Frustrated

We are STILL waiting to apply for the sewage permit.  I have been calling the guy we bought the property from every day for almost a week and he isn’t returning my calls.  We need to get the plat of the property from him in order to apply for the permit.  once we turn in the paperwork we have to get a backhoe for them to do a perc test.  Once THAT happens C can take the test to get certified to install septic systems (which is thankfully free), and actually GET the permit.  We want this all done in the next week or so.  Time is ticking if we are going to be able to get the outside of the house complete before the snow hits, or it gets too cold to work outside.  There is a lot of work to do and none of it can be done until we get the building permit.  Plus the fact that this guy is stalling on this stuff is really getting me upset, because until he does all this we technically don’t own the land.  I don’t like that we worked so hard to get to this point to just be stalled.  I want this house built!!!!  The sooner we get the house built the sooner we can start saving for C’s retirement from the 9-5 and moving to 100% farm life.

Please take a moment to pray for us, send good thoughts, whatever you do in hopes of speeding this process up!

How not to potty train

I am sort of taking on the task of potty training our not-quite-2 year old daughter.  It’s not like I am thrilled in any way shape or form to be taking on this task right now.  She is a handful, I love her to pieces, she is one of the loves of my life, but she is her mommy in little form.  She has decided that she has an interest in the potty.  Her interest goes like this: She wants to sit on the potty, wipe as if she has used the potty, and wash her hands.  She has yet to actually USE the potty.  However she has also decided she is done with diapers.

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So here is what my day looks like with her potty training.  Taking her on and off the potty, chasing her naked butt around trying to get a diaper on her, having to listen to her scream about having a dirty diaper, or (and my big favorite) showing me that she has pooped by offering me a handful of it.  This includes handing it to me in the car, and when I couldn’t get to the gas station quick enough she had rubbed it in her hair.  Giving her a bath in a gas station bathroom was awesome.  Also showing me while I am on the phone.  There are countless conversations that have been interrupted by me yelling “Who’s poop is this?!?!”

I have had so many people give me advice on how to potty train her.  I have tried putting her on the potty every 30 min, putting her on either before or after I go, taking her diaper off and letting her run wild (which has led to pee everywhere and a lovely offering of poop at the front door).  I figure if I just keep trying she will get it one of these days.  In the meantime my life currently smells like pee and/or poop.  I’m terribly sorry to anyone who has to be near me.

The camping trip…..

We have a week and a half left with C’s daughter before she goes back to her mom and we go back to having her every other weekend.  To make the most of her time with us we decided to take a camping trip on our property.  Our first overnight on the land, with no tent and three kids.  Stay with me, this does get better, I promise…

C has a topper on the bed of his truck, a big one.  We thought it would be good to set up a camping experience in the back of his truck.  We packed a ton of blankets and pillows, some hot dogs, marshmallows, and three jugs of water.  We arrived at about 5 and worked on the garden.   We had bought some cheap stakes to do us until the tomato plants got a bit bigger so we tied the tomatoes to them.  We also did a bit of weeding and put manure on our eggplants.

  
C went to get firewood to start our fire while I went to check the raspberries (i picked another half pint) and the 10 year old watched the little bit while the baby slept.  The entire time C and I were gone (maybe 30 minutes) the 10 year old was screaming little bit’s name as she ran after her to keep her out of everything.  Our new neighbors probably hate us already.

The wood was slightly damp and the matches were cheap but C finally got the fire going (it was really neat watching him get it started with such bad materials).  We put little bit in her carseat to get her to try and fall asleep but she was way too distracted by the food so I cooked 2 hotdog for her and gave her 3 marshmallows.  We all had fun cooking our food over the fire, even though the 10 year old was afraid of catching her food on fire, or having it blacken, so it took her FOREVER to cook anything.

