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Archive for June, 2014

The Garden is Paying Me Back

June 21st, 2014 at 03:31 pm



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.

Back from the Feed Mill

June 20th, 2014 at 06:37 pm

We made a trip down to the feed mill today to buy rabbit feed. We bought 500 pounds of non-GMO feed for $135.67. We used 3 gallons of gas. The feed works out to $13.56 per 50 pound bag and that includes tax. A 40 pound bag of feed (no guarantee on no GMO's) here costs $19.56 with tax. Even adding the $12 worth of gas to the total, making it $147.67, it still comes out way cheaper. The equivalent amount of feed bought locally would be $244.50, so I come out $96.83 ahead by going directly to the mill.

500 pounds is a two month supply. Possibly longer since we don't have too many kits right now, but when the production gets into full swing again with six litters growing out at a time, it will be a two month supply. From that two month supply of feed we will end up with about 120 pounds of meat at $1.23 a pound. So worth it. Well, maybe $12 more a month in hay, too, but still. That doesn't up it by too much per pound. Plus we are feeding the breeders with that amount as well, not just the kits.

I don't know about you, but I can't find meat for under $1.59 a pound anymore and that is only on a tremendous sale, usually it is closer to $2.49 a pound and that is just for standard, not organic or at least GMO free.

We are talking about getting our fresh water fishing licenses and seeing if we can't catch a bunch of trout. We can can it up. Home canned trout is supposed to taste a lot like canned tuna. After we caught 18 pounds of fish to pay for the licenses, anything else would be free to us. Totally worth it, I think. Assuming we can catch anything. It has been a while since we have gone fishing.

I harvested my first salad and my first raspberries from the garden. I'm on my way to paying back my garden costs for the season.

An Opportunity

June 20th, 2014 at 12:25 am

Well, turns out 4 of my 5 Welsh Harlequin laying ducks are drakes. Which means I need to get some females pronto or Addy is going to be overwhelmed in a few more weeks.

I saw an add on craigslist for one year old female WH's, so I sent off an email and hopefully will hear something back from them by morning. They are a one hour drive from here, not too bad. She has ten and I'd like to purchase four. They are $25 each, which is about the going rate for an adult laying duck. So it'll be an out of pocket expense of $100, plus gas.

If we can combine it with our feed run, since the mill is on the way to the farm, we could save a bit on gas costs there.

If I can get these ducks, I will have four egg layers with them, five with Addy when she gets a little older, and 7 total females with the 2 female Pekins. I would have to butcher 2 of the 4 Welsh Harlequin drakes, probably the two smallest unless final feather color plays something into it) and 1 of the Pekin males (seizure duck as we can't risk continuing his bloodline in future chicks).

We knew some of these were going to be meat ducks. When you buy straight run it is a given that you will have too many males for a harmonious flock. I had just been hoping that we'd have more females than we did. But with the red chest feathers coming in and the drake tail feather coming in, there is no denying it with the Welsh Harlequins anymore. There was for a while because 2 of them matured faster, but all denial is gone now. I really hope she gets back to me quickly.

Our straight run of turkey poults seems to have given us 3 toms and 1 hen. It could be 2 hens, but I really don't think so. 3 toms is okay, because that means we will have two 16 pound turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And the remaining hen and tom will give us our breeders for next Spring.

Emergency Fund Update

June 20th, 2014 at 12:11 am

$9389.98 Starting EF Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Auto Deposit
----------
$9399.98 New EF Balance

$600.02 left to go to bring the EF back to $10K.

I am So Worn Out

June 18th, 2014 at 07:34 pm

I feel like half my entries these days are some variation on the theme of me being exhausted. I really, really am. I've got a nasty spring cold and it is dragging me down. I am ready to be done with it.

We are almost done on the online homeschooling front. My son has one 4 paragraph comparison and contrast essay left to do for literature and then we send all the assessments off to the state. We've already gotten his report card and he made honor roll again.

I spent two hours down at the high school today. After more or less taking the semester off after having a nervous breakdown my daughter is going back to school next year. She is doing well on the medications and is really excited to be going back and getting her life back on track.

My son is also going to be starting high school in the fall so he is all signed up now. I really, really hope it works out for both of them, because I don't honestly think I could handle another year of homeschooling. The exhaustion it causes is just really getting to me. It's like I have to have my brain on all the time and some days I just want to shut it down and go on autopilot.

Things are chugging along otherwise. The gardens are growing well and I will harvest my first lettuce leaves tomorrow. I have 7 tomatoes growing and five bell peppers. In another week I can start planting in the hay bales. The green beans have taken off and most of the sprouts are up.

I am going to make some carrot seed tape and get it planted hopefully this weekend. I am just doing Little Finger carrots which don't take too terribly long to grow.

Not too much going on on the financial front. I did have to buy 2 bales of hay and 2 bags of feed. I need to budget for a big rabbit feed buy this payday, ten fifty pound bags. We will call down to the feed mill and make sure they have the 17% protein feed available before we drive down. I think the 21% is just too high for the little kits.

