Self sufficiency and the semi-industrial sewing machine


Picture of vintage Singer sewing machinesThe picture isn’t actually relevant to this post, but it shows what’s on the table on the desk behind me as I write this – and no, that’s not a typo.  There is a table on the desk.  With 21 machines already on the floor in a room just 14ft x 10ft, the only way to squeeze in some more was to put them on a cut-down table over the stuff that’s already on that desk.  But anyhow …

As regular readers will know, Elsie and I are into the idea of self-reliance.  That’s a term we much prefer to “self-sufficiency”, which as far as we’re concerned is pie in the sky for most folks nowadays.  I could waffle on about that for ages and bore your socks off but instead, I thought it might just interest some folks to see what can easily be grown by two people working a garden and an allotment without getting too serious about it.  Elsie’s just compiled the figures for this year, showing that we harvested:-

Rhubarb 42kg

Blackcurrants 26kg

Damsons 11kg

Pears 50kg

Apples 84kg

Lettuce x 200 (approx)

Radish x 41

Broad bean x 33kg

Tomato (cherry) 21kg

Cucumber x 33

Onion 21kg

Peppers 204kg

Sweetcorn x 25 cobs (a bad year for sweetcorn!)

Garlic 1.5kg

Cabbage 66kg (three types)

Potatoes 96kg

Plus smaller quantities of Morello cherries, turnip, spinach, beetroot,peas, climbing French bean, pumpkins (for seed and for roasting), Jerusalem artichokes, Brussel sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli and leeks.

The exact cost of producing that little lot’s not easy to work out accurately, but if we include allotment rent and several big trailerloads of the finest farmyard manure, it comes to somewhere between £260 and £320.  Considering that it’s all organic and it’s all really tasty varieties (barring one or two mistakes!) we don’t think that’s too bad at all, although it must be said we have no idea what it would cost to buy in the shops.  Then of course there’s the free stuff legally harvested at the roadside, which totalled 6kg brambles, 2.5kg walnuts, 17kg apples and 16kg damsons!

Now, as Elsie was working the final figures out, I was speaking to a bloke intent upon selling a 201K23.  It seemed a good proposition at first, but asking the right questions produced a couple of wrong answers, so I opted out.  At that point, I learned that he’d paid £140 for it online only a month ago, but soon found out that it was “too small”.

“Don’t tell me” says I. “It was billed as a semi-industrial machine ideal for knocking out leatherwork, sails, tarpaulins and so forth day in, day out …”

“Horse blankets actually” says he.  “And leather”.

“For which you need an industrial machine with a walking foot”

“Exactly.  But I didn’t realise that until after I’d spent another £40 having it serviced in town”

“And you can’t get your money back?”

“Not a hope”.

There’s a moral there somewhere …


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