Free-Range Living

What is Free-Range Living?

'Freerange' living might perhaps be described as the individual(s) aiming to lead an 'independent' style of life, thinking and deciding for themselves, determining their own values, along with aiming to live life in a naturally self and socially responsible manner.

Travelling the Self-Realising Road ----

November 25, 2021 · By Mike Robin · No Comments

The attached (click on 'read more' to access) longer 'self-realisation' piece was intended for the books page of the Freerange Living site, but due to some current technical difficulties, has had to be placed here in the blog piece section.

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Living 'Eco Simply ---'

August 25, 2021 · By Mike Robin · No Comments

(The regular 'free-range' monthly blogs ceased Sept. '20 - this is the third 'occasional' blog since then)

Growing stuff can help to keep 'feet on ground', with good awareness, for instance, of yearly seasons and seasonality, and the vital importance of something that here in the UK general society maybe at times undervalues, that is, rain. In rain-less periods water has to be put on the ground here via irrigation, otherwise crops would'nt develop. This year the crops have been generally ok/pretty good, with strawberries and potatoes both being outstanding.

Supplies of wood have built up to cater for the woodstove next winter, and the inevitable hurdles and problems along the way have generall y been adequately dealt with . The 'biggest' of these was the run-off pipe from the septic tanks to the soakaway ditch blocking up, but fortunately a solution was found. Off-grid domestic living seems to have been back in the news a bit, and no doubt with the basics now available such as solar panels, wind turbines, battery stacks and heat pumps, could be an attractive proposition for some.

Ground-source and air-source heat pumps are being touted by the UK government as the 'way ahead', but some care is likely needed as the associated costs can vary quite dramatically. Off-griding is a way to practice self-reliance which can give a satisfying feeling as well as 'one in the eye' of those reportedly greedy large energy companies. Similarly growing home food production via hand tool methods can again support the self-sustaining feeling, linking too with farming methods of yesteryear.

Home food production from either home base or an allotment (or both -an allotment being a piece of rented land generally away from home) can also link to 'simple living' lifestyle choices, maybe at least partly as a reaction to modern life complexities and 'rush', along with economic attractions ------two 'goals' the micro-holding here seems quite suited to,

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'Resiliently Resilient ---- '

June 1, 2021 · By Mike Robin · No Comments


FR21 Occasional blog 2

'Resiliently Resilient -----' 

‘Harder’ Times-----

Here at the eco organic micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK midlands it's been one of those springs not easy for growers, with early morning frosts for most of April, and into early May, although quite a bit of sun too in April. May has been more like catchy 'April showers' weather, along with quite cool temperatures, quite a lot of rain, and now two-thirds through it could do with warming up quite a bit ---
Amazingly the crops don't actually look too bad - the broad beans are in flower, the peas beginning to climb their stick supports, the spring greens growing on quite well and the potatoes having thrived under bubblewrap plastic earlier on, now at full height, well, some of them. Lettuce and tomatoes are coming on in the glasshouses and seeds such as beetroot, swedes and the like are emerging, but slowly no doubt due to the quite cool air temperatures. Oh for some warmer weather-----

 The bought wood in the form of 'heavy' logs arrived on the driveway a couple of weeks or so ago and are now in the undercover logstore in the 'logs-istics centre (re-cycled concrete garage). More 'smaller' and lighter wood, useful to help keep the homefire burning, has been acquired for free, nurturing the frugal instincts, some of it already cut up and in the small wood bay.  The air-source heat pump has done invaluable service this cool spring keeping the two day living rooms warm and often for free via electric from the solar panels - more 'frugal sustenance'---

Modern living un-joys------

It’s relatively easy to get into a mindset that with modern labour saving systems, plus slick ‘e’ operations such as online banking (as long as they don’t suddenly freeze the account ---), life should be ‘easy peasy’ - except it sometimes isn’t----sometimes things can seem more problematic. This was brought home here recently with problems with grid energy suppliers. Green electric was the choice here as was the decision to deal with smaller companies due to unsatisfactory ‘superior’ style relations with larger firms having been previously experienced. And things were going well, with personal and pleasant contact, making a person feel quite human, untill suddenly, the two firms involved went 'pop', one after another, with the account then passed to one of the unloved (here) giant energy firms, which true to form immediately caused difficulties in the form of making it problematic to transfer the FIT scheme arrangements (a government scheme supplying subsidy for solar production).

