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.
Viewing the 'Goals' Category
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.
Alright, so after all is said and sifted, I am left with a grand total of $25,943.37 in savings. I have made the decision for it all to be the Emergency Fund and to have an empty Down Payment Fund for now. DH being unemployed set us back about 3 years, I think. There is no way we can think about moving at the moment, so I'm taking that fund off the table until I get the EF where I want it to be.
So where do I want it to be? By the end of this year I want it to be at $30,000. I'm not stopping there, either. Based on our expenses while DH was unemployed, we needed $6000 a month to survive. $1337 of that was for our monthly medical insurance premium, and about $650 was for medical out of pocket a month. So $2000 for medical each month and $4000 to pay bills and live on.
So we never figured he'd be unemployed more than 6 months and that wiped out our $20,000 Emergency Fund in 4 months. It would have been gone faster if we hadn't had a month without insurance. So my ultimate goal will be to have $72,000 in the EF, a full year of expenses. I know that will take a while to get to, and that's okay.
My incremental goals will be:
I figured that way divides it up into living expenses for a month. To hit $30,000 by the end of 2017 I need to deposit $500 a month for 8 months. I can do that. I will probably scrape up more here and there as well. I'd like it to be $1000, but I need to start paying Mom back on the loan, something that will take 3 years to pay off if we can swing $1000 a month. I still want it gone more than anything else.
Of course I will also set mini-goals for the EF. Every $1000 is what I used to do, so probably what I will do again. It will feel good to start making progress again each month instead of hemmorhaging money for 3/4 of a year.
I have never understood why it is that when you sign up with direct deposit with a new job, the first paycheck doesn't get direct deposited. In this day and age especially of quick electronic transactions, it doesn't make sense to me. Back in the day when this sort of thing was new instead of commonplace and they were still working kinks out it was a bit more understandable, but it should not be an issue anymore.
So while DH will get his first paycheck next week, it will be a paper check he will have to mail home. I was expecting that, though, and did not have any plans budget wise until the following week when he will get the second paycheck direct deposited.
It's going to be very weird going back to an income based budget. It has been 9 months living off of savings, the Christmas bonus, and the income tax return. I'm sure I will get back into the groove and be used to it again in no time, but it'll take some adjusting.
Except for automatic payments from the bank account I have been running everything through the credit card and then taking a chunk out of savings at the start of each month and paying it off. Watching the balance on the card made me more careful while savings was dwindling. I hope I maintain some of that carefulness as we go back to the previous method of doing things.
I have a feeling I'm going to want to spend freely when income starts rolling in again, and that is not something I want to have happen. We can't afford to do that if we want to get our goals accomplished, especially a 12 month Emergency Fund.
I'm not sure how fast that will happen, but it was certainly proven to us that $20,000 is not enough for a family of four when there is a prolonged job loss and you have to pay for your own insurance. My ultimate goal there is $72,000. That would give us $6000 per month to live on and pay for insurance. It took 10 years to get it to $20K the first time. I need it to get there sooner than that. It is just going to be hard figuring out how.
In other news, I missed my blogoversary. It was April 9th, 11 years and over 77.6 million hits ago that I started this blog. Seems like forever and just yesterday all at the same time.
$45.15 Starting Balance
+20.00 Rabbit sale
+10.00 Egg Money
+_9.00 Coin Jar Money
$99.15 New Balance
$2400.85 to go.
I won my January Jumpstart Kickstarter on dietbet. Payin was $35.00. Payout was $40.68. That's a profit of $5.68, which does not sound like much, but it works out to 14% and where are you going to get that much interest in a month? My husband did likewise, so it's double that. It's too bad for us that more people didn't fail, but I guess it is good luck for them because they lost the weight. I can't really be unhappy that so many people stuck to their guns. I know what the struggle is like.
I also won my first month on my Transformer, but they haven't finalized the winnings yet, and even so, you don't get paid out on the 6 month bet until the end, but you do know your winnings. I consider it like a 6 month CD, at least if you stay on track. But historically I win far more doing the Transformer than the Kickstarter. Hopefully they will finalize soon.
