• Frugaldom

Here in Scotland we are now approaching month 3 of lockdown in an effort to thwart the spread of Covid-19, a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) at the end of January 2020 and by 11 March, 2020, it was declared a pandemic. It wasn't until 23 March, 2020 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally announced the lockdown of UK - or at least his verion of a lockdown. Since then, many announcements have been made, a recent one being that there is a lifting of some restrictions in an effort to begin getting UK back to normality. However, Mr Johnson seems to forget to emphasise the fact that he is speaking for England only. Here in Scotland, our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has made it clear that lockdown remains firmly in place, other than a slight expansion on the public's right to exercise safely. There also seems to be a lack of mention by any Government for agriculture, with next to no mention of farmers. They are who actually produce the food that we eat - they matter!

Moving swiftly on... what about the bananas?


Frugaldom is shutdown but with 10 ponies, some ducks and hens to be cared for, plus all the horticultural aspects to the project, it still needs to be tended every day. This is a fulltime job. We don't have supermarkets, train stations, vast crowds or public transport around us and we don't have staff. Normally, we have volunteers, plus our weekend guests enjoying their frugal breaks! This year, so far, we welcomed our first visitors during the final weekend of February / beginning of March. They had a lovely weekend of chatting, exploring Frugaldom and grooming foals. We halted proceedings as soon as the pandemic was announced. But I digress... back to the bananas


Frugal living is a complete lifestyle of minimising waste in every area. Wastefulness just does not fit in with the ethos of frugality, nor does wanton spending on unneccessary 'stuff', but what about food? All around us we are spoiled for choice. But with lockdown, came panic buying and shortages of things like toilet paper, pasta, rice, flour and an assortment of basic essentials - even compost, as people flocked to start new gardens. It took a few weeks to iron out the problems of panic buying but it was finally brought under control, although compost still remains like black gold about here. I haven't been shopping this year, aside from visiting the village store or the agricultural merchants (which also has restrictions and cannot source compost). The village store sells bananas and a few apples and oranges: this is about the extent of the fruit selection, along wih occasional tomatoes. The fresh vegetable choice extends to potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms but this week they had some beetroot. Everything has increased in price and even more plastic packaging has been introduced.

This morning, I woke early and got up to make a cup of tea, tea that we can't grow at Frugaldom. I looked at the pack of teabags and the jar of instant coffee alongside it, thinking how lucky we are to have such luxuries, neither of which can be grown here at Frugaldom, or even locally. I should be drinking home grown herbal tea. Then I picked up a banana and marvelled at it. How incredible is it that a perennial herb, which is what a banana plant is, can produce such delicious fruits - grown thousands of miles away in warmer climes, picked and packed, flown in planes, hauled in lorries, unpacked, sorted, weighed, packaged, transported through massive distribution networks, unloaded, reloaded, redistributed to shops and supermarkets throughout the country, packed on shelves for customers, like me, to buy... and all because we like the taste and we have the money to buy them.


And I had the audacity to wonder at a price increase for something that still costs mere pennies - shame on me!

  • Frugaldom

Wow! Where did the last three months go? I can hardly believe we have had the rescue foals at Fugaldom for a full five months and that they are now yearlings. The first ponies we rehomed - Frankie, Willow and Pippin - have now been with us for four years!

In between feeding ponies, grooming and clearing mountains of poop, I have spent some time preparing new planting space for growing this year's vegetables and herbs. Brian (volunteer gardener at Frugaldom) helped no end by putting together five raised planters I'd bought from an online sale. They were awful to put together; I had given up all hope of using them and was ready to return them until Brian offered his help. We now have all five built up and I have started filling them and sowing seeds. These have been set up on the decking to create a handy kitchen garden that the rabbits can't reach. I've already sown salad leaves, spring onions and I have transplanted the strawberries that were over-wintered at Frugaldom.

With no bookings being accepted and pre-booked ones cancelled, the Frugal Breaks caravan has become off limits to all visitors during COVID-19 shutdown. Should things improve before the 2020 season ends we will at least have some fresh produce on the doorstep for our holidaymakers.


These little strawberry plants were grown from seed last year and have now started to grow after wintering ourtside in pots. Seeds were kindly provided by our herbery sponsor, Moose Seeds.

With no holidaymakers, the pitch and putt golf course between Frugaldom and our Frugal Breaks caravan lies abandoned, apart from a small flock of Herdwick sheep that have been happily trimming the grass for the past couple of weeks. It's lovely to see them wandering about the place and observing their daily routine.

The foals were introduced to the clearfell strip and had a great time galloping around, chasing one another along the tracks and through the trees that are naturally regenerating out there. Baby Willowby was jumping logs that are still lying around the place: our volunteers should have been helping clearing this area but with no volunteers during lockdown, we'll need to fit in the time to do this ourselves as part of our daily exercise. Log rolling has become almost an Olympic sport here a Frugaldom, as has poop-picking, haynet stuffing and tyre rolling.

Feeding the wild birds here is done all year round and this is something I can highly recommend. Once you have set up your feeding station, even if it is a simple tray with a handful of seed, you will be able to entice the birds and other local wildlife, then sit and watch from the comfort of home. Ideal while self isolating.


I'll be back with another mini-blog soon. In the meantime, I'd like to share our new funding page with you in the hope that you, too, will share it with others. Many thanks to those who have helped us get it started and to our fellow frugalers who continue to support the project despite not being able to visit. This is the link to the newly created Frugaldom 2020 Animal Care Fund

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Fast growing, robust, good for weaving and a super addition to any damp areas of land or hedgerows foraged by horses and ponies. All the barefoot ponies at Frugaldom love willow. It is said to have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being a mild painkiller. With this in mind, it may be ideal for laminitis-prone animals to chew on, so long as they don't have too many of the sweeter leaves.

We have been coppicing some willows for replanting along the edge of the water ditches and to help dry up muddy areas around the tracks where our ponies live. Dobbin was happily munching on the fresh shoots this afternoon while we were cutting and planting. As you can see, there are already buds bursting open - willow is my favourite, fast-growing forage for adding into ponies' diets as pat of their frugal hedge-hay.

This is the last year's growth - in some cases, it has grown 3 metres since last being cut.

This huge Willow has been cut over the past few years and is used as a den by visiting children (and some adults). All those straight willow rods above the 'roof' height can be cut, planted and will quickly grow into new willow trees. If anyone would like a bundle to plant, we can cut and post them to you. (£10 per pack including P&P within UK). At point of planting, they look like short, green sticks.

Willow withies ready to cut into shorter lengths for rooting and planting. If you would like to try growing your own, a £10.00 contribution to the Frugaldom project will bring a pack of them to your door. You can pay via the 'donate' button at the top of this page - on receipt of payment, we will email you to arrange delivery. Limited quantities available so don't miss out on a great opportunity to grow your own 'live fence' or 'fedge' that's safe and healthy for foraging horses and ponies, Also looks great by ponds and encourages wildlife. (We also have an Ecoarts willow sheep.)

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