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Archive for March, 2014

$10K, Baby!!!!!

March 31st, 2014 at 09:25 pm

And that was my scream you just heard.

$_9,948.36 Beginning EF Balance
+__57.00 AMEX cash back
------------
$10,005.36 New EF Balance

I've done it. I've got the Emergency Fund to $10,000. I never thought this day would come. I am so excited that it has.

Meal Planning for the Week

March 30th, 2014 at 09:13 pm

Monday:
Leftovers
--roast beef
--ham
--stir-fry
--green beans
Baked potatoes

Tuesday:
Homemade pizza with onions, bell pepper strips, rabbit sausage, and pepperoni
Cole slaw

Wednesday:
Pork chops
Fried potatoes
Green beans
Applesauce

Thursday:
Bacon roasted rabbit
Baked potatoes
Green Beans
Canned peaches

Friday:
Baked potato soup
Drop biscuits with choice of homemade jams
Cole slaw
Apples

Saturday:
1/4 pound uncured hot dogs on homemade buns
Homemade French fries
Cole slaw

Sunday:
Beef stew
Green beans
Canned pineapple

Spending, Animal and Garden Updates

March 30th, 2014 at 05:16 pm

Yesterday we went down to the farm we buy the meat we don't raise ourselves from. I spent $297. For that I got:

6 packages of bacon
1 package bacon ends (they threw in for free)
12 pounds pork chops
12 pounds of hamburger
2 pounds of beef stir-fry
4 2.5 pound chuck roasts
2 packages of uncured hot dogs
2 pounds of ground pork

Yes, it is a little pricey, but it is all pasture-raised and organic, humanely slaughtered animals. The quality of the meat and flavor is incredible, and the nutritional value is higher than CAFO-raised meat when scientifically analyzed. You also feel full faster on this so eat less at a time. We can afford to do this and have made this type of food a priority now that we have no credit card debt. Eventually we hope to raise it all ourselves with the exception of beef.

We are going to can all of the hamburger and 3 of the chuck roasts. I love having home canned food on the shelf for those days I don't feel like cooking at all.

We will also be canning some ground rabbit meat with taco seasoning in it and trying to make some rabbit jerky as well with our new jerky kit (part of my birthday present).

----------

We've had a rough week here. We lost Piper to an illness similar to the one Sweetie Belle had. This was even more devastating since Piper was pregnant and due on the 5th. She was my first rabbit and my best mother rabbit and she was very sweet and affectionate. We loved her like a pet, even though she was a working part of the farm.

Worse than the fact that we lost her while pregnant, though, is the fact that she was the one carrying the possibility of red kits. We will breed Wildfire to Phoebe soon and hopefully we will get some reds out of that. The female reds are too young still to breed.

A couple of days before Piper died we lost one of our young bucks. No sign of illness at all in him or on him, he was fine the night before and just dropped dead overnight. This happened once before quite some time ago. So I don't know what is going on, but we've discontinued using fodder and are sticking with straight pellets, hay, and greens from the yard and garden.

There is no sign of illness in the other rabbits at all. Having new, young life around also helps not to get as depressed when there is unexpected animal death. Although I think you should always be expecting some animal death on a farm. It is the nature of the beast.

At least the little ducklings and chicks are all doing just fine. We moved them to their new brooder boxes in the garage this afternoon. They have more space than in the bathtub. The brooder boxes we built are 4 x 4 by 2, so twice as much space to move around in. We went with sand for the floor as it is much easier to keep clean, just using a cat litter scoop on a pole. Sand is what ducks like to be on in nature and it dries out quickly, especially under a heat lamp. The chicks seem to like it, too.

The older chickens, especially Curious and Georgie, had to come in to the garage and see what all the peeps and cheeps were about. Georgie got up on the hay bale so she could see into the brooder box with the chicks, and Curious perched on the back of a chair to peek in at the ducklings. Then we shooed them out and shut the door so that we didn't have to worry about the older ones trying to get in with the little ones and boss them about.

