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Archive for April, 2015

Blew Right Past It-- 9th Blogoversary

April 30th, 2015 at 03:29 pm

April 9th of 2006 I started this blog in pretty dire straits. I had no savings, massive debt due to medical expenses, a mortgage, and credit card debt, also mostly due to the medical issues.

In the last nine years my husband and I have paid off the mortgage, paid off our van loan, and paid off all of the credit cards. The only money we owe now is the 0% loan we took out from my mother to pay off the hospital. I call that my medical mortgage, because that is what it feels like. We owe her $49,500 and once that is paid off we will have no more debt until we buy a new house. I am hoping to save enough up for that so as to not have a massive mortgage.

We have saved almost $15,000 in an Emergency Fund. When we started we were only banking $10 a week and whatever money I managed to save in the coin jar. After a few years I was able to add monthly $100 payments. When we started, a lot of people thought it was silly to save such small amounts, but they have added up big time. If $10 is all you have to save, then save it. If $1 is all you have to save, still save it. It may seem like nothing now, but take my word for it. In 9 years you could be sitting on several thousand dollars if you keep at it.

We have come a long, long way, and it has been a tough, tough road at times. So many people told us to just declare bankruptcy, but I didn't want to. That isn't how I was raised. Bankruptcy is a last resort, for people in desperate situations. We were always able to meet our bills even if things were quite tight for a long, long time. We probably could have easily qualified, but I didn't want to take that way out. It didn't feel right for us.

So instead we just put our heads down, dug in, and worked hard to get the debt paid off and bring down the evil empire that had held us under its sway for so long. We had a few setbacks along the way with me having to have 2 more surgeries and having to pay for those instead of putting a lot on old debt, but we made it through that. Things are going pretty well. Not enough to really loosen the purse strings as we still have to save for that down payment and pay back Mom. But enough that I feel like we are breathing deep again.

Menu Planning

April 30th, 2015 at 03:11 pm

I have been forgetting to post my meal plans each week for about 3 weeks now. Mostly because I've just been throwing things together by the seat of my pants. Which is okay, but not very organized and I like to be organized. So I am at least going to post my meals for the rest of the week.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Cole slaw
Strawberries and Blueberries

Meatloaf (half ground rabbit, half ground beef, made with duck eggs)
Baked potatoes
Green beans

Homemade pizza with rabbit sausage, pepperoni, ham, green, red, and yellow bell pepper strips, and onions
Cole slaw

Beef pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy

Blog Problems?

April 30th, 2015 at 03:06 pm

Was there an announcement or anything that there are problems with the blogs? I am ten days behind on reading (hope to get caught up today) so haven't had a chance to look, but my blog statistics are missing that keep a running count of how many hits there have been to my blog. Also my comments will say 1 comment and there won't be any visible or 2 comments and only 1 is visible. I also haven't been receiving any email notifications for comments left, but that's been going on for weeks.

Weekly EF Deposit

April 30th, 2015 at 03:02 pm

$14,735.37 Beginning EF Balance
+__,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
$14,745.37 New EF Balance

$245.63 to go to hit my goal of $15K. I am hoping I will hit it next month. Since there is an extra payday in May, I think that I can. Once I hit $15K I am going to start working on building up some of the other funds. I need to add money to the December/January Money Fund next and the Tire Fund. We need to replace the tires on the van in 5 months, so I need to save $200 a month for that.

EF Update

April 29th, 2015 at 05:27 am

$14,533.37 Beginning EF Total
___,_10.00 Weekly Deposit (last week's)
___,100.00 Monthly Deposit
+__,_92.00 (Farm sales plus coin jar)
$14,735.37 New EF Total

$264.63 to go to hit my goal of $15K.

Busy, Busy

April 28th, 2015 at 07:41 pm

That is how life has felt lately. I've done a lot and had a lot more still left to do.

I have sold $72 worth of rabbit meat and 2 dozen duck eggs for $9 (discounted .50 each since they brought their own egg cartons). I have also traded 10 fertile duck hatching eggs for 14 calendula starts. It was supposed to be 12, but there were a couple extra plants hitchhiking in.

The garden is doing beautifully. I have got lots of things planted and I am hardening off four trays of my seedlings and have four more trays under the lights. They have done great and almost everything I planted has sprouted. I think I have a germination failure rate of 1 out of 50 seeds so far. Except for the green onions, but I have to be patient. Those can take 14 days to germinate from seed. So they still might come up. That was old seed though so who knows?

I've got my carrots, zucchini, and yellow summer squash planted. All of the garden beds have been built and all but two have been fully filled. The irrigation system has been put in to everything but those last two beds. We will finish those up when DH comes home towards the end of next week.

