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.
Viewing the 'Goals' Category
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.
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.
So I've been back on a controlled carbohydrate diet for a week and lost 6.8 pounds. I always lose a lot the first week and then it settles down to about 2 to 3 pounds a week if I stay on the diet and don't cheat. I am not eating anything processed at all except for organic soy sauce, tomato sauce, and organic condiments, mostly our homegrown rabbit and chicken or the organic, sustainable beef and pork from the farm we go to, and a lot of vegetables and a balanced amount of fruit, corn, or potatoes at one meal a day. It is nice to be able to go outside and pick my salad daily. The freshness makes the lettuce so good.
If I have any bread products, which so far I have not, I will bake them from scratch. I might make my own noodles if I decide later on to have pasta, but I do have a few boxes of organic kicking around, so may not.
According to the x-rays I got on the 22nd I have degenerative bone loss in my knee, which I think is another way of saying osteoarthritis. For every pound of weight I lose, it will take 6 pounds of pressure off my knee. So to begin with I am aiming for a 50 pound weight loss. That seems doable to me, especially considering I am 14.7% of the way to that goal. 85.3% or 43.2 pounds to go. If I can lose 2 pounds a week, which I have done in the past on this diet, I should have lost 50 pounds by the 21st of December. After that I will set a new goal.
Next week after I've done their course of treatment for a week, which is hydrocodone, ibuprofen, and elevate and ice the knee, I can get an MRI to make sure there isn't more going on like the doctor and I both think there is. This is just what we have to do to make the insurance company happy. We have met our deductible now so the insurance company will be paying the majority of this bill, thank goodness.
I don't like the course of treatment as the hydrocodone makes me spacy and queasy, but it does help some with the pain. Not enough to be worth the symptoms on a long term basis, though. And I don't want to go on any of the arthritis drugs as they have nastier side effects than that.
I am using my knee brace a lot and that helps a bit. I've been able to hobble around the last couple of days and get a small amount of outdoor work done. Not much, mostly picking veggies. And I was able to do the grocery shopping. Most of that was at Joe's Garden and Goode's produce stand, with just a quick run to the store for our glass bottled milk and a few odds and ends.
We are meal planning quite closely now and trying to do a lot of prep work on the weekend. While the others are not dieting, they have all gone non-processed with me, since it is easier not to have junk in the house. I am hoping that the grocery budget will go down now that I am not buying TV dinners and chips and $5 loaves of bread for the others. If I could save $100 a month off the grocery budget, that would be really nice.
I'm a little scatterbrained about this today, sorry. I deposited rolled coins, ones, and a co-op refund check today.
$9,546.14 Beginning EF Balance
+__105.39 Amount Added
$9,651.53 Ending EF Balance
So now the total I need to reach my goal is $348.47. I think I can reach that by the end of September. Then I got start focusing on rebuilding the funds I wiped out to pay off the mortgage.
$9,446.14 Beginning EF Balance
+__100.00 Monthly Deposit
$9,546.14 Ending EF Balance
$453.86 to go to hit my goal of $10K.
It has been a rough 10 days. I came out of one virus and went directly down into another 2 days later. I couldn't keep food down for 5 days straight. Horrible, awful, nasty experience. Even when I had the bad stomach bug in October it wasn't like this. My stomach is still tender and I've gone 3 days without throwing up now. But I can't eat much. At least I can drink now, though. Getting my calories through rabbit broth and chicken broth and fruit bars.
Despite being ill, I had to help with butchering. We did 8 rabbits and 4 Pekins and I don't know how many chickens. I had to keep running back inside to be sick and I did the least handling of the icky parts, like fetching the live animals. But we have 3 full shelves in the upright freezer of just chicken parts in gallon bags and 28 quart baggies of cut up breast meat for stir-fry in our chest freezer, too. We shouldn't have to buy chicken this year at all. I am not sure if I would raise chickens again. Maybe if I could take them to a processing facility.
I can't remember if I mentioned it, but a week ago Sunday we brought home 4 one-year-old Welsh Harlequin females. Well, those ducks started laying once the Pekins were gone and we've gotten 3 eggs so far. After the 4 Pekins were butchered we've now got 9 Welsh Harlequins. At least 2 of the males will have to be butchered in a couple weeks as a ratio of four drakes to 5 ducks is too hard on the females once the drakes hit maturity. In the end we might only be able to keep one drake, but I hope we can keep two.
Also during this week we hauled all of the used bedding off the property. It took 4 pickup loads. One load went to the dump, but the other 3 went to a lady who had just moved to a farm and wanted to start a deep mulch garden, so we were able to take all of it out there. I could not do much of that work at all. I wasn't strong enough with the illness. But I rode out in the truck with my husband.