I haven't decided if I'll do another month bet or not. Maybe in March. I've come off the prednisone and had surgery on my toe and I'm not sure what my weight will do because of it. I'd like to wait at least another week or so before I make a decision.
$15525.58 Starting Balance
+__100.00 Monthly Deposit
+___46.36 Extra money leftover from last payday
$15671.94 New Balance
$328.06 to go to hit my first mini-goal of 2016.
I didn't have time to write about this when I started, but 12 days ago I did one big grocery shop with the intention of cutting my grocery spending for the month in half. I gave myself a budget of $400, and spent $319.94. That left me with $80.06 for things like milk, bread (if I don't bake it), lettuce, and fresh fruit.
Yesterday I spent $11.85 on 15 pounds of oranges, and $8.99 on a quart of fresh organic strawberries. So that is $20.84 and it leaves me with $59.22 to get through until the 22nd of January. $60 for 20 more days. I have 2 gallons of milk left so I am fine there, and I still have some greens growing under my little umbrella green houses, so I may not need to buy lettuce at all. I also have a loaf of bread left and plenty of ingredients to make more.
The $400 I am hoping to save (my usual budget is $800 a month) will go into the down payment fund. I have been successful in saving anywhere from around $200 to $250 for the past couple of months, but I really want to try to make this goal.
I do not have to buy any meat at all. The freezer is still packed with chicken, rabbit, beef, pork, and lamb. I have a ton of home canned food still on my canning shelves, and some frozen fruit and veg as well. So this is very doable as long as I don't get lazy. So far I have been sticking pretty well to the meal planning, though I've switched things up a couple times when I wasn't feeling as good. But it was all stuff we had available.
We also have not eaten out in that amount of time and I am hoping to make that go for the entire month long period as well. I am in full on savings mode. The faster I can save, the sooner we can move.
DH's Christmas Bonus arrived in the mail and as you can see from the previous 3 posts I disbursed it amongst the Down Payment Fund, the College Fund, and the Emergency Fund.
This is the first deposit I have made to the Emergency Fund since...well, I can't remember. Since I hit $15K back in May or something. I had stopped adding to it to get other funds up and growing. I had intended to restart it in January, but figured I might as well get a bit of a jump on it. Hopefully I can get it to $20K by the end of 2016, but that's just a pie in the sky goal. It will much more likely be around $3K saved to get to $18K. But who knows? I like to aim high.
I was able to top off the College Fund so there is now enough for the first semester of my daughter's vet tech course, which she wants to start in January. Since she will have 18 months to complete the semester, I am not worried at the moment about adding any more to that fund, other than $100 a month going foward.
I also added $2000 to the Farm Down Payment Fund. I had also planned to set aside an additional $1000 to medical savings, but the bonus was $1000 less than it has been for the past few years, so that was just a tentative plan. We have always managed the medical, so I'm not that fussed by it, but I would have liked to have it set aside. Oh, well. We will be okay without it. If something huge comes up once the ridiculous deductible starts over, well, that is what the Emergency Fund is there for, loathe as I would be to touch it.
I need to buy a new microwave. The one I have has been limping along on its last legs for a while now and likes to shut down if you use the microwave for more than 10 minutes in a row. It comes back on again about 10 minutes later, but I don't imagine that can possibly be a good thing. I need to remember to measure the space it is in and make sure any new one I buy isn't too tall.
I have been knitting like crazy for the past few weeks. I have completed a scarf for my daughter, a scarf and a hat for my son, and a scarf for me. I have managed to knit two socks, the first of which is not wearable and the second of which looks lumpy, but is wearable, comfortable, and warm.
I have never knit socks before, so I consider the first one to be a learning sock. I unraveled it when done because I had dropped too many stitches. My biggest trouble is making the toe. I can do the cuff and the heel and the foot of the sock just fine, but I keep screwing up the toe when I try to attach it to the foot. I had to redo it twice for it to even look somewhat right. I am tempted to just get a sock loom and see if that helps.
