Finance Magazine

Seven Years of Blogging

By Sue15cat
Seven Years of Blogging
Make yourself a drink and pull up your chair this is a long one ...... because today is this blogs anniversary, seven years of posts.  Seven years of ups and downs but best of all seven years of sharing our lives with you .... our blogging buddies, friends, followers and readers.
In October of 2008 when we first placed this advert in the Farmers Guardian newspaper ... we had no idea of the adventure we were starting on.
Resourceful sea-dog (Engineer) and hard working city chick (Retail Manager) (Married) wishing a radical life style change, seek 3 bed property with space to live the ‘good life’ (veggies and chickens), ideally in a rural setting or on a farm in the Oxford, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hampshire area. 
Willing to upgrade and refurb property in return for a realistic rent. Contact the old sea-dog (Alan) on ----------- or e-mail -----------
This blog that has charted virtually our every move, escapade and family event since then, has been the backbone of all that we have done.  Keeping us accountable and being a permanent record of our wonderful adventure.
Seven Years of Blogging
 Expecting this search to take six months at the very least we were shocked to be contacted within days of the advert going out and offered the chance to rent a farm, complete with it's own farmhouse, barn, derelict orchard and six acre paddock.  Each year has had a subtitle and 2009's was 'From Townies to Country Folk' as the pair of us swapped smart clothes and shiny shoes for mud splattered jeans and big comfy wellies ... 
Seven Years of Blogging
...and kitted ourselves and the farm out with what we thought we needed.  
Seven Years of Blogging
2010 was the year of 'Pigs and Chickens' and our initial flock of ten rescued free range White Stars was added to over the course of the year.  The pigs came in small and grew and grew, providing us with meat, piglets, a small income and lots of entertainment and hard work.
Seven Years of Blogging
2011 was 'Our Year of Living Simply' and we knuckled down to building on all we had learnt.  Reining in the spending and learning to live as simply as we could.  Growing, storing and preserving our own food, reusing, recycling and mending what we had.
Seven Years of Blogging
But we showed our soft side when we re-homed another big batch of rescue birds, doubling our flock of the time to over 50 birds.  As our three year lease was coming to an end we sat and discussed the future, did we want to go for this lifestyle full time or revert to our townie lives.
We decided to not just carry on but to invest in our own future and buy our own land.  No matter how much we loved the area we lived in we knew we couldn't afford to buy in Oxfordshire, but we knew we had to grow our savings as quickly as we could, so we ended the lease on our lovely farm and looked for somewhere over the border in Berkshire, near to Lovely Hubby's work to rent while we saved.
Seven Years of Blogging
  So 2012 was the year we went further, with the subtitle 'From Simple to Frugal - and Beyond'
We found  a ramshackle little bungalow in it's last years of life, waiting to be demolished to make room for the owners to build their dream home.  In the meantime they were heading overseas and needed someone to rent their property ...
Seven Years of Blogging
... and look after their cat.
Seven Years of Blogging
The pigs were gone due to family circumstances, and we were not allowed to have any on the land we rented, so we decided to downsize and buckle down and save.  So it was just us the dogs, the cats, and the chickens ... and then we went to a farm sale and fell in love with a Hyline hen and her three fluffy babies.  The geese had arrived.
Seven Years of Blogging
Harry, Larry and Mo .... the three Chinese Grey geese replaced the pigs in our affections and made wonderful 'guard dogs' keeping our chickens safe from predators and making us laugh with their antics.
Seven Years of Blogging
It turned out that we had two girls and one gander.  Harry swiftly decided that I was the love of his life and whenever I was in Chicken World would follow me round fawning at my feet demanding cuddles and attention.  
Seven Years of Blogging
Then it was 2013 and we decided it was to be our 'Year of Less'.  Our little two bedroom bungalow seemed overcrowded with the contents of our four bedroom farmhouse shoehorned in, even though we had sorted out and moved with less ...so we started to declutter.  We car booted, we donated, we gave away and if all that failed we threw away.  The surfaces became clear and the bank account grew.  We worked hard, saved hard and started to dream.  We started to look for our own place ... 
Seven Years of Blogging
and we found it.
I teased you all with a snippet of a photo while the final details were sorted out by solicitors and then it was ours on 13th September 2013.  Our forever home.  We commuted weekly and started the decorating and preparing the house, and moved in for good on 21 December...
Seven Years of Blogging
... and on 31st Mavis joined us.
Seven Years of Blogging
The year of 2014 was our 'Back to Basics' year and  saw us starting the long but rewarding task of setting up our smallholding, we are too small to be a farm, with around 5 acres so this is how we think of ourselves.  We (this is of course being the Royal we) dug out the hillside to mark out the bare bones of the Veggie Patch, and I learnt how different it was to grow on the poor soil of this Welsh hillside compared to the soft growing conditions of Southern England.
Seven Years of Blogging
We also found out the difference in the temperatures and kept our log burner in action much more regularly to keep the house warm.
Seven Years of Blogging
Then 2015 was with us and the year of 'Needs Not Wants'.  We kept our spending in the house to the minimum and gritted our teeth and invested in the infrastructure of our future.  The polytunnel was up and I could once again get down to the serious job of growing our own food ....
Seven Years of Blogging
... while I tried to ignore what was going on nearer the house!!
A full year of building, mess, muck and chaos, I never want to live through that again.  Now of course I think that it as worth it, but at the time I hated every single minute.  But it means that we now have garage space, workshop space and most importantly a safer and more usable access and exit to the property.  
Beneath all this we put in water drains to make our land and the road beyond it safer.  We put in a water harvesting system to catch the deluge of rainwater that falls in this Welsh valley which will cut our future water bills.  Above the garage and workshop we put a huge bank of solar panels to capture the energy of the daylight and this means we are self sufficient in electricity and it will also earn us an income during the longer, lighter days of Summer.
Seven Years of Blogging
And now we are here 2016 and 'A Year Without ...', a year that we are using as our practice year to see how self-sufficient we can be ready for next year when Lovely Hubby makes the final leap and gives up the day job.  It's been a long time in the planning and you our lovely band of regular and newer readers have been on the journey with us, some of you since the very beginning.  
Some of you have taken the massive step of reading back, seven full years of blog posts charting our successes, our failures, our experiments, our triumphs and our sad times and I guess for you they are fresher in your minds at the moment, than they currently are in mine.
Each time I look out of the window and see this glorious view I know we were right to make this little patch of Welsh hillside our own.  We drink in the view whether it be clear and filled with sunshine, or more recently with the cottages on the hillside opposite shrouded in cloud, mist or heavy rain but we drink it in, breathe in the fresh air as we walk our dogs round our own paddock and look down and across at all that we have accomplished on our land.  We know that a lot of the dreams that we dared to dream really have come true since we found our very own place to put down roots.
So I would like to take the opportunity on this anniversary post to thank everyone for reading this blog,  and to say I hope you will continue to join us on this Our New Life in the Country.  There are even more adventures ahead.
Sue xx 


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