We spent about $200 on fencing and brooder box supplies. We will spend about another $125 on supplies to build the duck house and we need to buy a miter saw and possibly a reciprocating saw. These are all planned purchases.

We are putting up the fencing this evening. Hopefully we will get it all done. We have to fence off the chickens from the pasture area we are reseeding with red and white clover. They won't like it much, but they'll just have to deal. The next door neighbor is going on vacation for 3 weeks so said we could open up the gate between our fences and let the chickens into her backyard since her dogs will be with her kids. That will distract them at least while the clover has a chance to establish itself.

I am getting anxious to start the garden. It is too soon to be planting outside yet, our average last day of frost is 4/15, but we've had surprise snows and frosts as late as the last week of April, so anything we plant between the 15th and the end of the month can be at risk and will need to be protected.

We will try to rototill some compost in though before DH goes back to Alaska. We are aiming to grow all of the green beans, peppers, and all of the tomatoes we need for the year. A few other things, too, but those are the main two goals since we eat green beans, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, chili, and salsa all the time through the year. We need the tomatoes for a base.

We want to plant a good portion of our potatoes, carrots, kale, chard, and cabbage for the year. And of course there will be just the fresh eating foods like lettuce, radishes, kohlrabi, broccoli, cucumbers (for fresh and pickling), zucchini, squash, melons, and peas.

We will have our blueberries, raspberries, and apples taken care of from our perennial plantings and will likely do a massive U-pick for our strawberries. I had meant to plant some but there isn't much space for it with all the other foods we want to grow and since we can get organic strawberries locally it is one less thing to try to find a space for. Unless...hmm, we might be able to do it on the patch between us and the neighbor. We'll have to ask her if she minds. She can certainly have some.

I really wish our house would sell so we could buy our farm and get moving on doing this stuff on five acres instead of squeezing it all on to just under a 1/2 acre. We keep having interested people but they don't have their finances in order. *sighs* Why do people go house hunting without getting their finances in order first? I will never understand that.

Funds Update

March 28th, 2014 at 11:36 pm

$500.00 Property Tax Fund
__38.00 HoA Dues Fund
_300.00 Vacation Fund
_300.00 Appliance Fund (New Fund, not counting freezer)
2267.00 January 2015 Money Fund
1130.00 College Fund
_300.00 Aquaponics Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Holding Fund
_100.00 Laptop Holding Fund
_300.00 Christmas Fund
----------
4007.00 Total in Temporary Funds

Payday Report

March 28th, 2014 at 11:23 pm

$323.41 AMEX
_500.00 Mortgage
_100.00 Emergency Fund
__19.00 HoA Dues Fund
__75.65 Internet
__72.00 Water/Sewer Holding Tank
_225.00 Monthly Chiropractic Plan
_100.00 Property Tax Fund
_113.22 Propane Fund
_100.00 Laptop Holding Tank
_100.00 College Fund
_100.00 Vacation Fund
_100.00 Christmas Fund
_100.00 Appliance Fund
_100.00 Moving Fund
_100.00 Aquaponics Fund
_100.00 January Money Fund
_334.60 Dentist
_104.02 Medical
_168.00 Storage
__45.30 Life Insurance DH
__41.88 Life Insurance Me
__69.89 Car Insurance
__47.17 House Insurance
__41.16 Security System (Old House)
----------
$2356.89 Total Money Out

I will be having a car payment coming out of this paycheck, but it isn't due until the 19th so the money is being set aside. I will list it when I pay it.

Another EF Update--Almost There

March 28th, 2014 at 06:59 pm

$9787.91 Beginning EF Balance
__100.00 Monthly EF Deposit
___16.00 Rabbitry Sales Money
___17.40 Safe Driver Rebate
+__26.00 Coin Jar Money
------------
$9947.31 New EF Balance

Now if I can just get myself over to Costco by month's end and get my AMEX check cashed I will hit $10,000. I am sure you will hear my screams of joy wherever you are when that happens.

