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Trucking Along

April 1st, 2019 at 11:25 am

I need to go to Winco and pick up a bag of oats for the rabbits. The feed stores have been getting corn in their oats the last several times we have gotten them and the rabbits can't eat corn. It has been a real pain in the butt to deal with. So I am hoping that oats from Winco will be clean. Since they are for human consumption there is better quality control. It's a little more expensive this way, but I'd rather that than risk killing my rabbits.

I've been on the Enbrel for a few days now and I continue to improve. The swelling in my legs has gone way down. It used to be a constant. A large part of my pain is gone throughout the day, though by evening I do have some that comes back. It is not as bad as before, though. I get a little queasy in the mornings, but haven't thrown up after the first morning post injection, and it seems a little less each day. I am starting to feel like a semi-functional human being.

I still haven't quite shaken this cold, but I am getting there. I'm able to do all my indoor chores again. I haven't tried to do my outdoor stuff yet. Seasonal allergies have piled on top of it, though, so there is just a lot of nose blowing going on still. I didn't sleep very well last night or the night before, which doesn't help with getting better. I keep waking up too early. I've tried going to bed earlier to compensate, but then I just lay there not sleeping until the normal time I fall asleep. Very exhausting.

I am looking forward to payday as we will be able to make some more progress on the loan. I'm not sure I'll be able to pay as much as I was hoping. We've got a couple things that have come up that need to be taken care of. Isn't that always the way? I'll still be able to make an extra payment, though.

Broken Blogs, Broken Blog Goal

January 17th, 2019 at 02:09 am

So the commenting feature is acting up again, claiming I'm not logged in when I am. Will they ever get this thing permanently fixed? I've gotten to the point where I don't even feel like complaining anymore, because they'll make it work for a week, but it never works for good. The emojis haven't worked for what, two years now? *sighs* I know it is little things, but it is really making it user unfriendly.

My goal to blog more consistently kind of went by the wayside. We cleaned rabbit cages this weekend with our new clearance pressure washer, swept out the rabbit shed, including all of the cobwebs on the ceiling and put away the summer fans which had not been stored properly yet, and I wore myself out so bad that the last thing I felt like doing is blogging. I did, however, finish watching season 2 of Westworld.

The pressure washer was a $200 machine that we got for $70 because of the season, I'm sure. It is an ecofriendly one, too, that doesn't use as much water, but is very forceful. It made the chore much easier and faster, but it still took several hours because some of the trays had to be fired. Also having only 8 rabbits now makes it easier to get through all the cages quickly.

I haven't made up a meal plan for the second half of the month yet, since I was basically using up leftovers the past couple of days. We had some shredded chicken to get through so I made quesadillas. I also made some Mexican rice which had leftovers so DH and DS will have some for their next couple days of lunches. Both are big rice eaters. I used some of my home canned salsa in it. It's from 2015, my huge tomato year. The day before that we had leftover pork stew. Tomorrow I will sit down and figure out a meal plan for the remainder of the month.

I have to be more careful about how much work I do around the farm. I still haven't completely shaken my cough and despite it being fairly warm at 45 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, it was still a little colder than I probably should have been out in. But the work goes faster with three people than two. I spent most of Monday and Tuesday in bed, though. Partly the cough, but mostly the rheumatoid arthritis flaring up after doing so much work.

I have misplaced the rabbits' nail clippers so will have to pick up a new pair as they are all due for a clipping. I hate having to go to the pet store, but the farmer's co-op doesn't sell the right kind of clippers, the kind that encircle the whole nail. I think I need to get a new brush, too. The last one broke. The don't need to be brushed generally, but a couple of them are blowing their coats already. Makes me think we might not get a super cold winter this year. So when they do that it helps to brush out all the old fur. Plus they really seem to enjoy the extra attention. So a couple of small expenses there, but I doubt I will spend more than $15 there. DH needs to pick up a bale of hay this weekend, too.