Today I spread a bit of finished compost onto the hay bales and I will be planting them tomorrow with broccoli, cauliflower, and purple kohlrabi. The husband got up two more gutters on the turkey pen. One I will be succession planting radishes in and the other will be for snow peas which will climb up the lattice.
I had a decent day on one day this week and I made some garden update videos if you'd like to see how those are progressing.
Fruit Garden Update:
Hay Bale Garden Update:
Straw Bale Garden Update:
I am starting to rethink the idea of becoming a farmer. I might just be beat and been put through the wringer, but doing just the rabbits was never as hard when I was sick as having two types of meat birds, 3 if you count the turkeys but they won't be ready for months, and 2 types of laying poultry.
I am thinking rabbits, laying ducks, and laying hens, and that may be the limit. Unless I can get someone else to process them. I am selling some of my breeding stock and reducing my herd. I sold Fiona on Sunday and Andromeda goes on Tuesday. It is possible that Leo will go with her to the colony setting. I am hoping to sell another proven buck, too, but that is harder to do than selling proven does.
I have two rabbits, Serena and Kalia, due to kindle in 3 to 4 days. I really hope we have some milder weather for it. After Wednesday it is supposed to drop back down to the low to mid 70's again, which would be perfect for delivering on the 3rd or the 4th.
The bunny that I had fed with a dropper after her mother died we are keeping. Her name is Luna Blue and she is a companion for Firefly to grow up with. Firefly seems so much happier to have another kit in with her and Luna Blue is definitely happy to not be alone after all her siblings went to freezer camp. They made friends very fast.
If Luna Blue ever hits breeding weight we may put her into the breeding program, but she will be a pet otherwise. We never expected Kalia would hit weight, either. It just took her a few months longer.
I still want to do aquaponics, too. That part has never gone away. And maybe butchering meat ducks and chickens is time consuming, but quail still aren't. So if I stick with raising meat animals, I do have some other options. I think if I do it though, I'd try to raise a batch of 10 birds every 3 weeks and not 30 to 50 birds in a short span of time and end up overwhelmed by it.
We'll see. At this point I shouldn't be making any decisions anyway.
So I spent $400 on my garden this year. The largest portion of that was in the straw and hay bales I bought for a growing medium. This is the first salad of the season that I had yesterday and today I had another one. I figure that so far I've eaten $2 worth of organic lettuce and greens. In this particular salad I had both red and green lettuces, baby spinach, arugla, frisee, chives, basil, thyme, and a small assortment of baby Asian stir-fry greens.
I have also harvested $1 worth of organic raspberries and strawberries so far. So $3 total to subtract from the $400. That means I have $397 to go to break even. Judging from the way things are going, I will probably have paid back my costs by the end of July, based on organic food costs.
The last year I had a garden (besides fruit) was 2012. I paid back all I spent and harvested enough food beyond that to make it well worth my while. I think this year, if all goes well, I will probably harvest about $1000 worth of produce, so will come out ahead around $600. That is a conservative estimate, because I won't count my tomatoes before they've hatched.
I hope to have enough green beans, pickles, and tomatoes to can for a year's supply, enough raspberries and blueberries to freeze for a year's supply, and enough blackberries for the occasional winter treat. I will also can some of the potatoes we are growing to make easy pour and dump stews in the winter along with my canned carrots and canned meats. I should be able to make enough applesauce for the year this year judging by the fruit on the trees. That will do wonders for my fall, winter, and early spring produce bill.
I also plan to freeze bell peppers and onions for use in stir-fries when the peppers are out of season.
This is shaping up to be a fantastic garden year. I can't remember having a June this lovely or having vegetables this far ahead in all the years I have done a garden.
$9269.98 Beginning EF Balance
___10.00 6/5 Weekly Auto Deposit
___10.00 6/12 Weekly auto Depost
+_100.00 Monthly Deposit
$9389.98 New EF Balance
$610.02 to go to get the EF back to $10K.
$9054.68 Beginning EF Amount
+_200.00 Amount Added
$9254.68 Ending EF Amount
$745.32 to go to get the Emergency Fund back to $10K.
Today was the day. We officially have a $0.00 balance on our mortgage. And I still have over $9000 in the Emergency Fund. I am really excited about finally having the house paid off. We bought it 16 years ago, so I think we did a pretty good job in getting it paid off early. Now if it will sell, I will be ecstatic.
We have been crazy busy these last two weeks. The last five days were spent building the turkey coop. We got enough done to move them in tomorrow, which is when DH leaves for Alaska. We will do the run when he comes back in two weeks. The turkeys aren't allowed to go outside for 3 more weeks so that will work out.