Once we were done eating it was already dark.  C piled the kids in the back of the truck while I finished up a little bit of work.  Then I piled in too.  The bed of a truck is not meant to sleep two adults, a preteen, and two small children.  The first thing that must be mentioned is that the truck was on a slight hill, slanting towards the side where C and I were sleeping.  The 10 year old was in her sleeping bag sleeping with her head by the cab and took up half of the bed.  We were sleeping with our heads by the end of the bed (so opposite her).  I repeatedly put little bit on the bottom her sleeping bag and the 10 year old repeatedly tossed her back onto me with her feet.  Then there was the baby who has this idea that if he is anywhere near me he MUST be nursing.  So here I was sharing half of the bed with C, a nursing baby, and little bit being thrown on top of me over and over.  C was being squished into the wheel well of the bed, which was hurting his massively scratched up back (see the previous post).  At about 5am C says to me “you wanna just pack it up and go home”.  I resisted at first because I really wanted to say that we spent the whole night out there, until he reminded me that we used the last of the matches to start the fire and there weren’t any left to be able to heat the percolator for coffee in the morning.  We immediately packed everyone up and headed home.

It looks like we need to invest in a tent for the kids….

Finishing the Chicken Coop

Yesterday we got it together and finished the chicken coop.  C helped me pull all the boards off the pallets.  it took me 30 minutes to pull 6 boards.  It took him 30 minutes to pull ALL the boards.  Go figure.  It took us about 4 hours to pull the boards, screw them on, put the wire on the three sides and screw more boards around them so that the racoons and other predators don’t get them.  The only thing we didn’t do is put a roof on, and that’s only because the person we were getting the tarp from wasn’t home.

  
So now we have a fully functioning chicken coop.


And we only had one major injury. C scratched his back pretty good on the metal wires around the door of the coop. He got himself pretty good too. We cleaned it well and it’s already half healed today. 

  
So what did we do next? We added the chickens. I walked down  to my friends chicken coop and rounded up the eight chickens I still had.  I’m actually getting a lot better at rounding up chickens.  I had the 10 year old stand by the front of the run (because my friend doesn’t really have a door between her run and her coop).  Then I trapped the chickens (thankfully mine like to run in a group) with a metal door type thing and put them in a big cage.  Then walked them down to the coop.  Put in some food and water, closed the door and they were fine!

Until this morning.  We come back from our half failed camping trip (watch for THAT bqlog later today) and C goes, “What the heck is on top of your chicken coop?!?!”  I look up and the chickens have roosted on top of the almost 5 foot tall coop.  We left them there instead of trying to wrastle them back in at 5am.  An hour later C was down making sure they were ok because something was messing with them.  I think it was our dog running through them on the ground.  He like to do that, not kill them, just run through them and watch them scatter and squawk.  We brought him in and when I finally got up this morning, at 10, I went and rounded them all back up and put them back in the coop.  Tonight I am putting a roof on.

Fun with Bees

C’s parents have a bee hive on their property.  We go down once a year to help her harvest her hive and in return we get a bunch of yummy honey.  She split her hive twice this year (because they are doing really well) and is giving us one of them!!  We head down next weekend to pick up a deep freeze, harvest her hive, pick up our hive, and help his parents around the house a bit.  We absolutely love his parents.  I really feel like they are my second parents, not just people I happen to have to be related to because we are married.  We are very excited to be going to visit them, plus it’s a long weekend so we don’t have to rush to get there and back.

In preparation for us having this hive we have joined the local bee association.  We had our first meeting last night and it was so much fun.  There is something about bee people that I really like.  They are all pretty happy people, and are super laid back.  We learned how to properly harvest (there were some things we were not doing right), strain it, check the moisture content of the honey, really cool stuff.  We even got to taste different honeys.  It was very cool.  We can’t wait to go back, and the best part is it only costs $5 per family per year to join.  We are extremely excited to get our bees.  We were out on the property today and there were 0 honeybees to be seen and a ton of flowers and clover, meaning that there really aren’t enough bees out here.  Hopefully the bees will make the move well, survive the winter, and next year we will be harvesting some of our own honey too.  We also are looking into what we need to do to sell our honey as well.  Add that to the list of stuff we will have at our market of goods!!

