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.

Into The Freerange Yonder ------

September 10, 2020 · By Mike Robin · No Comments

August was a month of dynamic weather effects here at the organic micro-holding (small smallholdng) 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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Freestyle Lifestyle ----

August 12, 2020 · By Mike Robin · 1 Comment

Thde 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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'Commercial Clout ---- '

July 8, 2020 · By Mike Robin · No Comments

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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'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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'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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'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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'Then, Now ----and Whenever --- '

March 5, 2020 · By Mike Robin ·

Storms, rain, gales, snow have all been in evidence here at the eco micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK's midlands region in the last few weeks, causing flooding problems for quite a few. It seems that quite a few houses have been built on flood plains which mightn't have helped, and people living close to rivers have of course been vulnerable.

The micro-holding itself has been relatively unscathed and the mini-flock of chickens seen to have coped quite well, and are thriving in their new regime. They've been out in the paddock and orchard in the afternoons for a few weeks now, one effect of which has to have been to reduce bought feed costs, with them doing a fair amount of grazing - the eggs are pretty tasty too.

Th spite of the lousy February weather - it's apparently been the wettest February ever here in the UK - quite a bit seems to still have got done, although the woodash and compost, normally put out on the land in February, is still in store. After a problem-free run, they seem to have come along recently like buses, one after the other, and an 'improvement' programme will have to be order of the day for spring/early summer.

Cultures can certainly be different, offering citizens with varying degrees of scope, and varying levels of democratic power and say. Even within democracies the power of the individual via vote can be at times virtually non existent, which might well be an argument for the individual to take, as far as they can, their own ('freerange') reins up - ? Emphases too can change considerably within a democracy, with 'individual' and 'social' often being the two 'opposing' poles.

Here in the UK cultural changes may (or may not) involve moving from a strong individual emphasis to then embrace more social priorities, moves too to counter climate change, and , possibly, moves to make commercial firms more sociably accountable (especially in the 'gig' sector), a call that a group of top executives has been making. And getting back to existential matters, there's a need 'to get the hoe on the go --- '

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'Down to Earth --- '

February 9, 2020 · By Mike Robin ·

Preparing for the growing season by either digging in 'green manure' (self-set weeds and grasses in this case) or scraping off weeds from the soil's surface to then go onto the compost heap, is the priority for February here on the organic eco micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK midlands. Formerly it was also the month in which the woodash and compost went onto the soil, but as an experiment this year there's been a change in practice. Home-grown produce has been in relatively short supply, although the winter greens - purple sprouting and curly kale - have been coming to hand relatively early in this cool rather than cold winter.

The last of the beetroot 's not been long picked, which mean't it had lasted seven months for picking - not too shabby, particularly after a 'difficult' first half of the growing season. Similarly the celery's done well this year, getting to a good size and lasting well for picking, right into the winter. Seeds for the new coming season have been sown already and the broad bean seed is due to go into earth pretty shortly, this year into buckets with glass over the top as last year for the first time they were 'nipped off' as plants under the normal arrangement of an old windscreen.

Mid to late winter is probably the toughest season to endure hereabouts, especially this year with the lane outside the cottage a perpetual mess with cars dragging water up it from the flood down on the corner. The cottage too is in need of some TLC, looking shabby currently, in need of a lick of paint, or more probably, several licks. It's often a time too where problems rear their head with this year being no exception. The drain run-off from the septic tank drainage system has decided not to work, after decades of service, but maybe getting a bit less attention lately than needed. One or two other problems came to light. but no doubt in the fullness of time and with now a definite 'improvement' approach, will get themselves solved. 