Here is a vid of the turkey coop being built if you are interested:
The ducks are getting very big and are now 7 weeks old. The turkeys will be 4 weeks old on the 7nth and the chicks will be 6 weeks old on the 8th. They are all growing very fast, too. I'll try to get some photos or vids rendered to put on here in the next couple of days.
Lola died today. Her kits are just 4 weeks old. It's a little early to wean for my comfort, but kits can be weaned at this age, and we have no choice. I am not going to breed from the genetic line anymore. There is a flaw somewhere and it is clearly not recessive in this generation. I don't care what they say about line-breeding being perfectly safe. I'm not doing it period, and I won't buy anymore stock that has been line-bred either.
Andromeda kindled today, but no idea how many are in her litter yet. I wasn't entirely sure she was done giving birth and didn't want to bother her.
Phoebe is due today or tomorrow, but no sign of kits yet.
It has been a day of mixed emotions. So far the good has outweighed the bad. The house is paid for and that frees up a ton of room in the budget and I can't stay sad on a day like that, but I can't be entirely happy either.
The ducklings are very happy with their new space. I was glad to get them moved in yesterday and boy were they glad to go.
We got the turkey poults and chicks moved into the garage brooder today and they were happy with their new space, too. We modified the brooder to put a perch about 8 inches off the floor. They love it. I think the turkeys are mad though because we have a screen over the top of the brooder and they can't fly out like they were doing out of the bathtub. 2.5 weeks old and they can fly really well. They don't even have all their feather yet, but they have their wing feathers and that's enough.
DH and I worked on fencing. Right now we are just keeping the ducklings locked in their house for a couple days until they realize it is home now, and hopefully we will get the new fencing finished tomorrow and can let them out in their little yard. I say little, but it'll be at least 128 square feet.
This week it feels like we are handing our paycheck directly to the home improvement store. We're not, we're actually taking it from savings, where we put it earlier in the year, but it is still the same feeling. It is worth it though for all the animals. It is fun to raise them, but they sure are work.
Mom's meat chickens got moved into their new coop tonight. It was quite the process and they weren't sure they liked it at first, at least until they found the food and water. I'm sure they'll be happy for the space as they get used to it, though.
I am still debating paying off the mortgage. I just really want it over with. It hit today and the new balance is $4860.40. I had estimated it at $4882.62, so was off by $22.22 in my favor.
If I wiped out all of my funds except the Property Tax Fund, the Dues Fund, and the College Fund, I would have $4293.93 to put on the mortgage. That would leave me with $566.47 to pay it off. I could justify taking that much money out of the Emergency Fund to pay it off. And I could pay it back to the EF within a couple of months. I need to talk to DH about this tonight and see where he stands. I am so ready to be done with this.
Yesterday was the weekly auto deposit of $10 to savings. I put it in the Moving Fund.
$716.23 Beginning Balance
+_10.00 Amount Added
$726.23 Ending Balance
$273.77 to go.
Since the EF hit $10K, I am now putting the weekly $10 auto deposit into savings into the Moving Fund.
$706.93 Old MF Balance
+_10.00 Amount Added
$716.93 New MF Balance
$283.07 to go to hit my goal of $1000 for the Moving Fund.
So now that my Emergency Fund is sitting pretty at just over $10K, I have decided that my next focus is going to be on the Moving Fund. I will still add $100 each month to the EF, because my ultimate goal is to get it to $30K, but the extra monies that were going in there will now be diverted to the Moving Fund.
Ideally, I'd like to get the Moving Fund to $1000. That will cover the $300 we have to pay the HoA just to transfer ownership of a property in that development (though I am still going to try to fight that based on a spotless dues record since they only came up with it less than a year ago), and provide $700 for renting the U-Haul.
Currently it is sitting at $700. Interest of $6.81 hit my C1-360 account today so I am adding that to the Moving Fund.
$700.00 Beginning Balance
+__6.81 Amount Added
$706.81 Ending Balance
I have $293.19. My goal for the end of the month is to get the Moving Fund to $800. I will have the four $10 auto deposits to add to that, so need to come up with $53.19 on top of that from coin jar scrapings and survey money for April.
After I have completed the Moving Fund my next goal will to be complete the January 2015 Money Fund. Every year from around Christmas to some time in January, DH has 4 weeks of unpaid time off. Usually we use part or all of the Christmas Bonus to get us through that time. This year I want to be a little more prepared than that. I want to have $4000 ready in savings to get through that time period so we can use the Christmas bonus for something else.