I will try to knit the matching sock at least before going the sock loom route. I am sure it just takes practice. I really want to move on to mittens or gloves, though. Mittens should be straight-forward. Gloves will be more difficult, but I still think they will be easier than socks.
I do want to get good at socks though, because I want to make some booties for my niece. She's due in May so I do have some breathing room to practice. And booties don't take long, but if you can't master sock toes, than you can't master bootie toes either. I guess I can always knit a blanket instead if I can't figure it out.
$743.33 Starting Balance
+_10.00 Weekly Deposit
$753.33 Ending Balance
$197.67 to go.
$662.33 Starting Balance
+_81.00 (Egg Money, Farm Sales, Coin Jar)
$743.33 Ending Balance
$206.67 to go.
This weekend I will go to pick up my Thanksgiving turkey and pay the balance, so I'll deduct that amount from my end goal once I know what it is. I should have this account fully funded by November 20th. Then I can get to work actually buying the Christmas presents and have it done hopefully by the beginning of December.
The kids already know what they want. I want to get a strum stick and perhaps a small TV and DVD player for the bedroom. We don't have a TV anymore and I do get a little tired of watching DVD's on the computer. I think DH knows what he wants. Then it'll just be shopping for MIL and FIL, SIL, and one niece, since the other is now 20 and has aged out of our buying gifts. We don't exchange with my mother.
I think I'd like to have a small tree this year, and maybe a wreath for our door, but we'll see. It is hard to have a tree when we only have 1000 square feet of space and most of it is otherwise occupied.
$652.33 Starting Balance
+_10.00 Weekly Deposit
$662.33 New Balance
$287.67 to go.
$610.84 Starting Balance
+_10.00 Weekly Deposit
$620.84 New Balance
$329.16 to go. I think I will have this fully funded by the end of November.
$50.00 Initial Deposit
$350.00 to go.
$455.84 Starting Balance
+100.00 Deposit Added
$555.84 New Balance
$394.16 to go.
$345.84 Starting Balance
+_10.00 Weekly Deposit
+_67.00 Rabbit Money
+_13.00 Coin Jar Money
$435.84 New Balance
$514.16 left to hit my goal of $950 (revised down from $1000 since I put a $50 deposit down for my turkey).
$126.54 Starting Balance
+_10.00 Weekly Deposit
$136.54 New Balance
$863.46 to go to hit my goal of $1000.
Starting next payday (9/18) I will be able to start contributing more substantially to this fund.
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.
$14,941.89 Beginning EF Total
+__,_58.11 (Egg and Rabbit Money, Coin Jar)
$15,000.00 New EF Total
I have finally hit my goal of $15K. That gives us bare minimum expenses for 3 months. While I would like to get the EF to double that one day, for now I am going to pause the EF savings, probably for the rest of the year, and work on some other shorter term goals. First up is funding the January Money Fund and the Tire Fund. Today I deposited the rest of the coin jar money into the January Money Fund.
$2193.65 Beginning January Money Fund Total
+__32.39 Deposit Added
$2258.43 New January Money Fund Total
So from now on the weekly $10 deposit, the monthly $100 deposit, farm sales, and coin jar savings will go to fund either the Tire Fund or the JM Fund.
DH forgot to arrange time off with his alternate for DD's graduation. Normally they switch weeks or go to a temporary 3 and 3 week schedule, but with waiting to the last minute the best he could get was for his alternate to just work the 4 days for him. It would be less days if there was a plane to the slope every day, but there isn't. So we will lose 4 days of pay in June.
I am going to try my best to not have to use the Emergency Fund to cover these lost wages. I think we can manage it, at least if no more major medical bills come in. It won't be this next cycle, but the one after that that will be missing 4 days. So if I am very careful and we don't eat out at all in the next 6 weeks and I don't put anything in the down payment fund except the $500 I'm obligated to put in there, I think it will be manageable.
