Being jobless

i wanted to update you all on the C job situation. Things here aren’t as bad as they could be. They have actually been a lot worse. Thanks to some amazing friends of ours we were able to get C in at a temp agency. He works at a local stamping facility stamping out parts for ford. It’s really hard work and he makes a lot less than he did at his other job, but it’s work and he makes more than he would getting unemployment (only by about $2 an hour though).  The only good thing about this job is the hours. He goes in from 7-3:30. Although to make up for last week he went in Friday, Saturday, and Sunday too. We have both decided he isn’t working Sunday’s anymore. He needs a break and Sunday’s are 12 hour days. 

Mentally we are a mess. He is stressed, I am stressed. We almost didn’t have enough money to float us until he gets his last paycheck on Thursday. I had deposited a check for my business that took 3 days to go through so I was convinced it was going to be a bad check. It went through today but if it hadn’t I wouldn’t have been able to drive my son to school. We are spending a lot less on gas but the week before he was fired his boss put him on a route that used up all of our gas allowance for the 2 weeks and we are never going to get that money back (his boss reimbursed for gas at the end of the month). 

So here we are, 2 steps back from where we were, he hates his job but it’s a job. We are both stressed to the max, we are both disappointed that we have had to put the house on hold, I feel like all we do is yell at the kids and it’s not their fault. They cancelled our state health insurance because they messed up on their end but can’t fix it in the system until their IT department can look at it, so I have to call back next week. Now we can’t even get sick. Hopefully C will get hired on full time somewhere soon. I really don’t know how much longer I can do this. 

Don’t get me wrong, I will do it for however long I have to, but I’m depressed, he’s shutting down because he is tired all the time. We are here because we need to be here. I know that. We are here because we are working with the people we want to help, but damn it’s hard. It’s all we can do to get up in the morning. How do people do this all their lives?  

Thankful

we have had a major setback. It’s sad and it’s stressful but I am nowhere near as stressed as I feel I should be. 

For one C is much less stressed than he was at his job.  The constant fear of being fired was overwhelming for him. Also it’s really hard to work for someone you don’t respect. 

Secondly I look back at where we were at this point last year and I feel so blessed. God has done some amazing things to prepare us for this. We have almost a freezer full of food plus at least 50 jars and a garden we are still harvesting. The only thing we are missing at the moment is flour, yeast, butter, and meat, oh and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese is needed. Lol.  We got some game shot the other day but of course the squirrels are no longer in the hickory trees outside our house. I think tomorrow we will go looking for them. I’m looking forward to squirrel stew.  C can’t eat rabbit so we aren’t hunting them. We are really waiting for deer and turkey season. We would like 2-3 deer in the freezer. That and the squirrel and turkey should take care of our meat for a while.  

Lastly we have amazing friends. Last year we were trying to stay in our rented house and keep the lights and water on. Now we don’t have to worry about water or electric and our friends are letting us do odd jobs around their house to pay for this months rent. We are concerned about paying on his truck, our cell phones, and paying for the farm but it will be ok. I have faith that God has it. All in all those bills are about $1100 a month and we get about $950 without Chris having a job. We can do this. Everything will be fine. We have gone through so much worse than this. 

Now it really gets hairy

it looks like the house will be put on hold for even longer than originally expected. C was let go today. He was let go for being “dishonest”, which is really a way of saying “we can’t find a reason to fire you so we’ll make up one”. We have known this was coming for a while. C has been applying to other jobs because of it. He was asked about 4 months ago, during a work discussion, if he was Christian and he said nothing. His boss went off on him for being a dishonest person because of it. He has been extra careful with his work ever since, trying to keep from getting fired as long as he could. I’m just hoping we don’t lose the truck his boss made him buy to keep his job when the jeep died. 

And the wait continues. 

