CreditCardFree asked me to talk about Thrive Life freeze-dried foods, what I like, what I don't, what I use, and whether or not it really saves money.
I think it would be easier for me to say what products I don't like than what I do like, since I have liked almost everything I have tried. I dislike their instant potatoes. I find the texture to be a little rubbery and unless you season the heck out of them they have no flavor. I don't like the asparagus, it reconstitutes to be very mushy. I don't like the Passionfruit yogurt bites. I don't care for the larger chicken slices and the larger beef slices, as I think it takes far too long for them to reconstitute, longer than claimed.
The small beef and small chicken I like a lot, as well as the ground beef crumbles and the sausage crumbles. I have not tried any of the vegetarian meat products.
What I use most are the onions, the bell peppers, the chili peppers, the potato dices, the celery, the carrots, the green onions and the sweet corn. The sweet corn tastes like candy and we often eat it right from the can like popcorn.
I use the sour cream powder a lot. I have wasted so much sour cream over the years, so to be able to make out the exact amount per recipe with none leftover to mold in the fridge has saved us quite a bit. I also like their instant milk, for those days when we run out and I need a cup for making potatoes or something. I love the butter powder, too, because we have also run out of butter on occasion. I can just make up as much as we need or put some in a recipe.
I also use their seasoning blends, sauce mixes, bouillons, and tomato powder (which is in place of using tomato paste). They have no MSG or other suspect ingredients in these, which is amazing for bouillon. Less occasionally I use the kale and spinach in soups. We love the yogurt bites in vanilla, cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, and blueberry. That's one of my favorite things, actually, as I hate the texture of regular yogurt and I can just eat these straight without adding water and the texture issue isn't there.
I do use the freeze-dried fruit, but I haven't quit buying regular fruit. My kids like the fruit a lot and eat it as is. I think it is great for putting into cereal or muffins, but I don't care to just snack on it.
Most of the veggies are good. I like the broccoli, green beans (though I prefer my home canned), zucchini, and cauliflower. My husband likes the mushrooms (I can't eat mushrooms). The sweet potatoes and butternut squash are pretty good. Nothing is going to be crisp with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, so I usually use fresh veggies for stir-fries, and these go into casseroles and egg bakes. My MIL likes eating the cauliflower straight out of the can.
Their instant brown rice and instant white rice we use on occasion. They are good, but I'm not sure they are any better than minute rice. I do like the fact that they have some instant beans. My son raves about the multi-grain pancake mix.
I do see some money saving. Because I am not having to peel anything, I am not paying for the weight of the part of the food that gets peeled off and thrown away. It is already cut up into the right size, so I am not having to spend time cutting up onions or other veggies, which saves my hands. With the RA, my hands often hurt too much to peel and chop, so that is a meal saver on those days. It doesn't have the chance to rot in the fridge before I can use it, so I'm not then having to pay to throw it away.
I tend to buy the products that are more pricey when they go on sale. They have different products on sale each month and then they do two semi-annual sales a year that have almost everything discounted. They have one day flash sales once in a while as well. The meat and the yogurt are most expensive so I only buy those when they are on sale and the same with the more expensive fruits (raspberries, grapes, cherries, pears). The rest is pretty well-priced and if you buy more than $100 on the monthly delivery program the shipping is free.
I don't buy the Simple Plates, which are the pre-made meal kits. I think they are expensive for what they are. They are meant to compete with things like Blue Apron and Freshly. While I got several when I got my consultant starter kit, most of them have mushrooms mixed in with the rest of the veggies, so I can't eat them. The family has liked what they have tried, but I wouldn't purchase them myself.
They do have some starter packs called Chef Kits that come in a set for $105 and come with recipes and you can make several recipes from each kit. They have a Southwest Chicken Kit, a Ground Beef Kit, and a Pulled Pork Kit. A lot of people like to start off with those so they can make a few meals and see if they like them. Or they have variety packs of vegetables, fruits, yogurts, and cheese which brings the price down a bit.
I seldom buy their cheese, but when their Parmesan or Monteray Jack goes on sale I will get some if I am out. Those we use so little of that it is not worth buying from the store because it'll go bad before we can use it all. But cheddar and mozzarella I still buy fresh as it is cheaper.
What it is great for is the shelf-life. Most products are one year after being opened, with three exceptions, the ham, the turkey, and the pulled pork. The ham is awful anyway. I forgot to say that I didn't like the ham. It didn't taste like ham to me, just pork and not well flavored. Unopened products have a shelf-life of 25 years, so there is that.
So like all things, you have to comparison shop and get some items on sale. But it has been worth it for me to save my hands a lot of work.
For everything you buy, you get points and after you get enough points you can cash them in for free product. As a consultant I also get a commission off of anyone's purchase from my website: https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead. If anyone signs up for the monthly delivery (which requires a $25 purchase each month) I get a larger percentage commission and if people sign up to be consultants under me I get a percentage of their sales. It only goes four levels so it is not an unending pyramid. As a consultant I am required to spend $50 a month, which I more than spend anyway. I also have the expense of the website which is $10 a month. But I so far have been making about $60 each month. I don't really work the business, though. I have a couple people that purchase each month. I get a little business from my youtube channel, but I don't do parties or anything. If I did, I could make a lot more, but this is more passive for me.
Anyway, I hope that answered all of your questions and if not, let me know and I will try to answer any more you have.
Viewing the 'Emergency Living and Preperations' Category
CreditCardFree asked me to talk about Thrive Life freeze-dried foods, what I like, what I don't, what I use, and whether or not it really saves money.
I've been working on a comprehensive list of what I am going to grow, can, dehydrate, freeze, and purchase this year for food. The freeze-dried list is for long-term food storage as we are working on building a 1 year supply for four people. It might take us more than one year to build that supply, though. Some people might think that is nuts, but you know, we did not need to worry about food at all for the ten months DH was unemployed and I really liked that. Of course, if DH's job doesn't last past mid-March, then buying all of the freeze-dried food will be put on hold.
The other is food for the year and in the case of green beans, some extra. We had a bad bean year last year all over the county because of the weather being irregular and I didn't plant any last year, either. Fortunately, I had canned enough in 2015 and 2016 to have plenty for 2017, but we are running low and it is one of my go-to veggies, so I plan to do extra.
What I plan to can:
Green beans--156 quarts (half cut, half French-style)
Yukon gold potatoes--104 quarts
Diced Tomatoes--52 pints
Italian Plums--14 quarts (more if tree produces more)
Strawberry Jelly--24 pints
Bumbleberry Jelly--6 half-pints
Dandelion Jelly--6 pints
Blueberry Pie Filling--14 quarts
Apple Pie Filling--7 quarts
Beef Chunks--52 quarts
Salmon--21 pints or 42 half-pints
Ground Beef--30 pints
Beef broth--21 quarts
Turkey/Chicken broth--52 quarts
Rabbit Broth--52 quarts
Onion Stock--21 quarts
What I plan to freeze:
Gold Rush Zucchini--40 packages
Onions--30 packages sliced
Bell Peppers--52 packages sliced
Poblanos--1 gallon, diced
Jalapenos--2 gallons, diced
Snow peas--25 packages
1/2 a beef
1 whole hog
1 whole lamb
30 whole chickens
2 whole turkeys
120 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
80 pounds ground turkey (1 lb packages)
200 pounds of rabbit meat
1 quart sweet basil
1 pint Thai basil
1 pint sage
1 quart powdered oregano
4 quarts diced garlic (will make powder as needed from this)
4 quarts diced ginger (will make powder as needed from this)
1/2 pint of thyme
1 pint of marjoram
1 pint of rosemary
1 quart Italian parsley
1 quart curly parsley
1 pint cilantro
2 quarts bee balm petals
2 quarts bee balm leaves
2 quarts calendula petals
2 quarts whole calendula flowers
2 quarts Echinacea
2 quarts yarrow
2 quarts comfrey
1 pint celery powder
2 quarts celery leaves
2 quarts raspberry leaves
Freeze Dried Food Plan:
6 #10 cans of sausage crumbles
6 #10 cans of ground beef crumbles
12 #10 cans of small diced beef
6 #10 cans of chicken dices
24 #10 cans of onion dices
6 #10 cans of mixed bell peppers
6 #10 cans of white flour
6 #10 cans of whole wheat flour
6 #10 cans of celery
6 #10 cans of carrot dices
6 #10 cans of yogurt bites (pomegranate and black cherry)
6 #10 cans of instant white rice
6 #10 cans of instant brown rice
6 #10 cans of pure cane sugar
6 #10 cans of brown sugar
2 pantry cans of Instant dry yeast
6 #10 cans of potato dices
I am debating on whether or not I will grow squash or not, other than zucchini. It takes up a lot of space and is very cheap to buy, so probably not.