If not, I guess I could take from the January Money Fund or the College Fund. DD is taking a gap year anyway, to try to get her health in order. I am hoping they will just let her get a hysterectomy. It is what she wants at this point just to have all this over with. She's never wanted to give birth to kids because of the high risks that run in our family, so that isn't an issue, though the doctors may make it out to be one. They generally do when you are young. But she's always been quite firm on wanting to adopt little girls from China. She's talked about that since she was 10.
We will be eating from the pantry and the garden as much as possible during this time period. I will buy some fruit and vegetables and probably some chocolate, but I will buy no meat (other than pepperoni and deli meat for school lunches) since we have plenty in the freezer and in the canning jars and I will make all of our bread.
What I won't have to buy at all is lettuce, kale, or chard. The kohlrabi will start being ready in a week or so. So basically the only veggies I will be buying are cabbage, zucchini, and broccoli. I will be buying some strawberries and blueberries, at least until my own strawberries are ripe. I will also be buying 2 basil plants. I have canned nectarines, applesauce, and pineapple. And I'll need to buy milk and yogurt. We have plenty of butter and oil. But I do need to pick up tomato sauce to make spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce with my own canned tomatoes. I think I can limit it to that, though.
If I can cut our grocery budget in half for the next 6 weeks, we should get by just fine without having to dip into anything. Including the money for DS's new bike.
$11,586.76 Beginning EF Balance
$11,728.26 New EF Balance
$271.74 to go to hit my first mini-goal of the year of $12K. $3,271.74 to go to hit my main goal of $15K for the year.
This is money from my Costco refund of $47.26, a $50 check from my in-laws because they didn't spend as much on me at Christmas as everybody else so were trying to even it out, and the rest was from the coin jar. I couldn't really think of anything I wanted other than to get the EF to $12K so I put it in there.
$11,047.70 Beginning Balance
+__,323.50 Deposit Added
$11,371.20 New Balance
This is survey money, egg and rabbit sales, and coin jar money. I decided to wait on buying stock so that money is going into the EF instead. I really want to get the EF to $15K this year. I would just feel more secure with that amount in the bank.
$3,628.80 left to go to hit $15K and $628.80 to hit my first mini-goal of the year. Tomorrow is payday and I have $78 even left in the checking account and that will get sent to the EF tomorrow. Not sure yet if I'll have the monthly $100 deposit out of tomorrow's payday or next weeks, though. We have some medical bills to pay so we'll have to see how that changes things first.
This is the first paycheck with the 401K, also, so I don't yet know how much of a difference that will be in planning my budget.
I forgot to mention yesterday that I decided to sign up for dietbet. I did a $30 one. I figured maybe if I had some monetary skin in the game it would make it more likely to hang in there during the hardest part, the first month. Once I get my groove on, I generally do pretty well, and with having been off soda for probably a year now, this time I'll be doing it without my biggest temptation.
I am using survey money. Anything I win will go towards the DRIP thing I'll be starting up. The initial investment will go back into Dietbet for the next round. I want to lose 15 pounds this month, but I'd be happy with just making progress.
I have gained back all of the weight I lost before, plus another 15 pounds. And it is making life difficult. This time I need to make the changes permanent. I really hope I'm finally ready to do that.
In other news we lost Lemon today. She had hurt herself a few days ago and while we had been treating her injuries, she just couldn't recover. She died this afternoon. That brings our duck flock down to 4 females and one male. It is sad, but it doesn't hurt as bad as it did when Sienna died. Ducks are not affectionate by nature, and while they make me happy with their antics, they are not something I have cuddled with. It puts more space between me and the loss.
Aside from the auto deductions and the AMEX bill, which have money set aside for them, I am hoping for a no spend week starting tomorrow and going through next Tuesday. We have plenty of food, milk, and medication and toiletries in the house and no reason to spend any money on anything, so this week should be a breeze to get through. I won't have physical therapy again for 8 days, which I will have to pay, or I'd be trying to go no spend until January 9th, which is our next payday.
Today we spent $75 on rabbit feed and oats and I spent $90 on physical therapy.