Right now I have $2267 in the JMF. Between now and the end of the year I need to come up with $1733 to meet that goal. $900 of it will come from monthly deposits of $100 between now and December. That will leave $833 to come up with. I will hit my Moving Fund goal hopefully by the end of June, so will have six months worth of $10 weekly deposits to add to the Moving Fund. That will be an additional $260. So that leaves me with $573 to come up with by the end of the year, or approximately $95.50 a month.
I can usually scrape up about $50 a month between coins and $1's so I am going to have to figure out where that other $45.50 will come from. Maybe I will need to take the cash option on Swagbucks instead of Amazon gift cards. Well, I'll figure it out. Anyway, those will be my two priorities for this year.
Yesterday we went down to the farm we buy the meat we don't raise ourselves from. I spent $297. For that I got:
6 packages of bacon
1 package bacon ends (they threw in for free)
12 pounds pork chops
12 pounds of hamburger
2 pounds of beef stir-fry
4 2.5 pound chuck roasts
2 packages of uncured hot dogs
2 pounds of ground pork
Yes, it is a little pricey, but it is all pasture-raised and organic, humanely slaughtered animals. The quality of the meat and flavor is incredible, and the nutritional value is higher than CAFO-raised meat when scientifically analyzed. You also feel full faster on this so eat less at a time. We can afford to do this and have made this type of food a priority now that we have no credit card debt. Eventually we hope to raise it all ourselves with the exception of beef.
We are going to can all of the hamburger and 3 of the chuck roasts. I love having home canned food on the shelf for those days I don't feel like cooking at all.
We will also be canning some ground rabbit meat with taco seasoning in it and trying to make some rabbit jerky as well with our new jerky kit (part of my birthday present).
We've had a rough week here. We lost Piper to an illness similar to the one Sweetie Belle had. This was even more devastating since Piper was pregnant and due on the 5th. She was my first rabbit and my best mother rabbit and she was very sweet and affectionate. We loved her like a pet, even though she was a working part of the farm.
Worse than the fact that we lost her while pregnant, though, is the fact that she was the one carrying the possibility of red kits. We will breed Wildfire to Phoebe soon and hopefully we will get some reds out of that. The female reds are too young still to breed.
A couple of days before Piper died we lost one of our young bucks. No sign of illness at all in him or on him, he was fine the night before and just dropped dead overnight. This happened once before quite some time ago. So I don't know what is going on, but we've discontinued using fodder and are sticking with straight pellets, hay, and greens from the yard and garden.
There is no sign of illness in the other rabbits at all. Having new, young life around also helps not to get as depressed when there is unexpected animal death. Although I think you should always be expecting some animal death on a farm. It is the nature of the beast.
At least the little ducklings and chicks are all doing just fine. We moved them to their new brooder boxes in the garage this afternoon. They have more space than in the bathtub. The brooder boxes we built are 4 x 4 by 2, so twice as much space to move around in. We went with sand for the floor as it is much easier to keep clean, just using a cat litter scoop on a pole. Sand is what ducks like to be on in nature and it dries out quickly, especially under a heat lamp. The chicks seem to like it, too.
The older chickens, especially Curious and Georgie, had to come in to the garage and see what all the peeps and cheeps were about. Georgie got up on the hay bale so she could see into the brooder box with the chicks, and Curious perched on the back of a chair to peek in at the ducklings. Then we shooed them out and shut the door so that we didn't have to worry about the older ones trying to get in with the little ones and boss them about.
We spent about $200 on fencing and brooder box supplies. We will spend about another $125 on supplies to build the duck house and we need to buy a miter saw and possibly a reciprocating saw. These are all planned purchases.
We are putting up the fencing this evening. Hopefully we will get it all done. We have to fence off the chickens from the pasture area we are reseeding with red and white clover. They won't like it much, but they'll just have to deal. The next door neighbor is going on vacation for 3 weeks so said we could open up the gate between our fences and let the chickens into her backyard since her dogs will be with her kids. That will distract them at least while the clover has a chance to establish itself.
I am getting anxious to start the garden. It is too soon to be planting outside yet, our average last day of frost is 4/15, but we've had surprise snows and frosts as late as the last week of April, so anything we plant between the 15th and the end of the month can be at risk and will need to be protected.
We will try to rototill some compost in though before DH goes back to Alaska. We are aiming to grow all of the green beans, peppers, and all of the tomatoes we need for the year. A few other things, too, but those are the main two goals since we eat green beans, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, chili, and salsa all the time through the year. We need the tomatoes for a base.
