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July 4th sunk me

July 7th, 2014 at 08:11 pm

Ugh! Why do I do this to myself?

First off, I bought groceries $49.45 and don't ya know they were gone in a day! Then I got gas, another $47.32. Also gone before the weekend was up. Then I had to get wood chips for the animals and goats feed...another $30 gone.

We went to a free pool but dear hubby wanted to get the kids a snack, $50 later it was more like dinner delivered pool side. So much for free swimming. He likes to buy more now that he is working. Frown

Then on the way home "Oh mama, mamma fireworks half off." Yes, I caved, $10 down the drain.

$200 gone in what, a day! How am I ever going to get ahead spending money like this. I showed my husband how much lower our account was and he shrugged, "It will be taken care of dear." I know it will, but why does it have to go so fast?

My husband has temporary work finally

July 1st, 2014 at 02:48 am

He found some work!

It's temporary though. He is working in a position for a temp agency. The position is soon to be made redundant by the company due to automation. However it could be a few months before that happens. This may see us through the summer. I am still working like mad as a writer. Loving many of the jobs I get now. I have established myself with a few agencies and they seem to like my work. I write ads, so nothing glorified, but definitely up my alley.

The tomatoes are starting to wilt and yellow. Does anyone know why this would happen? We fertilized with fish emulsion, but nothing is improving.

The beans are still going and the okra. My peppers are limping along. Pulled some shallots the other day. So delicious.

If things pick up we can finally start paying off teh credit card debt! Woo hoo right?

Been working hard

June 28th, 2014 at 07:29 am

and I got rewarded ...... Drum roll Please

I made $46 in one day writing! Whoa right? How many writers do that just starting out. Of course I worked 12 hours straight.

We have a baby goat that is very healthy and happy. We have green beans coming on, squash, and some tomatoes. I have one okra with fruit on it. Very excited, being on the cusp of so much deliciousness.

I have cleared 5 beds. I have a few more to clear and then we replant in mid August for a winter bed. Probably more potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic, beets, turnips, and things. I can live on those. Actually we have been.

Also, super duper awesome dawsome news, we got a contract for almost 500 bucks a month on top of my writing stuff! Plus my husband might have found work. God I hope so, working my tail off like this leaves little time to garden, cook, or preserve.

Well we pulled potatoes

June 16th, 2014 at 07:18 pm

Yesterday we pulled potatoes after my work. They came out lovely. We still have another bed to pull, but that will be later in the month. We are saving the tiny potatoes to replant for fall potatoes.



Then we made homemade chicken fingers and french fries for dinner. A neat treat from our chicken and our home grown potatoes. We cut so many fries we put back half in the freezer to fry up another way, or bake in the solar oven.

We have over 90 percent of the potatoes we pulled left. Yummy an scrumptious. I should have taken a picture of the fries and fry making process, but we were all to hungry to worry about pictures.

Good news!

June 15th, 2014 at 07:23 pm

Well first, I got my medication, at least the most important one. I couldn't afford the rest. I did a little job for a client that normally has me work. The extra cash was just enough to get one medication.

I sold one more book. The first one of Bringing Up Baby, I believe. That or the second one. Either way, I was super ecstatic.

Work picked up a little more. No where near enough to make up for the $800 dollar short fall, but that's ok. I found another way to make up for it.

We happen to have a lot growing in the garden now.



Our beet bed.



Our turnip bed after we pulled about 5 pounds of turnips for the weeks dinners. We chopped the greens and froze them for our soups.



Our onion haul two days ago. We chopped up all the green onion bits and froze it for soups. The little onions are being used in everything from Mexican food to caramelized onions for snacks for the kids. It's basically onions fried in very little oil to caramelize the outside of it. A very tasty snack. We also made eggplant Parmesan with our onions. We didn't have Parmesan though, but it tasted fine.

I have been pulling from the garden a lot to supplement our food budget so I spend less. Well I went through everything we had in the house and made a meal plan. I believe, at least for the next month, we should get by without buying any food. It will be tough. We will have to eat beans a lot when the garden doesn't bless us. Beans are good anyway though. I usually buy more butter and things when the goat isn't producing a lot. This should free up more money for about a month. After that we will have eaten down every last store and only have what we produce, so hopefully money picks up soon.

