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Archive for October, 2012

Not Much to Report Today

November 1st, 2012 at 05:02 am

I went down to the courthouse today and paid the property tax. I was off by $6.44, but I had plenty in checking to cover that. I'm glad I checked it beforehand and didn't just write it out for the amount I thought it was, which was actually last year's half year amount. I guess I didn't update that on one of the spreadsheets.

I also went to the library while I was down there. It is across from the courthouse. I had two books on hold, Why Gender Matters and The Artist's Way. I need to hurry and get through the book I'm reading now. I wasn't expecting the holds to come in so soon since I was a ways down the list.

I paid 50 cents for parking and $1 on library fines. Oops.

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We ended the day with as many birds as we started the day with, always a good thing. No duck egg today, either. I think Lady is still freaked out. Five chicken eggs though. I'm going to have to make a meatloaf and a quiche to use up some eggs.

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I think I am finally almost over my cold/infection/flu/general case of the yucks. I still am a little stuffy but that might be allergies. Still a little draggy, but that's probably just general tiredness. I hope.

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I am really looking forward to payday Friday. We finally get to start making forward progress again now that the medical is paid off. I am so sick of debt. I just want to be done.

The Basement is Flooded

October 31st, 2012 at 03:15 am

The heavy rains have brought a lot of water into Mom's basement. We've had the sump pump on all day. Mom doesn't want to run it while everyone is sleeping for fear that it might go dry and burn out. It's not looking likely that it will let up overnight, but I understand her concern. I put on her Wellies and went down to lift it up onto a shelf for the night because there is always the chance of it getting underwater during the night and the water getting into the motor and ruining it.

When I look at stories from the East Coast I am grateful that it is only a few inches of water we are having to deal with and not several feet. I can't even imagine how folks are coping with that. We've flooded pretty badly before, national disaster badly, four of five feet of water, but somehow it just doesn't compare. Usually our serious flooding comes from rapid snow melt, not violent winds and torrential rains. I've never experienced a hurricane. You folks over that way are certainly in my prayers and thoughts.

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Physical therapy today was brutal. It felt like the muscles on the side of my thigh were stacked on top of each other. P.T. meant $90 out that I had forgotten about, but I still should have an extra $210 left to send to debt when payday comes Friday.

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I gave in to a craving after P.T. I has 25 minutes to kill before it was time to pick up DD, and DS was at a homeschool field trip with Mom. It is so rare for me to be alone anymore ever because of homeschooling. I don't eat before P.T. because it makes me nauseated if I do. I made the decision to swing through DQ and get a burger, fries and a bottled water. I spent $5.86. And I enjoyed every bite of it while I read my book and waited in the school parking lot.

I've done pretty well on the not eating out front. I've certainly broken the drive-thru habit. I think this is the first time I've been to a drive-thru since spring. It was good to get a little something and I feel like that's satisfied me and I can get on with the home-cooking.

I had $60 in cash left from last payday, so I took the money out of it. That left me with 4 ones and some change for the coin jar. I added $4.13 to the regular coin jar and a penny to the Canadian coin jar. Whatever is left of that cash on Friday will go into the Freezer Fund. That and $100 on Friday will top off that fund.

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I'm going to pull the tomatoes tomorrow, I think. Half of my kitchen table will be devoted to ripening them. I hope we have enough newspaper to wrap them. I do have several brown paper bags that I've saved that I can use as well.

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The remaining ducks survived the night. I was afraid the racoons would be back. The ducks look so sad though, wandering around and trying to find the missing two and calling for them. They really were a social flock. It's a little heart-breaking. Lady didn't lay today. I think she might have been shocked out of it. We'll see if there is an egg tomorrow. We got six chicken eggs, though. Life goes on.

I Hate Racoons

October 29th, 2012 at 08:02 pm

I utterly hate them. They are savage, evil animals in a deceptively cute package. Early this morning a raccon killed two of our female ducks. Did it bother to fully consume either of them? No. It ate half of one and killed the other without eating it. I understand nature, but you know, take what you need, don't kill more than necessary. I swear those racoons are having a good time with it.

So Noisy and Len Tao are gone, laid to rest, leaving us with only Patches and Lady Henry Inigo Montoya. We won't be letting them out until at least 9 a.m. from now on. At least by then we can be sure the predators are gone. At least the chickens are fine. Times like this, I wish we had a dog.

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Last night I transferred the money from ING to pay the property taxes on Wednesday. Since I set aside $100 a month and property tax is $518.17, I had some surplus money in that category, so I took $1.61 to even out my Emergency Fund, which now sits at $1000 exactly, and then the rest of it I dumped into the Freezer Fund. Along with another $10 I shifted, the Freezer Fund now sits at $851.03.

That's basically it, I'm just saving up for the sales tax now. My usual $100 per month will be added next month, plus whatever coin jar scrapings there are and it will be done. I think an even $1000 is a good place to stop. So nice to see a goal within sight. Once I hit it, I'll resume adding money to my emergency fund to build it back up.

I'm not exactly sure when we will purchase the freezer. I guess it will depend on how fast our house sells. If I know we are going to move away from here shortly after it sells, it feels kind of senseless to have it here and then have to move it again. Seems like it would be easier to just have it delivered to our new place when we buy it than to have to move it later and risk the damages that always seem to happen during moving. Well, it won't hurt the money to sit there collecting interest until we know what we are doing.

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This morning when I took DD to school the rain was pretty fierce. The street was flooded about six inches, because leaves were clogging the drain. Our basement is flooding too, but we turned on the sump pump early so it's not too bad. We're actually having a clear patch right now with more rain due tonight. But a little sun is better than no sun. And a little rain is better than what they are getting over on the East coast.