We want to plant a good portion of our potatoes, carrots, kale, chard, and cabbage for the year. And of course there will be just the fresh eating foods like lettuce, radishes, kohlrabi, broccoli, cucumbers (for fresh and pickling), zucchini, squash, melons, and peas.
We will have our blueberries, raspberries, and apples taken care of from our perennial plantings and will likely do a massive U-pick for our strawberries. I had meant to plant some but there isn't much space for it with all the other foods we want to grow and since we can get organic strawberries locally it is one less thing to try to find a space for. Unless...hmm, we might be able to do it on the patch between us and the neighbor. We'll have to ask her if she minds. She can certainly have some.
I really wish our house would sell so we could buy our farm and get moving on doing this stuff on five acres instead of squeezing it all on to just under a 1/2 acre. We keep having interested people but they don't have their finances in order. *sighs* Why do people go house hunting without getting their finances in order first? I will never understand that.
I was actually surprised at how quickly the tax refund came. We were way behind on getting it sent off this year, but it came 8 days after we sent it in. Total this year was $6236.41. It would have been $60 higher if we hadn't done it online. But it cost $30 to do it online and we chose to pay for it from our bank account instead of with a credit card, not realizing until it was too late that it cost an additional $30 to do that, which is a major rip off in my opinion, but DH didn't read the fine print until too late. Oh, well, what is done is done.
I sent $1236.41 to the Emergency Fund.
$8531.50 Beginning EF Balance
+1236.41 Amount Added
$9767.91 New EF Balance
I also sent $1000 to the January Money Fund.
$1000.00 Amount Added
+_167.00 Beginning JM Fund Balance
$1167.00 New JM Fund Balance
I added $1000 to the Appliance Fund.
$1000.00 Amount Added
+_200.00 Beginning Appliance Fund Balance
$1200.00 New Appliance Fund Balance
I set aside $1500 to pay for DH's sleep study and the remaining $1500 will go to pay for materials to build our green house and duck house.
We did not qualify for the child tax credits this year, DH worked too much overtime and it bumped us up, and our daughter is 17 this year anyway, but we were able to deduct the full amount for our HSA since we maxed it again this year. Without that our refund would have been much lower.
I think I am going to try to get the Emergency Fund to $10,000 by the end of the month. I think I can do it. I got our safe driver's refund check to cash, our AMEX check to cash, a $16 check for rabbitry sales to cash, $100 to come out of this coming week's paycheck and two more $10 auto deposits. I basically need to come up with about $30 to hit it and there are already 7 ones in the coin jar. I can do that.
Once the EF is at $10,000, then I am going to change my focus a bit. I will still deposit $100 a month to the EF, but the $10 weekly deposits, the refunds that come in, the rabbitry money, and the coin jar money are going to be used to build up the moving fund account. Right now there is only $600 in that account and $300 of that is going to have to go to the HoA for their extremely ridiculous new rule of paying the HoA $300 to transfer ownership of a property in the development to a new owner.
Even though we plan on renting a U-Haul to move, I know we'll need it out for a week so we don't have to rush things. I also need to pay for a piano mover to move the piano. And I'm pretty sure we'll need to pay for a few meals out while the kitchen is in transition. So I'd like to get that fund up quite a bit higher than it is. Maybe $1500 or so.
As soon as DH gets home we are buying our chest freezer with the Appliance Fund Money. I am going to get the biggest one they have at 24.6 cubic feet. That way we will have plenty of space for rabbit meat, a steer, half a hog, and a couple of lambs. Then the small chest freezer we currently have will be for chicken, turkey, and duck meat and the freezer under the fridge can go strictly for frozen fruits and whatever vegetables are not canned.
I made it over to the CU and made a deposit today into the safety net portion of the Emergency Fund. I had a lot of money to put in this time, tons of ones, rolled coins, and a couple larger bills. I often wonder if they think I'm a waitress saving all her tips, because I always deposit so many ones and coins. It came out to $101.
$8531.50 New EF Balance
The milestone is that we now have one full month's net pay saved. We've had a month's expenses save for a little while now, but now we have passed the mark of a full cycle of paychecks. I am pretty happy about that.
I also added $6.87 to the coin jar tonight so I am already started on the next round. My goal for March is to hit $8600, which I will as I haven't even made my monthly $100 deposit yet and I have two more $10 per week auto deposits this month still to come. That will bring me to $8641.50, so I am going to go for a stretch goal and try to hit $8700 this month. I am still walking around with my AMEX rewards check, too, because the only place I can cash it is at Costco and I haven't been up for going there. I don't remember how much it is, but I'm thinking around $58.
It is nice to keep seeing the numbers going up. Now if the interest rates just would for bank accounts.