The kids start back to school on Monday and normally I would buy lunch meat, but I am just going to make an extra pizza on Sunday and then they can take that for lunches. They both like cold pizza over sandwiches anyway and since I make it with lots of onions and peppers it is reasonably well balanced.
My husband taught my FIL and my mom how to butcher rabbits so they could help do it and DH could keep his injured finger out of them, so on Monday they butchered 10. These ones were a few weeks older than our norm, so it'll be close to 35 pounds of meat and about 2.5 pounds of livers. I will be working on cutting it all up tomorrow for grinding. We should get about 35 pounds of burger after the bones are taken out.
Then I will boil up the bones, pick off the remaining meat, and can the stock. I might even make up some ready made soups to can with the meat from the bones, although generally I save that for making enchiladas.
I am about ready to start cooking again, even though I'm not over this illness. My brain is starting to unfog, which is good. And since DH just left for Alaska and won't be able to help, I am glad I feel like I am capable to start at least making dinners again.
Today is payday and I was able to achieve my goal of getting the EF to $10K by the end of the year. Exactly $10K.
$9676.22 Beginning Balance
+_323.78 Amount Added
10,000.00 Ending Balance
My goal for 2015 is $15K, with a mini-goal of $12K.
Between what I saved for December/January bills and today's paycheck we have $6067.22. $2100 to $2500 will go for the car. $1000 to Mom's loan. $225 to the chiropractor. The early January bills it will need to cover will be $500 or so. That leaves us with $1842.22 to cover Christmas and anything else between now and the next paycheck on January 9th. And we have $200 in grocery store gift cards. We should get by on that just fine.
The Christmas Bonus comes on the 19th or thereabouts. We have no idea of how much it is going to be and it will be mostly relegated to the EF and DH's bachelor's program.
The important thing is that despite the curve ball of the car repair, we won't have to touch the Emergency Fund to cover anything. I am so happy about that.
I've got a few things on the agenda for 2015 that I'd like to achieve. I'm not going to put sell the house on this list, because that is basically out of my hands, though I sure do hope it happens.
Our first priority is to contribute to the 401K. DH has started this process, and half the Christmas bonus will go into it, and after that 1% of income. We hope to raise it higher, but I have to see how it messes with our bottom line. With no raises in 4 years and more and more being taken out in medical each year, I'm not sure how much we can put in there without being squeezed tight. It should only be taking $125 a month out pretax.
Our second priority is to fund DH's Bachelors program. The sooner he gets through that, the sooner he can apply for jobs that will move him up in the company and give him a shot at higher wages.
Our third goal is to get the Emergency Fund to $15K, which would be our minimum 3 month's expenses. It would be super tight there for 3 months but it would be survivable. $18K is more like comfortable, but baby steps. There is a dedicated $1720 a year that goes to this with the weekly $10 deposits and the monthly $100 deposits. I'd have to come up with $3280 from elsewhere, like coin jar money, refund checks, and surveys or any overtime DH manages to swing.
Farm Goals I'd like to meet in 2015--
Raise ducklings for sale if our girls set any nests. I don't have an incubator and it is not in the budget for 2015, so it is either nature's way or not at all.
If George is mature enough, let Gina set on eggs and raise some turkey poults, some for sale and some for our own meat. This may take another year, but some heritage breed male turkeys do mature enough to fertilize their first year. If not we will buy and raise 3 poults for our holiday and a few chicks with them for meat birds.
Double the size of our organic garden and start it earlier in the year.
Purchase 2 dozen canning jars each month during the next year to increase my supply.
Sell some rabbit breeding stock and increase egg sales.
There are, of course, other things I'd like to accomplish, but with limited funds, I felt like I should stick with what seems to be reasonable.
I've been thinking a lot about what I've accomplished this year and what I want to accomplish next year. The last couple of years have been pretty big for us in paying down debt and this year was, too.
Milestones hit in 2014:
--Paying off the Mortgage
--Hitting the halfway mark on paying off the loan to Mom
--Paying down the van loan far enough that we owe less on it than it is worth
--Hitting $10K on the Emergency Fund. It wasn't there for long, but it was there, and it will be again by the end of this year so I count that as a win.