We had 3 litters of rabbit kits born a week ago Sunday. One died due to an improperly nipped umbilical cord, so we have 14 live ones in this batch.

We have let the turkeys come out to free range for a few hours a day on days it is not raining. They are enjoying hanging with the other birds. I let them out mostly in the afternoons. Gina lays her egg around 5 p.m. and if she is in the coop she will lay it from the perch, which means splat. If she is outside she will lay it on the ground. She is not laying consistently yet.

I have made a ton of videos for my other blog, so thought I'd share them here as well. Most of them are pretty short.

Newborn litters:

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The turkeys:
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Raised Bed Garden:
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Gutter Garden:
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Kits at 5 days old:
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Kits at 8 days old (fully furred) and 8 weeks old:
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EF Update

April 16th, 2015 at 08:12 am

$14,489.37 Beginning EF Amount
___,_29.00 Egg Money
___,__5.00 Pinecone Check
+__,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
$14,533.37 New EF Total

Yay, less than $500 to go to hit my goal of $15K! $466.63 to be exact.

Egg Sales--Questions Answered

April 15th, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Kiki wanted to see what the difference was in the different eggs so the photo below shows all three. The big white one is a duck egg, the pale pink one with dark pink spots is the turkey egg, and the brown one is the chicken egg. The chicken egg would equate to a large egg at the grocery store, though we do get quite a few that would equal the extra large size (even laid by the same chicken that laid this one). I chose the one with the nicest color contrast. The turkey eggs will get bigger than the duck eggs after Gina has been laying for a couple of months. All bird eggs start out small when their systems are just coming online.

Joan had asked about selling eggs by the ounce. That's not really something that happens in our community. The going rate of what other people are willing to pay is pretty set around here and depends on how hard it is to find them. For organic chicken eggs straight from the coop or farm, people will pay $3 to $6 a dozen. In the stores it is $6 to $8. For organic duck eggs people are willing to pay $5 to $7 a dozen and in the stores it is $8 to $9 a dozen. Turkey eggs of any type start at $8 a dozen and go up higher for organic and you can't find them in the stores at all. If you are selling fertile hatching eggs you can charge more.

I try to keep my prices reasonable in that range, just because I have seen people try to get too much and then people stop buying from them even if they lower their prices back down. No one wants to deal with a price gouger.

For rabbit meat I do sell by the pound, though, as that is standard. We can get $15 a pound for organic rabbit meat. It costs $4 a rabbit for the processing fees at a WSDA facility, which we have to use to legally sell butchered meat. That plus the organic feed costs, well, we do need to make a profit and I don't feel bad about charging more there. It is what the market will support.

And if there is interest, I did an updated rabbitry video this week. The kits are about 6.5 weeks old here.

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Egg Sales

April 14th, 2015 at 08:05 am

On Thursday I sold 4 dozen duck eggs for $20 and then on Monday I sold 2 dozen duck eggs for $9. The second sale got a discount because she brought me back empty egg cartons. I discount 50 cents per dozen if people bring me back egg cartons because that is how much new egg cartons cost each. So $29.

I also gave away a dozen duck eggs and 2 dozen chicken eggs (some mine, some Mom's) to my neighbor's grown daughter (she's poor and super appreciative) and 18 duck eggs to my physical therapist on Friday.

The ducks are back in full production, giving me 5 to 6 eggs a day. The hens are starting to molt, so my four are doing 2 a day right now. We are still getting plenty for our own use. I also got 3 turkey eggs so far this week. They taste just like the chicken eggs. Not nearly as different as the duck eggs are from chicken eggs.

Once the novelty wears off of eating the turkey eggs I will sell them. I think I can get $4 for a half dozen.

I may also sell fertile eggs if anyone is interested. I'd like to incubate turkey eggs this year, but I don't think we can swing a really good incubator until next year. One day.

Big Decision

April 12th, 2015 at 12:35 am

DH and I had to make a big decision this month. At the start of the month we still owed my mother $50,000 of the $110,000 we borrowed from her years ago to pay off medical debt. Since that time we have been paying her $1000 a month and paid off $60,000. She charges no interest and refuses to.

At the start of the month we were on track to have that paid off in 4 years and 2 months. But my mother came to us last month and offered to let us pay it back at a rate of $500 a month on the condition that we took the other $500 a month and put it in our down payment fund, which would put the repayment at 8 years and 4 months.

I (and DH to a lesser extent) went back and forth on this several times. This is the last debt we owe. When this is gone we will be debt free, at least until we buy another house. So I want it gone and I want it gone yesterday. But at the same time, I want to move as soon as we can which means having a big down payment, because I want reasonable mortgage payments (i.e. $1500 or less a month).

