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Archive for August, 2015

Why is Tomato Sauce so Cheap?

August 31st, 2015 at 10:28 pm

It is amazing to me that 2 3 gallon buckets of tomatoes from the garden, an onion, 2 bell peppers, and 5 cloves of garlic boiled down for 4 to 5 hours are what it takes to make 4.5 quarts of spaghetti sauce. How the heck do they sell it so cheap in the stores? I don't get it.

Even the organic tomato sauce is cheap. Yet tomatoes, even in season like now, are freakishly expensive when you don't grow them yourself. And ketchup? How is ketchup so cheap? I seriously do not get it after all the processing I've been doing.

Oh, well. I now have a total of 4 quart jars, 5 pint and a half jars, and one pint of completely homemade spaghetti sauce. And judging from the tomatoes still on my table and the unripe ones still on the plants, there is no end in sight. It tastes amazing though.

Christmas Fund Addendum

August 28th, 2015 at 02:17 pm

I forgot to add the weekly deposit yesterday to the Christmas Fund in the last entry and it's not letting me go back and edit it in. If I don't record it, though, my spreadsheet does not match my blog and my OCD does not like that one bit.

$39.00 Starting Balance
+10.00 Weekly Deposit Added
==================
$49.00 Ending Balance

$951 to go.

Christmas Fund

August 28th, 2015 at 10:47 am

$39.00 Opening Balance

$961.00 to go to meet my goal of $1000.

This fund will pay for our heritage turkey as well as gifts, travel gas, decorations, and the bump to the electric bill due to Christmas lights.

January Money Fund Goal Met

August 28th, 2015 at 10:34 am

$3555.54 Beginning Balance
+_444.46 Deposit Added
-------------------
$4000.00 Final Balance

Now I can start adding to the Christmas Fund.

Also Canning and Preserving

August 23rd, 2015 at 10:57 pm

It has been a very busy week for me in the kitchen. I have canned 7 quarts of dill pickles (please, make the cucumbers stop now), 13 pint and a half jars and 1 pint jar of green beans, 5 quarts of rabbit meat, and 14 quarts of Yukon Gold potatoes. I made a batch of rabbit jerky.

I have chopped and frozen several quart size baggies worth of bell peppers and onions, and made a quart of salsa from the garden today because I had several tomatoes that were finally ripe all at once.

I am close to the $800 mark on how much produce I have gotten from my organic garden this spring and summer and with these tomatoes ripening it is going to easily reach the $1000 mark. And that doesn't even take into account the numerous acorn and sweet meat squashes coming on. This was so worth the $400 it took to build this garden.

Tomorrow I have to make bone broth from all the rabbit bones and then I will need to can it the next day. I want to try to get another 20 pounds of potatoes canned and another 20 pounds of green beans. And I think next week will be the start of some serious tomato harvesting and canning, too.

We will be butchering chickens at that point, too. None too soon as some of them are starting in with mini-crowing. Nothing loud and it's pretty pathetic rooster cries, but we want to keep it that way and get it done before they start waking the neighborhood.

Fortunately I can easily can diced tomatoes and salsa. Sauce and ketchup will just have to wait until the chickens are done. Since we will have a plucker, I think we can get through 15 to 20 chickens a day. Should take us 3 to 4 days to do it. DH can butcher 8 rabbits in an hour. Chickens are more work than that, but I think we can spend about 3 hours a day on it and get it done pretty easily. Or at least quickly.

We get our 1/4 of a beef on Friday. I've made enough room in the freezer by canning a lot of the rabbit meat that was in there over the last few weeks. There will be room for our 30 chickens, too.

It will be nice not to have to buy much in the way of meat (pretty much just seafood and bacon) for the next half year or so.

January Money Fund Update

August 21st, 2015 at 09:06 pm

$3482.54 Starting Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Deposit
---------------------
$3492.54 New Balance
+__63.00 Farm Sales and Coin Jar
-------------------
$3555.54 New Total

$444.46 to go to hit my goal of $4000.

Pain Makes it More Difficult to Stick to Home Cooking...But We Are

August 15th, 2015 at 02:47 pm

I am struggling a little bit with wanting to eat out right now. I don't want to do it because it is expensive and I'm trying to save money. I know it is simply a reaction to being in pain. Well, it's more a reaction to having an almost constant headache.

