Well, here we are on the 3rd and final instalment of our little reminisce on how we started our journey to self-sufficiency and eco living. Over the past 2 parts we explained how we started with a 40 foot caravan and added a wooden extension onto it and installed water and electricity. But, there was still a lot more to do to make it comfortable and liveable.

That first winter was horrible, cold, dark and damp, and there was no way we were going to go through that again, so we installed central heating  designed as a natural flow system, as in hot water rises and moves , meaning that we didn’t need an electric pump. This system works just as well as any system I’ve known. We have 4 radiators which are run from the Stanley 8 range, probably the most important piece of equipment that we have here at ‘ The Willows’. It heats all of the radiators, heats the water for showers and washing, the kitchen is always lovely and warm, and it is also the cooker and oven. So, basically it’s one small fuel source for every hot job in the house, meaning it also cuts down our carbon footprint which is small as it is.


Once the bathroom had been plumbed in and tiled, the laminate floors and tiling completed in the kitchen, it really started to look like a proper house.


Yes, the tool box has now gone into the workshop.

I made the kitchen units out of plyboard and ripped the interior out of the caravan living room to make way for a proper sofa.


Two of the caravan bedrooms were knocked into one with the old bathroom being taken out to make more room. This just left the small bedroom that we turned into a media room with laptop, desk and files etc. The rest all took quite a few years to finish, what with trying to save money and grow our veg, but we can truly say at this point, WE HAVE NO BILLS ! This of course is great for us as we don’t need a lot of money but we do work very hard on the land.

When we first started to talk about self-sufficiency it was all a big dream for us, not actually knowing the true meaning of the word. Self sufficiency isn’t just about growing a few veg in the back garden and going without things you don’t have to go without just for the sake of it. It’s about producing everything you can for yourself, in your own life and on your own land.

We grow about 50% of our own food but we aim to make this higher.We have access to a peat bog to supply fuel for our range, it’s not environmentally friendly but we have planted an acre of willow for bio mass fuel and continue to plant around 500 willow cuttings annually to help counter balance any environmental issues that we violate.


The Amish are 100% self-sufficient but they are a large community of people where as we are just 2 people doing the best we can.

This blog wasn’t set up to be about us in the first place, it was set up to show others that a self-sufficient life style could be achieved with very little money and hopefully through our posts help others to over come any problems that they may come across. It’s all about sharing our experiences, information and ideas with you.

This then brings us to the present day and what our future plans will be;

We have a solar water heater all ready and waiting to be positioned on the roof.

During winter I’m hoping to make a 1000 watt wind turbine.

We will be extending the orchard to include more variety of fruits.

In spring we will be planting hops and grape vines to increase the beer and wine production.

We will grow more hazel nuts ( for protein).

The number of hens will be increased as we have a small base of customers requiring more eggs than we can provide at the moment.

Bees will be introduced and goats will be considered( but we’re not sure yet).

A third tunnel may be needed as our local garden centre has said that they would buy veg plants from us.

So that’s everything for now and we would like to say thank you to you all for reading our story so far, leaving encouraging comments, pressing ‘like’ and following our blog. We really appreciate it.

From us both at ‘The Willows’ thanks and enjoy.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Catherine C
    Sep 30, 2014 @ 16:27:31

    Fabulous. I love the range with the dog’s bed underneath for extra heat 😉


  2. wspines
    Sep 30, 2014 @ 16:34:38

    I applaud you. No bills using the land well, providing for yourselves. And sharing it all with us. I aspire to be more self sufficient too. If everyone did it would make a difference. I have so enjoyed reading about your experience. Thanks so much


  3. silverbells2012
    Sep 30, 2014 @ 18:57:38

    An amazing story. Wish I had the space…. Anyway, it is brilliant that you are doing so well on so many fronts!


  4. unionhomestead
    Sep 30, 2014 @ 22:22:24

    Awesome! You guys have achieved so much! We have both bees and goats; it was third time lucky maintaining a hive over winter (we have a top bar hive – thoroughly recommend The Barefoot Beekeeper by PJ Chandler for info) and the goats are a work in progress…when it’s great it’s wonderful (beautiful milk, cheese etc), when it’s not…well..you get the picture 🙂 On balance though we wouldn’t be without them. The one thing this way of life teaches you is that nothing is perfect, once you accept that, it’s all good 🙂 Though, I know I don’t need to tell you guys that!


    • Willowarchway
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:57:23

      Thanks guys. The book info on bee keeping will come in handy and hubby is hoping to go on a bee keeping course locally. Still on the fence about goat keeping, cheese would be what I would be hoping for, do you ever make hard cheese? Also we like to go away often in our old vw camper and I’m concerned that we would be tied down with goats.


  5. linniew
    Oct 01, 2014 @ 15:15:03

    Congratulations on a dream that is coming along nicely into reality! Such a wonderful cozy house and farm. It is a gift to all that you take the time to share your story online. I have hope that the international human connections and truth-telling available through the Internet will ultimately overcome what divides the world–but I expect you are already familiar with that idea.

    May your successes continue!


  6. Robbie
    Oct 01, 2014 @ 16:23:56

    looking good! You forgot to add to your comment about being self-sufficient-
    “Self sufficiency isn’t just about growing a few veg in the back garden and going without things you don’t have to go without just for the sake of it. It’s about producing everything you can for yourself, in your own life and on your own land.”
    It is a hella lotta work + I admire what you are doing…I am the one that just does a bit/what I can…sooo..you are amazing-…but 50 percent is pretty darn good-congrats!


    • Willowarchway
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 14:04:20

      Thanks Robbie. Reading your blog regularly, I think that you are doing ALOT more than ‘just a bit’ ! I also forgot to say in the post that self-sufficiency is a full time job and not everyone can give this time.


      • Robbie
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 15:37:42

        boy ain’t that the truth-lol..I am finding that out myself. I do admire how you are trying to be off the grid. We have to live in the city- right not but some day…. that would be a dream:-) I hate our bills in the city but it does help to grow a lot of our vegetables. We don’t have to purchase any vegetables during most of the year + now fruit too. I am starting to discover microgreens inside and how nutritious they are for some of the cold months we are under snow and below zero. They don’t really need lights since you eat them before the first leaves….post for the winter when I am inside! Keep on growing-your doing great!!!! Glad to see you are posting again:-) I will be taking a break soon myself:-)

  7. greenbenchramblings
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 12:13:25

    Wow! What a long way to travel in 10 years. Congratulations.


  8. Willowarchway
    Oct 07, 2014 @ 09:11:44

    Thank you. I feel sometimes as if it’s been 20 years but I wouldn’t change anything for the world 🙂


  9. rabidlittlehippy
    Oct 09, 2014 @ 20:40:30

    You also forgot to add that it’s a hellova lot of fun! 😀
    We have 2 goats although our caprine journey is a) yet to yield milk and b) not gone according to plan. Bees are on our list too but definitely not yet!
    We’re heading to the no bills thing with new PV panels on the roof and water tanks earmarked for the near future. It’s not happening this month so I think I might wait and see what new year sales come up. 🙂
    Check out Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby too. Good book!


    • Willowarchway
      Oct 12, 2014 @ 11:53:26

      Yes, of course, I forgot the fun !! Great news about the ‘no bills’ plan that you have, it’s a lovely feeling and people look at you gone out when you say “I’ve no bills!” Will check out the goat care book, thanks for the heads up. E


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