The funeral on Wednesday was beautiful. I was able to speak, which was a good thing, because neither DH nor SIL could manage, though MIL did. I got a lot of compliments on what I said, which was nice, because I did not go in with a prepared speech. I don't like speaking in public, but I didn't feel it could go by without one of us saying something.
My favorite of DH's cousins did not attend. Her grandson, who is only 5, has a brain tumor. They biopsied on Tuesday and found out it is a very aggressive cancer and the tumor was the size of a tennis ball. Wednesday he had the surgery to remove it and they were able to get it all, but they still had to see if it had spread to the bloodstream. I am at such a loss. I am so tired of cancer hitting my family. This year has been a horror.
I am still pretty sick, but Thursday was my worst day. I think I have turned the corner with this cold, but I've been wrong before and gone on a second downswing. Hopefully not this time, though. Unfortunately, both kids are down with it, and DH started sneezing like crazy today. He's dosing on vitamin C. I hope he can keep going, because I am not at the stage where I can do any of the household or farm chores. Well, I did manage to fold one load of towels and one of clothes and then had to rest before I could put them away.
DH's interview was on Friday. He was supposed to be interviewed by two people, but the second one had a death in the family and couldn't be there. So the first guy said he needed to talk to the second guy when he gets back and see if he felt he needed to interview DH, too, or just go based on the first guy's opinion. He wanted to know if DH could start immediately, so I guess that is promising, but I'm not getting my hopes up yet.
DH and I went down to pick up our turkey today. We asked for one in the 13 to 16 pound range when we ordered a few months ago, and it is 15.07 pounds. I also picked up some sausage since we didn't get any with our pork. They had chorizo, which I was excited about, because I've never been able to find a chorizo without some bad additives in it. So one day next week I will make chorizo con huevoes with rice for dinner. Or possibly for breakfast with cauliflower rice.
I also picked up some roasts for canning. The roasts from our beef all have bones in them and I like them for pot roast dinners, anyway. But I want to can some meat for stews and chuck roasts available at the farm have no bones so are easier to cut up. In the winter I like to have stew once a week and we've been out of canned beef for a couple of months now.
We're also going to juice up a bunch of the apples we got when we went to the orchard a while back. I clearly got too many. If I juice it, I can can it and it will be shelf stable. That is a relatively easy task, but it will still have to wait until I feel decent enough to do it.
I was really hoping to do a better job at blogging with daily blogs this month, but I just haven't had the energy, so catch up posts a couple times a week are just going to have to do it for now.
We picked up the majority of our pork order today. The hanging weight on the hog (the amount after it has been gutted) was 245 pounds, so at $500 it worked out to $2.04 per pound. The bacon, ham, and sausage links will not be ready for another 7 to 10 days. Curing takes longer.
So anyone who has not purchased this way before can get an idea of what you get, this is what we have so far.
6 packages of spare ribs (at least 4 pounds each)
2 loin roasts (at least 2 pounds each)
3 shoulder roasts (at least 4 pounds each)
42 pounds ground pork
12 packages of pork chops (48 chops)
4 packages of pork steaks (16 steaks)
What is to come:
42 pounds of sausage links
I'm not sure how much bacon, but quite a bit
Now they told me that each hog has 2 hams of about 17 to 18 pounds. I am having each ham cut in half, so they should be 8 to 9 pounds each. Every time we make up a ham, I will can the excess in cubes in pints and half-pints. Then on pizza night, a half-pint will be perfect and on ham and potato soup night a pint will be perfect.
Actually, come to think of it, I am supposed to be getting some shanks, too. They were not in what I got today. I thought I had told them not cure those, but I can't remember for sure and they might have done so, which would explain why I didn't get them today. Curing will make them ham-like, too. No big deal if they were cured, but I need to remember to make sure they are in the second half of the order.
I am going to be making jam and pie filling with a lot of the frozen berries that were in the freezer. I needed to get them out of the way for the pork. A lot of these berries are from last year. I plan to make strawberry jam, blueberry pie filling, blackberry jam, and maybe bumbleberry jam, too (which is a combo of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry). Or syrup. We'll see. And then if I can find the frozen plums, plum sauce and plum butter.
But strawberry is first up, because it is DH's favorite, we're out, and he keeps buying it. He won't have to do that if we make it at home and keeping him out of the grocery store is always beneficial to our budget.
Not one to raise, thank you very much, one for the freezer. A woman on my farm group is selling pork and originally she was just selling halves, but she was offering them $250 for a half. That includes slaughter, cut, and wrap as well. So I asked if it was possible I could get a whole one for $500 and she said absolutely. The hanging weight on one she just did was 130 lbs per half, so 260 pounds after all the waste is removed.
It could be as little as 200 pounds, but at just 200 pounds it still works out to $2.50 a pound. At 260 pounds it works out to $1.92 a pound. So the likelihood is somewhere in between the two, but maybe it'll be a bigger one, as she said they were getting rid of the feed burners first, which tend to be the biggest ones.
And they were fed a soy free diet, which is important with my daughter's soy allergies. You are what your food eats. What they were fed was barley, whey, corn, and vegetables. So I am pretty happy, even if it is not organic.
With this purchase I feel like we can go at least 9 months without having to buy beef or pork, possibly even a year without having to buy pork unless we run out of bacon. Well, we might run out of hamburger, too, but I can get a big box of that for $300 if it comes down to it. It makes me feel much more secure. I will be canning a lot of the pork, just because we mostly like pulled pork for various recipes. We still don't have enough chicken, but I've been working on that. We have plenty of fish and plenty of rabbit.
I'll be canning squash, too. I wish I could can it pureed, but that is not considered safe. I have to can it in chunks. But squash can sit for months before it has to be dealt with. I know we'll be fine when it comes to food now. It is just everything else that I still have to worry about.
I did the math and I think I've got a fairly good grasp on where things are right now. If DH works through the 20th, which is what they are thinking right now we will come out of things with about $7000 once all bills are met for October. If he goes through the original end date of the 26th it'll be around $10,000. If it goes longer, and with DH's experience with these things winding down, it often goes a lot longer than the PIC's think it will with all the last minute stuff that has to be done, then we will have more. Who knows?
Right now, though, I can guarantee $7000 for November and December. One silver lining is that they are paying his return home ticket, because they really aren't firm on his last day and there is no way he can buy a ticket without a firm date. So they will buy him his last minute final ticket.
That $7000 should cover all of November's expenses, plus some of December's. We do have to pay for my daughter's tooth implant, which will be $650 and my son has to get wisdom teeth x-rays to see if they need to be removed or not. If they do, that'll probably be $1000. It was $800 when my daughter had hers out 5 or 6 years ago, so I am assuming inflation.
So I'm not sure how far into December that $7000 will go, due to those upcoming expenses, but at least a little ways, before we will have to touch the Emergency Fund. If he can work until the 26th I think we can do 2 full months without having to touch savings.
We are going on lock down for expenses after October. No eating out, no computer games or downloadable music or all the things DH and the kids like to nickel and dime. No allowances for the kids. Just basic expenses and a jacket for my husband. The kids and I all have coats now and good shoes. No snow boots, but my work boots are insulated and we usually only have snow for a few weeks.
DD and I got our coats through a coupon that if you spend $100, you get $50 off. Our two coats together came to $137 so we got the $50 off, bringing the cost to $87 or $43.50 each. Both jackets are waterproof and warm and we got them big enough that we can wear sweaters underneath if they need to be warmer. They cost a little more since they are both plus size and waterproof.
DS got his on a clearance sale from JC Penney. Original cost was $120, but it was on a 50% off sale, which brought the price down to $60, but I had a gift card I'd earned from something a while back, so that was $20 off, and then when they rang it up after that it came out as just under $30 not $40, so I think there was an additional discount somewhere or else they made a mistake. Or it is possible they were doing the no sales tax weekend.