Between the broken nose and the mild concussion, it just almost never goes away except when I am sleeping and that has more to do with the narcotics the doctor gave me knocking me out for the night. Headache pain has always been much harder for me to deal with than any other type of pain because it always makes me feel like I'm not myself.

It is really hard to want to make meals from scratch when you feel sick, but pain is even harder, at least for me. But I don't feel up to driving either. I had to drive Thursday to go to my doctor's appointment and my son's doctor's appointment. I don't want to drive again for a while. It takes too much focus. So that is keeping my spending in check.

Since I am fundamentally against paying extra to have food delivered to my home, and not much delivers here anyway, I am trying to focus on simpler meals, or meals my daughter can make while I am nearby for help or reassurance. I have been teaching her to cook more things this year, but she lacks confidence to do it without a lot of hand holding yet.

The doctor says the break still looks straight, but the swelling isn't fully gone and we can't determine everything until it is. So far it is looking good enough he doesn't think I will need to go to an ENT doctor. Now that there is a lot less swelling I can actually feel the break when I touch the bridge of my nose. There is a little ripple there that was not there before. It's nothing you can see, though. The abrasion has almost completely healed. I really wish I didn't wear glasses right now, though. I know they are adding to some of the discomfort.

More concerning are the concussion symptoms, at least to me. The doctor doesn't seem to be worried, though. I am a little forgetful and find myself searching for words a lot more than usual. And I feel like a space cadet. Just a lot of brain fog. I am not used to having headaches. I haven't had them since I took all of the additives and preservatives and MSG and stuff out of my diet several years ago, except on very rare occasions or with a sinus or kidney infection or lack of sleep or my neck was out of alignment. And those were quickly remedied.

I know I will get better with time, but it is hard to push through right now. I am getting as much rest as I can. That is what the doctor said to do. But I still have animals to take care of and a garden to keep under control. The kids are helping, but I can't just check out like I could if DH was home. He will be home the day after school starts so I won't have to do too much driving in the early a.m. when I am not alert and am very foggy. In fact, if DS rides his bike the first 2 days of school I won't have to drive at all. Hopefully it won't rain.

So far I am managing to stick to my meal plans. I know I haven't been posting them, but I have still been making them. They are generally easier foods, though. No one is up for super complicated.

I do find that I'm not eating much outside of dinner. It's too much work. I'll grab a string cheese so I can take my medicine without it making me queasy, but that's about it. Not very healthy. I ought to make up some hard-boiled eggs so I'd at least have something a little more substantial during the day. I do have my electric egg cooker and it turns off when done, so I don't have to pay attention to it. Maybe I should do that.

Okay, this is getting long and rambling and may or may not make sense. I am not the best judge of that right now. So I'll stop babbling for now.

January Money Fund Update and Motivation

August 13th, 2015 at 06:58 pm

$3472.54 Starting Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Deposit
------------------
$3482.54 New Balance

$517.46 to go to hit my goal of $4000.

I have been trying to come up with ways to stay motivated when I'm saving up and not paying down. I saw a neat thing on someone's blog (Debt Free Charts on blogspot) and while they were mainly focused on paying off debt with their charts, I took the idea and made up my own chart for my down payment.



The idea is to mark off a line every time I have added $500 to the down payment fund. This way I can have a visual representation of our savings account growing that isn't just a number. I set the goal at $80,000.

I think having the chart to fill in will motivate me. I really want something to. I put it on the back of my bedroom door so I have to see it every morning when I get up and every night when I shut the door. It will have a real presence in my life. I don't know if that presence will lead to urgency to save or not, but I have to think it will have more of a chance of doing that than doing nothing at all, right?

Harvesting and Preserving

August 13th, 2015 at 12:11 am

I was able to do a little more today without completely feeling like my head was in outer space, but I kept my son with me or my mother with me while I did things. I had top pick green beans, about 3 pints worth and then I pulled out the spent vines, which was about 1/4 of them and fed them to the birds who will love me forever for it, or at least until tomorrow.

I picked 3 jalapenos and about a dozen strawbrerries and a yellow crookneck squash and then watered the 3 large beds for the day.

Then I took my son to the front yard and had him pick the zucchini and our first front yard yellow crookneck squash. I still can't bend down without getting dizzy and in the front yard I can't sit down at a chair to work since everything is in the ground and not raised beds.