I have done really well on sticking to my menu plan this week. I have been really tempted to eat out, but it is not a good idea when I am sick or I will want to do it every day.

I am not looking forward to this weekend. We have to put in an appearance at my niece's graduation party, which I don't want to go to, but since I couldn't go to the graduation due to it being held in a stadium that is not really handicapped accessible, and DH couldn't go since he was in Alaska, we need to.

Then we have to butcher rabbits and chickens. We can't put it off any longer and we need the cage space. I hope I get some sleep tonight and tomorrow night so I will be in better health to deal with all this.

DH and I have decided to drop the selling price on the house $10K. I just want it gone. We need to meet with the realtors and make an adjustment to the paperwork in order to do so.

DD has her follow up doctor's appointment tomorrow. She is doing really well on the new medication so I think we can cancel the appointment with the sleep doctor now.

Feeling a Little Frustrated

June 16th, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Well, it's been 8 months since we listed our house and the biggest thing seems to be that while people like the price and the house, they don't like the drive from town. *sighs* That was one of the primary reasons we moved to town. And apparently there are a lot of foreclosures out there that are much cheaper, but not in as good a shape.

Our real estate agent is recommending we drop the price by $10K. I hate to do that, but at this point I don't really see another option. If the house were in town it would have sold by now and probably for much higher than we are asking, which is only $129K.

$119K, if we could get it, would still allow us to pay the guy who did the repairs (he's waiting until the house sells no matter how long it takes), pay off the van, and give us a decent down payment for a new house. Just not as decent as $129K would. With the van paid off, though, we could save that money to add to a down payment and hold off a while longer on buying something.

Of course at this point I don't know if we could even get $119K. Despite how beautiful the place is, and how pretty the neighborhood is, that 25 mile drive is tough for a lot of people. We are going to have them add to our listing that it is only an 8 minute walk to the county transit stop. Maybe that will help encourage some folks that they can take the bus for their commute instead of having to drive it themselves.

I think if we don't get an offer after it has been on the market for a year, we're going to have to look into renting it out. I don't really want to be a landlord, but I hate that it is sitting empty. We do have someone who has offered to rent it for $1000 a month. That is the going rate for rentals out there of that size, so I feel it is fair. Of course that offer was a few months ago, so I am not even sure if it would still be on the table.

I wish the place would sell. It is so frustrating sitting here feeling like it never will. I am almost at the point where I feel like buying a piece of land where I want it, and having the house moved. I love the house, except for the outside color. It is the location that I am done with. And we could probably sell the raw land much easier. Since the house and land is paid for, just having to buy raw land and get a house moving loan would not be the worst thing in the world.

It just seems like it would be a world of hassle.

Well, keep us in your prayers folks, that we sell that albatross. I'd sure appreciate it.

Emergency Fund Update

June 15th, 2014 at 01:10 pm

$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.

Payday Report

June 15th, 2014 at 12:17 pm

$757.82 Van loan (plus extra)
_283.13 groceries
__50.00 gas
_204.00 for strawberries for the year
_140.52 Sleep doctor
__48.60 Phone (old house)
__88.15 Internet
___9.80 Book of stamps
_120.00 Physical therapy
_100.00 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Propane Fund
_100.00 Property Tax Fund
__19.00 Dues Fund
-------------
2021.02 Total Money Out

I also spent $48.03 on rabbit feed and supplies.

Meal Planning for the Week

June 15th, 2014 at 12:06 pm

We are well into strawberry season here, so that is why you will see strawberries listed for dinner every night this week. There is absolutely nothing out there that is as good a berry as those grown in the Pacific Northwest, particularly my part of it.

In fact I will be picking up 90 pounds of strawberries on Monday to process for the freezer. I am hoping that will be a year's supply for us. We will be buying at the height of the season when berries are at their sweetest and produce the most juice. These are the only berries we will have to buy as the raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are all coming on strong, as you can see in my fruit garden update below.

Text is http://youtu.be/t8ZqYw2fBUw and Link is
http://youtu.be/t8ZqYw2fBUw

Sunday:
Homemade (sort of) pizza with store bought crusts topped with: tomato sauce, rabbit sausage, ham, pepperoni, yellow onions, red and green bell peppers, fresh basil and fresh oregano from the garden, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses
Strawberries

Monday:
Bacon cheeseburgers made with ground rabbit and homemade buns
Fried potatoes
Homemade coleslaw
Strawberries

Tuesday:
Chicken and broccoli stir-fry (cauliflower, carrots, green beans, snap peas, onions)
Strawberries

Wednesday:
Pan fried steaks
Baked potatoes
Green beans
Strawberries

Thursday:
Barbecue and teriyaki chicken
Fried potatoes
Coleslaw
Strawberries

Friday:
Fried rabbit
Baked potatoes
Salad from the garden

Saturday:
Beef chuck pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Broccoli/cauliflower
Strawberries

I Forgot to Post My Menu Plan

June 10th, 2014 at 03:23 pm

I can't believe I spaced on posting my meal planning for the week. The goal has been to eat down the protein stores in the freezer in preparation for bulk purchasing in the later summer. I'm not buying any new protein for these meals. We are also processing the Cornish cross chickens this week, so I am definitely not going to run out of chicken for a while, but I'm using up what was already in the freezer first.