We were supposed to have our building permits by now. What’s the hold up?  Money. Always money. We need $300 to give them. We have about $80. I am hoping that Cs next paycheck will let us do it. I really don’t want to put it off yet another month. In the meantime (aside from the little fundraising we are doing: I have a hard time asking people to help us) we are Doing a lot of reading. We checked out a bunch of books from the library about bees, homesteading, pasture raising animals, etc. this is both good and bad. It’s good because we can spend this downtime planning our farm. It’s bad because now we have a list of MORE stuff we need to spend money on.

 I’ve currently been reading “the sheer ecstasy of being a lunatic farmer”. By Joel salatin. It’s giving me a lot of ideas.   The big one is that our water for our animals will come from a pond we will be putting in at the top of the hill. Gravity will be used to bring water to where the paddocks will be. We are going to section off a 100×150 plot of land that we will section off into 24 25×25 sections (what we are calling paddocks). Everyday the animals will be moved to the next paddock over (it will be made in such a way that the last paddock is connected to the first). The cows will be first, then two paddocks down will be goats, then another 2 paddocks down will be chickens. That way the soil has 2 days in between each animal to heal, and 2 weeks to completely heal after the chickens pass through before the cows are back. When the chickens pass through the manure from the cows and goats will be covered in bugs for the chickens to eat. We are a little nervous that it’s not enough time in between each animals group, but we can try it out for a little while and if it doesn’t work we can modify it. If we have enough space we may add another row of 6 making it 6×5 paddocks instead of 6×4. We will see. We also may add pigs into the mix too. I really don’t want to damage the land, I want the land to flourish, and grow soil.

I really want to build my house.

We need another $230 to reach our goal.

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A theological question

I find myself feeling more and more ignorant about a particular theological subject and would like to know your opinion on it, so please feel free to respond.  I’m not looking for an argument, I’m not looking for a “your right, I’m wrong” response.  I honestly want to know what exactly I am missing, because I feel like I obviously must be missing something.

Most of you know our project but for those of you who dont: We  are building a farm/homestead in order to provide food for people.  Good, nutritious, whole foods at reasonable prices, and what we don’t sell we are giving away to food banks, homeless shelters, etc.  I’m not telling you this to make myself superior in any way, It’s just what we feel called to do.  We have been poor to the point where we couldn’t fed ourselves and we don’t feel that anyone should have to do that, ever.  We are still what society would call “poor”, we would qualify for food stamps if we wanted to, but we have more than enough food to feed ourselves so we don’t need to tap into that resource.  We know that people look down on us for being poor and we have come to terms with that.  We started this project after watching people exploit their employees time and time again for their own gain and realized we needed to be the change.

Now on to my question.

So many Americans have the claim that America is a “Christian Nation”, so my question is this:  If we are a “Christian Nation” why do we not only allow but encourage greed and pride?  I know that’s a super loaded question that begs the answer “we shouldn’t, these people are wrong, blah blah blah”, but our words and our actions are totally different, so here is what I mean.  We encourage, promote, and give money to people who openly steal from people, whether that be time, money, or resources.

We come across this scenario far too often.  It’s a classic Christmas Carol scenerio: A person is the owner of a large company.  This is a company where the employees do a lot of traveling and hard labor.  The business is very successful, allowing this person to live a very lavish lifestyle, yet they still yell at their employees on a weekly basis for “stealing money” from him because they don’t work fast enough, yet he forces massive unpaid overtime on his salaried employees, reimburses them for only a portion of their travel (and they travel a lot), and is constantly discussing his superiority as a Christian.  This person is also a highly regarded member of his church.

Or how about the Waltons who are known for having the most employees on welfare, yet they are the richest family in America.

Or how about this: The owner of Papa Johns owns a freaking mansion with a BAT CAVE yet he upped the price of pizza because he was being forced to give more of his employees healthcare.

These are just a few examples, there are so many more.  Why do we back these people?  Why do we allow these people to not only be in positions of power but to be respected members of the church?  Aren’t we supposed to call out fellow Christians who are not following Christ, not praise them?