And what a heck of a kerfuffle it was to get to a satisfactory conclusion to the FIT situation, involving several firms, most of whom seemed to make it quite difficult to actually make a FIT scheme application to them, taking loads of time and energy to try to sort it, with accompanying loads of hassle and stress - wern't computers and the 'e' tech era mean't to make things 'simple and easy' - ?! 'Not necessarily so', as the old Zen Master stated----

Pondering a bit further on these difficulties, it occurred that they could at least partly stem from a more 'general culture' derivation - that is, the focus being so strong in mainstream culture on profit maxing and money making in general, that the eye is taken off the ball in terms of the basic cultural purpose of firms' activities, which some might say is to provide a good and/or service to the rest of society, and which if they don't do too well, will be reflected then in lower profits. Large energy firms in particular do not have good reputations in this respect, some of them reportedly losing significant portions of their customer base. One group of employees from a large energy firm reportedly said for instance, that their company used to be a reasonably reasonable and humane firm, but had now morphed into a 'profit monster'. Could be a case of 'putting cart before horse' --- ? And 'lacking common sense resilience' - ?

 One of the 'best' 'eye off the ball' examples was the UK train company taken to task for not running many of their services, so for instance preventing people getting to their workplaces. The almost unbelievable reason this firm gave for cancelling so many of their services was that they'd worked out that it cost them less to pay the 'non-running' fine, than to actually provide the service ----  'It's a Mad World', as the song goes ---

'Forged resilience --- '

Resilience doesn't seem to be too associated with the younger generations here in the UK, with them having been charged from several quarters of a mindset of 'looking to be upset'. To be fair to the younger generations (this from someone who's pretty old at mid 70's), it's maybe not too likely that resilience can be found in books, nor in social media; more likely it's a character quality forged in the furnace of hard times, challenges to the self, and 'failures' even (which maybe at least partly the derivation if the old saying 'opposition is friendship' - ?), and of course time and experience is then needed to gain qualities such as reslilience. If a person has had the wind taken out of them, had 'a kick in the guts', as it were, it may be also important that expectations are reasonable -it may be unlikely for instance that the 'laid low' person is suddenly going to bounce back right up, recovery time likely being important.

 S was unexpecedly made redundant from a high-paid position, greatly threatening her life circumstances. 'Friends urged me to get right back 'into the fray' and get another job. Something though held me back, and on reflection part of that was me needing some recovery time. I had quite a bit of money built up plus my redundancy package, so was well able to rent a small cottage for a few months, living simply and at reasonable rent at a quieter area I knew, and taking the chance to lick my wounds, but also to follow a still small voice I was getting.'  Ultimately S changed careers to one with fewer material rewards but with opportunity to give care to young people, which she found very rewarding.

Personal hard-won resilience is no doubt a good asset to have, and as they say, 'what doesn't do for you can make you stronger'. After, for instance, one or two personal 'failures', failure then doesn't seem to be quite such a big deal, and some at least might argue that they are 'good for the soul' (eg. opening the door to compassion -- ). Many successful people in business have reportedly often previously gone through hard times and business failures, which have then given them the 'bounce back' resilient factor. Top golfers often aver that to get to the top of the golfing tree is a highly difficult and competitive process and that 'failures' ( win) are an essential part of the journey. One UK group  known for their resilient approach, are farmers operating in the relative harsher conditions in the north of the UK, where, for instance, sheep can perish in snow drifts. One such farmer stated on TV that one year he lost over 50 breeding females in snowdrifts which represented a pretty severe blow to his business, as well as his personal being as a farmer.

'Reverses build resilience ---- '

 Having dealt with several hundred farmers in advisory work, it's hard to remember any that hadn't/ didn't experience 'reverses' - it's probably that no matter how much people might want the 'no problems' situation, the reality is that problems and negative occurrences do occur. Imagine for instance being, again say, a farmer who over 30-40 years has built up a top quality herd of cattle, his/hers life's work and passion, only to see it slaughtered, still healthy but as part of a disease (eg. foot and mouth) eradication programme  - a deal of resilience then needed to cope in that situation - ?

