taste and .. “świnka skarbonka” for donations :-).
        no one is going to offer less than 10 PLN for a craft beer in such a positive place.
        And the investment is around 300 PLN or less if you already have a 33l pot.
        Production cost of 0,5 l of good quality APA/AIPA ~2,6 PLN. (water. gas, ingredients included)
        Anyway. Happy winter to all of you.
        We leave to Morocco for 2 weeks to give a hand with a natural brick production .

      2. That we already make 🙂 Have fun in Morocco, we know a couple who are making their own adobe bricks and building in the Dubiecko area. Worth a look if you are ever in the area.

      3. I’m trying to delve into a topic of earth based, heat resistant brick production (LTGS, geopolymerisation)(kinda chamotte).
        That could significantly lower cost of high efficiency mass heaters and made them more sustainable due to a locally obtained substrate.

        whoo! after 50 batches we strongly lean toward increasing our production volume.
        One needs to spend 7 hours for brewing regardless the quantity of wort proceeded :).
        And the amount of friends willing to give a hand in gardening jobs seems to remain in a strong correlation with a numbers of bottles 😉

        Btw > your opinion about polish genuine attitude toward repairing things pleased my heart, but I can see this characteristic is dissipating :-(. Probably at a faster pace in cities than villages but it seems it’s unavoidable. I was born in a era when scarcity was mother of creativity. And still the local trash bins stand for me rather as a source than a dumpster 🙂

      4. Cheers Raf. Good look with the bricks, sounds like an interesting project.
        I had to edit your comment as the links did not exist or the were flagged as spam.

  3. I could learn to be interested in milking machines, I have no doubt.
    Great roundup mate, and I’m genuinely pleased to read how well you are doing.
    I am sure you will continue to ‘prove them all wrong’, and enjoy that life away from it all.
    Love to all over there, from here.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. I didn’t know Gosia was pregnant, so congratulations to you both. When will you have an addition to the family? 🙂 🙂 We’re past frost here and into the snow stage. 😦 Shiver!

    1. Thank you Jo, just over two weeks to go, gulp!
      Snow almost every day here as well, but nothing that settles long on the roads. Our 4×4 in in for repair, just in case its needed soon 🙂

  5. Great to hear everything is going well Eddy. I am not surprised the toilets were the highlight for your students, they are really cool. 🙂 . I will be sure to tune in for the post on the milking machine, sounds fun. Also looking forward to news of the new arrival when it happens. Can’t wait to do a return visit at some point in the future. Best wishes and hugs to Malina and Gosia
    Fraggle xx

    1. Thanks Fraggle, but don’t get too excited about the milking machine, its more of a rant because the manufacturer refused to publish my review 🙂 We all look forward to your return one day, it would be lovely to see you both again. Hugs and kisses bac from the girls and of course me xxx 🙂

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