Fraud, robbing via scams and general 'on the make' commercial practice can at times give the impression of living in a society that's not exactly brilliant for everyone and and that actually it's more like 'everyone for themselves' rather than an actual society, which in reality it is. One quote in a paper recently may have hit the nail on the head :

'The trouble with winning the rat race ------ is that you are still a rat'

Another rat got stuck here at the bottom of a 1000 litre water container --- and had to be provided with a metal section acting as a ladder to assist its escape, which may be not everyone's preferred line of action - it was just that it was so hopelessly cornered and the heart wasn't in it to despatch it. There was though a rat corpse a day or two later so maybe Tia the snow-leopard lookalike cat got it - at least then it had been a fairer contest ---Tia is a gorgeous looking feline but my, she sure can hunt, no doubt 'earning her keep' and doing a fair job of keeping the rodents at bay -----

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'Really ----- '

January 11, 2020 · By Mike Robin ·

One winter there seemed to be buzzards everywhere hereabouts at the organic eco micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK's midland heartlands - no doubt they were pretty hungry birds, but this year it's been jays with at least one sighting a day of these elusive birds for the last two/three months. The other bird in evidence here over the winter has been a gang of woodpigeons, who've made their quarters in the high holly hedge between the veg growing area and the paddock, fortunately though not raiding the veg patch for food. They're noticeably skittish, with a mass exodus of the thirty or so birds as soon as there's any sign of human activity, a result presumably of many years of persecution by people - ?

Wood supplies are naturally dwindling, with the log stove using quite a bit, being a reasonably sized model, and home-grown supplies are too diminishing, as to be expected at this time of year, and especially after last season's relatively poor growing performance here - hoping for a better season this coming year. Now that it's the quiet time for micro-holding activities, there's more time for visits to nearby towns to get needed items and enjoy one or two treats, which then, erm, go down a treat ----

Interesting times in the 'wider world' with planet conservation priorities clashing with status quo 'vested interest' interests, the younger generations becoming more active and vocal, which seems fair enough, as future world conditions will affect them more than the older generations - ? It just seems such a 'natural' thing to do to be taking care of the planet, even if it does mean less 'conspicious consumption' for people in the longer run - ? One point of view recently put forward is that man has perhaps got a little too much into 'ego' mode which has then had a 'distortion of reality' effect - ? Country livers whilst maybe not having the same level of services that townsfolk enjoy, may though benefit by experiencing natural events such as seasonality effects more vivedly, helping then to keep then on the 'reality tracks' - ?

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'Fulminating Mildly ---- and Grumbling Just a Bit ---- '

December 10, 2019 · By Mike Robin ·

Wet weather and flooding has been the picture this autumn in the UK and although very damp here at the eco organic micro-holding in the uk midlands, the worse has been escaped. A bit of adverse conditions toughens a body up a bit, though, so maybe it's not all bad -? In spite of all the rain the autumn maintenance programme has had to go ahead, with a fair bit of hedging and lopping done, plus a big hedge lowered a couple of feet or so, then bringing on a couple of 'big burns' to get shut of all the waste trimmings, producing at the same time, useful fertiliser.

Although it was a fairly strange growing season, home grown produce has in the end lasted out pretty well with runner beans, celery, tomatoes, potatoes and beetroot all lasting well into November, providing tasty food, especially the full-of-taste tomatoes. More wood has been sawn up to try to ensure that supplies of dry wood last right through the winter.

Contact with the commercial sector has as usual not been over satisfactory, with some firms  not really getting too far past their 'big is best' mindsets, so it's that 'David v. Goliath' feeling over again. A bit of faith was restored, though, on going to buy a tarpaulin to recover the polytunnel storage area, when quite a chunk of money was knocked off the list price. On remarking to the older sales assistant that their pricing was well competitive against one or two other fairly local suppliers, the response was that it was their policy to give customers good value for money and good service, accepting that they might make a bit less profit initially but would win in the longer run getting good levels of repeat business. A firm with its head well scewed on, and this customer will certainly be using this firm in the future.

'Going big' could well be an emotive-led move to allay insecurity, especially in times in which there are strong trends of the same, although for freerangers it may not be a case of total joy, particularly if then the strength and power of 'small', particularly individuals, is weakened in the process, which might also put 'personal salvation/fulfillment' processes at peril - ? As ever, practical stuff here at the micro-holding acts to provide meaningful and satisfying activity - not at all in any 'big' mode, thankfully 'micro small ---- '


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