Last Sunny Day for a While

October 29th, 2012 at 12:10 am

Since today is supposed to be the last sunny day for the next ten days, and because I abhor working outside in the rain, and because I feel pretty darn good today, I spent some time in the garden. I pulled up several spent plants and tossed them in the chicken enclosure. The chickens seemed happy to get them.

I noticed that some of the broccoli plants that I thought were never going to do anything have small heads on them. These ones were the first planted but seem to be the last to do anything, even though they had plenty of time. Same type as I planted on the other side of the house, too. With at least ten days of non-freezing temps I think there will be some to harvest in about 10 days.

Thank goodness broccoli thrives in cool temps. I was so disappointed that they didn't do well over the summer, but I was too stubborn to pull them up, hoping for an Indian Summer, and I'm glad I waited. Now I'm wishing I had gone ahead and planted some lettuce at the start of October. It's so unpredictable. I do not remember a year that we did not have a good hard frost by now.

If I am able to harvest every broccoli head that is presenting when it gets to full size, it'll likely be another ten pounds of produce. And organic broccoli in the store is currently $2.99 a pound so about $30 worth. If any more appear and the weather continues to be mild, who knows what I'll end up with? I really was not expecting to be harvesting anything so it's wonderful that I can. Every little bit helps reduce the grocery budget for the month and allows money to be reallocated elsewhere.

Aside from all of that, I added 47 cents to the coin jar that I found when I cleaned out my purse.

Today is a Good Day--Meal Planning

October 28th, 2012 at 08:36 pm

I got a full night's sleep and have some actual energy today, thank goodness. I think my fever broke, too, so that's always a bonus. First thing I did was go down to the grocery store and buy a couple bags of organic white flour, organic milk, a bell pepper, and orange juice. It cost me $35.82. I should not have to spend any money between now and Friday. I am still trying to use up the stuff in my freezers and I still have broccoli and kohlrabi and a few green beans left in the fridge, so menues will reflect that.

Monday--
Sausages (from the ranch)
Fried potatoes
Kohlrabi

Tuesday--
Chicken and Broccoli stir-fry (including celery, carrots, onion, green beans)
Pears

Wednesday--
Homemade pizza with ham, pepperoni, onion, bell pepper, and diced tomatoes

Thursday--
Braided chili loaf
Broccoli
Pears

Friday--
Spaghetti with homemade sauce
Meatballs
Homemade garlic bread
Kohlrabi

Saturday--
Meatball sandwiches
Canned pineapple
Kohlrabi


No Spend Day

October 28th, 2012 at 03:19 am

It seems like I seldom have one of these anymore, but since I was too out of it to drive again today and the weather didn't cooperate with walking, I didn't go to the store and buy flour. I really must manage it tomorrow because it's hard to make a menu plan for next week without one of my main ingredients. Well, I do have whole wheat flour but I use it in 3:1 ratio (white being the 3) because it doesn't rise well if I use just whole wheat.

I'm just glad I have plenty of eggs, because they are figuring prominently in breakfast and lunch without flour to make bread. Speaking of eggs, the last two holdouts (the black Australorps) of the new chickens started laying yesterday. It's so funny seeing pullet eggs because they are so small, but they size up pretty quickly. So with those two laying we got 8 eggs today (2 duck, 6 chicken).

We have not had a frost yet. We were to get close on Thursday, but it didn't drop past 36, so my gamble to leave the tomatoes on the vine has paid off. The lowest temp in the forecast in the next 10 days is an overnight of 43 F, and that is November 5th. So I'm going to continue to gamble and try to let those tomatoes ripen. It's supposed to rain all but one of those days, so the tomatoes may not make it due to that, but I am still hoping to extend the garden season as long as possible.

The level of food in the freezers is definitely going down. I can see it visibly now. I am trying to use up the items in them over buying new because I want to defrost everything. If I am very careful with my spending over the next 6 days, I will have $300 leftover from the last pay cycle. I am going to throw it at the credit card.

I have to pay property tax on the 31st. The money is sitting in the account just waiting. This is the second time I've budgeted for it, saving $100 a month. It is nice not having to scramble at the last minute.

I have over 3/4 of a tank of gas so I am good there. Other than buying the flour and some milk and orange juice, I shouldn't have to spend any money this week before payday.

Best Laid Plans...Again

October 27th, 2012 at 07:11 am

So the plan for tonight was pizza for dinner. Homemade, mind you. There was absolutely no reason for me to think that would be a problem, but when I went to make the dough all I had left was one cup of flour. Um...what? I always have flour. Always. And I'm the only one who gets into it. And since I haven't made bread in a couple of weeks I've had no need to keep an eye on the flour level. I always know how much I have on hand and when I need to buy more. Then I remembered DS's paper mache project with his dad last weekend. Made me sick to my stomach because I realized they had used the organic flour to do it, too.

So, no pizza for dinner. Don't think the idea of delivery didn't flit through my head because it did. Instead I threw together a meatloaf, the ingredients of which were easily at hand. I will buy some flour tomorrow. I just couldn't stand the thought of driving today, not even the six blocks to the store and with my cough it is too cold and rainy outside to walk. Not that I have the energy today anyway.

Seriously, today was a day when I really felt my disability. I just did not have enough spoons. http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christ...

Eating Ice Cream With a Fork

October 25th, 2012 at 08:49 pm

Did you ever have one of those days where everything you are looking for seems to not be in the places they belong? The keys, the checkbook, your jacket? I swear that every spoon in the house must be in hiding or in the dishwasher, because there aren't any in the drawer. Hence my title. Even though most of my symptoms are gone, my throat remains sore and raspy. Ice cream helps, but it is a weird experience eating it with a fork. Still, whatever works.