A response to Dave Ramsey

I have read both of the articles in question.  The Dave Ramsey 20 Things That the Rich Do Every Day and the response 20 Things the Poor do Every Day that the Rich Never Have to Worry About.  Here is my response.

For one: THIS is why we are building our project. THIS is why we have the blog. THIS is what we feel we need to change. Not by changing policies, or government, but but changing the people effected by poverty. By showing people that it’s possible to get out of this despite the roadblocks we face. It’s not easy, and it involves changing peoples thoughts and behaviors, but most importantly it puts focus back on living instead of just surviving.

Secondly, as someone trained in statistics, there is one thing Dave Ramsey gets terribly wrong.  You can take data all you want on percentages of people that do things, but without further research you cannot draw cause/effect conclusions.  I look at those numbers and say, huh that’s interesting, I wonder why that is.  He seems to look at the numbers and say “THIS is why you are poor”.  In fact, a direct quote from his says “This list simply says your choices cause results. You reap what you sow.”  I know plenty of rich people who have far worse work habits than I do so I call shenanigans on this statement.

There are some points that I DO agree with him on.  This one in particular:

“Biblically speaking, poverty is caused and perpetuated primarily by some combination of three things:

1. Personal habits, choices and character;
2. Oppression by people taking advantage of the poor;
3. The myriad of problems encountered if born in a third-world economy.”
I have to intercede here with this, as he is explaining this statement he says “The scientific method you should have learned in seventh-grade science class is based on sowing and reaping (cause and effect).” Actually, it isn’t, it CAN be, but that’s not in the definition and an experiment does not have to show a cause and effect, so don’t try and make people feel stupid if you don’t even know what you are talking about.
He goes on to say “Bible-believing Christians understand God has called us to have an impact, to take dominion, on our environment, and logic follows that our habits, choices and character have consequences and harvests. For over 200 years, that belief system has led to life-changing industry, inventions and a standard of living never known before on this planet. This is not hate; on the contrary, it is love.”
I have to both agree and disagree with him on this.  I completely and 100% agree with him that we need to make better choices in order to succeed.  I 100% agree with him that we have a standard of living never known before on this planet.  HOWEVER, one thing I think he is missing is that we are in a time where workers are not loved.  They are viewed as slaves.  Some of the worst offenders being so-called “Christians” who feel that paying workers a low wage, overworking them, and constantly keeping them afraid of losing their jobs is the RIGHT way to live.  They feel superior to their workers.  I know this because I have seen it, time after time.  Those in the “job giving” positions like to wield their power over those below them and enjoy it.   Money has become more important to them than people.  Even Jesus spoke out against the love of money.  To these people I would like to say, if Jesus were in front of you today would he be proud of you?  Would he be proud of the way you treat people?  Would he say, “Wow, you’re a really great guy and are really representing me well” I can tell you right now he wouldn’t be impressed by you or your money.  He wouldn’t be impressed by your position.  To these people I would like to say that I pray for your salvation daily, because although you may believe you are saved your actions say otherwise.
So Mr Ramsey, what do you say when your so-called “Christians” are the ones who are guilty of the oppression in reason #2?  (I am NOT saying they are the only ones, there are plenty of people of many different faiths who are also guilty, but being in the bible belt I feel like in order to be successful you have to display how Christian you are.  Like Snatch but with Christianity instead of Judaism, and if you haven’t seen it go rent this movie today, great movie).
So now on to the second article.
Yes the poor suffer.  Woe is the poor.  Oh how oppressed we are.  We don’t have money or time to succeed.  We eat terribly, have bad health because of it, we skip meals, we pay more taxes, and i LOVE the last one, we accomplish one single goal: to stay alive.
If there is one thing I absolutely hate it’s playing the victim.  Yes it is tougher for us, yes we struggle, yes we will probably never be millionaires, but our one goal should not be to survive, it should be to find what makes us happy and BE HAPPY.