We have also made great strides towards becoming self-sufficient, though we still have a long way to go. What happened this year:
--Expanding the farm to four types of livestock as well as building the housing for those animals
--Butchering chickens, turkeys, and ducks for our own consumption (joining the rabbits we have been doing previously), so we almost never have to purchase meat (just the occasional beef and pork)
Joining a Bartering and Sales group within the local farm community, within which I have been able to sell rabbit breeding stock, rabbit livers for dog food, duck eggs, and barter for raw goat's milk cheddar and chevre, natural homemade salves, and beef
Found a processing facility that is WSDA approved AND nearby so if we want to move into meat sales next year, we can
Grew a marginally successful organic garden that netted 80 pounds of potatoes, 20 pounds of tomatoes, 8 quarts of green beans, 2 quarts of yellow beans, excessive amounts of lettuce, kale, and leeks, 15 bunches of green onions, enough parsley (still drying) for a year, 12 heads of broccoli, 5 heads of cauliflower, 1 pound of chard 1 dozen kohlrabi, 10 pounds of cucumbers, 30 pounds of zucchini, 35 pounds of sweet meat squash, 5 gallons of blueberries, 10 quarts of raspberries, 3 gallons of blackberries, enough apples for 80 pints of applesauce and 22 quarts of pie apples, and 10 pounds of Italian plums. This provided nicely for us and our animals.
All in all, the year has been a lot more successful than it has felt at times. I think we can be very happy with what we have accomplished.
I was able to transfer $1000 to my December Money Fund today. $400 of it was medical reimbursement and $500 was scrimped out of last month's budget. $100 I took off the top of today's paycheck.
This puts the fund total at $1947. I am hoping to be able to save $1500 out of the next 5 paychecks. It's not enough to cover 5 weeks with no pay, but it'll mean that much less out of the Emergency Fund. We can't rely on any kind of a company bonus this year to get through the shut down period.
Mom says we don't have to make a December payment on our loan to her, but I'd like to avoid skipping it. I absolutely hate owing her that money and any month we skip will be that much longer we have to be under that debt. We hit the halfway point today, $55,000 paid off, $55,000 to go. We have 4 years and 7 months left if we stay on track.
We have 2 years and 8 months left on the van loan at our current rate of payment. Maybe a little sooner since I pay a little extra each month, but it's hard to say how much sooner. Probably just a month, possibly two. It's not that much extra.
We will be butchering 2 of our turkeys on November 8th for the upcoming holidays and whichever rabbit kits have hit 5 pounds will be butchered the next day. That will cut the turkey feed bill in half. I'm not going to raise rabbit kits over the winter, so that will cut the rabbit feed bill way down, too, once all the current grow outs are butchered. The youngest kits will be 8 weeks old on Sunday.
The older kits will be 15 weeks old on Sunday. I think they will all be of butchering size by the time DH comes home. 4 out of 8 are now, and I think it is more likely that 6 out of 8 are, but I haven't weighed them in a couple of weeks. I hope they all will be because we need the cage space for the youngsters. I will weigh them tomorrow since we will be cleaning out cages.
I have about 50 pounds of rabbit meat in the freezer currently and after this next round we'll have an additional 20 pounds to either can or freeze since dress out weight is a little over 1/2 of live weight. And then the youngest coming up number 18, so that will be an additional 45 pounds if they all survive to butcher age. There will be plenty of meat without breeding again until late February.
I am also debating on sending the drakes to freezer camp. I don't need them for the ducks to lay eggs, and considering how little meat there is on a Welsh Harlequin, we won't be raising ducklings after all, so we don't need the males. Plus one of them is really beating up on one the girls when they mate. Her wing feathers are in pretty bad shape from it. If I do, that will cut that feed bill down, too, but not too much since they mostly eat what they forage and just fill in with feed when they are hungry.
