Where To Start?

Now that I’ve moved into The Tiny Farm, it’s time to start putting all of my half-baked plans into action. But where do I start?

The flat itself still needs a lot of organising, but what I really wanted to do this weekend was get started on the garden. So, I put an hour or so aside this weekend to do just that.

As we are in the middle of September already, it’s not exactly the best time to start growing veggies. However, I did a bit of research on the internet and ordered some seeds which are apparently good to sow at this time of year. I ordered some Valdor Lettuce, Red Onion, Radish and a Leaf Salad Stir Fry Seed Mix from Suttons to try out. The total cost for the seeds, including delivery, was £8.78 so hopefully they will provide a good crop and save me some money in the long run.

The seeds are supposed to be delivered within seven days, so I got started preparing one of the beds. I decided to start with the small bed nearest to the house as I thought it might provide a bit more shelter than the others through the winter. Also, being quite small, it was fairly easy to weed.

Weeded Bed

As part of The Tiny Farm project, I also want to try to reduce the amount of waste that I produce, and reuse as much as I can. So, over the last week I have been saving my kitchen scraps to make compost.

Not having much cash to spend on a proper compost bin, I decided to make my own with a small plastic crate. Again, the internet came in handy here.

Crate Prep

To make the compost bin, I drilled some holes in the plastic crate to allow for air circulation and drainage. Then I layered it up with paper shreds, kitchen waste, grass clippings, more paper shreds and a couple of handfuls of potting compost that I had lying around. A quick watering followed before I covered the crate with an old foam cutting board and a brick to stop any rats getting in.

Mini Compost Bin

I positioned the compost bin in the sheltered area next to the back door to save it (and me) from getting too wet in the rain, and to make it easier for me to add to it every day instead of storing up scraps in the kitchen.

I’m not sure how well it will work as the crate is quite small, but I can get a larger one later if necessary. It is supposed to be a Tiny Farm after all! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

Moving Day!

So, the day has finally come. I’ve packed up all my worldly possessions and moved into The Tiny Farm! Ok, so it’s not much of a farm yet, but it will be. Soon.

Having only moved in on Saturday, I haven’t had the chance to do much other than unpack and try to get the flat organised, which is taking much longer than I thought it would.

Even after half a dozen trips to various charity shops, I still seem to have far too much stuff, most of which I probably don’t need. But sorting through it all properly is going to take more time than I have right now. So, for now, here’s a picture of my new back garden.

Back GardenWe had a hail storm while I was writing this post!

100 Books

How many books does one person really need?

As an English graduate and former English teacher, I have a lot of books on my shelves – far more than I can or am willing to count. So, as part of my attempt to de-clutter before my move to The Tiny Farm, I have decided to reduce my book load to no more than one hundred books.

Yes, I know, one hundred does still seem like a lot of books, and it is, but I figured that if I can reduce my collection to one bookcase only, then that’s ok. I’ll keep a few favourites and those that I haven’t got around to reading yet, but the rest are going to new find homes, one way or another.

Cash For Books

At first, I thought it would be a good idea to try to get some cash for my old books. However, after scouring the internet for organisations that claim to pay you for your old books, I discovered that they wouldn’t accept them because there wasn’t enough demand. In the past, I have sold books on Amazon, but this takes time. So, I’m putting some on Gumtree instead as job lots to see if anyone wants them. I’m not sure if this will work, but it might be worth a go.

Book Crossing

I also discovered BookCrossing.com where you can track books that you give away. All you have to do is register your book, put a label with an ID number and a note about the website inside, and leave your book somewhere for people to find. The idea is that when someone finds the book, they let you know via the website, read the book and then re-release it back into the wild or pass it on to a friend when they have finished with it.

Charity Shops

Finally, for those books that I can’t be bothered to sell on Gumtree or register on Book Crossing, there’s always the charity shops. A lot of my books came from these places originally, so it seems appropriate that they should return and help raise more money for good causes.

Now it’s just a case of sorting out what’s staying and what’s going.

How many books do you have on your bookcase? What do you do with books you no longer need or want? Please feel free to share your thought in the comments.

Internet Clutter

Internet ClutterAfter only a few days of packing, I have come to realise that I need to de-clutter my life. I’m not just talking about the seemingly infinite boxes and drawers of stuff that I don’t use any more, but the things that take up my time, my money and my head space. I’m talking about my internet clutter.

I received an email from one of my web hosting accounts yesterday, informing me that my subscription would renew automatically. This is great if you have a website that you are currently using and don’t want it to suddenly disappear off the face of the internet; but when you have websites and hosting accounts that you just don’t use any more, it’s probably time to say goodbye to your wonderfully inspired domains and stop spending money on a service that you no longer need.

Of course, you could try to sell your unused domain names, but unless you have a successful site already up and running, it’s unlikely that you will make more than you will spend by auctioning them off.

So, I have decided to let my subscriptions expire. They served me well when I was learning about web design and I had a lot of fun with them in the past. But it’s time to let them go, let them expire and free them up for someone else to use.