I cancelled my appointment today. It saved me $90 for the week. I am still just too worn down. I rescheduled for Tuesday.

I found a dime in the cupholder in the van so added that to the coin jar.

Yesterday I spent $40 on a prescription, $33.23 on OTC cold medicine, $4.44 on a pill splitter, and $12.93 on orange juice. The orange juice was not a planned purchase, but I was really craving it the way you do when you're deficient in something. So I bought 2 gallons.

I am very tempted to get takeaway for dinner, except I don't want pizza and they are the only place that delivers. I don't have the energy to make baked potato soup, which was on my menu plan for today. It's labor intensive. I think today will just be chili from a can with leftover baked potatoes and green beans from a can. It's warm and hearty and the capsicum clears my sinuses. It's also a quarter of the cost of takeaway, maybe less.

Three of the chickens are now laying eggs in the box on the back porch, Curious, Georgie, and Queen. Guess the fence repair just made them learn how to fly over taller fences. Still, farm fresh delivered to your back door can't be beat. Big Grin

Financial Housekeeping

October 24th, 2012 at 01:47 pm

I reconciled my checkbook with my account this morning and it came out to the penny! After making two errors in the last six weeks or so, it was nice to have everything match up exactly as it should.

I also updated my spreadsheets. After my appointment today I will be able to record the final medical payment for the month and close off the October spreadsheet. November's I set up last week so it's all ready to go. I left a note on it to remember to provide for haircuts for DD and myself this month. It's been six months for me and I definitely need the ends trimmed properly. I am also thinking about going with bangs. Right now they are past my chin.

The mortgage balance has posted and it is now at $15,801.43. If I pay $100 extra to principal for the next two payments it will be under $15,000. I like the idea of finishing off the year under $15K.

The rumor mill has it that this year's Christmas bonus will be double last year's, which will make it 10% of yearly income. But even if it is only 5% like last year it will be very nice. Since DH is going to be working an extra week or two more than he did last year, even that 5% will be higher than last year's 5%. Between that and our big tax return due to medical, we may be able to pay off the last of the credit card debt. At least I hope so. I just want it gone.

Saving $800 by Growing My Own

October 23rd, 2012 at 10:58 pm

With a definite chill in the air, the garden has slowed way down. It was quite cold this morning when I got up to take DD to school. I think if it hadn't been raining we might have gotten a light frost. Tomorrow is supposed to get down to 37 F.

Here is today's harvest:




I decided to pull most of the kohlrabi and just left two out there. I cut three of the Romanescu broccoli and pulled up their plants since they won't produce side shoots. The chickens were very happy with the freshly disturbed dirt. They grow more like cauliflower, but are supposed to taste more like broccoli. There are several more out there that just need to gain size so I'm going to let them go for a bit longer hoping the weather will cooperate.

I pulled all the tomatoes on that side of the house though. They were just volunteers anyway. That side is less protected and will get a frost sooner. The other tomatoes I pulled the yellowish ones, but decided to chance it a little longer on the green ones. I also left the bunching onions in. It's a gamble trying to beat the first frost.

There will be plenty of delicious home grown veggies this week just with what I did harvest, no need to purchase any. And the kohlrabi will keep for quite a while if I cut off the leaves, so they can provide veggies for next week.

I checked my spreadsheet and I have saved about $800 on produce by growing my own this summer. That is after taking out the cost of the sugar for making jam and the salt and lemon juice for canning tomatoes, the cost of the rings and lids and jars for canning, and after the cost of the starts I purchased. We harvested about 400 pounds of organic food and that does not include the potatoes I'm going to dig tomorrow. I reckon that will be about 100 pounds of potatoes if it did as well as last year.

I think that's pretty darn good considering the space and time constraints and only doing a halfway job of gardening. I think I can probably double that next year by starting earlier and watering more often during the worst of the summer heat. And my main garden helper won't be dealing with a concussion like he was this year so it won't fall mostly on just me and my wonky leg. Plus I'll have lots of homemade compost to ammend the soil with come spring.

Found Money

October 23rd, 2012 at 06:44 pm

I found $4 in the pocket of my winter coat when I put it on this morning. I'm not sure where it came from as I usually put all money in my purse when I get change. If it were a spring jacket I could understand where it came from, but in the winter I always have my purse with me. Oh, well. Maybe the money fairies put it there. Anyway, I am adding that to my coin jar.

I also found a quarter in the washing machine. The rule in this house is that if money falls out of your clothes when you wash, the person doing the transfer to the dryer gets to keep it. That ususally gets the kids checking their pockets before they throw something in the hamper.

So that's a total of $4.25 to the coin jar with the eventual desitanation of the freezer fund.

Airport Day

October 22nd, 2012 at 07:29 pm

Today is an airport day, so DH is getting ready to go. He emptied his wallet and added $5.45 to the coin jar. I'm really not looking forward to driving again. DH does most of the driving when he is home. I really don't like to drive in high traffic areas, and that whole side of town is very high traffic. I take the back roads as much as possible, but at that time of day it's impossible to avoid all of the traffic.

He got gas last night, too, half a tank to fill it up cost $33.32. That should be the last expenditure for the week if all goes to plan.

Meal Planning for the Week

October 22nd, 2012 at 03:51 am

I've got a lot of broccoli and some pears to use up, so that will figure prominently in meals this week. I am planning all protein for what we have on hand in the freezer. I am going to try not to go to the grocery store at all this week. I think we can get through, though milk might be iffy. We have a gallon and a half, but the soup I am making takes 7 cups. I'll start baking bread again tomorrow. I have been buying it for the last several days. I know I'm exhausted when I am too tired to put the ingredients in the bread machine.