I've been getting 5 duck eggs a day lately and 4 chicken eggs every 36 hours so the female birds are definitely paying for themselves. I need to make a bunch of meatloaf freezer meals so I can use up some of these eggs. I do sell a few dozen here and there and I give them away to family and friends, but even so, it is hard to keep up with what they produce.
I've still got to do up a payday report, but I haven't finished paying all the bills yet, so will likely do that tomorrow.
I've been able to get out and do some serious work in the gardens this week. I've got a lot of food coming in, though never in the huge quantities I had expected for some of it.
The hay bale garden has been far more successful than the straw bale garden. It has had far less weeds and the growth has been phenomenal in comparison. So next year I think I will skip planting in straw bales at all and just go with the hay bales, if I do this again.
So far I've yielded $357.25 of organic produce over the price of my start up costs for the gardens. Next year if I start things from seeds instead of buying organic transplants, start up costs will be lower. Since I got started late though, I did the transplants to catch up some time.
If all goes well with the house sale and if we find a small farm and if we can actually buy it before next spring, I will be building raised beds out of rabbit bedding and rabbit manure, which can be used right away, and setting up compost piles for the bird waste and bedding, since it needs to compost for at least six months before using. We will use wire and t-posts instead of wood to keep things loosely in place and will build it up at least 3 feet tall. With the amount of bedding we could compost in place that will be by far a better method. Then we will have deep mulch as it breaks down to between 1/2 and 1/3 of its original size. It'll still be a foot off the ground so I can pull up a chair to do my gardening.
I'm not going to rush buying a farm, though. We may need longer than that even if the house sale does go through. I want to make sure I find the right place and that we have a big enough down payment that we are not struggling at all with making a mortgage payment again.
I am picky about what I want. It has to have a well for water. It needs to have either a creek or a pond on the property, but not too close to the house in case of flooding. It needs to have either a good barn or several outbuildings, preferably one with power and water, but at the very least power. It needs a house that is one level only, preferably with handicapped accessibility, and at least 1600 square feet with a minimum of 3 bedrooms, though I'd prefer 4, and 2 bathrooms.
The kitchen needs to be of a decent size for canning and processing meat. It needs adequate pantry storage. It needs a garage and no basement as most basements around here have flooding issues. It needs a wood stove and a propane or gas stove. It needs garden space, fruit trees and nut trees, and at least 2 acres of pasture and 2 acres of wooded land. Fencing around the pastures is a must. It needs a good site for a green house for aquaponics and growing dwarf citrus trees, and a good site for solar panels and possibly a wind turbine. Wants, but not must haves are a willow tree and a flowering cherry tree or two.
We will probably buy 5 acres, though if we can save up enough, I'd prefer 10. We don't ever intend to move again after buying our farm so I want it to be right or at least easily able to be made right, like planting my own fruit trees and nut trees, willow tree, and flowering cherry trees.
I will start with the good news. I have lost 9.4 pounds so far on my diet. It's been 17 days. Although I still have the urge to eat some junk food, it is going pretty well. My small amount of high carbs have been fruit, corn, and potatoes. It seems to keep the sugar cravings at bay pretty well. I can't remember the last time I had bread. I don't actually miss it at the moment.
I am so tired, but I have got a lot accomplished. We have had to hang out at home because of my daughter's condition so I've done a lot. This week I have canned 18.5 pints of corn, 20 pints and 2 1.5 pint jars of nectarines, and 11 quarts of Yukon Gold potatoes.
Tomorrow I will buy some more corn to can and some more potatoes. I'd like to get another 30 ears of corn for this batch, and 15 pounds of potatoes. That should give me equivalent to what I've already canned, doubling what I have of each vegetable. I have plenty of quart jars for the time being, but will need to buy some more pint jars for the corn. I also need to buy some half-pint jars for applesauce. Mom picked a bunch of apples today and they need to be processed tomorrow or the next day. I have plenty of sugar and cinnamon on hand. I also want to buy more peppers and onions for freezing while the peppers are super cheap.
