Pennsif’s Progress #567 – Am I a full-time steemian, or just a keen amateur

Well, there’s a good question…?

I guess there are two starting points to answer that.

Firstly, do I earn the majority of my income from steem? Most definitely not, at least at present?

Secondly, do I spend the majority of my time on steem. Most definitely yes.

So am I full-time steemian?

I am wanting to say yes. But let’s analyse this a bit further first…


Time

I run a small business the rest of my day, but that gives me considerable flexibility.

As well as bits and pieces during breaks on my working day, from 5pm steem becomes my primary focus – usually until at least midnight.

And weekends and holidays… I’m on steem a lot / most of the time.

In the average week I am usually clocking up about 50 hours on steem. My day time job is 37.5 hours a week plus holidays.

So steem wins on time.


Money

I was somewhat surprised when I checked on steemworld to see that I am now averaging over US$500 a month in total steem rewards.

Living in Britain with three teenage children and a whole bunch of outgoings US$500 would not be enough to live on (if I wasn’t earning from my other job).

But that $500 is when steem is at $1.

How goes it if steem went back to $3 or $4 or $5…?

Then the future definitely looks steem coloured.


So here comes the big question.

If steem went back up to say $5 and it looked like it was staying there, or going up further, would I take the plunge, bite the bullet, grasp the nettle and go full-tilt, head-on and all-in with steem?

If I quit my job, there would be no going back. I would be a steem man.

I came for the money, I found the community, I took the opportunity.

Yes.

 

Pennsif’s Progress #569 – What resources do we have – cataloging our flora and fauna

We are blessed to live on 17 acres of Welsh mountainside.

Our property includes 2 streams, a lake, around a thousand standing mature trees and 10,000 younger trees that have been planted over the past 6 years.

We also have copious amounts of rock – welsh slate, granite and quartz to be precise.

Having not had chemicals used on the property for at least 20 years, and having not had any intensive grazing for 15 years, there is an amazingly rich and diverse ecology here.

I am not a permaculture expert, but I believe one of the principles is to make use of the resources you have on your own property first.

We have many resources. The obvious ones – wood, water, timber – are obvious and abundant. But at a more micro level I have little true knowledge of what we have here in terms of the massive treasure trove of flora and fauna.

I would like to remedy that.

So my plan is to commence a systematic documentation of all the flora and fauna on the property.

I will be starting with the plants. Partly because I have some small botantical experience, partly because they don’t move when you are trying to identify them, and partly because I am fascinated to know what potential medical and food resources lie forgotten and unrealised in our 17 acre organic floral haven.

Trees, plants and fungi will be included. The fungi particularly excite me.

We constantly find new fungi – and they are all so beautiful and tantalisingly tempted. I am sure there are riches unknown and untapped amongst our fungal friends.


I am hoping, with the help of @cryptocariad and the rest of the family, to make this a mixed media project with photographs, illustrations and possibly even video.

Our medicine chest and our pantry may never be the same.

Pennsif’s Progress #570 – I am how I buy – my quest for organics

Whenever and wherever possible we eat organic food.

A lot of it we can grow, but alas some of it we can’t.

What we can’t grow we have to buy.

There lies a problem and a dilemma. We live in a very rural part of Wales. Our nearest large towns are over an hour away by car. So our shopping choices are limited.

Especially for organic products.

There are a couple of small independent organic stocking shops in the area. But they are very expensive, have a small range and require the consumption of at least 6 litres of petrol to get there and back.

I chose organic both for health and for environmental reasons. So burning a lot of fossil fuel to obtain organic food seems rather nonsensical.

There is a local food bulk buying group that buys from Suma (a large national ethical food co-operative) that we participate in but it only orders every two months and there are other restrictions with it as well.

So we have reluctantly defaulted to online shopping for a number of organic products. We have dabbled with various online eco-store type sites but with heavy delivery charges the costs have been prohibitive.

The only easy-to-use and easy-on-the-wallet online source we have found for our organic needs has been Amazon.