Monday--
Beef and broccoli stir-fry (will include carrots, celery, onion, and green beans)

Tuesday--
Pork chops
Broccoli and cauliflower
Pears

Wednesday--
Roasted chicken
Baked potatoes
Leftover broccoli and cauliflower

Thursday--
Baked potato soup
Homemade drop biscuits with choice of homemade jams

Friday--
Pizza (homemade sausage, bell pepper, onion)
Pears

Saturday--
Steak
Fried potatoes
Broccoli

Sunday--
Beef pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Green beans
Pears

It's Been a Long Week

October 21st, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I think I am fairly glad this week is almost over. I am fortunately doing a lot better than I was. The doctor thinks I had a sinus infection on top of the flu and that is why it has taken so long for me to start to shake it.

He also gave me some medication for my chronic insomnia. He started me on 75mg which knocks me out cold for the night. He gave me both 25mg and 50mg pills to take together. That way if 75mg is too much I can easily lower the dosage. After a few days of getting 12 hours of sleep and catching up on my sleep debt, I decided to try the 50mg dosage last night. That was much better, with me waking up after nine hours of sleep.

Now I just need to determine when to take it, since I will need to be up at 7 to take DD to school starting Tuesday, since DH goes back to Alaska on Monday. So far it has seemed that if I take it at 9, I fall asleep around 1 a.m. So maybe I need to take it around 7.

I am just happy to be sleeping again for more than three or four hours a night. Life looks different when you get enough sleep. And getting enough rest is definitely helping me to kick the flu and the sinus thing.

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Last night was cold. It dropped to 41 degrees and it smelled like frost, but we didn't get a frost. It can't be much longer before we do. Today it is very sunny and 50 degrees. On Thursday night it is expected to hit 34. Not quite freezing but probably enough to kill the tomatoes off for good, so I will pick them and wrap them in newspapter to ripen inside.

The green beans are definitely done. If the zucchini get 3 more days I will have a couple of them to harvest. I can cut some of the broccoli today. I want to give the rest a few more days. Supposedly broccoli tolerates the cold. We'll see. I'll pull the remaining bunching onions Thursday. There's only two bunches left. I'll also pull the kohlrabi that is ready.

I will definitely miss garden fresh eating. And I will miss having a lower grocery bill. We have plenty of fruit preserved and the tomatoes, but very little in the way of vegetables. I guess that is what happens when you plant late in a horrifically rainy June and then have a heatwave in July and August that messes with tender plants. Next year I really need to plant in early May, downpour or not.

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DD had a fantastic time at the Homecoming Dance, and she and the boy that she went with are now officially boyfriend and girlfriend. I met him before the dance and he was more nervous than my daughter. He seems like a sweet boy, a good match for my daughter and her tender heart. I hope all goes well there. I am excited for her, but of course a part of me worries about the eventuality of a broken heart somewhere down the road. But we can't protect our children forever.

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The chickens are definitely slowing down production. Today there were only 4 eggs from them. The ducks seem to just be keeping on. Maybe the lack of sunlight doesn't bother them. I think Kyri has finally finished molting because she looks less like a raggamuffin and more like a nicely groomed hen again. Usually the end of a molt means they'll start laying again (since they don't when they are growing new feathers), but since the days are shorter, she may not until much later.

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I added $10.80 to the coin jar yesterday. DH is filling the tank again on the van. It is only at half, but I don't want to deal with getting gas if I a still feeling sick next week. A full tank should last me until he gets back from Alaska next time. Oh, which reminds me, I found the receipt from the last fill up, which was $73.83. Gas has dropped from $3.94 on that fill-up, to $3.74 as of last night.

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I am about 1/3 of the way through reading the Democratic platform. Then I will read the Republican one. So far it is very dry reading, but I am noticing a lot of very careful word placement. This may be because I've done lessons on persuasive essays and on propaganda essays and I am noticing some of those elements. I am sure there will be equal amounts of that in both platforms. What I wouldn't give for a no-nonsense Moderate party who believed in being socially responsible as well as fiscally responsible.

Messed Up Again and Chicken Cursing

October 19th, 2012 at 06:09 pm

I made another error in the checking account. Fortunately this one was a lot easier to track down. I simply forgot to record a cash withdrawal. I did this back when I had the worst part of the flu about 10 days ago when I was mostly out of it. It cost me two privelge pay fees, so a total of $26.

I spent the morning tracking the error down, reconciling the checkbook with the bank statement, finishing off recording things into the October Budget spreadsheet and setting up the November Budget spreadsheet.

Today is the small payday. I am saving half of it for first of the month bills. There are no bills until then. The rest is slated for groceries and whatever is left will go for an extra credit card payment.

In other news, Curious is making so much noise I had to go and check what the heck was going on. She and Georgie are on the back porch.



Georgie is sitting in the box she's been laying her eggs in and Curious is just screaming at her. They've both been laying in there the last couple of days. Georgie won't get out of the box and I can't tell if she's laid and just won't move or if she's still trying to lay an egg. Regardless, she's not giving up the box until she's good and ready, no matter how much she is cursed out by her twin. We're going on five minutes here. There's a perfectly good row of nesting boxes in the chicken coop, but very few of the chickens actually use them. Goofballs.