It feels quite liberating, not having to think about how I can develop these sites for another year, while doing nothing about it. And, apart from anything else, it’s going to save me a lot of money that could be put to much better use.

Could this be the start of a new minimalist me? I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it’s a thought.

The Foot Commute

walk to workOne of my main reasons for embarking on The Tiny Farm project is to save money. As well as being much cheaper than my current flat, The Tiny Farm has a small garden in which I hope to be able to grow my own food to reduce my food bills. But my attempts to spend less didn’t start here. In fact, I’ve been trying to live more frugally for well over a year now.

In April 2012, I found a new job just over a mile and a half from where I live. I hadn’t been looking specifically for something so close to home, but when I got the job, it seemed like a good opportunity to save money on my commute.

To be fair, there’s no way I could have driven to work each day as parking is impossible in that part of town, so I decided to use public transport instead. It seemed like a good idea – less expensive, less stressful and less harmful to the environment.

However, using public transport didn’t turn out to be as great as I thought it would be. The bus was usually overcrowded and often late, causing me to arrive at my new job with seconds to spare feeling stressed, tired and irritable. And, what’s more, it was still costing me £20 a week, which I really couldn’t afford.

Money was pretty tight and, despite cutting back on my expenses, I was still dipping into my slowly depleting savings every month just to get by. So I took the decision to walk to work.

At first, walking 1.6 miles to and from work each day was quite tiring. But after a couple of weeks I got used to it. And I even started to enjoy it!

Even in the rain and the snow, I enjoyed the fresh air, the space and the fact that I had complete control over my journey. I arrived at work feeling relaxed, awake and ready to put in a day’s work. And I haven’t looked back.

One year on, I can’t imagine getting the bus to work again. The very thought of waiting for a bus that may or may not turn up, being trapped in a small crowded space and having no control over the duration of my journey every morning and evening seems insane when I have the option to exercise in the fresh air twice a day and have the freedom to depart and arrive as I choose.

I still have a car and I still use the bus from time to time if I want to travel further, but having the freedom and the ability to travel under my own steam every day is a wonderful feeling!

How do you travel to work? Do you find public transport a help or a hindrance in your daily commute? Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Packing Up

I finally got around to packing this weekend. Well, I made a start at least.

The trouble with me and packing is that I’m not very organised. I would love to be one of those people who makes spreadsheets, colour codes everything and puts clear labels on every box so that I know exactly what’s in it and where it’s going. But I’m not. And I doubt I ever will be.

For me, when it comes to packing, thinking and planning never works. Mostly because I over think everything. It usually starts well, with the easy to organise things like books, DVDs and clothes being placed neatly in appropriate boxes and bags. But after a couple of hours, I find myself surrounded by random objects like shoe laces, highlighter pens and candle holders that I just don’t know what to do with. And then there’s the odd CD without a case, the instruction manual for my VCR and the electronic chess set that  I haven’t used in years. Which box do I put those in? Do I put them in a box at all or just throw them out? Or give them to the charity shop? Or hang on to them in case I ever get around to doing a car boot sale?

At this point, what usually happens is that I take a break, put the kettle on and log in to cyber space in the hope that it will all sort itself out. Which it doesn’t. And then I become annoyed and frustrated until the day before my move when I end up just chucking everything in random boxes until there’s nothing left to chuck.

So, for this move, I have developed a new frustration free method of packing that involves very little thinking at all. It goes like this:

1. Grab a box

2. Go into the messiest room in the flat

3. Start putting things in the box in anyway possible as long as it fits

4. Repeat until the floor is reasonably clear or you run out of boxes

5. Write the name of the room on the boxes

6. Give yourself a pat on the back, put the kettle on and relax for the rest of the day

Study

Ok, so it’s probably not the best way to pack but it feels pretty good to have made a start and at least that’s one room that looks fairly presentable for prospective tenants.

Now, what the heck did I do with the kettle?

One Month Till Moving Day

It is exactly one month until I move into The Tiny Farm so I thought I’d start of by telling you a little  bit about my new home.

Strictly speaking, The Tiny Farm isn’t really a farm at all. It’s a small, one and a half bedroom basement flat with even smaller garden areas to the back and the front. From what I remember from viewing the property, the garden areas are pretty small and don’t get a lot of sunlight, so growing things might be a bit of a challenge. In saying that though, it’s a lot more than I have at the moment so, challenge or not, I’m sure I’ll find a way of making it work.

Denmark Villas

It looks a bit like this from the street

At the moment, I don’t have any outside space at all, so even the thought of sitting outside drinking my morning coffee is going to be something of a luxury for me. That, along side growing my own food, composting my waste and being able to dry my laundry in the fresh air as opposed to my spare room is something to look forward to.

For now though, I need to start thinking about packing up my stuff and getting ready for the move itself. It may be a month away, but there’s a lot to do in the meantime, so I’d better crack on.

Thanks for reading.