DH will probably have to order his from a magazine unless Freddy's has his size. He has a hard time finding coats that fit as he has a very long back and broad shoulders and needs a plus size as well. So probably the big and tall magazine.
I am determined that we all focus on weight loss during this job loss. I think that we all ate our emotions during the last one. Well, my son isn't in the same shape as the rest of us and he's already been working on losing weight and building muscle so I think he will just be happy to have the rest of us along. I have been trying, but it is just so much easier for me to have the whole family on board.
DH and I have been talking about school. If he doesn't find another job soon, we may just have to suck it up, take out loans and have him get his BA in electrical engineering. I hate the idea of student loans with a passion. We didn't use them the first time around and I hate to use them now, but his 20 years of experience and an AS and several glowing letters of recommendation seem to hold no weight to hiring people who think the expensive piece of paper that says BS on it is the end all and be all of life.
I don't know, we'll figure it out.
I spent the day canning and as much work as it is, I now have an additional 24 pints of potatoes on the shelves and Mom has 8 for her. It goes a lot faster when two people are doing the work, but even so we were at it for 4 hours with only a five minute break.
I hope to do 20 more pounds in a couple of days, but it depends on whether they have any at the no-spray farm or not. I am still trying to track down more green beans as I'd like to put up another 20 pounds. And I'll need to track down some sweet meat squash as I did not grow any this year, though I've got acorn squash growing. That doesn't keep for 10 months, though, just a few. Sweet meat keeps a long time.
I put in a pretty large order of freeze dried foods. I've been cooking with some of that fairly frequently, especially the chopped onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers. I find it much easier on days that I have arthritis flare ups or exhaustion caused by the auto immune stuff, that I can still cook without having to peel and chop things, I just have to rehydrate it first.
I will probably do one more order next month when their semi-annual sale is on. That is the time to order the freeze-dried meats because the discount is substantial. They work great in chili, spaghetti, and tacos. And in soups. I like this company a lot as it is all non-GMO certified with almost everything coming from North America, most of it the US.
I'll have to put it on hold after that until DH gets another job. We should be able to pretty much weather six months without having to go to the grocery store except for greens once the garden dies.
So I did some googling and I think DH will qualify for unemployment this time around. For the state of Alaska you have to have worked in two of the previous quarters and earned more than $2500.
DH worked in May and June of the 2nd quarter, and will have worked July, August, and September of the 3rd quarter, and then October for the 4th quarter, so if I understand it right, when he gets laid off in October that should mean he can get it again.
For some reason I always thought you had to work for a year before you could qualify for benefits again, but someone (PS, maybe or MEC) pointed out that in some states it's based on what you earned and Alaska appears to be one of those states. I'll have DH follow up on that, but it is looking good.
What's not looking good is that the doctor has ordered a brain MRI for DD. Hopefully there is nothing serious behind the debilitating headaches she's been having, but I am worried. He is waiting for approval and then he will call us so we can get it scheduled. He wants to rule out a tumor or brain aneurysm and look for signs of MS since it runs in the family.
I also need to call the eye surgeon who has been seeing her for her eye and headache issues and have him send over his records for her and then call her old pediatrician and have her do the same. For some reason the ped never sent her records over 3 years ago when we sent a request for them so current doctor has no history of her skull fracture, concussion, and brain injury.
The doctor also did a blood draw for mono. She is just not functional right now.
Also, the smoke cap is back. The Cle Elum fires are sending mass amounts of smoke this way along with ash in parts of the city. It's not where we live, but is on some of the foothills a mile to two miles away from us. It's also 82 degress right now at 7 p.m. And it is humid. We are supposed to get rain on Saturday. Hopefully we will get light wind pushing it away before that. I am using my happy light already. I don't want to drop down in mood again like last time.
I am so tired. I don't feel like I am getting restful sleep with the new c-pap. I think my mask might be too small. I will call them tomorrow and see. I think they gave me the wrong size.
Yesterday we canned 32 jars of pears, but one broke in the canner. So I have 15 pint and a half jars for me and Mom has 16 pint jars for her. We've got another box of pears to do, but they are not ripe yet, maybe Thursday. All of those will be for me. I also need to do some deli-style pickles. The cucumbers have gone nuts.
I've still got to do the potatoes, too. No green beans this year after all, though. The ones that are growing locally are all hollow and woody, so I'm glad I didn't waste garden space on them this year. It's been too hot during the growing season and then the smoke cap has been detrimental to their growth as well. We still have several jars from last year, though, and if we have to buy green beans in cans, at least they are very cheap compared to other veggies.
Well, DH has work through October. There for a while we weren't even sure he'd go back after this hitch ends or not. His last day should be the 26th. I wish he could extend it a week. All we'd need was one day worked in November and his job would pay for November insurance. But he texted me this morning, so one more month to pay off some of these surprise medical expenses like a new C-pap machine, and the dental work that needs to get done.
I'm not sure what will happen then, other than DH will be looking for work. He may have made enough since May to qualify him again for unemployment, but that's not much. We have $22,784.87 left in the Emergency Fund. Which will get us to March or April if DH doesn't find a job again. We'll get our tax refund as soon as possible and with the medical we've paid out this year that could be enough for an additional 2 months of living expenses.
If there is any money left over after paying all of our bills the next two months than I will save it, too. I'm pretty sure there will be nothing of September's pay, but barring any other medical emergency we should be able to put aside some of October's pay.
I hope he can find something reliable soon. We are as prepared as we can be, but this will be the last time we can go through this without having some serious time to rebuild our savings again. We won't be able to survive it a third time if we wipe out all of our savings.
My mental state is better now. I do appreciate all the words of support you gave me when I was totally overwhelmed. I am doing okay now. It looks like DH's company did not get the approval for what they wanted to do, so DH's job will run out in October. There is still no word on the other job yet. Or any other job. I don't know what we'll do at this point.
The rabbits are still paying for themselves. I sell just enough each month to cover the costs of their food and the ducks' food. So the meat and eggs we get from them are basically no cost.
I happened upon a great deal today at the grocery store. They had a bunch of chuck steaks and top and bottom round steaks that were marked down for quick sale. I know we have beef in the freezer, but this worked out to 19.6 pounds of beef for $1.40 a pound. I came home and cut every steak in half and we ended up with 14 steaks in the freezer. I know the stuff we butchered will keep for a year the way it is wrapped, so this can be used more quickly.
What I really need to find is chicken, though. Sometimes they have good markdowns on those, too, but not nearly as often as they have beef and pork in there. I want to get as much inexpensive chicken in the freezer as possible before we go into a possible time of no income. It really helped last time to have so much food available and we had to buy very little, just fresh fruit and greens and dairy through the winter.
I bought 20 pounds of potatoes to can from the local garden I get produce I don't grow myself from. That'll likely give me two canner loads. I will probably end up canning a total of 60 pounds of potatoes this month. Maybe 80 if I don't run out of steam and my arthritis doesn't act up too badly. The new medication has been working wonders though so hopefully it will continue to do so and I'll be able to peel and chop a boatload of them.
I am going to can carrots, too, but I am going to use those 5 pound bags of organic baby carrots from Costco that are already peeled and nicely sized for canning. They are very cheap and I can save myself a couple steps, so why not? I only need to do 10 pounds or so.
I don't think I am going to do green beans. I didn't grow them this year and I still have about 50 quarts so I don't think it is necessary. I will do pears, though if I can get a good deal on them. I'd like to get some more meat canned, too, but that'll come with our next butchering.
Having enough food to get through the bad times makes me feel I can be a lot more in control of at least one part of the situation.
As I mentioned on the 19th, I have been learning to crochet. I have made some serious progress and I am very pleased with the results so far. I think I'm going to make a king size blanket out of the above pattern. DH is going to do the math to figure out how many squares I will need to make one.
Eventually I would like to learn how to spin. I think I would need to work with alpaca fiber, though I might try wool. A spinning friend of mine said that often times people who think they are allergic to wool are actually allergic to the residue left on wool by the chemical process used to strip off the lanolin.