Garden Round Up, Ducks, and a Little Money Out

October 18th, 2012 at 01:19 am

After 4 days of rain, today was a lovely, sunny day. You can still feel the chill in the air, despite the brightness. Most of the day lingered around 50, but it finally climbed up to 55 for a few hours. I've been watching the forecast closely and it looks like I'll get one more week out of my garden if they are correct. After that nighttime temps will be in the high 30's and I don't think much of anything will like that, except maybe the broccoli. Not quite freezing temps, but not veggie friendly, either, especially to the tomatoes.

Today's harvest was pretty small, as you can see:



Just 2 green beans and that was the last of it. Well, there are still blossoms, but I doubt they'll have time to grow into beans. There are 3 bunches of green onions still growing.

There is a bunch of heirloom broccoli coming on. I will be able to harvest one in about 3 days, I think. This one is as big as my fist:



All the other ones are smaller. There's not too much for color left in the garden, although the blueberry bushes are a brilliant red since their leaves have turned. And there are these brilliant orange lanterns everywhere:



Today's egg count was six chicken and 3 duck. Henrietta and Goldielocks, two of the Auracanas got out today. I've never seen them out before. Also out were Queen (of course, never met a fence that could hold her), Curious, and Pipsqueak (who is now, by the way, the 3rd largest chicken we own). A crow went after Henrietta today. Not to attack her, just to warn her off something the crow was eating. If it had been Queen she would have chased the crow off.

We've decided not to put in a light for the time being as they are keeping up with our needs just fine. We really don't need 15 eggs a day.

The ducks have been really happy with the rain lately. There are lots of puddles for them to grub in.



That is Patches with the green head and wonky wing, our only male. Next to him is Noisy. She is starting to get white feathers. Apparently Cayuga ducks turn white by the time they are four or something like that. Miz Len Tao is there behind Patches and all you can see of Lady Henry Inigo Montoya is her backside sticking out. Obviously the ducks were named well before we knew which ones were girls. But Lady and Miz never responded to their names anyway.

On the financial front, I gave DD $10 to buy a ticket to the Homecoming Dance. She was asked by a boy (her first date!) but I feel better having her pay her own way so there are no expectations. She is really excited. I am really nervous. When did I get old enough to have a daughter who was of dating age?

The Further Adventures of Georgie

October 16th, 2012 at 06:17 pm

So we've fixed the enclosure pretty well now. Most of the chickens cannot get out and the ducks have no interest in leaving their pond. Since they have about 2 tenths of an acre to themselves you would think they would all be satisfied, but of course not. Without fail, Curious and Georgie, being the smallest, lightest birds, will manage to fly over the fence. They did it again today.

Now Curious will poke her nose into anything that's on the ground, but Georgie will flap herself up into trees, on top of cars, and even get herself up on the roof of the house. Just never when I have a camera. She was up on the roof again today. I could hear her walking overhead while homeschooling DS. When it got quiet I figured she was off the roof and had flown back into the pen.

Nope. She had managed to fly from the roof to the top of the apple tree, onto the roof of the garage, and from there high up into one of the poplar trees and then for some reason she went completely dumb. She could not for the life of her figure out how to get back down and she was making the most horrendous racket. The "I need to lay an egg right now" racket.

I called to her and called to her and she wouldn't come down. I decided to try to tempt her down with canteloupe seeds in an empty canteloupe rind, her absolute favorite. For that she found her brave explorer's heart and glided down onto the garage with a thunk. From there she jumped onto the top of the chicken coop and then to the ground.

She devoured her treat. And had she learned her lesson for the day? No. Half an hour later I heard her making her "I laid an egg" cry. And on the back porch, in a cardboard box, was a lovely egg. And there she was strolling calmly across the lawn back towards the chicken enclosure. She easily flew back over the fence and joined the rest of the flock as if she'd been there all day.

Hopefully she has learned her lesson and won't fly up into tall trees again, but with Georgie, you just never know.

Meal Planning for the (rest of the) Week

October 16th, 2012 at 04:11 am

Tonight's dinner was this:



Tuesday:
Pork burritos made in the crockpot
Salad
Rice

Wednesday:
Beef and Broccoli
Leftover rice



Thursday:
Baked potato soup
Cloverleaf rolls
Pears



Friday:
Bacon cheeseburgers
Homemade French fries
pineapple

Saturday:
Braided chili loaf
Pears

Sunday:
Beef pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Green beans
Frozen blueberries

Still Plugging Along

October 15th, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Today's harvest basket:



I guess that title fits the garden as well as me. Everything has slowed down with the onset of cooler fall weather, but much continues to grow. Today I harvested a big head of broccoli and a side shoot that I left to grow on the one I harvested last week, which was pretty big now. I had five tomatoes, a kohlrabi, a cucumber, and 2 handfuls of green beans. There are still blossoms on the green bean vines so I may very well have more if the weather stays mild.

I'm watching the forecast pretty sharply, keeping an eye out for the first predicted frost, as I will bring in everything that won't survive it. I am hoping it stays off for a while though. I could get a lot more harvested in the next two weeks if frost doesn't hit.

I haven't actually done my meal plan for this week. I need to. I know that I will make pork burritos in the crockpot to use up some of the tomatoes and maybe some salsa. I have about 8 tomatoes total now. I need to sit down and plan it out tonight. It's hard when 3 out of 4 people have sore throats, to make something that will appeal to all. Of course I could just hand out ice cream and mashed potatoes and be done with it. Not healthy at all, but very easy.

DS is 3 days behind me on the sick train. I'm letting him sleep a lot more, even if it means we get behind on homeschooling this week. We can catch up by the end of the month. So far we are not behind, we are actually ahead for the month so slacking on a couple of days while he heals probably won't effect much of anything. He wouldn't have gone to school today if he'd been in public school anyway. At least DD is almost well. I'm several days behind her, but there is an improvement in symptoms so hopefully I'll completely shake it off soon.