Unfortunately we do not produce enough to live on exclusively. It does make up a lot of our diet in the summer, but until the green beans take off and the okra is setting and the tomatoes are ready to drop we will just won't be able to do it. It's awfully cold here now, so they aren't wanting to grow like usual. My peppers are dying. My tomatoes are beautiful, but only 3 of the 22 plants are setting. My okra are growing, but slowly. The green beans had to be trellised already, so they may take off soon. My squash and cucumbers all came in, but aren't setting fruit yet. We should have some potatoes soon and that will be fine. Other than that, we have fields of beans. They take 90 days and they have been in only 30. Plus no guarantee they will set right also. The weather has been so weird. I like it, I just need to learn to grow better I guess.

I found a few things to sell on eBay, but none of them are doing well. I assume the items I chose are not that popular.

We had one leave the nest

June 6th, 2014 at 01:05 am

My daughter left the house. She is 18 and old enough to fly the coop, but her absence has been noticed. I don't know for how long she will be gone. She said not long, but she went awfully far away!

At any rate, even though it's been just a few days, I have noticed things. The food in the pantry is not disappearing mysteriously anymore, so we have peanut butter still. Usually it's gone with in a day. I also noticed my house is cleaner. Which is weird considering she was always complaining about how much cleaning she did.

I miss her to pieces though. She's happy and having fun. She texts every so often to say what she is doing, which is nice. I just never expected to notice anything besides how much I would miss her.

Working hard to stay in the same place?

June 3rd, 2014 at 09:53 pm

What is it when you get to a certain place only to spin your wheels at that point? I feel like I am doing that now. I have been writing articles for $5 a pop over on fiverr.com. I love what I do, but I'm not very fast at writing. I can only seem to get 5 one thousand word articles done in an 8 hour day. Of course, I only actually get $4 per article, so I am making about $20 a day for 6 to 8 hours of work. I'm not complaining! I am thankful to have work at all. We were living on much less. I just wish I could become better or faster at it. It really depends on the subject matter.

So I was thinking of selling off a bunch of stuff on ebay. My husband had great success with selling a Mantis tiller so far. In the end it sold for over $140. We are so excited, thankful, and blessed. I paid the water bill with it. My youngest son needed new shoes and now he will get some. We also got some staples we sorely needed like tea.

The yard is beautiful and the cactus are in bloom.




The baby goat is growing fine and her mamma is still giving plenty of milk. We should be rich in milk before long. I pulled off just enough to make a little goat cheese this past week. I don't dare pull off much more because I want the baby to have plenty of milk.

We just pulled a ton of onions that look oh so delicious. We had a few in soup and salad.



My tomato plants are starting to put on some small tomatoes. I'm very excited.

What Joy! I have more writing gigs and more food coming in!

May 26th, 2014 at 07:02 pm

I have 5 writing gigs already this week and ebay may turn out to be a life saver for this week. My writing gigs are about family things which I love doing. We are selling a tiller someone gave my husband. It wasn't working when it came here, but in 5 minutes he had it fixed up. Then he started it up and tilled my garden beds.



That is the tiller. We put it up for $42 on ebay about 2 days ago. It is now at $98. My husband is really good at fixing things, but he never got certified. He just tinkers with things until they work. He likes it. It is like a puzzle that his mind enjoys solving. Anyway, he said this was an easier problem to solve. We told the person that gave it to us that is was fixed, but they said we could keep it anyway. They had bought a new tiller already. She also gave us another, larger tiller that my husband believes he can fix with a couple bucks.

My sun chokes are already bushing. I planted them by the house this year, but the old patch is still going strong. I must have missed a few! They are growing like weeds and thank heavens too! The ones that we replanted near the house have not grown at all. I have no idea why. Here is a pretty picture of them.



Hope you have a wonderful day.

The garden, the goat, and oh my first harvests

May 24th, 2014 at 02:38 am

I got my first harvests out of the garden. Just a handful of turnips and onions, but it made soup tonight taste delish!