Individual resilience and 'inner strength' are no doubt pretty valuable qualities to help individuals to cope with, say, pressure from mainstream cultures, which have been criticised for often coming over as over-expectationary in terms of indicating that people should be automatically 'this' or 'that'. A strong cultural 'perfection' expectation here in the UK in the 50's and 60's was conveyed in the admonition 'you should always think of others before yourself', which besides being over prescriptive (and plainly wrong advice for some situations), such 'perfection' admonitioning does not allocate 'development time - people are unrealistically expected to be 'instantly perfect'. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Prince William of the UK is advocating :

 'It's ok to be not ok'

He probably doesn't mean that it's necessarily ok to be full-stop non-ok, as it may well benefit the individual to make progress, rather that time is needed to get from 'A' to 'T' , things tend to be 'works in progress'. and 'instant perfecton' is therefore an unrealistic concept, one that the writer D.H.Lawrence was probably referring to with his comment about 'the ghastly white disease of idealism'------

'Non-instant perfection ---- '

A problem with the 'instant perfection' scenario situation can be that such admonitions coming from mainstream culture, or sections of mainstream culture, can put great pressure on individuals - who are they, for instance, as 'little individuals' to be 'right', and 'big' culture 'wrong' - ? Ms. Brenna Brene in the USA and now an in-demand 'influencer' has picked up on this theme saying that it's ok for parents to accept that their children  are 'imperfect'- they are 'learners' who need time to develop  - and so of course they are still loved by their parents. The move and drive for 'instant perfection' may be one of the major impediments of the last few decades, hopefully now with Messrs Windsor and Brenna's help in retreat ----

Any movement such as mindfulness practice that gives people more inner strength, and 'real self' regard ('non beating self up') is likely too to be a help to individuals to build resilience and inner strength, to then be better able to cope with potentially powerful trends and influences from within general mainstream culture, an example of which in the UK has said to be that of the 'woke' movement, seemingly intent on telling people how they should be,('instant perfection-ing') but then presumably potentially disrespecting individual rights and sovereignty.

Micro-holding resilience ---

As virtually any grower might well say : 'you win some, you lose some'. It's rare indeed here at the micro-holding to get a season without some failures or semi-failures. The trick seems to be to practise a bit of resilience by 'weighing things in the balance' - yes there's the 'not so good 'failure' side, but hang on, there's also the 'ok, pretty good , success' side, and that that's 'par for the course' (i.e the norm). Expectations have then 'settled down' with the application of knowledge gained by experience , bringing more 'reality acceptance' - 'sailing in calmer waters --- ' Remembering too that ol' boy Dorset (UK) farmer who'd long been sailing the calmer waters : 'Tek yer time, boyo, tek yer time ---- '






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Meaningful Life - the Freerange Way -----

March 12, 2021 · By Mike Robin ·

Struggles with commercialist culture continue, the latest being assigened to a large energy company due to the smaller outfit going out of business, to then receive the strong message from the new supplier that it didn't want queries from individuals, This was backed up by the fact that it was exceedingly difficult to contact them, so the customer problem remained unsolved, only to find resolution by moving to another supplier, the motivation to do so not being too hard to find by this time ---- 

Some early produce such as early potatoes and onion sets went in the ground late February, to be then covered for protection. Early sown seeds in warmth such as tomatoes, celery, lettuce and onions have germinated well, and the ground cleared, ready 'to go' --- another season to look forward too, a useful part in itsef of finding authentic meaning in life - ?

The individual, whilst being miniscule small in terms of the 'mainstream cultural flow' of things, is yet important at the individual level, in terms of finding 'life meaning', and there seems to be an increasing sense that the individual level, whilst superficially appearing to be 'socially unimportant' due to, say, lack of power,  is where full human development and fulfillment is found, then making the individual yet important to the establishment of good, productive societies - ?

Either way, the level of vision people can have relating to the individual and her/his harvest of life meaning and satisfaction, can likely in itself affect such a harvest, and so 'individual philosophy' (eg. 'freerange living' ) can be yet relevant and important ------ 

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Tags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living

Into The Freerange Yonder ------

September 10, 2020 · By Mike Robin · 6 Comments

August was a month of dynamic weather effects here at the organic micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK heartlands, sometimes causing some problems but no irrigation of crops needed unlike earlier in the year, when in both April and May there was virtually nil rainfall. It's been a lot better growing year here than the problematical one of last year, when crops were looking for quite awhile as though they'd perish. Staples such as onions and potatoes have done well, as have beetroot, celery and winter greens, although calabrese crops have been a bit patchy - it's rare to win 'em all ----

Since the end of May and with the onset of rain, grass growth has been prolific, bringing a hefty mowing workload, and as has weed growth, which if allowed to grow up a bit is then easier to get by hand, then of course contributing to the future fertility of the plot in the form of compost. Judging by the look of this year's crops the plot fertility isn't far off being about right -making and using a bit more compost has helped in this respect.

