• 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.)

  1. Make a list of things you need to do and keep it up to date

  2. Make a visible space for pinning or writing your lists so you can't miss it. This is important - I bought chalkboard paint and now have boards everywhere - this one's on the end of the cupboard unit in a static caravan

  3. Don't click irrelevant links when reading general emails or updates

  4. Remove all traces of hobbies and entertainment from sight so you focus on work

  5. Allocate set times for specific jobs - housework, admin, main work, meals, phone calls, the actual job that pays your income.

  6. Reduce your social media timelines to the barest minimum and prioritise what you see first. "Unfollows" are painless - if they happen to be friends who are compelled to post every aspect of their day then stop and work out why you are compelled to know such trivial details. Are you a stalker?

  7. Take set refreshments breaks and if friends MUST call, then make sure they know when you are available and that they are not interfering with your work schedule

  8. Eat when you are hungry and let other household members cook and clear up for themselves if they are responsible enough to do so

  9. Likewise with all other household chores - delegate, share or dump the job completely if it's non-essential

  10. Focus attention on getting each specific job done before progressing onto the next one

  11. Break main jobs down into smaller jobs so you feel like you know when you have achieved each stage

  12. Keep checking the list - again, this is very important.

  13. Take a short walk outdoors, even if it's a quick dash in the rain to focus your concentration on why you should be inside doing items a to z on the dratted list! This can be known as your daily exercise.

  14. Tick things off the list before adding anything new - important!

  15. Use a timer - especially when cooking at same time as working!

  16. Use a second alarm system to remind you to acknowledged the first one

  17. Use timing switches wherever possible when cooking or working with electrical appliances

  18. Don't look on distractions as distractions - treat them as small jobs needing done within the larger ones, add them to your list and tick them off accordingly

  19. Write an email, note or other message to yourself to remind you what you should have achieving by a set time

  20. Learn basic time management.

  21. Multi-task wherever and whenever possible without getting scatterbrained

  22. Give yourself a reward for each and every achievement, even if it's just a tick on your chalk board.

  23. Ensure your own comfort and well-being throughout your day - comfortable clothing and footwear are essential - don't forget to wash your hands and keep any work equipment, work tops, mobiles and gadgets sanitised.

  24. Work in a comfortable and happy environment - ambient temperature should not cause counter-productivity

  25. Look at the ergonomics of your work space - no point pursuing goals if you ache after an hour of sitting or standing in a particular position

Procrastination is not a simple distraction - it can steal control of our thoughts, actions and will-power at any given moment in time! Embrace it, make it an item on your list and allocate fair time within your working day to address it in the way it deserves. It arrives for a reason, alerting us to other stuff that's whirring away inside our brains, hidden beneath the surface, lurking in our sub-conscious minds and ready to pounce at any monent. Be aware of it's devastating effects on all aspects of your waking life as it comes in many guises, masking negative emotions, stress and anxiety. Procrastination is often laughed off in a jovial way but its delaying tactics only add to the problem of bad time management. Take a break when a break is scheduled and set aside extra time for doing the things you like most. 

Now, I really do need to focus on the above and follow my own advice because there are chickens, ducks and ponies to be fed, willows, holly and crab apple trees to be planted and all the herbs and vegetable seeds to be sown! 

Stay home, stay safe, help save lives.

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