EF Update

March 27th, 2014 at 02:47 pm

$9777.91 Ending EF Balance
+__10.00 Amount Added
-----------
$9787.91 New EF Balance

We Bought Ducklings

March 24th, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Today I spent $59.54 on 10 ducklings. We got 6 Welsh Harlequins, of which the females can lay between 260 and 300 eggs a year, and 4 Pekins. The Pekins will be meat birds. We won't know for sure about the sexes of the Welsh Harlequins until they are a bit older. I am pretty sure at least two of them are girls. I am hoping more are.

I'd really like them to be 5 hens and a drake, but it's really luck of the draw at this point. They are one week old. Once they feather out and grow up a bit we will be able to tell them apart as the males and females have different markings. If I get at least 2 hens, though, we will be well set up for next year because Welsh Harlequins will go broody and hatch a clutch a couple times a year. Assuming they aren't all females. Which I am assuming, because who has that kind of luck with a straight run?

Any excess drakes will be meat birds, too. Too many drakes just won't get along after a certain age unless there are no females. We will keep the nicest one, possibly two depending on the ratios. They are so stinking cute right now it is hard to think about the ultimate purpose of most of them. But we are choosing to farm and to raise our own food and we know we will get there. If we can do it with the adorable rabbits, we can do it with ducks. And eventually chicks, as we will be getting meat chickens later this summer.

If you would like to see my ducklings:

http://youtu.be/WpiBAoZqkzE

My mom got 15 meat chickens so we will probably get our chicks as soon as hers are old enough to go outside and the brooder is free. And we will be getting at least two turkeys in mid-April when they come in. They will have Bourbon Reds and Royal Palm, and a few other heritage breeds. I'd really like Royal Palm, but I would be happy with Bourbons or one of each. We are planning on them being meat birds, but I will admit right now that the turkeys may end up being pets. We will see.

I spent $25 on wood and hardware to build a brooder box for the garage. It should be really easy to make. They cut the pieces to size to make a box that will be 4 x 4 x 2. We are keeping them in the bathtub for now and they won't go to the garage until they are older.

I will be raising them on organic feed and of course they will have free range of the fenced back yard during the day. I have really missed having ducks. They are such a happy animal to have around.

Emergency Fund Update

March 20th, 2014 at 05:43 pm

$9767.91 Beginning EF Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Auto Deposit
------------
$9777.91 New EF Balance

Credit Score Went Up

March 19th, 2014 at 06:32 pm

802, baby!

Tax Refund Came--What We are Doing With It

March 19th, 2014 at 02:07 pm

I was actually surprised at how quickly the tax refund came. We were way behind on getting it sent off this year, but it came 8 days after we sent it in. Total this year was $6236.41. It would have been $60 higher if we hadn't done it online. But it cost $30 to do it online and we chose to pay for it from our bank account instead of with a credit card, not realizing until it was too late that it cost an additional $30 to do that, which is a major rip off in my opinion, but DH didn't read the fine print until too late. Oh, well, what is done is done.

I sent $1236.41 to the Emergency Fund.

$8531.50 Beginning EF Balance
+1236.41 Amount Added
-----------
$9767.91 New EF Balance

I also sent $1000 to the January Money Fund.

$1000.00 Amount Added
+_167.00 Beginning JM Fund Balance
------------
$1167.00 New JM Fund Balance

I added $1000 to the Appliance Fund.

$1000.00 Amount Added
+_200.00 Beginning Appliance Fund Balance
-----------
$1200.00 New Appliance Fund Balance

I set aside $1500 to pay for DH's sleep study and the remaining $1500 will go to pay for materials to build our green house and duck house.

We did not qualify for the child tax credits this year, DH worked too much overtime and it bumped us up, and our daughter is 17 this year anyway, but we were able to deduct the full amount for our HSA since we maxed it again this year. Without that our refund would have been much lower.

I think I am going to try to get the Emergency Fund to $10,000 by the end of the month. I think I can do it. I got our safe driver's refund check to cash, our AMEX check to cash, a $16 check for rabbitry sales to cash, $100 to come out of this coming week's paycheck and two more $10 auto deposits. I basically need to come up with about $30 to hit it and there are already 7 ones in the coin jar. I can do that.

