Gardening on a Budget, Going Green, Money Matters

Renting chickens (because a mortgage is enough commitment already)

For the last four weeks, we have been hosting two chickens, Henrietta and Lily, from Book-a-Chook.

Pekin chickens
Pekin chickens, Henrietta and Lily, from Book-a-Chook

And like any new parent, I’ve been harping about them to everyone I meet: Henrietta is greedy, pecky, and sprints like an Olympic athlete, whilst Lily is the more cautious of the two and stays up past her bedtime. Most responses so far have been, ‘You can rent chickens?’ which is soon followed by ‘but why not just buy them?’

In the community, there persists a belief that chickens are mustbethrifty pets, since they give you free eggs, free fertiliser, free bug killer, and (occasionally) free chicken roast. And teenage chickens (8-10 week olds) only cost $30-40 each.

What most punters don’t consider is the cost of a fox-proof chicken coop (and run). There’s some cheap imports out there for a couple of hundred bucks, but they’re not very sturdy and you still need to wrap metres of mesh around them. Mesh, I’ve discovered, is surprisingly pricey.

Plus there’s the usual ongoing costs of feed, bedding, and veterinary treatments. And you have to be able to put them to bed at dusk, every frakking night. Buying chickens is a huge commitment.

Hence, Book-a-Chook is good for indecisives like me. It prevents people buying a flock of chickens as a whimsical Christmas present for the family before trying to get rid of both the chickens and the chicken-keeping paraphernalia on Gumtree a couple of months later. Okay, it’s not the cheapest exercise ($170 for 4 weeks, plus $100 delivery), but it helped confirm this particular life-choice. And Fleur, Book-a-Chook’s Chicken Whisperer, was great at guiding us through the process.

If only there was such a thing in the world called Book-a-Baby or Book-a-Dog.

 

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Going Green, Money Matters, mustbethrifty house

Lost

When we moved last year, I had planned to document the sustainable updates done to the new house. I must have dropped those plans off at the local op shop, along with all the clothes Cheap Geek and I had outgrown. And life, like the blog, feels like it’s come to a stop.

It hasn’t of course. Mum and Dad altered and installed some heavy-duty ex-hotel curtains to replace the threadbare sets inherited from the previous owner. Instead of splurging on new furniture, we splurged on energy and water efficient white goods. A local business made and installed some external awnings for our north-facing windows. I’ve turned the side garden beds along the driveway into pockets of edible garden and planted fruit trees such as ballerina apples, pomegranate, nectareze, and a nagami cumquat. And we’ve rented 2 pekins to try before we buy into the keeping chooks lifestyle.

Cheap Geek and I are also in the red, having spent too much money on the house/the move. We have not yet adjusted to the higher mortgage repayments; this has got to change.

And so, mustbethrifty begins again (hopefully)…

NOKIA Lumia 800_002536

Footnote Frivolity***, Going Green, mustbethrifty house

Flooring: making the best of what’s already there

Our new house had floating floorboards made of some blondish-coloured wood veneer. They looked cheap and brought about a vehemence rarely seen in my mild-mannered Cheap Geek–’I hate these floors’, was pretty much the first thing he said when we first inspected the house. So while keeping the floating floorboards was the most economical and environmental option, they had to go.

According to Randy Florke, author of Restore. Recycle. Repurpose. (Create A Beautiful Home), reclaimed wood, bamboo, cork, linoleum, marmoleum, recycled rubber, or a lick of paint are all green flooring alternatives. We chose to work with what was underneath the floating floorboards as it was cost-effective, environmentally sound* as well as the the most aesthetically pleasing. During the pre-purchase inspections, my dad had a look under the house and spotted the hardwood floors. When we pulled up the underlay, we were rewarded with this:

hardwood floors (untreated)
Hardwood floors hidden under carpet, lino, and floating boards for nearly 50 years.

We used Livos Kunos natural oil sealer with a walnut stain to protect the floor and bring out the grain of the wood. Livos uses food-grade natural oils and claims that their products are ‘biologically degradable, sustainable…and harmless, even in direct contact with humans, animals and plants’. Hopefully, this translates to better indoor air quality, something that may be important later on when our improvements make the house ‘less leaky’.

Livos Kunos natural oil sealer also don’t require re-sanding on reapplication, which is an added bonus. No need to waste more time/money/energy on sanding: a few drops of Livos and a buff with a rag is all that is required.

Our sand and polisher was reluctant to use Livos as she was not familiar with the brand, so we ended up doing much of the application and buffing ourselves**.

Applying Livos sealer to prepped floors
Dad applies the Livos with a paint roller.

The DIY process is fairly easy, requiring mostly elbow grease and some basic tools. Three coats are needed and each coat takes 24-48 hours to dry. The smell of the drying sealer reminds me of pine tar or menthol; it’s much more bearable than some of the varnishes and sealers I’ve used in the past.

Three coats have resulted in beautifully stained floors. There is a slight sheen on the surface but unlike polyurethane, oil sealers like Livos do not leave a shiny film on the floor. The floor feels silky to touch: smooth with a touch of resistance.

Livos Kunos natural oil sealer with walnut stain on Victorian Ash floors
Results after 3 coats of Livos Kunos natural oil sealer (walnut stain).

The floors take 4 to 6 weeks to cure but we’ve already moved in, giving them just a little bit more TLC than usual.


* ‘Before I tear up any old flooring, though, I try to make the best of what’s already there. If a hardwood floor can be refinished, stained, or even painted, that’s far preferable to tearing it up and adding refuse to the nearest landfill.’ (Randy Florke, via Restore. Recycle. Repurpose. (Create a Beautiful Home))

**The sand and polisher ended up giving us a discount for doing some of the work for her.

Going Green, Money Matters, mustbethrifty house

End of an era

Three years have past since my first mustbethrifty post. In my quest to save money and resources, I’ve done things my pre-mortgage self never considered doing: getting multiple quotes, researching products, putting up with housemates, clothes and food swapping, scavenging and borrowing, mending and altering. I’ve finally learnt how to become comfortable with my mortgage.

Now, after nearly five years with my first mortgage, I am about to sign up on a second mortgage, this time hand-in-hand with Cheap Geek. We will be moving out and ‘living the dream’ of house and land (and chickens).Putting on a sold sticker

I’m really happy with the house we’ve bought. Continue reading

Dress to Impress (for Less), Footnote Frivolity***

Hol(e)y soles!

These boots have suffered much abuse over the years and now they have hol(e)y soles, which aren’t great in the wet winter weather.

I didn’t want to throw them out, however, since they cost me a couple of hundred bucks. Plus they’re super comfy and play nice with most outfits.

Cheap Geek spends a fortune on his work shoes. In order to extend the life of his footwear, he kits up every new purchase with Topy soles. Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Gen DIY-er

The best cookbook I’ll ever own

Who doesn’t love a good cookbook? Big and bold with page after page of beautifully plated food, they’re a feast for the eyes of the food-obsessed.

Last time I checked, however, ‘oohing and aahing’ over a photograph of Gelato Messina’s rum baba gelato or Annabel Langbein’s slow-roast lamb with herb crust does not constitute as cooking, and a cookbook that doesn’t inspire a meal belongs on a coffee table, not the kitchen bench.

Most titles I own have a handful of bookmarked recipes. Continue reading