The arugula has started to flower which means we will get to save seeds.



I expect to get plenty of seeds from the plot. Notice I don't weed much. I try to keep up, but after they have gone to seed, I let nature take control until I plant again.

The baby goat is alive well and sucking. We named her May and she is going to be a welcome addition to our homestead. Her mother is already giving tons of milk.



I have to keep this brief as I have a ton of work to do.

Baby Goat!

May 18th, 2014 at 06:31 am

This week our goat gave birth and she has come into fresh milk of the sorts I could not believe possible. We had to stave off mastitis when the kid would not suckle, by milking her every three hours and bottle feeding the newborn kid. All excess milk was given to the numerous baby critters on our little homestead. We will not collect milk for ourselves until the colostrum is clear from her.

We put down two new beds and planted tomatoes. Tomorrow I hope to get in more tomatoes and some peppers. My husband was given two non-functioning tillers as payment for weed eating a woman's yard. We have no idea what they are worth, but suspect we could get $10 to $30 from the junkyard. My husband spent all afternoon tinkering on them and got the little one to working. He said something about a valve? Anyway, we intend to sell the little one to get his payment for working. How much is a little Mantis Tiller worth second hand anyway?

Annual Budget PART 2

May 9th, 2014 at 10:49 am

I sure have been busy! I am still working on that annual budget, but that's not all.

I picked up extra work this week. I was accepted to "hang out my shingle" at another company while I work for the one I am with now.

The weather won't let me plant and that is infuriating. I have Jerusalem artichokes coming up...I thought I lost them all. I am so pleased, they truly are a survival food. I also planted some pretty fancy dandelions. We are going to try dandelion greens this year, from a dedicated organic patch. Saving the seeds is super easy and makes fo0r a fun afternoon with the kids. (Trying to keep them from blowing away)

The goat will be giving birth soon, you can tell now! Her mucous plug came out yesterday.

We went through all the clothes and turned the ruined pants into shorts for this summer. I got rid of all teh stained and whole filled shirts too. They make great rags for cleaning.

We also went fishing and had a great time. The kids didn't catch anything though. Something kept grabbing a hold onto my line and snapping it. My line was only for 4 pounds, so it could have been anything.

Cookbooks for the frugalminded

April 30th, 2014 at 07:38 am

Free cookbooks from a genius in the kitchen and with money

http://www.leannebrown.ca/cookbooks/

Didn't get more beds in :(

April 26th, 2014 at 11:42 am

Well, I haven't been able to expand the garden as of yet. Between the dang finicky weather, my husband looking for another job, me working, and preparing for the next home school year...I got nothing in the garden done this week. My turnips look gorgeous though. I can not wait to sink my teeth into those babies. The potatoes are finally coming up as are my shallots and garlic.

My goats have been jumping the fence. She is so ornery. I have no idea how to keep this little lady in one spot!

My work has taken up a lot of my time. I usually work about 20 hours a week, but I have increased it to about 30 hours. I have certainly seen an increase in my income, from 65 dollars a week to 95 dollars, but it's still making about $3 an hour. (I work at home). I have tried adding incentives for customers to call, but so far the pay off isn't happening.

I did find some awesome printables for home schooling moms at 123homeschooling. I was looking at paying about $50 for a proper day planner, calender, lesson planner, and chore chart. Instead I used less than $5 in paper and ink to print out everything I needed. I also found some online curriculum, that might even save me a little more!

Planting Time!

April 23rd, 2014 at 07:51 am

Wow, what a rainy season we have had. I have already planted and started to grow my early spring crops. As you can imagine, some are doing better than others. I buy my seed from Baker Creek Seeds. I have planted turnips, arugula, potatoes, shallots, onions, basil, parsley, and dill. The turnips and arugula are coming up by the handfuls. My onions are doing very well. The herbs are not doing so well. It's the first time I have done these types of basil, parsley, and dill. My potatoes are doing poorly, but it is the first time I have tried the raised garden bed method for them. I still have time to throw a bunch in a field. The shallots are also growing poorly in the same raised bed set up. The author I got the idea from must have had some secret trick I know nothing about.