I want to get two more months' income saved and then after that I want to start laddering CDs in the amount of $1000 for each month. That way if something bad were to happen, we'd still have easy access to 3 months worth of income, but my money above that would be able to work a little harder for me.
I will earn at least $16 tomorrow in farm sales, possibly up to $20 if I can find one more bag of rabbit liver, so that will go into the savings account as well and will bring my total homestead earning to date to $115.
Well, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have one more week without a paycheck and then finally next Friday DH gets paid again. I am so glad that I put so much money in savings and stayed on top of all the bills. It has been so helpful in stretching over the last 3 weeks and we'll be fine until the end of this.
I start this next week with $674.63 in the checking account and $75 in cash. The only thing I have to pay for is part of my dental visit on the 22nd. And give the kids allowances. I will have to buy some milk and some deli meat and veggies on Sunday, but other than that, I hope to end up next payday with $500 left to throw at the mortgage.
Since the new year has started DH's paychecks will be fully taxed again so the extra $700 I've been throwing at the mortgage each month will be reduced down to an extra $200 again. Our medical insurance year won't be up until May and then who knows how much things will go up then. So trying to do as much as possible while I still can and if I don't spend this week I can make one last big payment. I think I can get the mortgage under $6000 on payday.
My coin jar was getting heavy and my ones envelope was getting fat, so I rolled coin and counted ones. Altogether I had $42 ready to be deposited.
$8043.19 Beginning EF Balance
+__42.00 Deposit Added
$8085.19 Ending EF Balance
My goal for the month is to get to $8205. I have $119.81 to go to reach that goal. I have 2 more $10 deposits coming this month and I will make my usual $100 monthly deposit when we get paid on Friday. So I will make that. I need to save $167 a month if I want to get to $10K by the end of the year. But I'm trying for $200 each month. I'm also on track for that.
There are a lot of things I would like to accomplish in the coming year. Some are more important financially than others. The three most important are:
1. Finish saving up the first year of tuition for my daughter by August. That means I need to find $5000 to save between now and then. I am pretty sure we can do this. Most of it will come from our tax refund, which will be large due to reimbursing us for our HSA spending. We will be claiming the full deduction for that again this year.
2. Pay off the mortgage. If the house does not sell this year, I have determined that if I pay $700 for the next 12 months it will be paid off by next December.
3. Get our Emergency Fund to $10,000. If we save $167 a month we can do this. I already put in $140 a month as a matter of course, so finding an extra $27 or so should not be too difficult.
Less important, but still important goals:
4. Begin saving for our daughter's second year of college.
5. Start putting something into the husband's 401K. We took a couple years off to get our credit card debt gone, so now is the time to start contributing again. We will start with 1%, which doesn't seem like a lot, but I want to see what the impact of it will be and also whether or not our insurance rates are going to go up before I increase the 1%.
7. Save money for the HSA.
8. Save money for next Christmas so we can have another Christmas paid for with cash.
9. Finish saving up for moving.
10. Save for 2015's unpaid January time off. I should be saving $333 a month for that, but we won't have it from our monthly budget. I figure we'll save $100 a month for $1200 and then save when we get the extra paychecks during the year.
11. Lose the 50 pounds I gained back.
12. Get enough sleep and try to stay healthy.
DH and I made an agreement when we did this last big Disney trip and paid for his sister and nieces to go, that we wouldn't take another big vacation until 2018 when both kids will have graduated from high school and we are free to go, just the two of us. The plan for 2018 is to go to Hawaii. Meanwhile, we work on all of our other goals.
Well, DH has a friend from work who lives in Hawaii who has invited us to come in May. He has a house on the beach and says all we'd need to bring was about $1000 for incidentals and he would take care of everything else. Wow, nice friend. And we'd be able to fly there free with DH's miles.
But I still can't see doing it right now. We'd have to leave the kids with my mother, who isn't in the best of health right now and we've got all the rabbits and chickens to take care of. Not to mention that May is the time here to start gardening in earnest. Plus DS is being homeschooled.
Yes, it is a tremendous opportunity, but it doesn't fit into any of our plans. DH kind of figured as much, but he still couldn't resist telling me about it. It was nice to dream of getting away for a minute or two, but I've got bigger dreams right now and that is what I want to be focused on, with no more distractions.
Hawaii can wait. It isn't going anywhere. And maybe his friend will still be there then.
$7687.86 Beginning Balance
+__10.00 Auto Deposit Added
$7697.86 Ending Balance
$22.14 to go to hit my November goal of $7720.
$302.14 to go to hit my yearly goal of $8000.
I've been thinking about what I want to do for September, since we'll have the extra paycheck.
