Archive for May, 2008

27
May
08

Memorial Day weekend…

This weekend tends to be the weekend for terrible storms in our area every year.  This year was no exception.  We had strong winds, hail, rain, and tornadoes all around our farm Friday night and Monday night.  We even left our house with our two dogs to go to my Grandma’s basement until the tornado warnings were cancelled or expired.

Other than the storms this weekend, we had fun with family and friends.  The weather didn’t allow for us to get a lot done around the homestead, but Randy got some fence post set and I got some weeding done in the garden so it wasn’t a total loss.

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22
May
08

Stimulus check…

Just a quick tidbit on the stimulus checks you are getting this year.  We intend to pay off debt with our’s, however, if you must spend your check to “stimulate the economy” here are a couple of ideas:

*Shop locally with the money at individual retailers (i.e. NOT Walmart) 

*By items made in the USA (rather than stimulate foreign economies by buying products made in_______(fill in the blank)).

*Use it at local Farmer’s Markets

*Donate to local or enviornmental charities (humane societies).

*Invest, save, or pay off bills (rather than buy more material items, try to get yourself off the economic treadmill so many Americans are on these days).

It’s everyone’s perogative how they spend the money.  This is just a reminder of things which may actually “stimulate” the US economy, help local retailers and farmers, and/or just be a wise choice for individuals.

21
May
08

Weaning time…

It is time to wean our baby lambs from their mamas.  There is nothing noisier on our farm than this time of year.  Texel sheep are heavy milkers which is great during lambing, but a little more time consuming when it’s time to dry them off.  Last night Randy and I milked out 14 ewes just to make sure they didn’t get overloaded with milk in the drying-off process.  I froze the milk in soda bottles so we will have some extra milk next year during lambing season.  You enter into a category of, “ew gross,” when you own livestock and do things you would never in a million years thought of doing prior, like say store 8 bottles of uncleaned, unfiltered sheep’s milk in your fridge and freezer.  Yum!

Tonight I am focusing on catching up on some house work and spending some quality time with our dogs.  They have been a little deprived the passed couple of days so it’s make up time.

Have a wonderful day!

21
May
08

A vist from the in-laws…

My in-laws are absolutely great to not only come from Ohio to visit us, but they also come to help us out around our farm with any projects we need done in the spring.  We accommodated them by providing tree trimming, fence building, gardening, weed pulling, building new flowerbeds, opening the pool for summer, hanging lights in the garage, and a garage door opener.  They even helped us de-worm our sheep and separate for weaning.  For nine days we spent our days working around the homestead.  It was incredible how much we got done.  I was so grateful to have his Dad there to help him with some of the projects I couldn’t do or would prefer not to have to do.  They love it, and we love it.  They are already planning their next spring trip.  We can’t wait!

Before we picked them up from the airport we dropped by a friends graduation party.  Andrea (the graduate) and I met in college, and she was the matron of honor in my wedding.  Alicia, her sister, and I also met in college at the same time and are good friends.

Alicia, Andrea, and I

Here are just a few of the things we got accomplished while they were here visiting.

This is a bench by our pool.  Brenda laid the stone and bought me lavender and echinacea to plant in the flowerbed. 

That’s Cooter, our cat!

The Garden!

All my greens and brassicas.

Other half of Garden!

Potatoes, Tomatoes (all the way in the back), Peppers, and lots of seeds.

My potato in a tire.  Yes, I need another tire or two, but I haven’t come up with them yet.

My garden is really taking off.  We are now on a mission to buy minimal groceries and eat strictly from our freezer and garden.  We will have to buy the staples, but other than that we are eating fresh, homegrown food from our farm.  We have spinach, all sorts of greens (lettuce, collards, kale, mustard, etc.), strawberries, radishes, and turnips ready to eat.

This is a flowerbed Brenda and I built last year, but added some yuccas and prickly pear cactus this year.

My aunt put these pots together for Grandma’s 80th and gave them to whoever wanted one after her party was over.  This sets by our front door and is absolutely beautiful.

The guys found this while they were trimming trees in the backyard.  Poor Robin.

We took Hank to our neighbors who raise, sell, and show llamas for his yearly shearing, hoof trimming, and de-worming.

Once the trees were cleared and the fence was rebuilt, Randy hung our fun little sign up by the road.

We had a great time with them, and they were a huge help to us.  We can’t even imagine how long it would have taken the two of us to do all the things they help us accomplish.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

06
May
08

Frugality and Self-Sufficiency…

Self-sufficiency in the food department….

It is the time of year in Kansas when things are just starting to produce.  Early foods we begin eating this week from our garden:

Spinach

Lettuce/greens

Collards

Green onions

Soon to come:

Potatoes

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Peas

Cabbage

Foraging:

Although I have never actually “foraged” before, I fully intend to try:

Dandelion greens

Breaded Dandelion flowers

Morels (I think we missed them this year, but fully intend to try next year)

Foraging later in the year:

Mulberries

Sand plums

Currents

I sometimes struggle with the inner battle of “organic vs. frugal.”  Anyone else have this problem?  I want to buy everything organic, but then I have a feeling of regret that I’ve over spent and not used our money wisely.  There has to be a balance.  I justify my non-organic purchases with, “I cook from scratch, so if I don’t buy EVERYTHING organic I’m still doing better than most.” 