Tomorrow I will harvest some turnip greens for soup. I will also harvest a bit of arugula for salad. I intend to plant some more items tomorrow, though I'm not sure what just yet. I'll look through my seed packets in the morning. It's getting time to plant the tomatoes, egg plants, cucumbers, okra, squash, and melons.

The goats are doing fine. One is named Butter and the other Sugar. Sugar may have been bred. If she was, we should have a baby goat in May. She doesn't look big enough to be carrying though. They like to eat the grass in the yard, but one of them got into the onions! She only nibbled a little off the tops though. Butter is a nuisance goat, though I do like her. She has broken two collars, one of them made of metal! She is quite determined to NOT be chained up. I enjoy their company in the garden...far away from my onions. It can be a chore to chase them out of the garden though, so that is why we were chaining them.

I'm looking into getting a small late flock of chickens. I swore after I got ducks that I would never go back to chickens. However, there is nothing quite like the taste of a free range chicken egg. I may get a more "wild" type which will make it harder for wild animals to kill. Docile chickens are great for children to get to learn to grow, but horrible at self defense.

That's all for tonight. Awfully tired.

Doing better...

July 26th, 2011 at 07:21 pm

What a difference a month makes. No, I am not employed full-time. I still have the same job making the same low pay. However, two things have changed.

First, I have been able to find 200 dollars from a lawsuit. More like the attorney found it for me. This paid for groceries. It was like manna from heaven when it came.

Second, our machinery is working! Finally, we will be putting in our fall garden in the next week. It was not an arm and a leg to fix, because my husband fixed it. We did need a 25 dollar part. This took a considerable amount of time to find also.

Finally some of you had questions and suggestions. I will handle the questions first. We grow food for our family, with an option to sell at the farmer's market. We never have as of yet, since I have a large family that gobbles up everything before I can sell or preserve it. I blame that on under planting, which means, I the farmer is to blame.

That is why we were opening up an extra acer. We knew we needed more land planted to make more food. I have grown things as John Jeavons suggested, so I know about intensive agriculture and organic agriculture. I also know, with out a lot of animals on site, it requires a lot of inputs. We currently do not have any goats, cows, or the like on site. We are looking into a Jersey cow or Water Buffalo, but they cost thousands.

Finally, moving is out of the question for one simple reason. I have a large family. The reason I had to move in the middle of no where is due in part to my large family. When we lived in the city, I needed to find an apartment. I asked around and the first thing every landlord wanted to know is how many kids. Once they heard I had 3, they all refused to rent to me. Now I have 6.

Plus, my house is paid off. I don't have to pay rent. I can't imagine being much better off after rent was removed from my pay.

Finally a Turker, is someone that works on Mechanical Turk. It's like the temp site of the world on the internet. The pay is low, usually. The days are long. Your lucky if you bring home 100 a month. Most people assume people in "other" countries work there, because the pay is so low.

So what is happening now? Well, we have food. I am so happy to say that. We have enough for a bit now. I have gotten more telephone work, like I was hoping in June. Not a lot more, but I can tell the difference.

Now I am looking to cut back. How frugal is too frugal? I was looking at how much my electricity costs, and it is outrageous. 150 USD per month in the summer. Imagine, if that were brought down by a quarter.

I have my electricity through a co-op. I love my co-op, but I don't love some of their policies. For example, some of the people working their refuse to tell me what policies they have written for delinquent accounts, why they are charging me a "connection fee" of 50 cents a day, etc...

The lowest bill I ever had was 75 USD. That was for a black out of 2 weeks. Half of that bill was delivery fees, taxes, and connection fees. (Even though I had no electricity for 2 weeks) For reference, a normal bill in the winter is 100 USD. I think they ripped me a new one on that. How can I lower my bills, with all these fees? Should I leave my co-op?

From the Hinterlands

June 25th, 2011 at 08:12 am

I need to start this for myself, to put into perspective the absolute impossibility that is living in the middle of no where on next to nothing. I know, that is a terrible way to start a blog. Why would anyone want to read that? It's depressing. However. you maybe able to glean a few gems on how to reduce your costs, based on my tried and true methods. Furthermore, you may gain a more complete understanding of the desolation your fellow humans must endure. Compassion, is not required, but you may find yours here.