Mom, on the other hand, wants the loan to last as long as possible and by cutting in half the payments, she will be assured of some income beyond her social security for the next 8 years, instead of a higher amount for 4 years, and without having to keep much money in the bank. So I understand her motives.

But, my mother is a negative commenter. As in every time I buy something she makes some comment on it. For example, I finally replaced our wok that I threw out two years ago. I didn't want to buy a teflon one because we won't use it anymore and they flake so badly after a year or so.

Cast iron woks are way, way too heavy for me to manage. Hard anodized steel woks are also too heavy. Stainless steel is hard to clean. So when I finally found the ceramic coated one at Costco I bought it. It was not very expensive, though not cheap, and I had set money aside that I had saved out of our food budget. I waited 4 months from when I first saw it to when I bought it.

My mother's comment on seeing the new wok was, "Wow, it must be nice to be rich enough to afford to buy whatever you want whenever you want it."

We aren't rich, by any means, though DH does have a very good income. We've been paying off massive medical debt for years, and not just to her and she knows that. We lived below the poverty line for many years when we were first married (though we were fine because our mortgage was so low). But she still makes comments like this every single time we bring something new into the house. When we bought a $30 rice cooker, she made a snarky comment. It was part of our Christmas presents.

I found steak on a really good sale a couple of weeks ago and we've been eating it a fair bit. "Wow, you sure eat steak a lot. That's almost every night!" Umm, no, it was twice that week and twice the next, and we hadn't had steak for 4 months before that and anyway, it was chuck steak, not ribeye or something. She eats steak more than we do because she bought a quarter of a steer which goes very far when you are feeding 1 person instead of 4, but that doesn't matter, of course, because it is her and not us doing it.

I snuck my new camera into the house in my purse instead of in a bag, even though I paid for it with my birthday money and some of my leftover Christmas money that was given to me by my in-laws, just so I didn't have to hear her comments about a fancy expensive new camera (it is not fancy and based on camera prices not that expensive, either, but she'd think so).

Or if we bring home take out at all she comments. We do this maybe once a week. She does it, too, but that's not the same thing, either.

So I told her if we were to agree to the lesser amount she couldn't make all those negative comments every time we buy something we budgeted and saved up for. Or ate out. She said she'd try. At times I'm not even 100% sure she knows she's doing it because it is so much her nature, and other times I'm convinced she knows exactly what she is doing.

She does like to play the martyr and the poor me thing and pretend she is super poor. But she has a good social security income, plus what we pay her each month, and we pay for all of the electric, natural gas, garbage, water/sewer, and the internet. We do a lot of the upkeep here. The only thing she pays for besides taxes on the house and her groceries, gas, and insurances, are her land line phone which we don't use and her two satellite dishes, which we don't use. So she has plenty of money, and her savings. And she owns the house free and clear and it's worth $400K to $500K and she owns her two vehicles free and clear.

Anyway, even after she offered this we went back and forth on it a lot. But we ended up deciding to take the offer and cut our payments down to $500 a month and bank the other $500 each month we'd been paying her for the down payment. Because that means we will be able to get out of here much sooner. Though it is still going to be two years at least until we have enough saved to do so.

Garden Work

April 12th, 2015 at 12:00 am

I'm not sure I'm going to get a chance to sit down and write one really long blog post this weekend to update everything, so I thought I'd try to get some snippets in of what has been going on and some things DH and I have decided on.

We moved 1 cubic yard of dirt today. We have completed one 8 x 4 foot garden bed and 3/4 of another one. Unfortunately the dirt place closes at 4 on Saturday and we didn't finish getting it unloaded until 3:45. I think it is kind of silly for a business that sells topsoil, compost, bark, etc., to close that early on a Saturday. Especially in spring. Especially when they are only open until 5:30 on weekdays. Especially when they are not open at all on Sundays.

So now we have to wait until Monday to get anymore dirt. It is okay, really, as I won't be planting those beds until May 1st or so, but I still wanted to get it done, have a few days for it to settle and see if we need to add more. We lost all day Friday due to rain and 35 mile per hour winds with gusts up to 60.

DH and I are going to build 3 more 8 x 4 foot beds this weekend. At least one will be built after supper tonight.

Yesterday we bought what we needed to get the irrigation system set up along with the wood for the beds we are going to build. It came out to $259.76. Plus the dirt for $25. It's a lot but we will be able to use it for years to come and we will be able to take it all with us (including the soil) when we move. And it is so worth it to have 2 foot tall beds.