I need to get a new charger for my phone as well. The one I have only works if it is propped at an angle. So while I can get it to charge, sometimes I forget to prop it and then go to grab my phone and it is dead. I don't know how much that will cost, but I have over $100 in my allowance envelope, since I rarely spend it. It won't be near that, I know, but I am prepared regardless.

I got my medical checkbook balanced. Found a mistake that made the balance $365 off. It was $182.50 that I'd added instead of subtracted, thereby doubling to $365. But that account has over $5000 in it so no worries.

I have entered in all the medical bills for each month. Now I need to add them all up and see the total to see if we can deduct for them. I know some stuff has changed this year. I'll get that done tomorrow and get the numbers for that and our tithe to DH. I'd like to get our taxes done ASAP. With identity theft in our lives, the sooner the better. Of course, I don't know if the IRS will be processing or not due to the shutdown. The last time there was a shutdown at this time of year, we sent it in early and still got it back fairly quickly, but that one was shorter than this one, so who knows?

I called VM today as I still haven't heard anything about DD's surgery being scheduled. I know there was a delay for the holidays, but it has been nearly a month. I left a message with the scheduler, so hopefully I will hear back from her tomorrow. DD has dropped 75 pounds in that amount of time. Pretty much all of it retained water. The new meds are working very well in that respect. She has cheekbones again. No guarantee it won't come back, but for now it is a major relief for her body.

Okay, I think that catches me up.

Quiet on the Home Front

August 6th, 2018 at 05:39 pm

I didn't mention it before, as it has been a crazy week, but we rehomed our little flock of ducks. I had been thinking about it for a while and with all that has been going on, it has been hard to maintain the farm. It is quiet without them. I miss hearing their little noises and the occasional loud quack. So now there are no more birds on the farm. We are down to just rabbits and the garden.

I have quite a few ripening tomatoes I need to look at and I have got to pick green beans and check for zucchini and cucumbers. I have only gotten one cucumber so far, but I haven't checked for zucchini in a few days, so there are probably a dozen out there, hopefully not too large. I already have one that is larger than my forearm to deal with. I also need to water tonight.

I think there will be enough green beans that I can can them tomorrow. I will try to get it done early in the morning before it gets too hot.

I am thinking about buying a flatbread maker. It's a device that you put the dough on, close it and it flattens it, and then it cooks it. You have to turn it over partway through. But you can make all the flat breads on it and it sets it at the correct temperature, taking the guess work out of it. I can make pita bread on it, but also tortillas, chappati, and roti. It would make it a lot easier since I wouldn't have to roll out the dough.

So many of the flat breads contain soybean oil. I can find tortillas without it, but it is harder on the other flat breads, especially pita. They run the gamut from $32 to $99. Right now I am reading reviews.

I would probably only use it to make tortillas for fajitas and carnitas. I think I'd still buy the large packages for making my huge run of breakfast burritos. It's one thing to make 8 for dinner and another to make 48 in a row for burritos. But I would definitely make pita bread at least once a week. Does anyone have a flat bread maker? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Grocery Ad Lull, Endocrinologist, and Wal*Mart Trip

July 24th, 2018 at 06:40 pm

Well, this is the second week in a row where I have gone through the grocery ads in preparation for my Friday shopping and only found one thing that was worth buying. Last week was a milk sale and this week is a beef roast sale. Since I am not sure when we will get down to the farm to buy more beef, I will probably stop into Safeway for the meat deal and for the organic milk, lettuce (mine has bolted), and radishes, but the rest of my shopping will be at Winco. The other stores are just so high priced when there is not a good sale going on.

Things went well at the endocrine doctor. He has ordered more specific blood tests, checking individual hormone levels. The took 5 of the large vials of blood. DD was a little woozy afterwards, as she hadn't eaten in case they needed fasting bloodwork, so I got her some onion rings from the last of my blow money. I get more on Friday, though, so that is okay.