What we make qualifies us to be on food stamps but we aren’t.  we don’t need to be.  We still struggle, we still freak out at the end of the 2 week pay period when we don’t know if we can afford gas for a few days, but we eat almost completely organic, no preservatives, are healthier than most “rich” people, are happier than most “rich” people, and every month we can breath a little easier.  How did we do it?  We cut back on things.  We figured out what was important for us, what we could change, and how we needed to change in order to be able to set back money.  We are living in a cabin, probably for the next year or two. It’s probably nicer than most people’s mobile homes/ trailers.  We have to drive to pick up water so we can have running water in the house.
The problem I have found with most “poor” people is that they want the same things the rich have.  The goals that they have are based on the assumption that at some point in time they will be just as comfortable as the rich.  They get a little money and they buy things that they think will make them happy and they think will show status, like video games, movies, tv’s, etc, but it doesn’t.  As soon as that money is spent they are already wishing they had more to spend on something else.  We don’t even really have a tv.  We have an antennae that gets 3 channels, and we don’t care.  We pay for just enough internet to be able to get online when we want.  We don’t pay for electric, water, gas, or trash.  Imagine how much extra money you would have every month if you no longer had those bills.  We spend $200 a month on food and we eat better than most wealthy people i know.  We need to learn how to make better choices and educate ourselves on what our choices are.  In 5 years we want to only have a cell phone and car insurance bill, C wants to have his leather working business running so well that he can hire people to work for him (and pay them the $15 an hour he feels they are worth), we want to have free classes on the farm teaching people to be more self sufficient.  We want to be selling our goods to people who don’t want to do it themselves (and that’s ok too).  We 100% believe that the breakdown in our society comes from one thing, money becoming more important than people.  When you can make millions and find nothing wrong with paying your workers $7.50 an hour, or paying $30,000 a year salary and requiring 70+ hour weeks there is something wrong.  Dave Ramsey can teach people to get out of debt all he wants, which is great by the way, but when workers making $12 an hour qualify for assistance there isn’t much people making less than that can do to get out of it.  They can get another job (maybe), or a second job, but there will always be people in these positions, there will always be people struggling.  Living the way we were, before we started the project, we couldn’t survive on C’s wages.  Even on his new wages we would barely we able to afford our bills plus food and gas, and we were living minimally back them.  These thoughts have to change, but until they do we as the poor need to change our thinking.  We need to come to terms with the fact that we can’t have the same things as the rich do, but not only that we don’t WANT to have those things.  Why do we need a 3.000 sq ft home where we never see the other people who live there?  Why do we need a $100,000 car?  If it’s to impress people then maybe we should rethink our lives.  We can’t sit and look at what others have and wish we had it too, we have to find the joy in the things that we DO or CAN have and slowly work on a way to better ourselves.  As poor as we are we set aside $50 a month towards the kids college fund.  As soon as we build the house we are putting away money for retirement and more towards the college fund, but one huge difference is that no matter how much money our businesses make we will not be hoarding our money.  We will have a college fund, retirement fund, emergency savings, and the rest we are giving away.  Other people need it more than we do.  We are raising our kids that way too.  You can have everything you need, be happy and comfortable, and not hoard your money.  We are to love and we are to give away what we have.  We are to sacrifice to help those in need, and as the needy we need to stop playing the victim.

First World Problems

It’s amazing the things in life that we take for granted.  We are so lucky to have power in our home, clean running water, the choice of how we want our children to be educated.  I am visiting this topic because yesterday our cistern ran out of water (or at least I thought it had, it ended up being a malfunction with the pump which was easily fixed) and it got me thinking about how much we as Americans take for granted.  We are so wasteful and many of us dont even care.

It’s funny, it’s almost as if this is my form of fasting.  It’s a way for me to become closer to the earth and to the things God gives us so that I don’t take them for granted.  I am blessed to have these things at my disposal, it’s my job to not be a glutton to them, and to be thankful for them everyday that we have them.