I got the soaker hoses put onto the gardens last night. No more hand watering, except the gutter garden. That will save us a lot of work. I think I've got them arranged so they hit everything. It's a lot easier to place soaker hoses before you plant, but better late than never.
I harvested two more big zucchinis, a couple of tomatoes, one red bell pepper, another pint of yellow French beans, some sorrel, some cilantro,2 cucumbers, at least one bunch of kale, and 2 tomatoes. The grocery store equivalent for the same organic produce is $20.
$224.35 Previous Garden Tally
+_20.00 Harvest Amount this Week
$244.35 YTD Garden Tally
The green beans are coming along nicely. I think that if this continues, I will have plenty to can so I won't need to buy anymore. I am hoping that now that the tomatoes will have a more consistent source of water I will get enough from them to can as well.
Now that the soaker hoses are set up I might see about getting some more kohlrabi plugs to replace the ones that didn't survive the heat. I still need to get radishes and green onion seeds planted in the empty gutter garden. They take a month to grow and I'd like to have some more before the season ends. I might try to squeeze in a crop of peas, too, since they don't mind if it gets cold towards the end of their growing season.
I definitely know what I will do differently next year with the gardens and what I will do the same. I will do the bales again. I will do hay or straw, whatever is cheapest as I saw no real differences in the growing medium. I will have soaker hoses from the get-go and I will have a little bit of soil on top. I will have the bales set up earlier and I will condition them with organic fertilizer for a week longer than they say to. And I will fertilize monthly while growing.
Some vids I made earlier in the week of my garden progress:
Straw Bale 7
Hay Bale 7
Fruit Garden 7
I got another 7 quarts of green and yellow beans canned. I am picking up 20 pounds of organic nectarines in the morning to can with a few lemons to treat them with lemon water first to prevent discoloration and also for lemonade. That should give me between 12 and 14 pints. I am going to can it in a very light honey syrup. I'd really like to get three times that canned, so we could have about a pint a week through 3 seasons, but organic is expensive, so I doubt I'll do more than one box. The thing I like about nectarines is you don't have to peel them like you do peaches. That makes processing them so much easier.
I will also be getting some corn as it is 4/$1. I want some for us, but it is also a nice treat for the turkeys at that price. I have thought about canning some, but we usually get our canned corn from Trader Joe's and it is the best canned corn I've ever had, so unless I can find some organic corn, I probably won't try to can some myself.
I'd like to get some potatoes canned this week as well. Canned potatoes are good for stews and for making fried potatoes. It's a lot of work to peel them all at once, but better than doing it several nights a year in my book.
It's going to be a hot week in the kitchen. But it's going to be a hot week outside so I might as well be canning anyway. Besides, the nectarines will be gone soon and I want to get them done. I want to be able to open a jar of this during winter and remember how great this fruit is right now.
I have lost a few kohlrabi and broccoli in the garden. They just can't take the heat. Day after day of high 80's is too much for most brassicas. The ones that get a little shade in the afternoon are doing okay, but the ones that get full sun are getting scorched or dying outright. At least my summer squash is doing great and the green beans are trucking along. I should have some kohlrabi ready to pick in another week. At least one, maybe two.
This week I have harvested one whopping zucchini and a pint of yellow beans and have several tomatoes and one cucumber close to the picking point. My bell peppers are turning red so I imagine they will be ready to pick soon. I'll give a full tally at week's end.
I forgot to post links to my most recent garden updates. They are almost a week out of date now but they are here if you want to see them:
Hay Bale Update 6
Straw Bale Update 6
I'll be making new ones in a day or two. It's been crazy what has changed just since I made those ones. The winter squash has gone just through a ridiculous amount of growth. I really hope it tastes great. Sweet Meat is an heirloom variety that I have heard great things about and I should get at least half a dozen judging on what has formed so far. There are more flowers blooming every day, too, so we might even double that. I hope so. It's a good keeper squash, but it also cans well, too. And the seeds are a natural dewormer for animals as well. What I don't save to replant will go to all the animals.
Well, I better get to sleep. I've got a long day of canning ahead of me.
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