So, with that being said, Randy and I also take advantage of the farming in our area for free corn on the cob and free wheat from nearby family fields.  No it’s not organic, yes it’s laden with chemicals, but it’s free and corn isn’t really all that good for you to begin with and we eat it in moderation (don’t you love how I justify my choices).  The wheat (if we purchase a grain mill) will be just enough to get us by for a couple of months, and then we will purchase it from a nearby bulk food store (organic).

I also struggle with the need for supplements in our daily routine.  These have proven to prevent ailments and sickness, so it’s hard to eliminate something that is working so well for us.  However, I want to try to cut back on some of the expenses.  We buy supplements for our two dogs as well.  For the price of the supplements I feel they will save us on vet bills over the long run (our small dog has severe allergies) just the same as I feel it has saved us on doctor bills as well.  Still I will try to trim, trim, trim.

We have also put some major purchases on hold and are currently brainstorming ways to get by without:

A tractor to move round bales for our sheep

A new roof on our house

New permanent pasture fencing (goat fencing)

A vacation to the Northeast in the fall

Here’s my idea for the tractor.  We can line our round bales up outside our lots in the winter and place electric netting extending from the lot out around one round bale at a time to allow them to eat the one bale.  When that bale is gone we can move the electric netting around the next bale and so on until spring arrives again.  This year my Dad had to drive his tractor 5 miles (roundtrip) to move a round bale into the sheep lot for us whenever they ran out.  Not very feasible with the price of farm diesel and not fair to him to have to take time to do it for us every other week or so.

We plan to patch the old roof as needed and save until we have enough money up front to do the roof without having to finance it.

We ran one strand of electric fence cable ($300) around our existing fence using the existing posts and not replacing the entire thing with goat fencing ($4000).  Granted this is only temporary, but it saved us $3700 for now.

A vacation to the Northeast to see the fall foliage will just have to wait.  We love our farm and can enjoy fall at home instead.

Homesteading, self-sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, whatever you want to call it does take sacrifice and a little ingenuity.  If it were easy everyone would be doing it. 

I just had a discussion with Randy the other day about what he would sacrifice to not have to commute 2 hours a day and go to work 40 hours/week?  I would sacrifice A LOT!  He’s a little resistant to some of the changes, eh hem, Dish Network is his life, literally.

Some of the silly (IMO) expenses we have that could easily go:

Dish Network

Dining out (we’ve gotten kind of bad about this lately)

Non-necessity food and beverages

Extra vehicles

Everyone has places they could trim.  It’s just a matter of prioritizing the important things in life.  To me TIME and our HEALTH are the most important things in our life and the two things lacking in most lives.

I enjoy going out to eat, but with the price of fuel, the cost of going out to eat, and the unhealthy food we will most likely consume, wouldn’t it be just as fun to pack a picnic lunch and go sit by one of the ponds nearby, or under our big cottonwood tree, or even just on the patio at our fun little bistro table?  It’s about spending time together and it doesn’t have to be expensive to make it memorable.

The cost of living is definitely on the rise.  I am evaluating and re-evaluating our spending more and more as prices continue to increase.  Some of the most valuable traits you can have in today’s world is to be able to:

Grow at least some of your own food

Cook from scratch

And be thrifty with what money you have.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week.

05
May
08

Cinco de Mayo…

Ever since Randy and I lived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and worked at Burro Loco, a Mexican restaurant there, we have tried to acknowledge Cinco De Mayo even if only in a small way.

Yesterday, I soaked the rice, made homemade tortillas, and browned our usual ground hamburger/venison combination.  Then, the UPS man showed up with our electric fence cable.  I put everything into bowls in the fridge, and Randy and I spent the evening putting up electric cable in our pasture.  Dinner ended up being grill cheese sandwiches with homemade tomato soup I had canned the summer before.  Quick and easy!

You learn to adjust after a few years on the farm.  Something always seems to pop up and plans get changed on a regular basis.  Tonight, unless something else comes up, we will have our Mexican dinner in recognition of a belated Cinco de Mayo.

We now have ½ of our pasture (about 15 acres) fenced with electric fencing so our lambs can’t squeeze through the old existing fence and wreak havoc on my garden and Dad’s wheat field. 

They are calling for thunderstorms for the next two days, but we hope to get the other ½ of the pasture fenced, so we can stay on track with our three week rotational grazing.  We are trying to improve the quality of our pasture and decrease the need for de-wormer.

My in-laws are arriving this weekend and will be here for 10 days.  They are lots of help to us when they are here.  They have us make a list of things we would like to accomplish while they are here, and we work like crazy until they leave.  They are so great to help us around the farm.

Our Texel ram lambs are ready to sell.  Yeah!  We have two people interested already, so hopefully we will make a nice profit off of them this year.  They have done really well and look good, so hopefully others think so as well and buy them : )

Have a wonderful week!




Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change.

I am the wife to my wonderful husband and joint care giver to the many animals we have acquired on our small farm here on the prairie. This is a bit about our life on our farm. We are striving for simplicity and self-sufficiency, determined to become debt-free, trying to live in tune with the natural cycles of this earth, and challenging ourselves to transition to a diet based on traditional foods. It isn't always easy, and we don't always succeed, but it is a fun learning process. Join us as we stumble through learning how to provide for ourselves, get off the treadmill, and work toward a simpler way of life.

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