I've decided to try to get the Emergency Fund to $7300, which would be $1000 from the extra paycheck, $100 for the regular monthly deposit, $40 from the four $10 Thursday deposits, and then scraping up the rest, $115.08, throughout the month. I want to get the January Money Fund to $1500. And I'd like to have at least $500 in the Moving Fund.
The mortgage is at $9965.09, so I'll likely try to get that below $9K as well. I had thought about throwing the whole extra paycheck at the mortgage, but decided I'd rather build up the other funds first. I just feel better with a more substantial EF. Once I get it to $10K I will feel a lot more secure about focusing on other things.
Not 100% sure what we'll do with the OT paycheck at this point, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. It would be nice to save the whole thing in the EF, but I don't think that is practical.
On the laptop front, I have $1800 in the laptop fund. We have actually purchased the laptops for the kids using the 18 months same as cash feature and I will be paying it as it goes along, even though I have the money in the bank. I figure I might as well collect the paltry interest. And I can always pay it off free and clear if the need arises. We won't take the full 18 months to pay it off, though.
DH is continuing to baby along his laptop. If it comes time for him to get a new one, I will pay off the kids' right away.
I've been paying things in dribs and drabs this week, but thought I should do a full accounting.
__90.00 Physical Therapy
_100.00 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Moving Fund
_100.00 Laptop Fund
_100.00 Christmas Fund
_144.00 Water/sewer Old House
_200.00 Cash (groceries, OTC meds)
2680.52 Total Out
I added $100 to the Emergency Fund so it is now at $6044.92, so I have met my goal of $6000 in the EF by the end of August.
New Fund Totals:
$565.61 January Money Fund
$505.21 Appliance Fund
1800.00 Laptop Fund
$600.00 College Fund
$500.00 Hawaii 2018 Fund
$400.00 Property Tax Fund
$500.00 Christmas Fund
$100.00 Moving Fund
$000.00 Propane Fund
I had the money set aside for half the water/sewer bill and the propane bill, but I paid them directly out of this paycheck. Then I transferred what I had set aside to the January Money Fund. That was $121.91.
And I think that covers it.
It is official. After today's payment, the mortgage is now under $10K. Boo yah!
Today was payday, but other than making a mortgage payment and going grocery shopping, I have not done anything about it. This is because I am still procrastinating rebuilding my spreadsheet. Well, I did make some progress. I loaded Office. Now I just need to build the spreadsheet, which I will do tomorrow since I have nothing else on the agenda, except maybe making more pickles.
I made and canned 6 pints of pickles yesterday:
I put my coin jar money into the Emergency Fund today.
$5912.45 Beginning EF Balance
+__32.50 Amount Added
$5944.95 New EF Balance
I went to the food co-op after the credit union because of locations, so the dividend check from the food co-op of $7.43 was not cashed until I'd already deposited the coin jar money. So that $7.43 is now in the coin jar for my next deposit. I also added $4.40 in change and ones to the coin jar left from my purchases today. I did have a bit left in checking so that will be transferred to the EF when I make the monthly $100 deposit as well. I will hit my $6000 goal without problems.
DH will be bringing work home with him next week. He'll have a week's worth of work to do during his two weeks off, so we'll get an extra paycheck (or two halves of one) next month, on top of the extra one we're getting because of the number of Fridays this month. Some of it will go to the January Money Fund, some to the Laptop Fund, and some to the Emergency Fund.
It's Thursday so the $10 auto transfer to savings happened.
$5892.45 Old EF Amount
$5902.45 New EF Amount
$97.55 to go to hit my August goal of $6000.
Today was the day of the $10 auto deposit to savings, so I added that to my Emergency Fund. I also added the interest from my C1-360 account of $4.22.
$5618.14 Old EF Amount
+__14.22 Deposit and Interest Added
$5632.26 New EF Amount
My goal for the EF for August is $5800. I have $167.64 to go.
Today was payday. I transferred $100 to the EF and I had $36.50 in my coin jar ready to deposit so did that as well. This brings my EF to $5618.14. My goal for July was to get the EF to $5500, so I exceeded that quite nicely. My goal for August is $5800. I also added $5.54 to the coin jar this evening.
It looks like DH's next shift will be a 3 weeks on/1 week off, so we will definitely get one extra paycheck. DH says there is enough work that he will probably do two 3 and 1's. If that is so, we should be able to pay off the mortgage by the end of September without touching the Emergency Fund. I had forgot about the extra paycheck, of which we can send $3000 to the mortgage.