Then he picked a bucket full of cucumbers. There are cantaloupe coming and loads of acorn squash and the sweet meat has squash on it, too, now. One of the vines had climbed up a stalk of corn and was making it's way across the top of several other stalks so we had to unwind and disconnect it, then redirect to the ground. These squashes will get too heavy to be airborne!

Then after a break he brought the 8 rabbits that had been thawing in the fridge to the freezer and I cut the meat off the bones of all the back legs and back pieces. We had half the front legs for dinner tonight and I refroze the other 8 front legs for another night when we want barbecue "wings." The rib cage pieces are soaking in a brine and we will have them for dinner Thursday night as southern fried rabbit.

I took the meat that I had deboned and it filled 5 quart jars and then I canned them. That will make for some nice stews, enchiladas, and pulled rabbit for future meals this fall and winter. Tomorrow I will roast the bones and then start another pot of bone broth going that I will also can. It'll have to be after my doctor's appointment tomorrow, though. I will also can the green beans I picked today. I should have 2 pint and a half jars there.

I need to pull out 8 more bags of rabbit meat to defrost from the freezer. I am trying to get as much canned as possible between now and when our 1/4 beef share is ready at the end of the month and also have room for the meat chickens we will be butchering in September. And then make sure there will be room for the turkeys we will order. We will be canning some of the hamburger and some of the beef roasts as well. Having so much canned meat on hand makes the school year go so smoothly where meals are concerned.

I need to try to make it over to the canning sale as well. 2 stores are having one and it's about the same so I'll go to whichever one I am closest to. I also want to buy some carrots to can. What I grow won't be enough. I'm down to 3 or 4 jars of carrots so it is very low.

The only thing I'm lower on is potatoes. And from the looks of what Mom dug up today, I will probably need to order potatoes to make up for it. Probably 50 pounds and then again 50 pounds later in the season. I'd really like to have 104 quarts of potatoes on the shelves before I'm through. That will allow us to have potatoes twice a week. 156 quarts would be more ideal, but I'm not sure if that will happen or not.

It sounds like a lot to be doing, but the kids will be helping me and so will Mom. We'll get it done and I will take rest as I need it.

Grocery Shopping and Food Preserving

August 10th, 2015 at 01:22 pm

Yesterday DH and I went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. I am hoping not to have to shop again except for milk and bananas for about 3 weeks. It is pretty hard to do with the pain and fogginess from my broken nose and what actually probably is a mild concussion. Or else just a reaction to the pain medication. Hard to say, but I feel very out of it.

I spent $162.71. We got a few packaged meals and some other things that will make it easy to fill in around the produce coming in from the garden and the meat in the freezer.

We have canned a lot this week. My husband has done a lot of it under my supervision simply because I get dizzy a lot right now. But between the two of us we have canned:

7 quarts and 1 pint of beef
6 quarts and 1 pint of rabbit
6 quarts of zucchini and summer squash
3 pint and a half jars of green beans
13 pints of rabbit bone broth
6 pints of bread and butter pickles
6 quarts of garlic dill pickles

We also made a batch of rabbit jerky with the abdominal flaps that can be very chewy and basically are only good for being ground or making jerky. Some people make bacon with it, but I feel it is too chewy for bacon.

We plan to can hamburger and more beef chunks today and more rabbit tomorrow. I need to do another batch of garlic dill pickles as the cucumbers are getting ridiculous.

I have an order in with a local place for 20 pounds of no spray green beans. We are having issues with the pole bean crop so I wanted to make sure I had enough green beans canned for the year. I think between that and what we do get from our garden it will cover it. I will be buying some carrots soon, too. We are down to 4 quarts of canned carrots. The ones I am growing are more for fresh eating and a little dehydrating as they don't get very big.

We also have an order in for dill since the stores keep running out. They don't seem to be stocking very well for pickling season this year. They do have those super expensive little plastic packets, but one of those costs about as much as a huge bunch of fresh dill.

I bought a garlic braid since my garlic crop failed. It has about 40 heads of garlic on it, which will meet my needs for the year. I have 5 or 6 left on last year's braid so am going to slice up the cloves, dehydrate them, and grind into powder.

Fortunately a lot of this stuff I can do sitting down. I do have to be careful not to push too hard, but it is difficult when there is so much to do to get ready for winter.