We stopped at Wal*Mart as well and I got two packages of white wash cloths. They had product shrinkage though. Used to be those were 12 packs. Now they are 9 packs. It has gotten so hot here that we all need to wipe down during the day at least twice. It's too expensive to keep hopping in the shower every couple of hours! So having a big stack of wash cloths will be very helpful for quick, icy cold sweat relief. I had 12 white ones that were just for me, but I use those on my face morning and evening and the others kept stealing them even though they have their own color codes ones. Now maybe I can keep up.

I also bought a couple of cheap notebooks for budgeting and meal planning since the back to school sales have started. I'll probably get a few more in the coming weeks, but two was sufficient for now. It took me forever to find college ruled, but I did. I also got an accordian file for my daughter to keep her medical records in and a dry eraser for the white board. I also got DD some gum. I spent $20.83 out of the household envelope.

I really should have picked up tissues while we were there, but I totally forgot we needed them by the time we got there. So they will be on Friday's shopping list. I'll probably just stop into Kmart, though, because it is closer. Wal*Mart is a ways out, but it is near the endocrine doctor. I don't like making special trips just to go there.

I don't want to make dinner. It is so hot. But I really don't want sandwiches two nights in a row, either. Maybe I will make fajitas in the Instant Pot. Then at least I won't be heating up the house further. Man, I wish we had A/C.

I had to go change the ducks' water around four today as it had gotten so hot they couldn't drink it. I moved it further into the shade and they were so happy to get cold water. They all splashed around in it and then I filled them again and they drank it. Then they all waddled off in their little line to hide out under the raspberries where it is cooler.

I feel bad for the rabbits with their fur coats, but they all have an individual fan attached to the front of their cages and they are hanging out directly in front of them and seem to be doing fine. I'll have to watch them closely if we crack the next temperature decade. Or whatever you call groupings of ten when it is temperature.

Farm Trip

March 24th, 2018 at 08:51 pm

DH and I drove down to the farm this afternoon. Their was a nasty accident in the I-5 north bound lanes. We could see the traffic backed up for miles. There were several ambulances, 2 or 3 police cars, and at least one fire truck. I said a quick prayer for the victims as we passed and I was very glad we were going south.

It was a beautiful day for a drive, bright and sunny, but cold. There was still snow on the foothills about 20 feet above ground level. Yet at the same time the forsythia and cherry trees are blooming. It was gorgeous.

At the farm I picked up 5 roasts for canning. I am out of canned beef. It is my preferred way of making beef stew, to used canned beef, and stew season will be over soon. I also got 8 packages of bacon (they have the best I have ever tasted), and 2 packages of beef stir-fry meat. They cut it really thin. I have a hard time getting it that thin myself, so on occasion I will get some.

We only had to pay for 4 of the roasts. The fifth one she gave us for free. They come vacuum sealed and sometimes the vacuum part will undo, but the package itself will still be sealed. They can't sell them that way, so they just give them away. I just use them or can them quickly.

I also sold them a rabbit for $82.20. That will pay for feed for about 3 to 4 months for the rabbits and ducks. I love it that they support themselves. I am going to try to sell a breeding trio soon. I have a really nice set of 2 broken blacks (male and female) and a broken red (female) that are just gorgeous and wonderfully proportioned.

Anyway, we took Chuckanut Drive on the way home to avoid the backup on the freeway. It is a beautiful drive, but unnerving. There are places where the cliffs jut out over the road, or right next to it with no shoulder. Although driving north on it is far more unsettling than driving south, because it always feels like you could tumble right off the edge of the road and down into the bay. It is such a narrow road. Still we survived it and we saw a lot of waterfalls from the snow melt.

Then DH and I went out to eat. I got a quesadilla with a side of rice and he had a burrito and a relleno. Just a small, cheap little lunch without the kids. It was nice. Probably unnecessary since we went out to eat last Saturday, too, but that was our 23rd anniversary and we used the money his mother gave us for a present to do it. I'll be tightening in again on the spending after this.