So when I do get around to learning to spin (and you can build a spinning wheel out of pvc pipe and an old bike wheel and a few other things for cheap). It's also quite easy to make a drop spindle out of two old CDs, a dowel, a cup hook and a rubber grommet. So getting started wouldn't be too expensive, though I would have to get carders. An acquaintance of mine has a sheep's dairy and has tons of fleeces he's trying to get rid of right now. But I'm not sure I am ready to pick up this new skill just yet.
DH and I are building another cabinet. Not a canning one, but one that can hold the dehydrator, the Aerogarden, the printer, the food processor, the crockpot, the blender, and the waffle maker in a tall column. This one won't have a back to it, which it doesn't need.
DH and I are also going to make a corner desk for my room. I have been wanting one for ages, but they are too expensive. So we will build one out of pallet wood and some plywood cubicles I already have. The cubicles will be in place of the legs of the desk. I have three so we can do one on each corner. Then we can build shelving onto the corner section of it as well. I will finally have a place to sit and write. Right now I do it on a TV tray sitting on the edge of the bed.
I am learning so much about carpentry. It's really neat. We always feel like we are accomplishing so much when we build something new.
The next thing on my agenda, I think, is to learn to sew. I can do hems and buttons, but that is it. I want to learn how to read patterns and make clothing. Nothing fancy at this point, but I'd like to design some tops that actually fit my body right. I'd also like to make some halter style tops I can wear in the summer, but that don't have a bare mid-drift. I don't care if my back shows, but I really don't want my stomach out. Most halter tops are designed for girls who have not got much on top, not women who do. I just need DH to find my sewing machine in storage, so that may take a long while.
DD had her appointment at the ENT. That was a $50 co-pay since they are specialists. He put her on prednisone and an antibiotic and then in 3 weeks we go back and he'll do a scan of her sinuses and see where things are. He said the lower part of her septum looks straight and chances are pretty high she'll end up going to an allergist/immunologist, but he want to rule out polyps or deeper inside the septum that he can't see from just looking up her nose.
Nothing on the job front. We still have $35,000 in savings and are currently living on the tax return. DH is going to try to find some freelance work. He didn't pursue it before, but with no one hiring him, it may be the way we have to go.
It is supposed to start snowing around 5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. I am less than pleased and I know the chickens will be ready to mutiny. Quite frankly, I'm ready to mutiny if I see anymore of the white, flaky stuff. At this rate my son may have snow on his birthday this year. That has only ever happened twice in almost 17 years. I am so ready for spring. I want to be planting in the garden, not seeing another foot of snow filling the garden boxes.
I am sending DH to get a few things before we have to snuggle in for a few days. My prescriptions for one. That'll be $20 for the 4. I don't want to run out of my sleeping medicine, especially. As an insomniac, it is never fun to run out of the drug that at least ensures you get 4 hour of sleep every night.
I can make bread as long as we have power and I have an entire loaf of French bread in the fridge and 6 rolls on the table, so I'm not worried about that. We have had very little milk in the last few months, but I do happen to have a half gallon of whole and a pint of cream for some upcoming meals. There is really nothing else we need. One of the nice things about having all of my home canned items, my stash of bottled water, and my freezer full of meat, is that if we can't go anywhere for days at a time, we will be okay.
We have plenty of animal feed on hand. We also have plenty of hay and straw. The heat lamps are set up and so are the heated water founts. The heater is in the rabbit shed. We run it just low enough to keep the water bottles from freezing unless we have kits and then we keep it at at least 50 degrees in there.
On tomorrow's agenda is making cinnamon twists. I think they'll be easier than making cinnamon rolls, which is a pain in the neck. These twist just like Kaiser rolls, which I make all the time, so they should be easy enough, just have a different dough recipe. Being trapped in the house for the better part of the week I can handle. Being trapped without sweets, on the other hand, is a totally different story.
Well, it took some doing, but we got the first bookcase emptied and out of the pantry and then brought the new cabinet we built into the house. I thought it was only going to hold jars 5 deep, but it actually holds them 6 deep, so even more than I thought.
You can see from the picture how much space was wasted in the bookcases because of how far apart the shelves are in comparison to the canning shelves. I will be happy to get the second cabinet built. I think we can put everything that is on the two bookcases into one more cabinet.
We plan to build 3, or possibly even 4 total, if the pallet supply holds out. I think on the next one I will have one shelf that is big enough for 1/2 gallon and gallon size jars as well as #10 cans. Then we can put our dehydrated stuff on that shelf.
We are almost out of onions. I think I have 6 left on my onion braid. These are the Cobra Keeping Onions. I did not lose a single yellow onion to rot or sprouting. I will be planting these again this spring. I saved seed so I just need to get them started and under the grow light. The purple onions, on the other hand, did not make it more than a couple of months, but I don't think they were a storage onion. I did find a purple storage onion and I am hoping to get sets for it and see how that does this year.
I will pay more attention to watering this year. These were great onions, but they were small and strong, because I didn't water them as much as I should have and it didn't rain more than 2 or 3 times all summer. I want some bigger ones that will last longer. Meanwhile, I ordered some freeze dried onions from Thrive to get me through once these ones run out. I'll still have to buy purple ones for my salads, but the yellow ones will be covered.
One day I'd like to own a freeze dryer. They do make them for homes now, but they cost a lot, so right now with no income it is a pipe dream. Plus there is no place to put one while we live here. The cheapest model is $2595, so that is way down the road. There are a lot of women I know who would be interested in renting it, if I had one. I wouldn't let it leave my home, though. They'd have to bring their stuff over all prepped and I could dry it for them and they could pick it up afterwards. For now, I'll just have to be happy with my dehydrator.
DH did our taxes today and we will be getting back $9043.02. Most of this is due to medical expenses. This will be a welcome boon to our bank account and should cover about 2 months of living expenses. DH only gets unemployment until the middle of March and then it ends. I never imagined he'd be unemployed this long.
The interview he had earlier did not pan out. He was too over-qualified and it was an entry level position. He said he would work it no matter what it was, but that's not what they wanted. It is frustrating.
He put in for some upcoming stuff at Hanford, so maybe something there will pan out. At this point I don't care where we have to move, though I'm not thrilled about some of the possibilities.
It feels like everything is grinding so slowly. I just want to get back to some kind of normal life where we don't have this hanging over us anymore.
After today's transfer we are down to just over $35,000 in savings. Today's transfer will pay for all of February's expenses with a little left over towards March. I try to make only one transfer a month.
I am going to try to belt-tighten some more, but it is getting hard to find places to do so. I don't want to cut out all fresh fruits and vegetables for canned, but I may have to until it is warm enough to grow lettuce and spinach. I'm making bread and rolls now and that is helping a bit. We were spending a lot on that. I always forget how expensive it is in comparison to making it and with the Kitchen-Aid it is not hard at all to make it.
Oh, my goodness that freaking helicopter just flew too close to the house. I don't think that was the Med-Evac as it is still flying around and didn't land. Med-Evac is supposed to fly above a certain height and is supposed to circle around and come in over the freeway, not the neighborhoods. This was so low it shook the house, the windows were rattling, things fell on the floor. I wonder if there is a man-hunt going on? Excuse me while I go double check that the doors are locked.
Oh, it's back... Dang, that helicopter barely cleared the neighbor's ham operator antenna. It's not Medi-Evac, no cross on it. I can't tell if it is a police chopper or a news media one. If it is news media I am going to be peeved. I can't see any markings, but they are shining a spotlight. Man, I hope I don't lose any rabbits. I've had low-flying helicopters freak them out enough that one broke her back and died. I can hear the tom turkey freaking out. *sighs*
So anyway, I'm just not sure what other cuts to make right now. I hate to take away the kids' allowances as they work really hard with the animals. They both know it might be coming, though.
Well, maybe I am just going to have to try to cut the food budget even further. I can manage with only oranges for fresh fruit. We can give up the more expensive spinach and eat more cabbage. I wish healthy food wasn't so expensive. At least I don't have to worry about buying meat, though.
I might have to cut back on my physical therapy, but it is being so effective right now, I would hate to do that. Might finally give up the DVD's on Netflix. I hate to, it's our only entertainment, but if we do, we do. That's the way the ball bounces.
So DH received a Christmas Bonus in the mail from his former employer. We knew we were going to get something because they sent us some paperwork back around Thanksgiving, but I figured it was going to be some token amount or a percentage based on how many months out of the year he'd worked for them (75%). But it was actually $200 more than last year's bonus. Maybe the additional was due to him staying until the bitter end.
