Financial-Independence-Retire-Early(er). Achieved the first two letters of FIRE, now onto the rest!

Time’s ticking away.

Cavaliers sitting at the front door.
Poppy and Jeff watching me leave for work. Only 5 weeks to go!

Five weeks (and 1 day) of work left before I retire! It seems real and yet not, if you know what I mean.

I’m constantly being asked at work, “Counting down the days?” and yes, I suppose I am.

I’ve had people saying they’re specifically coming to the staff luncheon at the end of the year because they know my speech will be hilarious – oof, no pressure everyone! – and others saying that they’ll miss me next year. That’s nice of them to say, but we all know how quickly workplaces move on. Today’s superstar is barely remembered a month into next year. It’s all about the here and now.

One thing I’m kicking myself about.

Due to remote learning being hard on some of the kids, the year 7s didn’t have to write a full essay on their novel this year, just 3 body paragraphs. This means that I read my very last essay ever LAST YEAR!!!! This means that I read my very last essay ever and I didn’t even know it. ARGH!!!! That would have been a sweet, sweet feeling.

Hand made soap curing.
Work Christmas presents done.

I’ve made my very last Work Christmas presents. For the last couple of years I’ve made soap to give to people. This year I bought cornflower and calendula petals to make them look pretty. The soap takes 6 weeks to cure so it can be safely used, so it means that you have to be organised early. I’m really pleased with how these look.

Oh, and if you’re a work friend who’s reading this, just pretend to be surprised in the last week of term. πŸ™‚

Brick path to the letterbox, next to the 'Orchard.'
Another little job ticked off the list!

I decided to bite the bullet and finish off the front yard. New guttering on the verandah, a new garden bed and brick path have all been put in. This means that, apart from the side fence that has to be replaced, the bones of the yard have been completed and now the pottering about bit – otherwise known as planting and gardening – are ready to be worked on next year when I have all the time in the world.

Like it says in the caption.
Front, curved garden bed.

I still have no clear idea what is going to be planted in this garden bed. All I know for sure is that I want it to be full of flowers to bring the bees to pollinate all the fruit trees. The dark fence behind it will be the perfect backdrop for splashes of colour.

Seedlings.
Grown from seeds.

The other cheap entertainment I’ll have for myself is seriously learning how to grow food from seed. I’ve been doing it for years, but in a haphazard sort of way, so I’m looking forward to refining how I do it and being more consistent and productive.

There’s nothing so rewarding as harvesting food that you’ve grown yourself from seeds you’ve saved. Free food is my favourite flavour!

Black plastic pots - big ones - with pumpkin plants.
Pumpkins in pots in the orchard.

Speaking about growing food from saved seed, last year was the first time I successfully grew pumpkins. Never have pumpkins tasted better! I saved seed from the largest one and I’ve planted them in pots which I’ve popped in the new orchard. The idea is that while the grass underneath the mulch is slowly being killed off, the pumpkin plants can tumble over the sides of the pots and ramble all over the ground under the baby trees.

It’s an experiment. Hopefully, they’ll produce glorious pumpkins and I’ll be making use of all that spare ground. That’s the great thing about food gardening. There’s always a new experiment to be carried out to keep things interesting.

There are unexpected benefits to growing your own food. Last summer we had a tomato glut. I’ve never seen so many tomatoes in one garden in my life before. By the time summer ended I had packed away around 50 kilos in bags of chopped-up tomatoes in 400g lots in the freezers. Anytime a recipe called for a tin of tomatoes, I’d just defrost a bag. Along with other produce from the garden, our big freezer in the laundry and our smaller one in the kitchen was jam-packed full.

Then covid happened. Having all of that food saved meant that our visits to the shops were dramatically cut. I planned our meals around what we had to use up and now, in late spring, we have just 4 bags of tomatoes left. I’m so rapt. The utter convenience of having all of this on-site, along with the motivation of “if we grows it, we eats it!” meant that it was easier to simply throw a meal together from home, rather than get takeaway and risk getting the virus.

I’ve spent so much money on landscaping the yard to include the wicking vegetable beds that I’ll NEVER make my money back on grocery savings. But that wasn’t why I did it.

Old Lady Frogdancer’s ongoing grocery bills will be slightly smaller, yes. But she’ll also have endless hours of entertainment, plotting and planning for next year’s crops, devising the next new experiment, getting out in the sun to enjoy the weather and look after her plant babies. She’ll be able to give away produce to her boys and they’ll all be eating the cheapest, healthiest organic fruit and vegetables possible.

Assuming that some charitable souls take on my unfortunate-looking sons, in years to come Old Lady Frogdancer, in between overseas trips, will be able to teach the next generation how to get their hands dirty and show them where food actually comes from. That’ll be pretty cool, I think.

Well, as the title at the top of this post says, time’s ticking away. The timer is about to ding for the last kneading for today’s sourdough loaves and once that’s done I have to go out and water the gardens. It’s a beautifully sunny day today and Thursday is my day off.

Hmm.. will I take the dogs down to the beach? Will I plant out some of the seedlings in the greenhouse? Will I continue painting the verandah? Ryan25’s quilt and Jenna’s scarf need to be finished soon, should I attack one or both of them? Should I knock over a couple more chapters in that retirement book I’m reading?

You know, it’s almost impossible to comprehend that soon I’ll be asking these questions of myself every single day… and then doing whatever I feel like.

Wow.

10 Comments

  1. gofi

    πŸ™‚ congrats – to adventures in Retirement.

  2. Jane in London

    Everything’s coming together nicely! Mind you, if you’re anything like I was, you’ll find that “all the time in the world” suddenly turns into “I’m too busy to do that” once you’re actually retired!

    Somehow, I always seem to be busy – I have literally no idea how I ever found time to work πŸ˜‰

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’m hoping so.
      People have asked me if I’ll be bored once I’m no longer working. Now THAT’S a concept I don’t understand!

  3. Kathy Aylward

    The garden beds look great and growing from seed is so exciting…I really did it for the first time last year on a small scale. I would raise 6-8 bean plants and give some to my friend and plant the rest…my garden is bare at the moment so I have to get stuck into it. All the best for your retirement. Kathy A, Brisbane

    • FrogdancerJones

      I gave some bean seeds to my parents and they’re nurturing them like babies.
      πŸ™‚

  4. Latestarterfire

    Growing food from seeds is where I want to be too! Haven’t been successful yet πŸ™
    Five more weeks … I’m counting down with you πŸ™‚

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’m thinking it’s a little bit of an art. I’ve had some success so far this year – I planted out 14 seedling – let’s see how we go!

  5. Neo

    I always suggest Brandy when someone says they want to plant for the pantry, or want to have flowers in the decoration.
    https://theprudenthomemaker.com/blog
    https://theprudenthomemaker.com/the-kitchen-garden

    The big joke is that I can’t use my own suggestion. Where I live is a place with no sun and a lot of wind. Add cats that love to eat plants and gardening is a no-no. lol

    good luck in your future projects

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