'You can never use too much compost' said the folks who were producing the most outstanding organic crops this grower's ever seen.

Some of the key 'freeranger' themes are briefly revisited and re-capped, this blog being the last in the series :

 - freerange humans       - advanced individual development     -  'power poor' individual v. 'powerful big business'

 -   a 'freeranger take' on money and materialism    -   'freeranger style individualism'   - 'the individual is important '

 -   'Individual 'fulfillment the holy grail - ?'    - 'sorting wheat from chaff -mindfulness practice'

 -   'from little acorns --benefits to the world'

Good freerangin' -----



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6 CommentsTags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living

Freestyle Lifestyle ----

August 12, 2020 · By Mike Robin · 1 Comment

The 2020 growing season has been very productive with a good start courtesy of the sun in April and May - the opposite of the dead squib 2019 season. There's been lots of beans, peas, calabrese, salads, onions and potatoes, as well as no end of bees and butterflys about the place, and stir-fry home grown veg lunches have been frequent.

Good to see well-known presenters extolling the 'grow-your-own' self-reliant style of life as the route towards personal satisfaction as against wealth accumulation, and maybe the current virus-restricted conditions could lead to a revival of more self-determination - ?

Smallholding has as ever been quite busy this spring with quite a sowing and planting workload, but this year too additional activities such as cottage painting, which has spruced up the place nicely. Some drainage issues have been dealt with, the largest of which was the main soakaway pipeline becoming non-functioning, but now with an alternative solution. The lockdown in Wales finished just in time to have a good and needed chilling out break at the static caravan on the farm in west Wales, as gorgeous as ever.

With so many large organisations about and so much support for 'big is best' type operations, it may well be importent for 'freeranger' folk to be able to 'counter' to be able to retain a level of independent thought and action - ? One result of the growth in 'larg-ist' operations and their 'economies of scale' battle cry, may well have been the narrowing down of key business objectives, ultimately to just the 'maximising of profits' level. which some, if not quite a few, might find restrictively limited - ? A study of independent rural lifestyle enterprisers found that in fact there were quite a few objective areas rated as important/very important -sixteen areas in total in fact, from personal development to environment care, to community contribution -- to achieving profit sustainability levels, and so forth - life being rated as somewhat more complex than the single objective view - making max profit - would suggest ------



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1 CommentTags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living

'Commercial Clout ---- '

July 8, 2020 · By Mike Robin · 1 Comment

June has seen varied weather patterns here at the eco organic micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK heartlands, as well as some dazzling migrant birds back in the UK to nest and rear young. Nature with ite 'survival of the fittest' aspect, wouldn't really work without the killing element, although the resident chick-chicks being predated by a hungry badger here a month or so ago could have been done without----

The first half of the growing season this year with its abundance of sunshine has been one of the best ever (in nearly forty years), contrasting with possibly the worst ever last year - no two seasons are the same, for sure --. Broad beans, peas ,potatoes, salads, beetroot haave all done well, with follow-on crops like runner beans too looking good. For once, onions are standing tall, strangely without any attention or depradations from the alium leaf miner fly --- Whether the change in strategy of the compost dressing has had a beneficial effect is hard to tell due to all the other seasonal variable factors, particularly the plentiful levels of sunshine.

Commercial messages, often coming from 'big business' can tend to lay strong emphasis on certain areas such as max profit making and business growth, but then running the risk of narrowing vision to too few areas, and possibly, in the case of business growth, running the risk of in some situations making inappropriate business moves.. Strong focus too on profit making may at times limit focus and vision too narrowly, one effect being maybe that money and money-making could become a too one-dimensional business objective, then limiting range and activity in other important areas - ?

The micro-holding activities, whilst covering a reasonable range of useful areas - environmental care, for instance - might yet prove to be somewhat lacking in the 'max profit' provision area ---


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1 CommentTags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living

'Normal Service -----'

June 9, 2020 · By Mike Robin ·

After a sunny spring here at the eco organic micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK midlands, the crops are looking well and growth's been good. Salad stuff's been available for use in warm/hot May and later crops such as beetroot are showing good promise, along with calabrese which has been a useful fairly recent find. Field crops around if anything look to be too forward, but then again, every season's different.