Once the EF is at $10,000, then I am going to change my focus a bit. I will still deposit $100 a month to the EF, but the $10 weekly deposits, the refunds that come in, the rabbitry money, and the coin jar money are going to be used to build up the moving fund account. Right now there is only $600 in that account and $300 of that is going to have to go to the HoA for their extremely ridiculous new rule of paying the HoA $300 to transfer ownership of a property in the development to a new owner.

Even though we plan on renting a U-Haul to move, I know we'll need it out for a week so we don't have to rush things. I also need to pay for a piano mover to move the piano. And I'm pretty sure we'll need to pay for a few meals out while the kitchen is in transition. So I'd like to get that fund up quite a bit higher than it is. Maybe $1500 or so.

As soon as DH gets home we are buying our chest freezer with the Appliance Fund Money. I am going to get the biggest one they have at 24.6 cubic feet. That way we will have plenty of space for rabbit meat, a steer, half a hog, and a couple of lambs. Then the small chest freezer we currently have will be for chicken, turkey, and duck meat and the freezer under the fridge can go strictly for frozen fruits and whatever vegetables are not canned.

Another Emergency Fund Update Milestone

March 15th, 2014 at 03:15 am

I made it over to the CU and made a deposit today into the safety net portion of the Emergency Fund. I had a lot of money to put in this time, tons of ones, rolled coins, and a couple larger bills. I often wonder if they think I'm a waitress saving all her tips, because I always deposit so many ones and coins. It came out to $101.

$8430.50
+_101.00
----------
$8531.50 New EF Balance

The milestone is that we now have one full month's net pay saved. We've had a month's expenses save for a little while now, but now we have passed the mark of a full cycle of paychecks. I am pretty happy about that.

I also added $6.87 to the coin jar tonight so I am already started on the next round. My goal for March is to hit $8600, which I will as I haven't even made my monthly $100 deposit yet and I have two more $10 per week auto deposits this month still to come. That will bring me to $8641.50, so I am going to go for a stretch goal and try to hit $8700 this month. I am still walking around with my AMEX rewards check, too, because the only place I can cash it is at Costco and I haven't been up for going there. I don't remember how much it is, but I'm thinking around $58.

It is nice to keep seeing the numbers going up. Now if the interest rates just would for bank accounts.

I want to get two more months' income saved and then after that I want to start laddering CDs in the amount of $1000 for each month. That way if something bad were to happen, we'd still have easy access to 3 months worth of income, but my money above that would be able to work a little harder for me.

I will earn at least $16 tomorrow in farm sales, possibly up to $20 if I can find one more bag of rabbit liver, so that will go into the savings account as well and will bring my total homestead earning to date to $115.

My Baby is 14

March 13th, 2014 at 09:47 pm

I can't believe that my youngest son turned 14 years old today.



He is 5 foot 10, starting to get a mustache, and his voice has more or less settled. He has shown some real maturity in the last six months. It amazes me when I think where he was just last summer, short, chubby, cracking voice, no body hair. Now he is tall, slender, steady, needing to learn how to shave pretty soon, and a nice baritone.

For his present he got a WiiU. We made him pay the first $210 out of his savings, though, and covered the remaining $100 plus the rest of the tax. He has been saving most of his allowance for half a year, most of his can money (he collects aluminum cans around the neighborhood from people who save them for him and takes them to the recycling center for cash), and even part of his rabbit money (he generally gets 33% of rabbit sales unless I need it for feed money).

He spent almost nothing on anything else during those six months. I am proud of how hard he worked to save the money. He is getting a really good work ethic. He still wants to start an egg business when we move, too.

We have been throwing around getting ducklings this year, but I'm not sure if we are going to. We got mom to okay it, but then at the last minute she said, "But I don't want any of those upright ducks." Well, that is what I wanted to get, Indian runner ducks. I'm not going to buy the ducks, pay for the feed, build a house for them, and then not get the good laying ducks that I wanted just because she thinks they look stupid. I'd rather not get them at all and wait until we move so I can get what I want. If I'm paying for them, I should get to choose.