Anyway, the amount was $3900.91. So no unemployment this week, but this is way better than that and it means the unemployment will last longer. I am hoping that this bonus will get us through January.
There are starting to be a few more oil jobs being posted. He's put in for two slope listings, but we don't expect to hear anything until after the holidays at this point. Slope usually goes to skeleton crew at this time of year. We expect that oil jobs will pick up now that the electoral college has officially declared Trump president. But we don't expect hiring or interviews to begin until January. No one does stuff over the holidays.
DH did have an in-person interview with the aeronautics company that he did two phone interviews with previously. They are just at the start of the live interview process (he was one of the first, if not the first in person interview they were doing) and they wouldn't hire until the end of January if they hire. It's not a permanent job anyway. It's one that would be series of small contracts as work was available. Not ideal, but better than nothing and the experience in that field would widen his knowledge base.
In two more days, it'll have been 4 months and I am getting antsy. The stress is hard. Seeing savings being depleted is hard. It's a nagging worry that's always in the back of my mind except when it's in the front of my mind. I live with this constant rock in my stomach. I think I might be getting an ulcer from the stress, because I've been eating Tums like they are candy and this with eliminating peppers from my diet.
My ankles finally feel like they are heeling, though. I know I mentioned the bad fall I took and the major sprain of the one ankle, but I don't think I mentioned that I lost my balance and rolled the other ankle about 10 days later and sprained it, too. It had minor swelling and minor pain, and was just enough to make it difficult for me to stand for more than a minute at a time. I still have swelling in the first ankle 5 weeks after the injury, but the pain is mostly just if I press the area where the ligaments were stretched too far or if I do too much standing.
I did get in to see the ENT a week ago and he put me back on steroids and gave me 2 Z-packs and sent a letter to my doctor to be placed in my file about how to treat this condition. He also told me he had sent them one back in March. The on-call doctor had claimed there was no record of this type of treatment. I did find out later that it was in there. Anyway, the ENT is sending a copy of the new letter to me so I can have one, so if they conveniently can't find it in the future I can pull it out of my purse and go, "It looks just like this."
The ENT was really annoyed with my doctor's office. He said I should not be having to go through this crap for 8 weeks before getting the right treatment, when he'd told them before and I told them what it needed to be. I will be looking for a new doctor after the holidays. I want to see a holistic type doctor instead. I'm so tired of doctors who look at me but don't see me. I miss my old doctor so much. Why did he have to get old, retire, and die? I mean, he was only 83. They don't make doctors like him anymore.
But I did get the medicine and it is helping now that it's the right dosage and the meds are being taken together.
We had a litter born on the 18th. There are five healthy kits, 3 broken blacks and 2 that are either solid blacks or steels. I'm leaning toward steels.
The older litter is 5 weeks now. They are doing well. It looks like I have two broken blues, one broken black, one broken steel, a lightly broken fawn, and a steel (black with white hairs mixed in) there. Colors don't fully set until they are older though, so that's just a best estimate for the time being.
Life going on on the farm makes me happy. I am waiting for 3 more does to give birth. They are a day overdue. If the two whites don't have kits this time, I think I will have to declare Jasper a dud. I will give him one more try, but this will make 3 breedings with nothing from him. Zander on the other hand is doing his job, as you can tell from all the broken and colored kits being born.
DH has officially been unemployed for 10 weeks (and 3 days) now. I did the math for what we've been spending up until now. So far I have withdrawn $9000 from our Emergency Fund, which works out to $900 a week. We don't use it like that, my withdrawals have been $2500, $3500, and $3000, and we go until it runs out before I transfer more. Close to $2000 of that went to pay for glasses and eye doctor visit, dentist visits, doctor appointments, and prescriptions during our uninsured month.
We have also received 4 unemployment payments, but one came today and is going towards November and the other we haven't used yet so is also going towards November. It will pay for the November medical insurance and whatever other medical we have until it runs out. Each payment is two weeks of benefits. So we have used 4 weeks of benefits, which is $1576. That has all gone towards paying for medical insurance, co-pays, c-pap supplies, and prescriptions.
We have 14 weeks left before DH runs out of benefits. He's worked a job that has paid into unemployment insurance for 32 years, far more than he will ever see back in his lifetime. It's too bad that he can't withdraw based on what's been paid in for as long as he needs to. I'm still hoping he'll find a job by the end of the year, but if not benefits will run out by the end of January and we will have to cover our insurance and other medical costs without any help.
There is $11,000 left in the Emergency Fund, so at the rate we are going that should last until the middle of January, at which point it will be gone and we would have to start dipping into the farm down payment fund of $45,000. I don't want to have to do that, but if we have to it gives us the option of another 10 months or so. After that I don't know what we'll do.
I think if the refineries don't start hiring in November we're going to have to tighten our belts. I know its not as tight as it could be yet. I've not wanted to go full on if there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I know where to cut and I'm prepared to do it.
On Thursday night we got hit hard enough that it ripped the corrugated roofing off the butcher station, but the turkey coop, chicken coop, duck coop, and rabbit shed survived with no damages.
On Friday we had to staple down the greenhouse plastic on the raised beds, because the clamps weren't strong enough to keep the wind from tearing it free. There was a pretty good lull in the afternoon so we were able to do this.
We ran out to get more bottled water. The first store we went to the power was out and it took a while to get away from there as the stop lights were out, too. We went across town to the other Fred Meyer and halfway through our shopping trip the power went out there. Backup generators came on and then about 5 minutes later the power was on. We finished up and hurried back home. A few more stoplights were out. We beat the rain home, but only just.
The wind died down around ten this morning. Several neighbors had lost shingles, but we didn't. The house, the garage and the rabbit shed roof were all intact. We let the birds out for a few hours, but cooped them early when the winds started to pick up again. We gave them extra food and water in case they can't be let out tomorrow.
The wind has been pretty ferocious for the last four hours. It sounds like a freight train at times. The rain is lashing pretty hard. So far we've not had any power flickers at all, though. It's supposed to go on like this all night and then drop down to winds of about 16 to 18 miles per hour at around 8 a.m. and through the day with lots of rain.
I think flooding is going to be more of an issue than anything unless some trees come down on the power lines. We won't get flooded out, we're on top of a hill and far enough from the major creek or the river or the bay or the lake, but the basement will flood as it does in every major storm so we'll have to have the sump pump going.
I am thinking we might not get hit as hard as they have been predicting, but you never know. I saw that a couple of tornadoes touched down in Oregon briefly yesterday, F2's. That is incredibly rare for this part of the country. It devastated Manzanita. I always wanted to visit this incredible bed and breakfast they have there. I don't think I'd even know the name of the town otherwise.
I really hope all the storm hype has been (pardon the pun) overblown. So far, at least for our area, it doesn't seem any worse than the bad fall blows we usually get. Just have to wait and see if it floods any worse. Right now there is just water over roadways, nothing unnavigable in some of the county. But more rain is on the way so it could get worse.
So we're getting ready for what they are calling a post typhoon cyclone coming our way. This will likely be the worst storm to hit the west coast in my lifetime. Actually, it is to be a series of 3 storms to hit in rapid succession which are stemming from a Super Typhoon called Songda that is making its way across the Pacific Ocean from Japan.
We have plenty of shelf stable food, I've canned so much, and we have all of the staples I normally keep in food storage. We have our regular two cases of water in food storage and tonight we'll fill one of the bathtubs just in case we end up needing washing water or flushing water. We also have the 3 50 gallon rain barrels for further backup and to water the animals.
We've got a new, full BBQ-sized propane tank and 2 of the smaller propane tanks for the camp stove in case we end up having to cook on that. We've filled up the gas tank in the van. We've got the power station charging. It'll run my c-pap machine and DH's b-pap machine if we lose power. DH and I have been talking about getting a generator as well. I'd like to have something we can plug a couple of heaters into and a lamp and the fridge.
Our batteries are stocked up. Our cameras and cell phones are charged. Our computer batteries are charged. Our flashlights that don't take batteries are charged. Our regular flashlights and candles and lighters have all been rounded up.
We've tied down the garden low tunnels but we are talking about 50 to 70 knots of sustained winds so I am not sure it will make any difference in the end. Hopefully it will though. We've got all the empty pallets stacked in the garage now so they won't get rained on or go flying.
