Wednesday, 30 March 2011


1. For Gill and I self-sufficiency equates with self reliance…. Our mantra is.. “little out and little” We see our plot as a desert island – like Robinson Crusoe – he had no choice other than to produce his own food and clothes
2. There are moderations… we started modest – with insulation and then worked forward with solar heating, growing food, livestock and all the rest.
3. We started at Art School in the late 60’s and went on from there. We really made the move at the time of the 70’s oil crisis
4. I drew inspiration from my grandpa… he could do everything. When I wanted a knife he made one from scratch… he made a forge, heated metal and all the rest… its what people did way back
5. Role models… Thoreau, Robinson Crusoe, William Cobbett… stores Catcher in The Rye, Coral Island, Lord of the Flies… I loved the notion of doing my own thing
6. Biggest challenge… doing stuff that parents/teachers/Church/friends say is wrong
7. Much harder now when people seem to like being part of the herd… much more difficult now to…l “switch off, drop out and tune in”
8. Insulate house, grow food and turn the house over to passive solar heating
9. Insulation and working from home has saved us a huge amount of money… don’t have to spend out on car/fuel/clothes and stuff
10. We have 4 acres… friend in Scotland has 2 acres and a shoreline – for fishing – guy in Spain has 50 acres of desert and scrub -….. it depends on your needs and aims
11. Can be done in city… we have a friend who purchased a brown site – lots of concrete – he has bees and goats and trades at car boot sales… he is doing very well
12. Start by listing your needs and ambitions. It all starts in your head. Most important of all its got to be fun. If you are going to wear lots of clothes in winter, burn wood, get a bike and all the rest… then you have to see it all as a pleasuresome and joyous activity.

Monday, 28 March 2011


Hello Ramsey... so you ask the questions... Alan

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Hello out there...
Are you in any way self-sufficient? If the answer is YES.... then how would you like to be a part of our next book? Our next book - still in the early planning stages - will be in the form of real life case studies. If you take part we will ask you about your particular self-sufficiency adventure... who you are, where you are, how got where you are, your vision, you inspiration etc etc. We will ask for photographs.... and so on and on. We see this book as being a sort of inspiration manual for people who are dreaming about going off-grid. It could be very exciting. If you are interested please let us know. Best wishes.... Alan

Monday, 15 February 2010


Way back, when I used to spend my summer holidays with my grandparents in deepest darkest Essex, some of the smallholders used beautiful little tank-like tractors called Ransomes Crawlers. As I remember they were low to the ground, they had caterpillar type tracks, and they were painted red and green. If you think... sort of Meccano come Dinky Toy, with just a little bit of 1944 military tank thrown in for good measure... then you will have it about right. But anyway, Ive got a feeling that the best way to sort my heavy moving,digging and dragging activities would be to get such a machine.
Is there anyone out there who can help?

Sunday, 14 February 2010


The question that we have been asking ourselves of late is... should we get a farm quad bike or.. should we stay with our old Grey Ferguson Tractor?

* A quad bike would be very useful for hauling a small trailer
* A quad bike would be good for Gill - easy to drive and manage
* A quad bike would perhaps be easier to reverse than the tractor
* We could use a quad bike to transport the deliveries of manure from the main gate down to the veg garden
* A road legal bike could be used to bring stuff from neighbouring farms
* A new quad would be an added expense - not very Green.
* I see that a good second hand quad bike would cost about as much as a good second hand tractor - and then again we already have the tractor
* A quad bike would be yet another lump of machinery
* I have very little experience of a quad
* Our Tractor is a beautiful machine - not very dynamic maybe, but rock solid reliable
* Our tractor is amazingly easy to service - lots of big bolt on lumps
* Our old tractor is gaining in value... worth more now than when we bought it

As you can see... it all needs thinking about.

Do you have any thoughts out there?

Monday, 1 February 2010

They may look cute...!

If you have a patch of grass – something like an overgrown orchard – and plenty of kitchen scraps, then geese can manage for most of the year without extra feeding. As William Cobbett says in his now classic self-sufficiency book Cottage Economy (published 1821) …”Geese are amongst the hardiest animals in the world… a goose will lay a hundred eggs a year… we give such things that are going to seed…lettuce… cabbages…they thrive exceedingly upon this food.”