Good Neighbors

October 13th, 2012 at 09:50 pm

I've been watching an old British series through Netflix called Good Neighbors (The Good Life) that takes place in the 1970's. It's all about this couple, the Goods, who decided to drop out of the rat race and become completely self-sufficient. They plow up all of their grass and plant a massive front and back garden. They bring in chickens and pigs and a goat. But they live in suburbia on an average size lot, not the country, so you can imagine what the neighbors think. It's funny, heart-warming, silly and serious in turns. Their next door neighbors provide quite a bit of comic relief and support despite their disapproval of the situation.

I'm finding it really interesting in regards to the fact that it was filmed 40 years ago, but the exact same issues discussed are relevant today. And they also have "that trouble in middle east" and other things that made me think twice. They talked about the stuff going into the food even then.

Another thing I've been watching is called Wartime Farm on youtube. It's all about how in Britain the department of Agriculture basically took over the farms and told the farmers what they had to plant and what it was like to live under the conditions of the war. They could keep the dairy cows but had to eliminate the sheep and the beef cattle because raising crops could feed more people. A female historian and 2 male archeologists are living for a year, running a farm the way it would have been run the year the war broke out.

They showed what the butter ration was for one person for a week. We use that amount in a day for the four of us. That really made me think. And the bacon ration was 2 slices per week per person. All meat was rationed and fruit, but the veggies were not.

I'm learning a lot of things I never knew about and picking up some possible skills along the way. I liked the austerity Christmas. It really showed that you could do a lot with very little and how much we take for granted today.

Big Shop

October 13th, 2012 at 04:18 am

I did my big shopping tonight. It's been a while since I've needed to go to Costco for anything other than gas. Even so, I did pretty well, I think. I spent $118.40 ($3.72 of which was tax). I got 4 cases of tomato sauce, 1 case of chili, 1 case of cream of mushroom soup (for DH, I won't touch it with a ten foot pole), cheese, organic pizza snacks, toilet paper, and quart and gallon size freezer bags.

The reason I bought tomato sauce is that the kiddos don't like the home canned straight, but they'll eat it one can home canned mixed with one can store bought. I think next time I can tomato sauce I should make it spaghetti sauce with sugar and seasonings in it. It's just too tomatoey for them. Since I only canned enough for about half the year, these 48 cans should do me for the year.

I also bought a few convenience items, DH's soup, some chili and the pizza snacks. As much as I'd like to be 100% from scratch all of the time, there are days when I just get too sick and I just want to be able to open a can or have the kids open their own can of something. Until I start canning my own homemade soup that is something I have determined to live with.

After grocery shopping we got gas there, but I can't find what I did with the receipt. I'm pretty sure it was $70 or so since the tank was empty and gas was at $3.92 per gallon. When it shows up on my AMEX I'll report the amount. If I remember.

Afterwards we went to Haggen and I got popcorn, beef hot dogs (for DH), tortillas, bread (still a little too sick to be baking my own), milk, orange juice, onions, yogurt, nasal spray, and cauliflower. Oh, and 3 12 packs of Pepsi Throwback (for DH). I spent $77.63 there.

Again, a couple of convenience items and the very unnecessary soda, unless you consider marital harmony worth that $11 for 36 cans and I do. DH is 90% on board with the organic, sustainable eating, but there are a few things I don't see him (or me) completely eliminating. Progress, not perfection.

Also spent $8.01 for 2 prescriptions today. We shouldn't have to spend anymore money for a week now, except perhaps for milk. That'll be nice. Tomorrow I should be up for cooking again. The worst of the cold seems to have passed.

Funding My Funds

October 13th, 2012 at 12:37 am

Today I deposited $69.33 from my coin jar to my Freezer Fund as well as $100 from today's paycheck. This brings the Freezer Fund up to $750.81. The freezer I want is $900 plus tax so I still have a ways to go, but it's nice to be 3/4 of the way there.

My Vacation Fund now sits at $200, my Property Tax fund at $600, Christmas Fund at $100 (very late starting this), and MacBook Fund at $200.

Property taxes are due at the end of the month and will be $518 and some change, so there's plenty in there for that. Things seem to be going along right on track and I hope they continue to do so. It makes things so much smoother when they do.

Payday Distribution

October 13th, 2012 at 12:27 am

Today was payday and for once I am not slacking on getting my post up for bills paid. I have enough sustainable, organic beef, chicken and pork in the freezer that I think we can skip going to the ranch this month altogether and just go the second week in November. I've also got some other things in the freezer that need to get eaten, some fish, rice, and miscellaneous items that could round out some meals, but not quite be meals in and of themselves.

Here's what came out of this week's paycheck:

$1000.00 Loan to Mom
_1700.00 Bank of America VISA
___10.00 School class t-shirt for DD
__100.00 Freezer Fund
___25.00 Garbabe (holding tank)
__105.00 Pantec
__100.00 Vacation Fund
___17.00 HoA Dues (holding tank)
__100.00 Property Tax (holding tank)
___25.00 Kids' Allowances
__100.00 propane (holding tank)
__100.00 MacBook Fund
__100.00 Christmas Fund
--------------
$3482.00

Under $16K

October 11th, 2012 at 07:48 am

The mortgage posted to the account today and we are officially under $16K left to pay it off. $15,805.41 is the exact total. Over 80% of the payment goes to principal now. Of course we will probably sell it before it is paid off, but I still like watching it roll back past each $1000.