The rabbits have been taken care of early and the shutters are locked on the rabbit shed. The birds are going in early as well with extra food and water in case they can't come out tomorrow. Garage chicken has been secured with extra food and water (she's recovering from an injury) in her cage.
I can't think of anything else we need to do. We don't generally get storms quite this bad. Those of you who go through hurricanes on a regular basis over on the East coast, can you think of anything else I might need to do to prep?
Today, well technically yesterday, we used our new insurance for the first time. They weren't entirely sure as whether or not they fall under regular doctor or specialist doctor. I think they are specialist, but since we see a nurse practioner for this not an actual doctor that might change what the co-pay is. It'll get sorted once the cards actually arrive in the mail.
The bill arrived in the mail so we were able to set up automatic payments to one of the credit cards. That way we won't have to worry about it again until such time as we need to change it. We also could have set up direct withdrawal if we'd wanted to. I prefer the credit card though as it leaves a better paper trail. Then the credit card gets paid in full when it is due.
I have an appointment on Thursday afternoon so I hope the cards show up between now and then. They are so much easier to do when they can just swipe them.
Totally monthly premium comes out to be $1199. So the unemployment should pay for that plus prescriptions and a few doctor visits a month. I am glad of it as it will really help our money to stretch longer.
DH has been unemployed for 6 weeks now with not a lot of progress, unfortunately. He did have his resume accepted by a local refinery and was contacted to say he had been placed into the pool of candidates to be considered for upcoming jobs starting November through February. And that's pretty much what we've been hearing. Most jobs in his field won't be hiring for a few months.
A short term (4 to 6 month) job listing came up today here in town for a job he is qualified for, probably over-qualified for, so he sent a resume in for that. Even if there is no prospect for a job before the refineries start hiring again, we will be okay for a while. But I do hope he finds a good job soon. I am trying hard not to put pressure on him, since he is working hard at looking. These lulls happen. He's just never been caught in one before, and shouldn't have gotten caught in this one, but you've heard that rant already.
I made the second withdrawal from our Emergency Fund today, $3,500. We should be able to get through most of October on that, plus the unemployment when it comes again. That brings the EF down to $13,500, but remember we still have $45,000 in the House Down Payment Fund we can tap if we need to. And a few hundred in the Moving Fund.
The reason why we won't make it through the whole month on the $3,500 is that we will have to make an insurance premium payment and that is somewhere between $1100 and $1200. Ouch. I'm just not sure when. We will likely charge it to get the cash back points. We finally got approved and our acceptance letter came today with a paper we can use temporarily until our cards come which should be later on this week. That will put our prescriptions at $10 each and regular doctor visits at $20 each and specialist visits at $45, period, without the deductible kicking in. It is a $5000 deductible for everything else for the family.. No vision or dental for anyone but DS, since it is law to require it for anyone under 18, but they don't care about adults (even though 75% of the population in the US wears glasses or contacts).
We ended up going with a silver plan, because when we plugged in all the numbers it was going to be cheaper for us to do a silver plan than a bronze plan. And while the gold plan has a $2000 family deductible, it wasn't worth the difference in costs since doctors visits and prescriptions were so reasonable outside the deductible.
Both DD and I had to buy glasses in September out of pocket as we both had severe prescription changes in just one year. Out of pocket costs were close to $1000 (including her eye exam which happened after losing our insurance). But seeing is necessary, and it has made a tremendous difference for me. My headaches are gone and they were getting quite bad.
I didn't post much in September. I pulled that muscle in my back again and was in a lot of pain. Still am in some, but it is starting to improve. I have to budget what I can do, though. I have to make choices. If I need to go grocery shopping, that is all I will be doing that day. If I need to can tomatoes, they get chopped up one day and canned the next. I finally made dinner tonight for the first time in a while, but had to have help with chopping things. And it was exhausting.
DH has had to take over my rabbit duties. I miss them and have only managed to go out twice in three weeks to do general health checks. Good thing I did, as Ruby had an abscess. DD (vet tech student) was able to drain it and treat it, but if I hadn't checked on them no one would have known to do so.
I didn't get too much of a fall crop in, as the time I should have been planting was when the muscle pull happened and I went down really hard. I can still plant some carrots and turnips and put some greenhouse plastic on the supports that normally hold netting to keep out the birds and squirrels. I can put in radishes, green onions, and kohlrabi as well. I just have to have the energy to do it. I worry about bending over the garden bed, too, even from a chair, as I don't want the muscles to spasm again. I have another month until I need to plant my garlic.
We are getting kale, lettuce, broccoli, kohlrabi, peppers, tomatoes, basil, and sage still. Chard will be ready to start harvesting in another week or so. No sign of the first frost yet, but that usually doesn't happen until Halloween at the soonest, sometimes not until well into November. Last year it was December before we got a frost hard enough to kill anything except the tomatoes and we overwintered kale and chard.
Tomorrow I need to chop and freeze peppers. I have serrano, ancho, jalapeno, Anaheim, and sweet bells. And we need to start chopping and freezing onions, too, though they will last a lot longer than the peppers without it. I'll have to take it in steps with DH helping me. Fortunately peppers are easy to do, just have to wear gloves.
Not much else to talk about, though I'm sure I'm missing all kinds of things.
DH finally got paid by unemployment, he's been unemployed for a month now. They pay 2 weeks worth at a time, so he got $788, or $394 a week. 4 weeks of this should cover our monthly insurance premium with enough left over to cover our prescriptions. That will make our Emergency Fund stretch a lot further. I do wish he was getting WA state unemployment instead of AK state unemployment as that is $600 something a month. Oh, well, this still helps so much.
So far for September I have used $3000 from our Emergency Fund, bringing it down to $17,000. I will end up using at least another $1400 this month. Right around $520 will go to pay for our 6 month car insurance premium due on the 28th (though we are looking at other insurance, we are not really seeing much savings). $90 will go to physical therapy. $392.12 will go for the autopays that come due the first week of October. $400 goes to Mom to pay the utilities for October. And the rest will be for groceries. So maybe some of that will count towards October money, but it still has to be in the account by the end of September.
DH submitted his resume to the local refinery owned by the English on Friday and got an email yesterday saying it has been reviewed and passed on to the next stage of consideration. They are going to be hiring in the next 3 to 4 months for numerous jobs DH will qualify for. Hopefully he will get something there. It would be even better than a job in the next county over.
We have not heard anything from the mollusk refinery in the next county that will presumably be hiring in the next 3 months yet, other than that they will be using the placement company DH is signed up wtih, but there aren't any official rumblings so that's to be expected.
DH still has not heard back from the school he signed up with to pursue his BS in Electrical Engineering, though the money has been charged to the card. How long does it take to review transcripts anyway? It shouldn't take a month. I'll need to prod him to follow up with them again.
Not much is going on here otherwise. Some canning of tomatoes and some freezing of peppers. We lost Firefly, but she was getting old. One of the chickens is recovering from an injury. One of the other chickens swatted her off the roost and she fell 4 feet onto her wing and leg. She couldn't walk for a couple of days, but is standing now. We have her in a cage so the others won't pick on her. Chickens can be really mean to their wounded. We keep her in the garage at night, but leave her outside where the other chickens can socialize with her during the day. If they forget about her, reintroduction later will be brutal, so they need to see each other every day.
That's about it, I guess.
Have you ever heard of any government office starting their work week on a Sunday? Every government office starts their work week on a Monday. And ends it on Friday, but they definitely start on Mondays, so the corollary ought to be that if they did for some unknown reason work on weekends, their work week would end on Sunday. Logical, yes?
DH's work week started on Monday and ended on Sunday, also, logical. Every job he's ever worked, every job I've ever worked, Monday has been considered the first day of the work week and Sunday the last. The only place Sunday is the first day of the week is on the calendar.
So why, then, does unemployment consider the work week to start on Sunday and end on Saturday, instead of starting on Monday like the rest of the country?
DH's last day of work was on a Sunday. So that means his first week of being unemployed does not count, since he got paid for that Sunday and his wages that day are more than a week's unemployment. If he'd made less than that amount he'd have gotten the difference up to the max, but he did, so nothing for that week. He won't get anything for that week at all. *sighs*
I guess he didn't have qualifying job applications for that week anyway according to them, so it wouldn't even matter, but the hoops they special little qualifications they make you jump through here are ridiculous. He's been paying in without fail for 32 years. It should not be this hard to get a tiny little bit of it back.