I heard the other day that our beef share should be ready on August 28th or thereabouts. I am getting 1/4 of a grass fed, organic beef. It will work out to $4 per pound. We will can most of the roasts and some of the hamburger. I will also be getting 10 pounds of tallow to render for soap making and lotion making. Beef fat is very good for those things and very healthy for the body, as opposed to a lot of the chemically laden soaps and lotions.

Next month the meat chickens will be ready to butcher as well, so I'll be putting 30 chickens in the freezer. We'll also have 3 rabbits ready to butcher then, too. So lots of work coming up, but it will be so worth it to not buy much meat for a year at the store. And in the long run we save a lot of money buy buying in bulk and preserving or raising our own and preserving.

We will still have to buy sea food since DH's big fishing trip fell through. I was pretty disappointed as they were going to be fishing for King salmon and one of those would have been around 35 pounds, plenty for a year. But life happens and there is nothing we can do about it now.

I Won My 6 Month Transformer at Dietbet

August 7th, 2015 at 06:27 pm

I lost 10% of my body weight over the past 6 months with an initial bet at dietbet of $125. My winnings for the 6 months was $289.18, netting me a profit of $164.18. Not bad for something I was doing anyway, losing weight. I more than doubled my money. And having money in the game has been the most motivation I've ever had not to screw up my diet. Losing money was not an option for me.

I also have some money in there from doing a couple of monthly dietbets as well and winning them. So there is a total of $324.04 sitting in the account. I have more than doubled my investment.

I am going to take a month off, I think, maybe two (of the dietbet, not the diet) and then do another Transformer. With the broken nose I won't be able to exercise like I have been and so I'll wait until it heals enough to resume that kind of activity before putting money down again.

I am not 100% sure what I will do with the money, but I am leaning towards putting it towards a barrel chicken plucker for the farm.

Another January Money Fund Update and Savings Talk

August 7th, 2015 at 11:43 am

$3247.54 Starting Balance
+_225.00 Monthly Deposit
---------------
$3472.54 New Balance

$527.46 to go to hit my goal of $4000.

I should be able to hit this goal by the end of September or the first week of October. Then I will use the weekly and monthly deposits and the coin jar and farm sales money for my Christmas Fund. Christmas is going to be pretty low-key again, like last year, so we should easily be able to have enough money for that by the end of the year.

The other big milestone for me, is that we have hit over $50K in savings. Between the Emergency Fund, the Farm Down Payment Fund, and the other smaller, short-term funds, we have gone over $50K in the bank for the first time. I am not counting the money we owe the contractor as I consider that his money that we are holding. We have never had that much money in the bank before. It's really nice. I know it will drop down in January when we need to use the JMF, but it won't take too long to get it there again after that. We should have it there by April.

January Money Fund Update

August 7th, 2015 at 12:40 am

$3237.54 Staring Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Deposit
------------------------
$3247.54 New Balance

$752.46 to go to hit my goal of $4000.

Broke My Nose

August 5th, 2015 at 04:48 pm

Aw, life...you give me only one day off after getting over the stomach flu. I wouldn't call this a Murphy event, this was just a stupid freak thing, but I managed to drop a box fan on my face. I was sorting through a box of stuff under the window and I must have moved the box in such a way as to pull the cord on the box fan. The edge of it came down and hit me in the bridge of the nose sending my glasses flying across the room.

Well, the doctor had a cancellation and I was able to get in and it is definitely broken, but as far as breaks go it was real even and didn't need to be set and there isn't really anything to be done at this point. It just hurts a lot, and I'm to use 800 mg Ibuprofen and ice (which I had already done) and call if the pain gets worse and then they will give me something stronger.

My eyes are blood shot from it breaking some blood vessels and I am starting to get black eyes, but I put ice on right away so hopefully they won't be too bad. The swelling is affecting my breathing though, just a little, I can still breathe, but it is definitely not at full capacity, and I am not sure if I will be able to use my c-pap mask since it is the kind that goes up my nose.

And I had to go get my glasses fixed because they got bent out of shape. And she loosened the nose pads for me because of the swelling. She said to come back when the swelling went down. Of course the break is right where the glasses sit, plus there is a cut there, too, so I have to pull my glasses down my nose a bit to use them.

Hopefully this won't end up being too expensive. If I re-deviated my septum and have to go through sinus surgery again, I will be the unhappiest of campers.