I made a mortgage payment today leaving us with a new total of $10616.89. Minus $3000 in principal will leave us at $7616.89. There will be the August payment of $700 minus the 52.50 interest, which will put us at 6969.39. Two extra paychecks in August and September will give us $7200. So if that all works out it's gone. I hope it does. I will be so happy if it does. I just want to own it free and clear, so that if it takes a while to sell, at least we are not making payments meanwhile.
Then that will leave just the van loan to start throwing money at. Without the mortgage payment and the extra principal we've been paying each month, we should be able to throw $1500 at the van loan each month.
Okay, on to the accounting of the paycheck:
$1000.00 to Mom Loan
__700.00 to mortgage
___90.00 Physical Therapy
___45.67 House Insurance
___41.16 Security Monitoring (Old House)
___32.70 Life Insurance Me
___39.53 Life Insurance DH
___66.62 Car Insurance
__100.00 Emergency Fund
__100.00 Laptop Fund
__100.00 Freezer Fund
__100.00 Cash for Week
I also spent $200 on groceries and $100 to build up my over the counter medicine stock. I needed to buy Zyrtec, nasal spray, cold medicine, sleeping medicine, and heartburn meds. I also bought two bottles of hair dye.
DD dyed my hair tonight. It takes two bottles because from root to ends it measures two feet long and it is so thick it is ridiculous. So no more gray at all. It's a darker auburn than my own hair which is sort of a brownish, goldish, red with grey streaks at my temples that when I was much younger were naturally ash blonde streaks. I used to say I had chameleon hair because it has so many colors in it.
We used a natural hair dye that my food co-op sells. I haven't colored my hair in a couple of years so it kind of surprised me what a difference it makes. It took forever to rinse out, though. I think I may cut my bangs again. They are already in my eyes. I have gotten quite good at bang trims. I have been debating going in to have it done, but honestly, if it is just a bang trim it seems silly to waste $10.
Today is the small payday, but only a little comes out of it since all bills are paid for the month.
$100.00 College Fund
$100.00 Extra to the Emergency Fund
$100.00 Extra to the Laptop Fund
$140.00 Allowances and Cash for Week
That leaves me with $488.10 to get through the next two weeks. This should not be a problem as there are no bills due until the autopays the first week of August and we get an extra paycheck on the 26th . DH and I cleaned out one of the freezers last night and found plenty of good meat to base meals around for the next two weeks. We should only need to buy vegetables. There is plenty of fruit that needs to be picked in the garden so I shouldn't have to buy fruit at all.
Besides the $100 extra added to the Emergency Fund, there was also $38, $10, and 28.99 added from various sources this week.
$5257.65 Beginning EF Balance
__100.00 From paycheck
___10.00 Auto Transfer money from yesterday
___38.00 HT Money
+__28.99 Money left in checking from last payday
$5434.64 Ending EF Balance
I have $65.36 left to come up with to hit my July goal of $5500. There are two more auto transfers this month, so that brings it down to $45.36. I have $16 in ones saved in my coin jar, so that brings it down to $29.36 to come up with still by the end of the month. That shouldn't be a problem.
The College Fund now sits at $500 and the replacement Laptop Fund also now sits at $500. DH is still babying his laptop along trying to make it last as long as possible so we can completely save up for a new one first.
The College Fund will get a large infusion when the Christmas Bonus comes and again when we get our tax refund next year, because we have a lot of HSA spending we can deduct. I don't know if we'll max out the HSA this year like we have the past two years, but it is possible. It will come close. Meanwhile I will save $100 every 4 weeks. It will cost about $10,000 a year including books and fees at the local state university or $7000 a year at the local community college.
The Christmas Bonus is supposed to be quite large this year due to the number of Capital projects done. Not really sure what quite large means, but it should be closer to what he got the first year and not what he got the second year. I am not counting on anything at all, though. I know that if necessary we can do it just on the tax refund and what we are saving alone. The bonus will just be gravy.
Today was payday. I had $55.77 left in checking so I transferred the to the EF. I also took out the monthly $100 that I usually take out of the first check of the new pay cycle. This just happens to be in June instead of July, so June got two $100 payments. I will still make one in July towards the end of the month though, when the next pay cycle starts.
That brings the new balance in the Emergency Fund to $5227.39. My goal for June was $5100, so I blew by that. I think I am going to stretch and try to come up with $5500 by the end of July. That is $272.61 to come up with. $140 will be from my regular transfers, so I will still need to eek out $132.61 to meet that goal, well, minus a few dollars of interest. It is doable, especially if I keep transferring the amounts left at the end of each pay week to savings.
I really want to stretch for that, because I want to hit $7000 by the end of the year. It may or may not be possible, but I want to shoot for it regardless.
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