But this grates badly with my purchasing ethics. Amazon is super efficient at what it does in terms of ecommerce mechanics – but that is where my admiration ends.

So I have constantly been on the look-out for new online sources.

Now I think I may have found one – PremCrest Ltd based in Bradford in the north of England. They are wholesalers of ethical and organic products. They sell in bulk so that helps bring the prices down considerably. And I have managed to sign up for an account.

I cannot find much about the company other than basic details of their directors and their recent financial accounts through a company checking service, but they do have an Ethics and Environment Policy :

  • https://www.premcrest.co.uk/ethics-and-environmental-policy

That is rather run of the mill though – with no real mention of fair trade with suppliers etc. I suspect I would find something not too dissimilar if I searched on the Amazon site.

I would love to buy from local, independent, family-run type shops. As long as it doesn’t cost me too many arms and too many legs. Organic products are all at a premium as it is.

But the independent shops will buy from somewhere – so you can never be sure.

The only safe bet would be to buy from producers directly.  I did have a project called “Eat Who You Know“.

That was fun. More of that in another post…


For now I will try an order from PremCrest. Their prices are a good 40%+ cheaper than the nearest organic shops, and they tackle Amazon’s Subscribe & Save bulk prices head-on.

Maybe if I buy in bulk from PremCrest I can share round with other local organic eaters. Payment with steem or SBD would be cool. But alas the venn diagrams of organic eaters and active steemians don’t overlap round here.

More on PremCrest as the order unravels…

 

Pennsif’s Progress #572 – Last Duck Down

Today my last duck died.

He was very old and the last of five brothers who came to us as homeless muscovies about 3 years ago.

Mr Goose is now the only remaining member of the Aerial Defence Unit in charge of keeping the buzzards away from the chickens.

New recruits will be needed.

But first I must spend a few minutes to honour my fallen duck friend.

He and his four brothers were given to us, along with their lifelong friend Mr Goose, three years ago when a couple of our friends were forced to sell-up their smallholding (homestead) due to illness. They managed to sell off their more economically useful lifestock. But no one wanted five old muscovy ducks and an orphaned greylag goose.

So we gave them a home.

Alas two of them were only with us very briefly as they flew over the fence on the second day. Their previous owners had told us they didn’t fly. I guess they smelt our lake a few hundred yards down the mountain.

Unfortunately they didn’t stay on the water or go to the island in the middle of the lake. I guess they made a good meal for our local foxes.

The other three ducks, along with the goose, had a good life with us, guarding the chicken flock from the buzzards and kites. Two died last winter of natural causes. This last one made it to about 9 years old.

You can read more about them in one of my early contest posts on steemit – What the Muscovy Brothers would do with $50 SBD

They even featured in a YouTube video…

Farewell my duck friend – you served us well.

Pennsif’s Progress #573 – I go out to dine every day, and it doesn’t cost me a penny

 

One thing I like to do it each day is go out to dine.

But I don’t go far – usually just down our lane and into our fields.

I gorge myself on berries and leaves and buds and seeds.

Ever since I got a copy of the original edition of Richard Mabey’s excellent ‘Food for Free’ (now reprinted) I have been hooked on foraging.

I just love being able to graze on little bits of nature as I walk around our property.

Of course you have to be a bit careful of what you eat and where, but there are many excellent foraging books available as well as lots of great videos and articles online. And if you do have the opportunity to attend a local foraging course go for it.

My hit parade of favourite foragings varies with the seasons but three of my favourites at the moment are…

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog me and the dog just love gobbling up the blackberries as we are out on our walks.

And we have lots of blackberries – wild and organic – all over our 17 acress, so we will never run out.


Nettles (Urtica dioica)

We have loads and loads and loads of nettles.

I started drinking nettle tea about three years ago. Then we started adding nettles to soaps. And then I got the idea from a @papa-pepper video of eating them raw as a green leaf. Tasty … and you will soon get the hang of picking them without getting stung.


Pennywort (Umbilicus rupestris)

This one I picked up on from a foraging course about 4 years ago.

This grows in good abundance along our rather shaded quarter mile long lane.