I live on ten acres, that I have more or less, tried to farm...with some success. The latest year has been the worst to date. My husband, lovingly and jokingly referred to as "the mule", has been working the land for all these years and no longer can. I, not accustomed to having to do his share and my own, did not get enough planted. We were going to need those plants in the ground, to eat you see. They still didn't get in there in time.

It seems someone had other plans for us. Every piece of machinery we own broke down within one week of the other. The repair bills would be too much all at once, more than our savings. Also, no one can be found to repair the machinery within a few miles, so we have to wait until one can come to us from faraway. We were left with one option, do it by hand. Do you know how hard it is to till an acre by hand with just a shovel? Never mind the fact this was a new virgin acre we were supposed to bring online, to let our old land lay fallow and recover. It is impossible alone.

Instead I planted the old land and we tried to clear the new land, to hopefully plant a fall garden in. I still hope that will happen. We don't have a lot of time left, and we still have a few pieces of broken equipment. Hope, what is there without hope? People seem to think I am an optimist. I am a pessimist, I assure you, with a lot of "let's hope for the best" thrown in.

Due to our poor spring harvest, I am having to buy groceries...like everyone else. Everyone else that has a normal job, a normal car, or at least has SNAP benefits. In the beginning, I used my savings which was minuscule. Originally, we were saving for the car...just in case it broke down. It is over 20 years old now. No, I had to use our savings for food. I don't regret it, I just wish it could have stretched further.

My savings has been gone for about a month now. I have had to become very creative in my budgeting. I receive about 428 a month in child support from my first marriage. For a while, I sold cosmetics through a large company and made about 400 usd more per month. I stopped selling them last year though, due to the expenses being higher than my returns. Gas was killing me. I also make money on the side from a call center, but it isn't anywhere near full time. It is more like part-time, 2 days a week. Nothing big. It's inexpensive to get to work, because I don't have to drive anywhere, have a babysitter, or even worry about professional appearance. I work at home with my internet and VOIP through Google. I may make 200 usd in a good month on this job. Now, this is money already allocated to bills.

As you can see, I am in a bind. All of my income is going straight to bills. One might reason, cut back. Turn off the cable, cut the internet, use less electric and try to find a real job. Trust me, I have thought about that too. I turned off my land line and only get my phone through Google Voice. I need the internet to work for the phone center. I hang dry laundry, I cook from scratch, and I sew my kids clothes when they get new ones. Yes, I am that frugal.

As far as finding a "real job" (TM), they don't exist within 30 miles of here. My car is too unreliable, gas is too high, and the returns are too low. When my husband had a "real job" (TM) making min. wage, 100 usd went straight to gas. Keep in mind, this was when gas was in the low 2.50 usd per gallon range. At the end of the week once we paid for gas, and his lunch, plus the tools he had to buy for the job... we got may be 100 usd left. For what? 40-50 hours of work a week, 16 hour shifts, leaving home at 2am to make his 4 am shift and then have to work until 6 pm? The "real job" (TM) wasn't worth all the work to get there, all the expenses to get there, and the insane hours. That doesn't take into account the toll it had on his health or the lack of health insurance.

I only need 40 to 50 usd a week to get groceries. I came up with a few ideas about how to get that money. First, I sold many of my old college books on half.com. It has so far netted about one weeks worth of groceries. Not bad, but not something I would like to bet my food budget on. I still put stuff up on half.com, but it isn't my primary strategy.

Second, I have started becoming a Turker. Yes, Mechanical turk. While sitting waiting for calls from customers for the phone center, I work on mechanical Turk. Currently I have earned almost 100 usd, about 2 weeks worth of food. That has taken about 3 weeks to make, by the way. It beats doing nothing at least.

Finally, I have begun putting in more time on the phone line. I know many don't have this option. I am very lucky I do. It doesn't yield as much return on the weekdays, so I am not getting much more. It may just be enough, to round it all out.

I am thinking of more ways I can cut back. We have a few options I will discuss later, but for right now...I am signing off.

D. L. Mitchell