Some of what we do comes from being so poor for so long, but most of it comes from our views on the environment and how we should be treating it.  So here is a brief look at the life we live.  We have about a 300 gallon cistern under the cabin we are renting.  Until we get the rainwater collection set up we are relying on filling the water tank whenever it is empty.  It takes us about 7-10 days to empty the cistern.  Lets look at this critically.  We have six people living in a household that uses 300 gallons of water in a week.  We can run 3 loads of laundry, take about 2 showers each, 2 baths, and wash dishes every day.  How can we do this in a time when most households use 100 gallons of water per person every day?  Technically we should be refilling the cistern twice a day.  We have changed the way we do things in order to conserve more water.  i wash my dishes with a soapy dish towel before i rinse them off.  The water is only on while i am rinsing.  We take short showers.  When the kids take a bath we use the same bath water.  The washer uses less water than other washers.  We also don’t wash our clothes after every single time we wear them (unless they need it, like diapers or underwear).  I have some people who call me gross, I have some people who have stopped being friends with me after finding out how we use our water, and that’s fine.  We have been conditioned over the years to believe that showering everyday, washing your clothes after every wash, etc, was more “sanitary” and that “normal people” do it.  These things have actually been shown to not be better for us, or for the fabrics in our clothes, but we have been conditioned by those who benefit from the profits of us doing these things (shampoo companies, laundry detergent companies, etc).  The one thing that I do is wash my face everyday and the places that i sweat a lot, but i do this with a washcloth.  I don’t care what people think because this is the life I want to live.

We also spend about $200 on groceries every month, nothing is packaged, we have very little food that we waste and what is wasted gets fed to the dog or the chickens.  We throw away 2 bags of trash a month, and hopefully soon we will be down to 1.  Most of what people throw away is some sort of packaging, both food and non food.  If you reduce the amount of packaging you buy you reduce the amount of trash you have.  I feel much better about adding 1-2 bags of trash to a landfill every month than i did tossing 3-4 a week.  We reduce the food waste too by only buying what we need.  Yes, by the end of the 2 week pay period our fridge is looking very bare, but it should.  I find if it doesn’t we tend to not eat certain things that end up going bad.  This way we are forced to figure out how to incorporate these things into our meals, or just not buy them again for a while.  Once our garden is up and running we also will be spending much less on food.

We conserve electricity too.  We don’t keep appliances running during the day except the ones that have to (like the fridge).  We almost never have the tv on.  We also make sure to turn the lights off when we leave a room (or at least try to, our 10 year old is terrible at this).  Although part of what helps is that we are almost never home.  I find that we get cabin fever even if we are home for a few hours with so many of us in such a small space.

All in all our footprint on the environment is very low and we want it that way.  We are always looking for more ways to cut back without compromising on our heath and well being.  I have trained myself to stop and ask “what is the least wasteful way I can do this”.  I recommend trying it sometime.  It really does make you appreciative of the things you have.

Stuff is growing!!!

Our garden is doing really well.  I am so proud of it.  The house is still currently at a standstill, but I should hopefully be getting the sewage permit this week, or at least getting the perc test complete.  I’ll feel better once we really get the ball rolling on this.  In the meantime we are diligently working on the garden!  We have been weeding at least every other day.  We have 20 poblanos that have actually started growing.  That doesn’t count the HUGE number of buds and flowers on each plant!  There are also hot banana peppers growing, and there are buds on at least 1/4 of the tomatoes and two habanero plants.  I have to start planning what I am going to do with them so that I’m not scrambling to put stuff together and letting vegetables go to waste like I did last year.  We also picked 3 pints of black raspberries yesterday and are hoping to get at least another 3 pints before the end of the season.  The blackberries should be starting to ripen in the next week or two and we have at least 20 times more than we have raspberries (although C has said I am not allowed to sell anything with blackberries since they are his favorite).