Though the soil here is a gorgeous black loam type, easily worked and fertile, it does need quite a bit of water in dryer weather, which the small irrigator, working off an outside tap on the cottage, has delivered regularly. The bought wood supply appeared as usual on the driveway in early May, then to be barrowed over a few days into the undercover logstore in the 'logs-istics centre', there to spend the summer drying away. The woodpile is added to by regular sawing sessions of wood from the stored woodpiles here on site, and 'small' wood from the like of pallets is also regularly sawn up and stored in its own undercover bunker - it helps the heavier logs to burn up well in the logstove come wintertime.

Not everything though has 'gone to plan', with the accidental near burning down of a garden shed, and much worse, a nightime predatory raid on the chicken house by what's turned out to be a large 'rogue' badger using its considerable strength to break into the chicken run and then force open the chicken's shed door, with predictable disasterous results - scarcely believable ---

Remembering farm advisory work times brought thoughts round to how diverse human beings inevitably are, with a host of factors affecting such human 'bio-diversity', and yet maybe current trends such as 'norming' may recognise such diversity insufficiently - ? Similarly, modern emphasis on wealth, luxury, 'flash' living and the like may relegate normal and meaningful so-called 'ordinary' life processes and satisfactions to a less important level than perhaps they should be - ?



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Tags: Free Range Living · Eco-holding husbandries

'As Nature Intended ---- '

May 13, 2020 · By Mike Robin ·

Spring happened pretty smartish in this neck of the woods, transforming the local countryside in miraculous manner, helped by a long period of sunshine through April. and resulting in a profusion of flowers and blossoms, as well as newly-minted light green leaves on the plentiful trees and hedgerows. Bees too seem to have been out early - no doubt the sunshine prompted them, although the nights have been quite cold.

In spite of cool nights though, growth here in this eco organic micro-holding (small smallholding) site in the UK heartlands has been good, with for instance early potatoes, started under cover, quite forward by the end of April. Broad beans too have made rapid strides, coming into flower unusually early before the end of April, to provide the bees with yet more flowers to go at. The germination of the peas though has been more 'hit and misss', with one row failing to show at all -peas can be just that bit tricky on occasion.

The highly unusual worlwide conditions due to the corona virus has produced surreal conditions, although here at the micro holding with quite a bit to go at, the 'lockdown' effect hasn't actually been felt too much. It remains to be seen whether such conditions will prompt people to be generally more aware of nature's powerful 'elementary' forces - some certainly feel that man as 'top dog' has strayed a little off the path of respecting and valuing 'Tao' -an underlying and powerful natural universal 'force'  said to strongly influence how things happen. It maybe too that the scientific, logical age has influenced thinking to be too much in the rational vein, then not allowing any more 'holistic' view - ?

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Tags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living

'Higher Planes --- '

April 7, 2020 · By Mike Robin ·

Today's surreal and strange times come at the end of what's seemed a long-ish winter here at the eco micro-holding in the UK midlands. Some warmer, sunnier weather prompted some planting and sowing, probably around a couple of weeks or so later than the norm. Everywhere was looking a little 'worse for wear' so maintenance tasks such as house painting became the order of the day, along with some sawing and clearance of a large apple tree limb blown down in the gales.

The world crisis pandemic has resulted in lockdown conditions here in the UK, so microholding activities have been useful to continue a semblance of 'usual life' - not sure how 'modern livers' without self-support sytems cope with such restrictive conditions? One author reminds that universal natural forces need to be reckoned with -----

The other natural change force the world's currently facing, temporarily taking a bit of a back seat, is the state of the planet Earth, and the urgent need for restorative action, which the current situation might yet be another 'wake-up' call - ? The british Prime Minister has said that in effect the current situation has already been a wake-up call to the fact that 'societies exist', no doubt harking back to the infamous words of a predecessor, 'There's no such thing as a society' (!)

Maybe too the (needed) balance between 'having' living and 'being' living will be looked at afresh, with consideration given as to whether there's been over emphasis on the materialistic 'having' side, to the detriment of the other needed dimensions - ? Might the individual, though 'power poor' and relatively insignificant in 'big is best' cultures, be yet important in terms of being an important key to future safety and prosperity - ?



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Tags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living