Sometimes I really do not understand how my mother's brain works. But whatever. It's her property. Basically she wants ducks and wants the ones she wants, but doesn't want to take care of them or pay for them. I wish our house would sell. I am so tired of her random edicts. We pay enough to live here, but whatever. I love my mother, but man, she is the one person on this planet who can drive me right up a wall.

I'm participating in a pantry challenge right now on my other blog. Everything I make for the rest of this month (except milk) is to either come from our pantry/freezer stores or from what we grow or raise on the homestead. I'm not buying anything but milk and that is from a local farm. It's been interesting to figure out what my meals will be.

To be honest it is not all that different from my usual way of living, just without any eating out. But I can't just go to the store if I want something. I need to make do with what I have on hand. If I run out of onions or potatoes I can't just go pick up more, I have to break into my dehydrated ones. If I run out of bread I can't just pick up a loaf, I have to bake it. If I run out of garlic I have to use powdered.

If I am craving fresh greens, I need to make do with the herbs growing on my kitchen windowsill and try to jolly my lettuce starts into growing a little faster. I do have 3 cabbages and 10 pounds of carrots stored, so it's not like I won't have anything fresh veggie like. I do have some frozen veggies, too. But it does limit my choices a bit and make me stick to my inventory. But we've been needing to eat down the freezer for a while now, so it works.

Emergency Fund Update

March 13th, 2014 at 04:07 pm

$8420.50 Beginning EF Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Auto Deposit
-----------
$8430.50 Ending EF Balance

Coin Jar Update

March 11th, 2014 at 04:03 pm

DH cleaned out his wallet before heading up to the slope. I added $18 to the coin jar.

Funds Update

March 11th, 2014 at 04:02 pm

$1030.00 College Fund
___19.00 Dues Fund
__300.00 Propane Fund
__200.00 Vacation Fund
__200.00 Appliance Fund
__167.00 January 2015 Money Fund
__600.00 Moving Fund
__200.00 Aquaponics Fund
+_200.00 Christmas Fund
-----------
$3316.00 Total Funds Money

It's Been Quite a Week

March 11th, 2014 at 10:37 am

The new rabbits are adapting well. Wildfire has gotten very friendly and Cinnabun and Sienna are becoming less skittish. We bred 3 pairs of bunnies on the 8th, Piper and Wildfire, Serenity and Leo, and Lola and Starbuck, so around the 6th to 8th of April we will have litters again. I am hoping for some reds out of Piper's litter.

We slaughtered seven kits for the freezer yesterday. Again, most of these will end up ground. We are really making a good dent in our meat bill, even subtracting out the costs of feed, though it is still not the easiest part of farming.

I have selected the last of Serenity's does to grow up to breeding age. She has great confirmation and does not have the bend at the tip of her ears that I am trying to breed out of my rabbits. Since she will be here long term, we have named her Serena. She has a great personality and has never bitten or scratched.

I may keep one of Andromeda's boys, too. There is one without the bending ear tips as well, and he would be good to breed with Serena when he gets old enough. He has a great, friendly personality and a generally happy demeanor.

I sold another doe this week, Serena's sister, actually, for $20, so that will help offset feed. I've now made a total of $95 selling rabbit breeding stock, though my son did get a cut of that.

While I probably won't keep Serena long term or the buck I will breed her with, I will eventually sell them as proven breeders, I would like to keep a doe or a buck out of one of her litters.

5 of the kits get to grow out a little longer, including the buck I might keep. That leaves us down to 17 in our rabbitry at the moment. We haven't had so few in such a long time. Feed costs this month will be much lower.

I am still researching aquaponics, but may end up putting it off for another year. We will put up a greenhouse, though, this year. I am also researching goats, further. I am debating breeds at this point. I'm still leaning toward kinder, but I'm also looking into dairy sheep as an alternative.