raspberries

Also once the farm gets an address, which is any day now, we will be setting it up as an official farm, business license and all.  I will also be taking the class that the state offers to allow me to start selling my canned goods.  It’s only $50 and one afternoon and I’ll be able to, which is very exciting!!  Here are my thoughts so far: I would like to can a BUNCH of sweet relish.  It’s impossible to find sweet relish that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it.  Here is my plan for selling the canned goods: We will charge a $1 jar deposit which we will waive if you bring us a jar (or bring your jar back).  The cost of the goods will be different depending on what is inside but most everything will only cost about $2.  Preserves will be closer to $3-$4 because of the amount of effort it takes to collect the berries (since they are wild and have thorns, tons and tons of thorns).  I will also be selling baked goods like sweet breads, doughnuts, artisan breads, and french bread, all for about $2-$3 each.  I know I am not asking much for these things but the amount I am putting into them isn’t much and the whole goal of the project is to show people that you can eat really healthy for the same, if not cheaper, than what you are currently spending on food.  It’s not going to make us rich, but that isn’t our goal anyway.  We want people to start making the switch away from processed food to good healthy non-man made chemical foods.  We use organic cane sugar (if we dont use our honey), unbleached unenriched flour, sea salt, etc.  Plus everything we make is low sugar so that also helps.  I can’t wait until we start selling our processed chickens too.  once we really get going (our five year plan) my goal is to be selling about $500 a month through the farm.  That will pay for supplies and all of our bills.  We have a long way until we get there though.  One step at a time.

These chickens *sigh*

I have wanted chickens for so long.  I love my chickens.  They are absolutely wonderful.  All 8 of them, sigh.  I’m not so much mad at them s I was the other day, but I’m still sort of mad.  I have become much more strict with them.  They are little teenage hens, and boy do they act like it.  They want to do what they want to do and get really upset with me when I try to force them to do what they don’t want to do.

  
I made a makeshift pen for them and have so far been able to get all 8 of them in it every night, for 2 nights.  The coop is almost done too.  I should be able to finish it this weekend.  In the end I think the entire thing should cost us less than $20.  One of my fantastic friends gave me a whole pile of wood she didn’t need.  Another friend donated the wire for three of the sides.  We got some pallets from C’s work that i am currently taking apart to use the wood along the back.  We are going to use a tarp for the roof until we can afford to put on a better roof.  The only thing we have really had to buy were the tacks and screws.

I’m really proud of my work.  It’s the first time I have built something on my own.  Ok, not completely on my own, C helped a little, but the main work was done by me!  Once it’s complete we will move it to the grass, add 4 boxes inside and move the chickens.  EEEP!!  I’m so excited.

I am tired

I am so physically an mentally exhausted right now. 

Between getting back to working, taking care of 4 kids full time, making all out food from scratch, taking care of the garden, starting the farm, and building a house I don’t think I get more than 30 minutes to myself each day. I used to insist on “mommy quiet time” for at least an hour everyday but that’s been thrown out the window. 

At the moment our garden is doing great!  Our peppers are producing and our tomatoes are just now starting to flower. We need to get the posts up soon to control the growth of just about everything. 

Then we have the chicken coop. I’ll be posting on just the coop soon, but for now we will just go with: it’s almost done. We need tacks for the wire and screws for the boards on the walls and we will be done. Then we can move the chickens. I’ve already lost two due to their refusal to renter their run. Im so mad I’m not even speaking to them right now. I’m going to have to retrain them for the coop. 

The meat birds are doing really well. I will be building a run tomorrow and adding the wire possibly next weekend. They still aren’t big enough to move sonim not in a huge rush. They are definitely roosters though. They are so funny to watch as they practice fighting. It’s too cute. 

The house is still at a standstill as I try to gather everything together for getting the permits. My next step is making a few phone calls and turning in the required paperwork to have the perc test done. 

We are going down to C’s parents 4th of July weekend to pick up the freezer, pick up some chickens, and harvest her bees. I am very much looking forward to this trip. I can’t wait to see them. It will be more work but I never feel like it’s work, that is until I get home an I am more tired than I was when I left. 

Stay tuned for updates on the coop and the saga that are my hens. Grrrr I’m so mad at them right now. 

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