Well, he's got properly qualifying and documented applications for this current week so it should start then, but won't arrive for a couple weeks after that. I want to tear my hair out. Actually, no, strike that. I want to tear someone else's hair out. Preferably one of the lawmakers who came up with some of these hoops. Or maybe they can just get stuck inside a giant stack of hoops conveniently dropped by a formerly unemployed fork lift driver with no hope of rescue for 24 hours and only 2 bottles of water and no bathroom. Actually make that 6 bottles of water and no bathroom.
I am actually thinking maybe there isn't much point in going after the gold plan. We might do bronze and pay far less out of pocket. In adding up our prescriptions and office visits at out of pocket cost, with the lowest cost plan that is still good insurance in a catastrophe, we'd be paying less than $1000 a month. With the gold plan we'd be paying about $1600 to $1700 a month out of pocket once we hit the deductible. Turns out the gold plan only has vision and dental for kids under 18, not adults, so that is all out of pocket anyway and is a game changer.
So back to the drawing board I guess. We have to do what will make our savings last the longest.
On the bright side, and I promise it has not all been doom and gloom around here, I sold a rabbit on Saturday for $83. That will pay for 3 to 4 month's of rabbit feed. We haven't sold any duck eggs because we are eating them all, but they have picked up production again, so between the ducks and the chickens we are getting enough eggs to eat daily again.
I am preserving food left and right from the garden. I have put up plums (canned, frozen, and dehydrated, made fruit leather, canned potatoes, green beans, and corn. I have frozen poblano, Anaheim, and bell peppers and am working on chopping up onions to freeze. The tomatoes are starting to produce. I might have enough to can two pints. That's not much, but they should start exploding in about 2 weeks.
The second crop of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and lettuce is coming along nicely. The third crop of kohlrabi and radishes is too. My first crop of chard planted this year is struggling a bit, but with the weather turn and some real rain for the first time this summer it is perking up. I will be planting carrots, radishes, and turnips today. And possibly spinach if I can find starts or seeds. The last frost has been mid-November lately so I should get it in under the wire. Carrots are 60 days, turnips are 50 days, and radishes are 24 to 40 days depending on variety. And I can use frost cloths if we get an early frost.
All right, well, I better get back to the garden as there is a break in the rain.
We are trying to get all of our ducks in a row with unemployment, but I think it's going to take a lot of hoop jumping before our ducks aren't scattered all over the place. Just one example is that we were asked if we wanted direct deposit or a debit card with the money on it. DH checked the box for direct deposit. They said it would be a couple of weeks from the time the process it, but it was going to be a couple weeks anyway so whatever. But then they sent a debit card anyway???
I'm not sure why as that is the least convenient way for us to possibly use the money and we said we did not want it. There is no money on it yet, because he hasn't been unemployed for 2 weeks yet. It'll make it difficult for us to use for the thing we want to use it for, buying health insurance (direct withdrawal or credit card, no option for debit card). I don't know why the government has to make things 20 times harder than it has to be. Plus fees are deducted every time you use a debit card. We need all of that money.
They also want DH to apply for jobs their way and not in, you know, the way he should for his industry's standards. So he can send stuff in the proper way for the job he is applying for and through the correct channels, or in the way that unemployment will give him credit for but will be less likely in netting a job interview. He's trying for a happy medium, because the intended outcome is to actually GET a job, not remain on unemployment for 6.5 months.
DH is dealing with this, so I am only frustrated by default, not like crazy about it. I am sure it will all get ironed out eventually, it is just how many bumps there will be before it does. And you all know how I like for things to run smoothly. I just have to keep going along, put my head down, and keep my faith that God knows what he is doing.
$44,000.00 Starting Balance
+__,500.00 Deposit Addded
$44,500.00 New Balance
I wasn't sure I was going to be able to add anything to this fund this month, but I was able to squeak out $500.00 as we spent most of the overtime money putting ourselves into a position to survive the next several months without having to purchase much and get ahead on some things.
We stocked up on staples like flour, sugar, brown sugar, oil, spices, toilet paper, soap (body, dish, laundry), shampoo, rice, reusable canning lids, pickling salt, freezer bags (so we can freeze garden veggies that don't can well), peanut butter, tuna fish, condiments, facial tissue, and OTC medications.
It'll be a close next two weeks, but not tight. All payments have gone out or been scheduled and nothing else is due until after next payday on the 8th. The garden is in full swing now with both fruits and vegetables, so I really should not need to set foot in a store for anything but dairy and vitamins.
I have PT today and next Friday, but the money is put aside for that, too. So really, it all should be good. I am hoping on the 8th to purchase a 30 pound box of ground beef from the farm. That is the only thing we are low on in the freezer. If not we will just have to make due with ground rabbit and ground pork, which actually make some pretty tasty burgers, tacos, meat loaves, and meatballs. They just don't provide much iron.
We also stocked up on animal feed so we will have that on hand for a good long while.
We are not all that much better off than we were when I last wrote on DH's impending lay off on the 2nd. But he did have several people from his company and from big parent company go to the higher ups (on their own) and tell them they'd made the wrong decision on who to lay off.
So now they've reversed the decision, but it doesn't mean much. DH's company has announced that they did not get the contract. Their contract ends at the end of the month. Then they have so many days to finish up and hand over things to whomever did get the contract. So that means DH will go back at the end of the month and get at least another two weeks wages, which will cover medical for July, too, so we at least won't have to do a COBRA for July.
After that there may or may not be more wrap-up work. They have 90 days, but whether or not there is 90 days of work is anybody's guess.
It has still not been announced whether or not company 2 got the contract. With a short list of 2 and company 1 being told they do not have it, it should be a given, but nothing is official. Until it is official, DH can't be offered a position there, though he supposedly has one as they used his name in the bid for that position.
He will be having a meeting with the placement company when he gets home and I think he said he's been submitted for the next county over job, but they won't be ramping up to hire for another month or so. That would be the ideal job, though, and he'd be back home working a normal day job.
He's sent his resume in to a job in North Dakota as well. Not my first choice and it would be 4 weeks on, 2 weeks off.
Right now I am continuing to budget as usual. I am funding my funds with the idea that any and all money saved will be used to live on if it comes to that. But if it doesn't come to that then they'll have continued to grow.
I have been getting my ducks in a row and stocking up on staples like flour, sugar, rice, toilet paper, and cleaning products. Most other things I have a good supply of for a while. I still have a lot of home canned food from last year and the garden is in full swing right now, with the veggies of course, but the raspberries, blackberries, and even the blueberries are starting to ripen, while the strawberries are at full bore. The freezer's are full of meat and if it comes down to it, I shouldn't have to buy any food for 3 or 4 months.
I have lots of beef fat and pork fat to render into tallow and lard, so I will have cooking oil from that if I run out of my stockpile of olive oil and sunflower oil. Plus, I always filter and save my bacon grease, too, as it is the best thing to cook rabbit meat in.
I know we will be okay for some time no matter what the outcome, but I am still struggling with the uncertainty of not knowing what comes next. It is hard to not have things nailed down.
Please continue to pray that my husband will find a new, good job. Thanks for all the support. I really appreciate it.
It has been a very busy week for me here. I have canned 15 pints of rabbit meat, 7 quarts and 4 half pints of rabbit bone broth, 9 pints of leek and potato soup, made two trays of rabbit jerky, dehydrated 3 trays of Thai basil from my Aerogarden and 3 trays of leeks, and am currently steeping dandelion petals for at least 12 hours so I can make and can dandelion jelly tomorrow.
I made the leek and potato soup from scratch in the crockpot, using some leeks that had overwintered in the garden. I had to pull them all up so I could add about a foot of compost and new soil to the bed, so I had to do something with them. I used 3 quarts of canned Yukon gold potatoes in the process. The first quart was pureed with the leeks and then the other 2 quarts were added about an hour from the end so it would have hearty chunks of potatoes as well, so no expense really. We had it for dinner before canning the rest.
