Friday, 25 September 2015

My frugal hero(ine)s (1)

If you read my other blog you may remember that earlier this year I wrote quite a lot about my dearly loved grandma who died well over thirty years ago.

Grandma lived in a big old-fashioned farmhouse which looked very elegant from the outside but was cold, inconvenient and rather uncomfortable to live in.  She had an amazingly hard life but for all sorts of reasons she is one of my frugal heroines.

Grandma had more than enough to do, running the farmhouse and doing quite a bit towards the running of the farm but she always kept a few hens.  Looking back with rose-coloured spectacles it could seem idyllic but those couple of dozen birds caused a lot of work.  Grandma had to let them out in the morning and shut them up at night, often searching for a hen who had gone broody in a very inconvenient place.  Egg gathering sounds lovely but mucking out hen houses was not so much fun.  The fox was a constant enemy.  Grandma had to cope with delicate day old chicks and had to wring the necks of birds whose time had come.  The birds would come to the back door but when they left they would also have left poo behind them.

All in all the hens were hard work but there were beautiful fresh eggs for the farmhouse and grandma would always give me one or two to take home for my tea during the week.

The surplus eggs would be sent to the egg packing station.  They had to be buffed clean, sorted and packed into trays and seeing to that was sometimes my job.  Just a few dozen eggs would be sent each week and some weeks there would be very few to send,

Whatever money there was from the eggs was grandma's own, not "farm money" and she used to squirrel it away along with butter money.  Once a year she used to treat grandad and herself to a week at the seaside, staying at a guest house in Skegness.  

A few days ago I mentioned to a friend that I earn about £60 to £70 a month doing on-line surveys and she said, "Ooh, over a year that's enough for a holiday!" 

And I thought back to grandma and her hens.  I'm not pretending that the surveys are anything like such hard work but they can be very tedious and the only way to get anything like £60 a month is to be very constant in doing them.  The money doesn't go directly to my holiday budget (I'm usually paid in Amazon vouchers) but it does free up money to enable my holidays to be taken.

I think Grandma would be pleased with me.  I hope so.  


  1. What a lovely nostalgic post. I dithered with the idea of chickens but decided against simply because they are a daily hands on job and I am sure the novelty of fresh eggs soon wears off. I remember holidays on a family farm with a torch looking for missing hens ...not funny when it is wet and cold. Lovely story. Xxx

  2. Thats a great story. It reminds me of how my mom brought home her tip money, rolled all the coins at weeks end to turn in for cash or the checkbook for household bills and the loose coins went in another can. Twice a year that can was used for school shopping and Christmas extras. I'm sure there were years when that was all the school shopping or Christmas money.

  3. Always enjoy reading about your past family history. Your grandma was typical of the enterprising women of her day. Women tried all means they could to earn some money, for some it was washing for others or mending - what an example to us.

    Your means is the modern day equivalent - I have never thought of anything like that even though our income is limited - how clever of you; yes, your grandma would be proud of you.

    1. How loely to see a comment from you today, Kentish Maid. It's my Sabbath and I've been thinking about you.

    2. A serendipitous joint thought! as the previous day we went to two places but we ended up, as is usual when we are on the NW Kent coast, at Reculver - where the twin towers are the main survivors of what was once St Mary's church. As you will have lived in various vicarages I thought of you and felt you would smile that in 1809 it was the young vicar's mother who persuaded her son to petition the parishioners to demolish the ancient church as it was a cold and draughty place - on the edge of the sea due to land erosion.

      Unfortunately she was successful! But thankfully the towers still remain.

  4. Actually, I think doing the surveys sounds like fun -- and profitable. I have tried to do some here but I usually 'don't quality'. I think I would have liked your grandmother!

    1. For the vast majority of surveys I don't qualify either. I reckon that when everything is taken into account I earn less than £1 an hour on surveys except when it's a focus group type of thing and I was doing surveys for a very long time before I got invited to those. It must have been the best part of a year before the income developed into anything significant.

      I am very well organised when it comes to surveys - the sites are all bookmarked and I check in every day. Each time I settle down with a cuppa I do a few surveys. Some are fun, but some are incredibly tedious!