Picking a Health Plan, Running the Numbers, and a Farm Update

January 18th, 2018 at 09:09 pm

Last night DH and I sat down and took another look at the health plan offered by the job recruiter company. They offer 4 different plans.

The gold plan has a $500 per person and a $1000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $10 for generic and $50 for brand names. Co-pay is $35 whether it is a regular doctor or a specialist. Out of pocket max per person is $4500 and per family is $9000.

The silver plan has a $2000 per person and $4000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $20 for generic and $80 for brand names. Co-pay is $45. Out of pocket max per person is $6850 and family is $13,700. It has an out of pocket max of $10,000 after the deductible has been met.

It offered 2 bronze plans. Plan 1 has a $5250 per person and a $10,500 family deductible. Prescriptions are $20/$80 and then they have a third tier and a fourth tier of 30% and 50% respectively for the really high priced drugs. Co-pay is $50. Out of pocket max is $7150 per person and $14,300 per family.

The second bronze plan is an HSA plan. It has a $7150 deductible per person and $14,300 per family. Prescriptions are $35/$100 with the other tiers again being 30% and 50%. Co-pay is $50. The out of pocket max is $6550 per person and $13,100 per family.

Based on our prescription costs and the fact that my daughter is going to need 2 surgeries in the next couple of months, we knew both bronze plans were out, so it really came down to which would save us more money this year, the gold or the silver.

DH ran the numbers and on the gold plan weekly take home pay will be approximately $1177. On the silver plan it will be $1232. This is without any overtime, his guaranteed 40 hours a week. If he gets ten hours of overtime a week the amounts would be $1523 and $1577.

They are currently on an overtime moratorium for this week and the next two weeks, though DH has been getting 50 hours up until now. But they put the freeze on because they have pushed the end date of the job out to mid-April instead of mid-March, so the rush to get the work done on time has slowed. It means DH will be employed for another month at least, though.

So not feeling we could count on the overtime at all, my numbers to budget with had to be $1177 and $1232. I sat down and figured out the budget with the lower amount to see if we could swing it and still be able to start the 401K contributions in March when he qualifies.

We can swing the more expensive plan and we are going to because in the long run it will be cheaper. I have 7 prescriptions, my daughter has 6, and my husband has 2. I know we might only be on this medical plan a few months and if DH gets hired on through the actual company it will be all different medical than this and a different 401K plan, too, but since I know what is coming up and how much we would be spending, the gold plan will be cheaper, especially since more of it will be in pretax dollars, which will also lower our taxable income.

I have determined we can at least contribute 2% of his income to a 401K which is $36 a week. If after the first month of that he is still working there we will try to bump it up to 4% or $78 a week and see if we can handle that. We will proceed forward with 1% bumps until we get to 6% to get all the matching funds.

I can make some cuts in the grocery budget and we can cut out eating out again. Not that we eat out much, but we do. I think the amount I have allotted for medical expenses will drop, too. I am not sure we will be able to contribute to the Emergency Fund or pay back my mother anything, though. I will try for at least $100 a month into the EF, though.

Our insurance will go up once the will finishes up whatever it is doing and the title of the truck gets transferred into our names and MIL is no longer paying the insurance on it. I reckon it will double, but it might not, since we ought to get a multiple vehicle discount. I am considering at that time dropping everything but what we need for if we are at fault since we will have two vehicles. When you only have one vehicle that is a chancier prospect. We'll see. DS is about to start learning to drive, which doesn't change anything yet, but will once he gets a license.

I hate the idea of having such a cramped budget, but we've lived on less before and I know we can do this with enough self-discipline. Once I can start growing food again that will help, too. The fruit and veggie portion of the food budget from May through October really goes way down.