Speaking of things that roll, our car just hit 11,500 miles and we've had it for 16 months. Which averages out to 718.75 per month, but honestly the bulk of it was put on during our summer driving vacation in 2011, driving back and forth to Virginia Mason for tests, the surgery, more tests, follow ups and more follow ups. In an average month I'll probably drive 300 miles. In a non-average month, like when we go to the zoo or the science center it might be closer to 500, but those months are rare. When we lived out in the country we were easily driving 15,000 miles a year. We drive so much less in town.

----------

DH is home safely now. Looks like he might only need to work one extra week around Christmas and not two. His alternate piped up wanting some extra hours, too. So they decided to split it. It'll still be a nice amount of extra money, just not as much as we were expecting. I'm not counting on it for anything anyway. I know better than that.

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I slept pretty well last night, but I guess my body is making up for that tonight by keeping me up hacking. And it was so darn hot in the house I opened the window, but I only got to air it out a little before PePe went for a stroll and marked his territory. The skunk comes through at least once a week and always, it seems, when I am too hot and need to open the window, the stinker.

----------

DD went to school today and seems to be feeling much, much better, which gives me hope that in a couple of days I will be, too. DS is not as sick as me yet, but he held off on showing symptoms longer, so he's probably just a few days behind me.

We managed to do math, vocabulary, grammer, usage and mechanics, and literature before I had to stop and die for a while. DH stepped in and did science and history. Hopefully he can do that for the rest of the week while I try to get better.

----------

I cancelled my physical therapy today on account of how I feel, so that saved my $90 for the week. I've rescheduled for Monday, though. Hopefully I won't be contagious by then.

Chickens Don't Care if You Get the Flu...

October 9th, 2012 at 03:23 am

...or five prescriptions later... Well, okay probably not the actual flu, just Super Bad Sinues: The Sequel. And one of the meds is for sleep, because with the super cough (codeine cough syrup, I love you) I haven't been doing much of that. At least everything was generic and I only shelled out $17.81 for all five. Nice.

As for the chickens, well, we have had several escape artists as of late. They are determined to be free range all of the time, and not just part-time. But holes have now been patched in the fence, the gate has been fixed, and wire has been placed higher. Only two of them, Curious and Georgie, got out today. They are the lightest, smallest birds. They fly the easiest and the furthest and we will likely never be able to keep them in. Despite Georgie getting her tail feathers clipped by the neighbor's dog not too long ago, she is still determined to range, though she is sticking to the yard.

I suppose I won't complain too much about Curious and Georgie, since they are the two best egg layers in the bunch. Still, it's not like they have a small enclosure. I have seen yards that are not as big as their huge pen. But the grass is always greener and the bugs are always bigger and the slugs are always...sluggier on the other side of the fence. Well, thank goodness for patient neighbors who are charmed by them and like the free eggs they get slipped now and then.

We have been letting the ducks out a little bit to free range during the day when doing garden work, but they don't really seem to like being out. They like the fenced area and they like their miniature pond and they absolutely do not like the neighbor's dogs. They are too fat to fly and never try to escape, although Lady Henry Inigo Montoya does go off away from the other three quite a bit. She has very little tolerance for Patches and his romantic overtures.

Egg production is starting to slow down as the days get shorter. Well, the 3 female ducks are still laying pretty consistently, but we are only getting about five chicken eggs a day from twelve hens. We are thinking about putting in a light, but 8 eggs a day is fine for our needs and we will probably only do so if it slacks off to a lot less than that.

The garden is still plugging along, but the days are getting cooler. The forecast is looking in the lower 60's for the rest of the week, with rain on Friday. I can't remember the last time it really rained, June maybe, and we are in for a stormy weekend. The nights are still staying above 50 so the tomatoes are still going. Not sure how much longer I can expect that. There are tons of green ones just starting to turn color. I guess if I need to I can pick them and wrap them in newspaper and let them ripen inside. Not a big fan of green tomatoes or I'd just dehydrate them.

I have five ripe tomatoes sitting on my table that I need to figure out something to do with. Maybe I'll make chili this week. In the crockpot so I don't have to put out any effort. Or I suppose I could can a single pint. Just in a smaller pan, not my full-size canner.

I did up what I think is the last of the prunes and they are on a tray in the freezer. There might be a few more, but I'll need DH at the top of a ladder to tell me if there are anymore on the tree and he won't be home until Wednesday. I am too short to reach, but I think I still see a few up there. I was right and ended up with about 8 quart bags full (or will do when the rest of these get packed into the last bag).

I'm still getting a couple handfuls of green beans every three days or so. There are a couple of yellow zucchini struggling along and I may get two more cucumbers before the weather turns. I should be able to harvest another broccoli by week's end.

I really need to do up a meal plan for the week. I am kind of doing the whatever is easiest route right now, but that way leads to overspending. Dinner tonight was scrambled egg sandwiches and stir-fried green beans. Simple, easy, not too much effort.

DD is going to try to go to school tomorrow after being out sick for a while. Ugh. 7 a.m. Even the chickens don't get up that early right now. DS felt good enough to do all of his lessons today, though he is still feeling yucky. The nice thing about homeschooling is he is able to sleep in when he doesn't feel well and it's okay if we don't finish lessons until 7 p.m. I am not, nor ever will be a fan of Algebra, but it's really not fun when your brain feels like it is full of snot. Still, we beat it (the algebra, not the snot).

Fake Holidays

October 8th, 2012 at 09:25 pm

I really don't like these invented holidays, like Columbus Day, that places seem to pick and choose whether or not they are going to shut down or stay open. Things like government services and the library are closed, but the schools are not. Big bank Chase was open for me to pay my credit card bill at, but my little credit union was closed so I couldn't pay the mortgage or get any cash out.