We need to make a decision on ducklings soon. They either need to be ordered from a hatchery or we can go to the feed store this week and get potluck choices. I'd like to get some for future egg-laying. The chickens are getting old for layers and are so very noisy. I swear hens are louder than roosters sometimes. Some of the duck breeds are very quiet. They just murmur or hiss. Some are noisy, so you have to be careful you know which are which before buying them.

I still need to do my payday report for the last two weeks. I've been putting it off, because I've had a pretty bad headache and doing math stuff and analytical stuff just makes it worse.

EF Update

March 7th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

$8410.50 Beginning EF Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Auto Deposit
-------------
$8420.50 New EF Balance

Some Shopping and I Still Hate Girl Scout Cookie Season

March 5th, 2014 at 08:30 am

We went to the dreaded Wal-Mart yesterday to find a shockingly empty parking lot (only half full) and a badly understaffed and understocked store. There were no greeters and no shopping carts inside the store. I haven't been in there for over a year. I'd never seen it like that. We went to try to find some sweat pants for the kids. Of course all they had was swim suits, shorts, and tank tops. Wal-Mart used to carry sweats year round.

I did pick up some cheap plastic pots so I can repot my spider plant, poinsettia, lemon thyme and rosemary. I also got some glass plates to put under each pot to catch drips and dirt. I couldn't get potting soil though as the garden center was closed and locked. They didn't have anyone to staff it.

I bought some black towels for the rabbitry, new underwear, a Ball canning book, a new set of canning stuff (tongs, funnel, magnet, bubbler) and some totes for storage.

I'm afraid I snapped at a girl scout on the way out who had asked me on the way in to buy cookies, but I swear they are like little raptors pushing cookies in your face. I hate girl scout cookie season. Most of them are aggressive and rude. I was very tempted to tell her if she could pronounce all the ingredients on the box I might make a donation, but I sure as heck would not buy the box of poison she was peddling. I held my tongue and just gave a very sharp no after my earlier polite one.

I hate that they are allowed to camp out at store entrances. Drives me crazy. It's going to be like that all month everywhere I go. Even if you don't make eye-contact or are clearly making as wide a loop around them as possible and still get in the door, they come after you and get in your way. The adult supervising them just lets them do whatever they want. No manners are taught at all when it comes to selling. It's just all about pushing the sale and being in your face.

We never would have been allowed to behave like that when I was a girl scout.

Another Nice Bump Up for the EF

March 5th, 2014 at 08:00 am

I made a deposit to the safety net portion of the Emergency Fund yesterday.

$8335.90 Beginning EF Balance
___30.41 Reimbursement check for buying Mom vitamins
___28.00 in ones
+__17.00 in rolled coins
-------------
$8410.50 Ending EF Balance

I don't really have a monthly goal at present, but I need to deposit about $160 a month to hit $10K for the end of the year. Most months I hit around $180 to $200 saved, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Trip Report

March 2nd, 2014 at 09:34 pm

So DH and I drove down to the Willamette Valley on Friday as part of an early anniversary getaway and to pick up our new purebred pedigreed breeding stock of New Zealand Red rabbits. We drove back on Saturday. It was nice to get away, the weather was beautiful on Friday, but we hit a snowstorm on the last leg of the trek home on Saturday. We had a great time, though, and even though he won't be home for our actual anniversary (our 19th) on the 18th, we still feel like we got to celebrate. We had a nice steak dinner out.

Meet our new buck Wildfire:



And our new does Sienna and Cinnabun:



They are very sweet, gentle-tempered rabbits. No biters or scratchers in this lot.

Costs for the trip (I'm rounding):

$90.00 for the rabbits
$80.00 for the hotel fee
$82.00 for 2 tanks of gas
150.00 for six meals out
-----------
402.00 total spent this weekend

Emergency Fund Update

March 2nd, 2014 at 09:23 pm

The interest on my Capitol One 360 account hit. It is $5.74. I added it to my EF.

$8345.09 Beginning EF Balance
+___5.74 Amount Added
-----------
$8350.83 Ending EF Balance