At least with the turkeys and chickens gone I don't have any animals that are hemorrhaging money. The rabbits pay for their own feed as well as the ducks' feed. We don't get enough eggs for the ducks to be self-sufficient, but the rabbits make up for it. We are down to just 4 ducks and 1 drake now and they forage a lot. They also eat a lot of garden produce in the spring, summer, and fall.

This month has been a rough one with the animals. We lost Annabeth the duck shortly after the new year started and last night Luna Blue died. Luna Blue was the rabbit I had to feed with a dropper full of raw goat milk because her mother died when she was 3 weeks old. Only 3 out of 7 of that litter survived without their mother. But she was the runt and she needed the most help. I adored that rabbit. She was the sweetest thing.

We had a vicious wind storm yesterday and all I can think is that the loud noises scared her and she flipped and broke her back. We've had that happen before with really loud noises and her back was definitely broken. I've lost rabbits when the Med-Evac helicopter has flown illegally low over our house on the way to the hospital on three occasions and twice now to wind storms. It is frustrating. We have more wind on the horizon as well and I hope I don't lose anyone else. I'm not particularly attached to the others like I was to Luna, but I do love them and it is always hard to lose animals.

So Far So Good on the Pantry Challenge

January 4th, 2018 at 08:40 pm

I am doing really well on the eat from the pantry challenge. So far we have not bought anything from the grocery store since I started the challenge. I really didn't feel like cooking tonight at all, so I pulled one of my pans of enchiladas and made it tonight instead of one of my planned meals. That's what they are in there for. I am down to 1 pan of enchiladas, 2 pans of chicken and broccoli bake, and 2 fajita kits. I try to keep them for the days when I feel like a house dropped on me.

I am in the middle of an RA flare. Part of it was because I ran out of medication and was off it for 3 doses. Part of it is because I've had to do all of my daughter's chores. Part of it is because I had to drive to Burlington and back. I don't do well with driving that long anymore and I've had to do it twice in two weeks. We had to go and pick up oats for our rabbits. I should not have had to go, but the order we got the two weeks before was contaminated. It had all kinds of other things in it besides oats, including lime dust, which can kill rabbits. They put lime dust in the goat feed, I guess. Anyway, we caught it before giving it to the rabbits.

Fortunately, that feed can also be fed to the ducks, so we are mixing it with corn and peas for them. We did not have to pay for the new round of 300 pounds of oats, either. We just had to send them photos of the contaminated feed. I guess if I look on the bright side of things, we got a bunch of free feed. But it wasn't much fun having to go to Winco to buy oats over the holidays because the mill was shut down. At least they have 25 pound bags of whole oats, though. I might have been able to get some at the farmer's co-op, but we've had trouble with contaminated oats there, too, with both brands they sell.

We've scheduled an appointment for DD with the surgeon for the 8th. She can't have surgery before February because we won't have insurance until then. The initial consult may cost $240. They gave a range, with $240 being the top of the range if we paid in cash. That is a 20% discount.

DD is doing okay with the low fat diet, though she had some major carb cravings yesterday and wanted bread really bad. She ended up having mashed potatoes with just salt and pepper on them to calm the craving down. It seemed to do the trick. We just have to think outside the box a little more now.

The Nuwave oven has been wonderful for cooking chicken and fish without fat for her. Well, other than the amount I spray on the rack to make it non-stick, but that is minimal. But I can steam vegetables in a foil packet as well with no oil at all, just a sprinkle of water and some herbs. I am getting the hang of this. Today I made boneless skinless chicken thighs in it. I just rubbed them with a combination of ground cloves, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, a little paprika, salt, and pepper. It was very mild and she loved the flavors.

So we are adapting. I think she is losing weight, too. I just hope her weight is not going to be a problem when it comes to surgery. We've run into that problem before. If it is, she will probably have to go to Seattle to see a surgeon and if she does, it means I will have to be the one to drive there since DH works a normal job now. Which will mean at least a week of recovery time for me each time. If not more.