Pennywort is lovely and juicy and succulent. It tastes a bit like fresh peas.

It is definitely one of my favourites at the moment.


Foraging is a key skill…

For any prepper or would-be prepper.

Oddly they rarely seem to feature it in most post-apocalyptic / SHTF type movies. The main characters often seem to get close to starvation rather than grab any of the abundant free food all around them.

Learn to forage and you will never starve.

Pennsif’s Progress #574 – The apples are coming & my dog loves blackberries

The apples are coming, the apples are coming…

Finally our pruning work in the old orchard is paying off. This year’s apple crop looks like it is going to be a bumper one.

Our old orchard has suffered badly over recent years through goat attack, a domineering holly tree, too much chicken attention and a good dose of plain neglect.

Two years ago we started on a much needed programme of restorative pruning and clearance of competing and heavily shading competing trees.

We opened up the trees, brought down the height and generally got them in better shape.

This year the frosts stayed away at blossom time, and the sun and the rain came in the right amount at the right time.

It looks like we are going to be gifted with our biggest apple crop ever. And the plums and greengauges are making a good showing as well.

Not only is the old orchard going strong, the new fruit trees that we have been planting over the last 3 years have started coming online this summer as well. We have even had a few figs and peaches – not bad for a usually wild, wet and windy west Wales.

Just in time for a good old apple and blackberry pie, the blackberries are plumping up nicely with the recent rain.

And there comes the dog. I have discovered she loves blackberries. When I am picking blackberries she follows me along and will sit patiently at my side waiting for her share.

She does try to bite them off the bushes herself but the prickles make it difficult.

Anyone else got a blackberry loving dog?

Pennsif’s Progress #576 – Hair today, gone tomorrow

Tomorrow my wife is going to cut my hair.

In fact she has been cutting my hair every 8 weeks or so since we got married 31 years ago.

That is an amazing 200 free haircuts.

It was primarily for money saving reasons that my wife started cutting my hair. We were rather short of cash when we first got married.

Back in the day a haircut at a barber would have cost around US$10. Now it will be nearer US$20.

So over the years we have saved somewhere in the region of US$3000 – US$4000. A rather useful sum of money.

My hair has in fact been quite a good source of saving.

I haven’t used a comb (or a watch for that matter) since I moved to Wales nearly 20 years ago. And 18 months ago I went all-in with the ‘No Poo’ approach to hair care when I gave up using shampoo.

Although saving the £££ was a big part of my hair strategy, it wasn’t the only factor.

We wanted to ‘stick it to the man’ and wave another small flag for self-reliance.

I wish was practically adept enough to do many more things for myself and up my self-reliance score more.

I did attempt to cut my wife’s hair in return but that didn’t work out so well. Women’s hair is a wee bit trickier.

How useful it would have been if I could serviced my own car all these years, or tiled the bathroom, or fixed the roof.

I can handle raising animals, growing food and cooking but I have never been much of a DIY’er.

There was never any practical subjects for me at school, and whacking my Dad on the head with a hammer when we were building the rabbit hutch rather dented my hopes of much parental tuition.

I wonder what a curriculum would look like if we decided to go all in on teaching the skills of self-reliance to our children. Homeschoolers and unschoolers have got the edge here, but imagine if schools went that way as well.

Education for Self-Reliance… now that would be a thing.

 

 

Pennsif’s Progress #577 – The Organic Goldmine and a three legged dog

Today we went for a trip to the seaside.

In fact to Aberaeron, a seaside town not so far from us.

We go there quite often as it is a nice little town with some nice little shops and an ice cream parlour that sells handmade honey ice-cream that used to be nice.

And today there was a three-legged dog.

Aberaeron is also a nice little town as it is so little that it doesn’t have a supermarket.

Instead it has a Costcutter – one of those small town convenience store chains that inhabit many towns around Britain.

We don’t normally do any shopping there as we have a couple of ‘proper’ supermarkets in our town that are considerably cheaper.

Today we thought we would pop in to check it out.