The kids were too sick on Friday to drag them anywhere and I wasn't thinking about the fact that things might be closed today, because it's just a made up holiday. No one in the real world takes it off or even remembers it's there until they try to go somewhere that is closed and has a sign posted. *sighs* To celebrate a day for the man who did not actually discover America (hello, Vikings) or even make it here, but landed himself somewhere in the West Indies, is silly.

I am just cranky because it is interfering with my desire to get budgety stuff taken care of. Oh, phooey, and I just realized that means none of the stuff out in the mailbox is going to go out today. Guess a trip to the post office is in order.

Paying the Bills

October 8th, 2012 at 05:51 am

One of the things that helps me to stay incredibly organized when it comes to bill paying is my bill box. I love this thing. It is specially designed with 31 slots for each day of the month and two drawers beneath to hold things like stamps, address labels, envelopes, pens, whatever. As the bills come in I file them in the corresponding number that is one week before their due dates. I can tell at a glance that bills are coming due so I never have to worry about it.



I've had it for a few years now and I totally would not give it up without fight. What kind of methods do you all use to stay on top of the bills you don't pay online?

Anyway, here's what I paid out of Friday's paycheck:

$1000.00 Medical DS
___41.16 Security system for old house
___21.18 Medical DS
__400.00 Old house mortgage (plus extra to principal)
__200.00 Chase
__757.82 Car payment (plus extra to principal)
__300.00 Glasses (2nd month of 3 months same as cash)
___44.87 Phone for old house
___70.56 Internet
__144.00 Water/sewer old house (2 months)
__300.00 Mom's utilities
------------
$3279.59

I still have to buy some groceries, I'll have a $90 physical therapy session on Wednesday, and need to get out $25 to pay out the kids' allowances. Otherwise I am right on target for the month. Just having that big check ready to pay off the forward head posture treatment for DS tomorrow has lifted a tremendous weight off my shoulders. I can face the rest of the month without it looming.

Forgot to Mention

October 7th, 2012 at 05:09 am

I cleaned out my purse and put all of the money that was left from the last payday into the coin jar. It was $25.63, plus one Canadian penny which went into my Canadian coin jar. I'll try to make a deposit into the CU on Monday. I have over $50 so it's time. I need to go to Trader Joe's anyway, so I can combine trips. This money is headed for the freezer fund.

Tomorrow I need to sit down and pay the bills from yesterday's paycheck. I have already written out the $1000 check to finish paying off DS's forward head posture treatment. It will be nice not to have that hanging over us anymore. I will pay that in person on Monday.

I talked to DH tonight and he has hit the $110,000 mark for the year, so that means that this was the last paycheck they will take Social Security tax out of for the rest of the year. That means an extra $700 take home pay per month until January. I will be so glad for the day when 2/3 of our take home pay isn't going to pay for new medical debt and old medical debt. Life is going to get very easy when that happens because we will be used to living on 1/3 of our income and can start to save like crazy.

Making a Duck Den On the Cheap

October 6th, 2012 at 11:44 pm

When our ducks were little they went into the chicken coop right along with the chicks and hens, but as they got older they had difficulty climbing the ramp with their big webbed feet. Also, since the ducks didn't perch at night to sleep, once the chicks learned to perch the ducks ended up sleeping on the floor underneath them. Chickens poop a lot at night and this was not a happy or healthy situation for the poor ducks. They would either stay there or they would move into the nesting boxes, contamintating them.

Our first solution was to take an old desk and an old vanity cabinet from before the bathroom remodel, take off the doors, put hay in the bottom, herd the ducks into the desk half and then push the two together so that the openings were closed off.

Eventually they got too big for this and wanted more space so we expanded their den. We moved the desk to the right like so:



And the vanity went to the left like this:



We ran chicken wire along the back, stapling to one end of the desk and one end of the vanity.



We filled both the floors of the desk and the vanity with hay. Across the top of the vanity we placed one of the stripped down box springs salvaged from those awful ones that came with our mattress set and broke 3 days after the warranty was up.



At night we place the other box springs in front of the opening to the den.



We use bungy cords to hold the front box springs to the top box springs and the chicken wire to the top box springs. This seems to racoon proof it. I've seen racoon scat around it over the past two weeks but they haven't been able to get in and dine on our ducks.

We place sod and hay in the center section that is open the ground. The ducks love it and they love their new den, too.

In the winter we will use the thick cloth coverings that used to be on the box springs for extra warmth over the chicken wire. We will staple it into place and then remove it in the spring.

On the back side of the desk we cut a little hole and placed an old wire shelf over it. It is easily removable by us, but not the racoons, and we can reach in and get the eggs they lay before we let them out in the morning.



The whole contraption works perfectly for us, and we didn't have to pay out for new materials. We simply recycled what we had on hand, keeping it out of the landfill, and giving it a new purpose. It's not pretty, but it's more than functional and our ducks are delighted to have the extra space and an area open to the ground.

Grrr--Venting

October 6th, 2012 at 11:21 pm

I really, really hate it when the blogs malfunction in such a way as that when you go to post your entry it tells you that their records show that you are already logged in as yourself. I'm like, no duh, and thanks for eating my entry. And then it says you're logged out, even though you just logged in before you sent in the entry, so you go to log back in and guess what? You're not logged out after all. Still, your entry has been eaten. I wish there was an autosave feature like on livejournal so you could just backtrack and get your entry back.

Can you guess what just happened to me? The first time in three weeks that I didn't copy paste because the blogs have been behaving themselves, too. Grrrr. Now off to recreate a post.


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