At least the stomach flu is over though. I can't imagine doing the kind of throwing up where it comes out your nose right now. That's fun enough when the nose isn't broken.

Other than hurting, I actually have a pretty good attitude about it. It could be worse. I could have given myself a concussion while I was at it. And I have a ton of ice packs for my knee, so I will be able to keep ice on my nose as much as I need to, which really works far better than the ibuprofen at this point.

At least DH is home and DD is well. Since DS had ingrown toenail surgery on both big toes today and can't do anything, at least I will have help with farm chores.

Kind of Mixed Up in How I Feel About Finances

August 3rd, 2015 at 08:41 pm

It is a weird feeling to have paid almost all of the bills for the month of August out of the July 31st paycheck. I only have 2 payments left to make, one mid-month that is reoccurring and then the monthly payoff of DH's travel credit card towards the end of the month. I will also be putting an additional $225 in the JMF, but that's not a bill, that's savings.

I seem not to blog too much when things are going smoothly and this is the sort of thing that feels very smooth indeed. Saving up for things does not seem to have the same urgency that paying stuff off has. We are not striving to pay off a mortgage anymore. We are not striving to pay off huge amounts of credit card or medical debt. We are not striving to pay off a car loan. It's almost a bit of a let down feeling.

Maybe it is because we spent so much of the last 15 years paying down debt. Maybe it is feeling like there is a lack of focus since the consumer debt is gone. I mean, I don't want it back, at all. But it was almost like there was always an over-riding uber purpose to our financial life. This is totally a first world problem, I know.

I know that when I don't blog, there is much more of a tendency to fritter money away. I'm not sure quite where that balance is yet. I wish I could get more excited about savings. It just seems like it is going to take a long time to get where we are going and most of what we save is now so automatic. I pay savings like I pay any other bill.

Maybe it is because there are no big ups and downs anymore. I mean, I do stress when unexpected stuff comes up, but we are able to handle it now, and without touching the Emergency Fund.

Am I even making sense? Has anyone else gone through this sort of loose ends thing after they've paid off their consumer debt? Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am so wired now to pay off debt, I really just don't know what to do now. On paper I feel like we are doing all the right things, but in my head, it still feels like we should be working against something massive, something with urgency. I have to wonder if I will ever get used to not having that anymore.

I should just count my blessings. The last two weeks have shown me that life can change at the drop of a hat and at least we don't have out of state hospital costs and funeral costs to be paying.

We will be having some medical expenses coming up, though, that I will have to work through, 2 more pairs of glasses, in-grown toenail surgery, some dental work, all for the kids. All of that will probably be about $1000 out of pocket. We've maxed our HSA for the year already. But we won't have spent enough to do more than take the standard deduction. Honestly, I think we ought to be able to deduct as much medical as we pay out, but I very much doubt that will ever happen. Oh, well. At least at this point in time, we can afford it.

Down Payment Fund Update

August 3rd, 2015 at 02:48 pm

$31,000.00 Starting Balance
+__,500.00 Deposit
---------------
$31,500.00 New Balance

I'm not really sure what my goal is on this one. Most farms with 5 acres are $350,000, so $70K would be 20%, but I think I'd like to have a bigger chunk than that. I enjoy life without a mortgage and I don't want to have a huge one when we do buy. I guess for now, though $70K can be what I am aiming for with $35K being the first big milestone, since it is the halfway point.

Multiple January Money Fund Updates

August 3rd, 2015 at 02:41 pm

$3053.63 Starting Total
+__31.33 C1-360 Interest
----------------
$3084.96 Subtotal
+__57.75 Farm sales
-----------------
$3142.71 Subtotal
+__16.25 Coin Jar
-----------------
$3158.96 Subtotal
+__21.10 ACOP Survey Check
------------------
$3180.06 Subtotal
+__57.48 Farmer's Co-op Stock Disbursement Check
------------------
$3237.54 New Balance

$762.46 left to hit my goal of $4000.

The farmer's co-op merged with another company and the paperwork that came with the check is hard to figure out what they did exactly. I don't know if this was a difference in the old stock price verses the new stock price or if we no longer have any stake in the co-op at all. Very unclear. We only had one share, but that share got us discounted prices on feed and farm supplies. DH is going to call and find out. The dividends were generally only around $30 a year when we weren't buying propane, but it was always a nice little thing when it showed up.