I'm going to post Sunday and Monday's menus even though it is now Tuesday.

Sunday:
Crockpot duck (I raised it up on aluminum foil balls to keep it out of the cooking liquid) sprinkled heavily with herbs de provence
Microwave baked potatoes
Green beans

Monday:
Tacos

Tuesday:
Fried chicken legs
Baked potatoes
Green beans

Wednesday:
Pan-fried steaks
Fried potatoes
Salad

Thursday:
Hot turkey and provolone sandwiches on Rosemary bread
Coleslaw

Friday:
Crockpot Beef Chuck Roast
Baked sweet potatoes
Broccoli/cauliflower

Saturday:
Spaghetti with homemade sauce
Meatballs
Coleslaw


Spending Journal

June 10th, 2014 at 03:15 pm

Yesterday I spent $90 on physical therapy.

I also spent $14.49 on a half flat of local strawberries and 75 cents on a doughnut. I've been wanting a doughnut for 3 weeks now, but kept putting it off and finally yesterday I gave in. The upside is now I no longer want doughnuts.

This weekend I want to go to one of the local farms and get a bunch more strawberries that I can do up for the freezer and do one batch of strawberry jam. Strawberries are the only berries we eat a lot of that I don't have much of growing. When we move I will put in lots and lots of strawberries, but there really isn't the space to do that here.

I'm not sure how much I'll spend on strawberries, but I am thinking $100. And then do it again the next weekend, too, but after that the season will be over. I want to freeze both sugared strawberries and whole ones for making smoothies. It is sure cheaper than buying them throughout the year, and I like buying locally so I know where they come from. I also know that the two places I buy berries from don't use GMO's or spray their fields. Not as good as organic, but good enough to make me happy until I can grow all of my own.

I'll Get Used to It

June 8th, 2014 at 09:39 am

I had a moment of blind panic yesterday. I was checking the date for something else and I realized I forgot to pay the mortgage this month. It took me a full 30 seconds to remember that I didn't pay it because I had paid off the mortgage and anyway, I would have had until the 15th before it would have been considered a late fee even if I had. But for those 30 seconds I was a little crazy.

I wonder when that will go away? I guess 16 years of paying something became so automatic it is still hard to get used to not having that hanging over our heads. 2 months of being mortgage free is not long enough to have that fully sink in yet.

Freezer Inventory #1

June 7th, 2014 at 10:05 am

When we moved our stuff out of Mom's freezer and into our own new huge chest freezer, I took an inventory of what was in there to help me with future meal planning. I still need to go through what we have in the small chest freezer and move a portion of it out, and what we have in the above fridge freezer in the laundry room and move all of it out, and the below fridge freezer in our kitchen, but I figured this was a good start and I could put it here and then compile my spreadsheet later.

I've broken it down into categories, and then individual types within each category.

Rabbit--
15 whole cut-up
2 quart bags of liver
1 gallon bag of bones for making stock
7 bags of belly flaps for making jerky
1 container of soup
2 gallon size baggies of homemade sausage patties
1/2 a cut up rabbit

Beef--
2 skirt steaks
3 quart bags of stir-fry meat
4 pounds of ground beef
7 rib-eye thin cut steaks
1 chuck roast
2 packages hot dogs

Turkey--
1 package of 3 extra large turkey legs
1 turkey kielbasa

Chicken--
7 quart size baggies of boneless skinless
3 family size baggies of chicken legs

Pork--
4 ground
3 packages of sausages
3 packages of bacon
4 chops

Lamb--
1 ground

Elk--
1 ground

Fish--
1 package of cod
2 pounds of shrimp

Rice--
1 baggy of chicken fried rice
3 baggies of brown rice

Vegetables--
1 bag of fire roasted onions and peppers

I'm going to try to inventory the 2 fridge freezers today. The small chest freezer will probably wait until tomorrow.

I want to get through some of this meat before we buy a side of beef and a side of pork later this year. We've got the chicken way down, but only because we are going to be butchering some in a couple weeks. We also need to get moving on the rabbit as we will be butchering again in about 3 weeks and then pretty often during the summer.[

A lot of the rabbit meat needs to be ground, mixed with a little tomato sauce and seasonings, and pressed into patties. I will also do up some meatballs and cook them and freeze them for future use. The meat is packaged well, but it is from February of last year so it'll get used up faster in a more usable form. Because of how we've packaged it there has been no freezer burn or drop off in quality, but I'd still like to get the older stuff gone.

With this inventory at my fingertips I can keep it handy and we can get eaten what needs to be used up and do far less grocery shopping for protein because I will know at a glance what I have and plan around it.

The Adoption is Official

June 6th, 2014 at 02:52 pm

Just got word from my niece that everything is all complete. It's a wonderful feeling knowing that no one can take my great niece away from her new parents. Welcome to the family, again, to the sweetest three-year-old I know.