Wow, we were super surprised. They had a whole section dedicated to organic food, as well as various organic products scattered around the shop.

We are keen organic shoppers whenever we can afford organic and whenever we can find organic. Usually in our home town the pickings are quite sparse.

Who’d have thought it in little Aberaeron – this was definitely a case of judging by it its cover…

We grabbed and dashed and got a whole pile of organic goodies we hadn’t seen before.

I am particularly keen to try the Geo brand Thick Vegetable Stew.

Generally we would make our own but two of our daugthers are off to university in September so I am keen to find good quality, nutritious and ideally organic ‘ready meal’ type products we can stock them up with.

It has good ingredients, good nutrition ratings, is easy to prepare and it is not so expensive (£1.89 / US$2.40).

They might make good emergency uni-stocks for both.

Interestingly while looking online for more about this Geo product I found an interesting ethical wholesaler Premcrest. Maybe I can get an account with them to seriously cut down the costs on our organic purchases…

  • https://www.premcrest.co.uk/geo-organics-mildly-spiced-thick-vegetable-stew-300g-x6

Another organic product that was particularly interesting was the organic bread. Thomas’s Bakery is a very traditional local business – not one I would have suspected of moving into making organic products.

On the way back from Aberaeron we popped into Blaencamel Organic Farm. They have a little shop in a shed selling surplus organic fruit and veg.

It was late in the day when we dropped by so there wasn’t much left but I was impressed by their polytunnels. They seem to sprout new ones every time we visit. Their business must be growing.

The future is bright. The future is organic…

 

 

 

 

 

Pennsif’s Progress #578 – Mr Goose saves the day

This afternoon I heard the chickens scream.

The puppy started barking. Maybe because of the poultry panic. Or maybe because of me jumping into action.

We rushed to the compound.

The cacophony grew more frantic as we got closer – chickens, goose, duck all joined in.

Then as I reached the gate, there it was. A guilty looking buzzard flew up from a clump of nettles with feathers in its beak.

The goose was shouting and screaming, the duck was flapping its wings trying to look big.

They were doing their job as best they could to frighten away the aerial predators.

So far they have been successful. Before goose and duck arrived we regularly lost hens to the buzzards. But since their arrival the negative score has been zero.

Today, though it looked like they had met their match. After a through sweep of the compound I could not locate our fifth hen.

Only an ominous scattering of bunches of white feathers.

Farewell Mrs Hen, you served us well.


But hold fire before you book the funeral band.

When I returned this evening to put them all to bed, the hens again numbered five.

All hail the hiding hen. Somewhere she had gone to ground too scared to come out.

Too traumatised I think. On close inspection the hen appears to have lost a few rips of feathers from its neck.

This time she got lucky – saved by the goose’s guarding, or perhaps by my arrival.

Happy hen day.


Postscript

We are investigating getting one or two alpacas soon.

I know they are reputed to be good for deterring foxes.

Anyone know if they will keep buzzards and kites away as well?

Pennsif’s Progress #579 – That day you realise when summer is almost gone…

That day you realise when summer is almost gone…

The nights are getting longer, cooler

and darker to the touch.

I had such a great list of things to do this summer.

But too much I had to do the do’s I didn’t want to

And not enough the does I did.


As you can see I don’t do poetry, but heck why not just a few feeble lines on a Friday.

Somehow this evening it dawned on me that the summer days are racing away and I really haven’t done a fraction of things I had hoped to.

Too much steem, not enough time, to0 much work, not enough time.

The weather was too hot, too dry, too rainy, too windy. All at the same time. The weather was made for us Brits to hurl complaints at.

I just want to potter about in the garden. But the bugs kept biting back.

Still time to clear some beds to plant more crops – definitely want to sneak in some carrots, lettuces, radishes at least.

Not been a good year for the garden.

This is a transition year. For work. For family. For health. For everything that flows and flies around me.

Changes are coming. I need to make sure I can steer them. As best I can.

All will be different in just a few months now.

Ignore this post. It is incoherent. That is where my head is today.

I need to press the button on some changes.

But.

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