I did all the shoveling on a badly hurt foot. I got it caught under something without realizing it as I was stepping upwards, so pulled it very hard up against the underside of a platform. It made a little snapping noise, but I don't think I broke anything. It was on the side of my bad knee and this also jarred and twisted the knee, which uses any excuse to swell up, and jarred the hip, too. I did this on Thursday.

You wouldn't think something like that would hurt so much, but it does. There is a massive bruise and swelling. I wore an ace bandage ($5 for one that actually had clips and is reusable, those self-grip ones are useless after five or six wearings) on my foot and ankle and my knee brace while we worked. I am keeping ice on it while we rest. I can't really afford to stay completely off it as we need to get this stuff done while DH is home and before it is time to plant in earnest.

EF Update and Bought a Camera

April 11th, 2015 at 08:17 pm

$14,479.37 Beginning EF Total
+__,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
$14,489.37 Ending EF Total

I have been super busy this week with the garden, but I hope to do a real update today or tomorrow. I bought my camera. I ended up going with a $150 Canon Power Shot. It is lightweight, small enough to fit in my pocket, the lens closes, and it is a gorgeous blue color. I am very happy with it so far for taking photos. I still have to do videos with it, though. That is also something I will do this weekend, as I want to record my garden progress for my farm blog. I'll likely post a link here, too, though.

I got a $5 check from Pinecone in the mail today, so that will get added in on Monday.

Camera Recs?

April 8th, 2015 at 08:19 pm

My digital camera broke and I am looking for a good, but inexpensive camera to replace it. What do you all recommend? I want it to be able to shoot video, too, and I'd really prefer the type that closes the lens over the type that has a lens cap and isn't too big and bulky. If it can slip in a pocket, all the better.

Emergency Fund Update # 2

April 6th, 2015 at 10:17 pm

$14,429.37 Beginning EF Total
+__,_50.00 Pinecone, Excess Con Money)
$14,479.37 New EF Total

My daughter came back from Sakura Con with $240 of the $300 in food money I gave her (I budgeted for $100 a day just in case, though I knew it was way high), so that $40 is the excess con money. I think she did great using only $20 a day. They took snacks, a case of bottled water, and had a mini-fridge and microwave, too.

$520.63 left to go to hit my goal of $15K.

Emergency Fund Update # 1

April 6th, 2015 at 05:34 pm

$14,419.37 Beginning EF Amount
+__,_10.00 Weekkly Deposit (4/2)
$14,429.37 Ending EF Amount

$570.63 to go to hit $15K.

Menu Planning for the Week

April 6th, 2015 at 05:31 pm

Barbecue Chicken Wings
Baked Potatoes
Roasted Zucchini
Cornbread Blueberry Muffins

Duck and Bacon Cheeseburgers
Fried Potatoes
Green Beans

Rabbit Stir-fry with carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, and bean sprouts

Barbecue Pork Short ribs
Baked potatoes
Cole slaw

Southern Fried Rabbit
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Roasted Zucchini
Canned Nectarines

Homemade Pizza with onions, bell peppers, rabbit sausage, and pepperoni
Cole slaw
Garlic Bread

Sloppy Hoppies
Tater Tots
Cole slaw

A Long Week

April 1st, 2015 at 08:52 pm

I didn't realize its been a week since I've read any of the blogs. I have a lot of catching up to do. You guys have been super active!

I've been working on the garden.

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I've made more progess since making that video, actually getting lettuce, kale, snow peas, onions and leeks planted.

The stuff I started from seed is doing great, too. All of the tomatoes are chugging along. I added more soil to their containers as they were getting quite tall, but only have their seedling leaves. The lettuces are starting to push forth their true leaves and all of the kale seeds I planted had sprouted within 24 hours. Now I am just waiting on the chard seeds that I planted the same day as the kale seeds.

I also have peppers seeds going, but I'm not sure how well they are doing. I planted them the same day as the kale and chard, but they can take 14 days to germinate. I have them on a heating pad, but I think I need to get a true heat mat for them. They are in a warm room and getting plenty of moisture. They are supposed to be the most problematic seeds to germinate. I do have another trick up my sleeve using a crockpot set to warm that I saw on youtube.

I got a $10 check from Pinecone so that will go into the EF today on my way to pick up the kids. I have someone coming by to purchase eggs on Thursday, but my son gets the proceeds from every 3rd dozen, so I'll only get some of it, and it may be discounted if she brings her own egg cartons. I do 50 cents off if they bring their own cartons.

Not too much else going on here. I am mostly working on the garden and taking care of the animals.

Emergency Fund Update

April 1st, 2015 at 09:04 am

$14,419.37 is the new total of the EF after adding interest from C1-360, my main credit union, my back-up credit union, and a forgotten deposit.

$580.63 to go to hit my big goal of $15K.