As for the jelly, we have the sugar, pectin, and lemon juice in our food storage and the dandelions were free from our no spray yard. The amount of jelly I make here will last for the year and while I will make some strawberry jelly as well in late May or early June just because it is our favorite, I wouldn't actually need to.
I will make some buttermilk biscuits tomorrow and we will have them with the fresh jelly that is left over. It never comes out completely even, there's always about a quarter of a pint left it seems, and there is nothing like jelly made in the morning slathered on hot from the oven biscuits at dinner time.
The eat from the pantry challenge is going well. So far the only purchase I have made this week at the grocery store was for fresh fruit (watermelon, blueberries, and a cantaloupe) and a gallon of milk. I did also pick up some cleaning supplies and Puffs tissues. DD has the flu (the actual flu) and the rest of us have allergies and went through my stockpile pretty hard and fast. I ended up spending $45.47.
I will spend a little bit more on payday. I am going to try my hand at making homemade laundry detergent. I have always held off on making it as I can never find Washing Soda. Well, I found out how you can make regular baking soda into Washing Soda by baking it in the oven at a certain temperature. So all I need to buy is Borax and either Fels Naptha or Zote soap, which Walmart carries. Don't really like going all the way over there, but it'll be worth the trip for the savings on the soap.
And I am going to buy some plant starts for the garden. I did not get my seeds going soon enough so have decided that I will get a few starts. Not a lot though, just some kale and maybe shallots, green onions, and red and yellow keeping onions. Several things I can direct seed into the garden in about 2 more weeks so there is no need to start them inside.
I did get my tomatoes and peppers started today. They are on a plant heat mat on my seed growing stand. We can't plant those until the end of May or beginning of June regardless, so they'll be fine. I started those at the end of March last year and they were ready in time. I'm not worried about it. I had excellent germination using a regular heating pad last year, so I think it'll be just as good with a heat mat actually made to sprout heat loving plants.
Tomorrow I will plant some seeds in the garden. I will put in parsnips, 3 types of carrots, radishes, and snap and snow peas. All of those things can be planted at this time of year. We think we've finally blocked out all the escape routes for the chickens, so the garden should be safe to plant in now. I do need to purchase a new hose nozzle so I can mist the carrots, parsnips, and radishes until they sprout. They can't take full on watering until they've developed a root system.
I have a feeling this will be another excellent gardening and homesteading year.
Our only debt right now is the 0% interest loan from my mother for all the medical expenses she helped us cover when I had six surgeries in five years. I call it our Medical Mortgage for those new to the game. It currently sits at $45,000. For the last 10 months we were paying it back at a reduced rate, her idea, not ours, of $500 a month. This allowed us to save $5000 towards our down payment, but of course increased our pay off date.
Well, now we are going back to paying off $1000 per month. Mom needs to put a new roof on the addition of her house this summer and she just had to pay $10,200 so that the heating guys can come and fix her ducts under the house and put down new Visqueen. There were mice nests in most of her registers. Aw, fun. I told her she needs to get a cat (or three). Old houses have mice and this house is old.
While it was nice to put that money in savings, I was never thrilled about it increasing the payoff date. Well, now we are back to a better payoff schedule. We have 45 payments to go. That is 3 years and 10 months of payments, which gives us a payoff date of November of 2019.
She doesn't want it any faster as besides this money, social security is her only income (though she owns the house and cars in full and has no debt). She likes being guaranteed a certain amount each month. Though I may insist when we get closer to the end, just to be done with it.
Assuming all goes well with DH's contract at least, we'll be done with the payoff before 2020 which is good. He has guaranteed work through June. He was supposed to find out in the beginning of March whether or not his company got the new contract, but it has been extended a couple of weeks, so now we might not know until the end of March.
I passionately dislike living in limbo. In the past when his old company lost the contract he was able to slide into place with the new company and will likely be able to do that again. But we don't know. And not knowing drives me crazy.
On the bright side, we have almost $16K in the Emergency Fund and $38,500 in the down payment fund, so if it did take him a while to find a new job if things didn't go as planned, we will be fine. It will set our plans back a lot, but we will be fine.
I did a job loss budget and we could bring our living expenses down to $3000 a month if we had to for 18 months, cutting out physical therapy, cutting our grocery budget in half, cutting out all savings, cutting out the kids allowances, cutting out the chiropractor, but still paying back Mom. We would be going into garden season, so we might even be able to cut our grocery budget by more than half for a while.
I don't like the idea of it, but it is better for me to plan for contingencies so I don't have to panic later on.
Well, we are no worse the wear for our earthquake last night. For those who don't live in the PNW there was a 4.8 earthquake about 11 miles from Victoria. Vancouver Island is not that far from us as the crow (or seagull) flies. My bed rolled forward about a foot, then went backward the same way.
Normally I would have been asleep so close to midnight, but my daughter had a sleep study and it didn't start until 1 a.m. because her sleep pattern is that screwed up.
None of my canning jars fell off the open shelves, but they did move. Fortunately it was sideways. Number one priority is to get some guards in place. If I had lost any jars, it would have been a big mess of glass and food all over the carpet.
In the rabbit shed some of the cages had shifted and the water bottles on the shelves out there had also shifted. Again it was sideways so it wasn't a big deal.
The hay bucket had fallen over and so had the bucket of oats, but I didn't notice anything else amiss. It does get me thinking about a few more things I need to get in order though. We did have flashlights and water and plenty of food, but I still haven't bought a propane space heater or a small generator for my c-pap machine. We didn't lose power, but it is always a possibility. There is a solar rechargeable generator that I have been looking at. I guess it is time to start saving up for that.
It was a lot different than the baby earthquakes I've been through before which just sort of vibrated or lightly swayed things. But it still wasn't much more than just a big surprise. We have never had a bad one here in my lifetime, except the one that accompanied Mt. St. Helen erupting when I was a kid and I both felt and heard it, and it cracked a pane in my bedroom window even though we are quite a ways away.
Most people seem to have just slept through this one.
On Thursday we picked up 1/4 of a beef cow (yes, cow, not steer) at the butcher's. The meet itself was $475. The cut and wrap was $195.71. Total cost was $670.71. It worked out to about $3 per pound for grass fed organic beef. I also got 40 pounds of tallow. I only asked for 10, but they give it away, so now I have an overwhelming amount of frozen beef fat to render.
It is for making soaps and lotions, though, so it will all get used eventually. I might also use some for the deep fat fryer. Tallow used to be what all the restaurants used to cook their fries in before they all switched to hydrogenated vegetable oil for "health" reasons, only we know now that is far worse.
It has filled up 3 compartments in the freezer. It is amazing how little space it takes up. If I hadn't had the tallow it all would have fit in two compartments, which is 1/8 of the overall chest freezer space. It will last a long time, though.
We had the first meat from it last night for dinner and it is very flavorful.
We lost power on Saturday in the massive wind storm Western WA had. We were out of power for a little over 8 hours, so we ended up getting takeout from a place that still had power. We spent $48 for 4 people. If it had gone more than that day we would have gotten out the camp stove and started using it to cook on. We had hot water since our water heater is gas and the pilot light was still on.
I made a couple of videos from the day of the storm and the day after showing damages.
It got pretty bad in places, but most of the county has power back as of today. We lost a bush and had a lot of damage to some squash vines, corn, and tomato plants, but otherwise came through pretty unscathed. The animals were okay, especially after we put the shutter up over the windows of the rabbit shed. All of their roofs stayed on.
The first half week of school went well for my son. Although he is already starting to pull some of the same stuff as last year. We are nipping it in the bud, though. It's not my fault if he stays up too late playing video games after being told to go to bed. He doesn't get to be "sick" and stay home and sleep because he made wrong choices. He gets to go to school anyway. And his video game machine gets to sleep in my room until the weekend.
My mom had her 76th birthday on the 28th and then my husband had his 46th birthday on the 30th, but it was all very laid back. We had too much work to do to really celebrate. We had to clean 18 rabbit cages over the weekend, plus we were canning. Farm chores and garden preservation do not stop just because someone is now a year older.
It has been raining pretty non-stop for the last two days. Since it has only rained twice prior to this the entire summer, it is very good for the area, but I feel spoiled after such a nice summer for wanting it to stop. And I'm worried it will spoil and split the rest of my tomatoes. The weather is supposed to get nice again by Friday, at least for a few days.
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.
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