Shouldn’t we, as people in general but I’m asking as a theological question so I rephrase and say shouldn’t we Christians WANT to help our employees by giving them a living wage, or healthcare, or even supplying a business credit card to be used for travel so travel money isn’t taken out of your employees pockets?  Shouldn’t we as Christians call out our fellow brothers and sisters who are acting like Ebeneezer Scrooge?  Am I missing something?  I really do want a REAL answer because I’m frustrated and confused.

I just can’t

we are going to have up and we are going to have downs. I knew going into this that the downs were going to be pretty bad in the beginning but as we get more done they should level out, until the ups outweigh the downs. I put the wrong amount in for a bill we had paid (we owed $40 more than usual on our rent check because we used more electricity last month). I mistakenly wrote the rent amount instead of the actual amount of the check. If it goes through tomorrow we will be overdrafted. I am franticLly praying it does not go through tomorrow but I know it most likely will. With the overdraft charge there is no way we can submit the building plans this month. I feel like this whole month has been a wash. We bought the plans at the end of last month with the intention of getting the building plans approved soon after but money just seems to be absolutely hemorrhaging. At this point I just want to give up and say “screw it it’s not gonna happen” but that would serve no purpose, so instead I’ve separated myself from the family for a 30 minute “cool down” period.  C and I need a break and it’s just not going to happen. We have nobody to watch the kids and even if we did we don’t have any money. I just keep telling myself that we are doing this for the greater good. We have to go through these trials first. It will work out, just not in our timeframe. So I’ll swallow my pride and not put aside money for the house in this paycheck and maybe at the end of the month we can submit the plans. It’s upsetting because it sets us back a while other month. I just hope that when its all said and done I can look back and laugh. Or at least not want to cry. 

The history of labor day

I’m amazed at how many people are confused about why we celebrate the holidays that we do.  Labor day is a federal holiday when most Americans have the good fortune of getting the day off.   I have to admit, in my 34 years it has only been recently that the meaning of labor day has meant anything to me.  To me it has always meant a time for vacations, time off from school or work, cookouts, and fun, but it’s so much more than that.  It is also very different from any of our other holidays. It’s not to celebrate a person, or the sacrifices the military has made for our freedom, or the fact that we have freedom at all.  It’s about the people.  It’s about us.  It’s about the blood, sweat, and tears that the American people have put in to our country to make it great and prosperous.

Lets take a walk back in history….  today we hear the term “union” and we think of something bad, because we are taught that unions are bad, and in some ways they are right.  Some of the unions today are really good, they allow for some of the best paying jobs with some of the most well treated employees with amazing healthcare.  In other respects they do little to nothing but make workers lives harder.  However, at one time unions were a really good thing.

Labor day all started with the labor movement.  The labor movement involved organizing labor to get regulations on workplace rights, wages, working hours, and other working conditions.  Without unions and without the labor movement we would not have the strict regulations on labor that we have now.  The regulations that employers are currently trying very hard to break.  They sponsored their own political parties, they wanted a break from elitism, they wanted their own rights as workers.  Sounds familiar right?

Labor day itself is said to have been prompted by the Pullman strike.  A strike where railroad employees were boycotting the railroads and factories because the company cut wages of all their employees.  During the course of the strike the United States Army and US Marshals were ordered by Grover Cleveland to break up the strike.  In the end 13 strikers were killed and 57 wounded.

This is about workers fighting for the rights that you currently have.  The rights for 40 hour weeks, for breaks, for weekends, for equal pay, for it to be illegal to decrease pay, all of that.  All of these laws that employer are now trying to work around, to find loopholes for.

We should celebrate labor day as workers, as people who deserve respect and fair and equal pay.  We deserve a living wage. We deserve to be treated like people, not like slaves for our CEOs.  Make a stand for the people who fought for our rights.  They did not die so that we can be slaves to our employers  

Slow

this project would be so much easier if we had a $20,000 loan.  Waiting to save money to move to the next step is HARD. We need $300 to submit the building plans. It’s less than a week away but still…..  Then we have to wait to raise enough to pour concrete. Slowly but surely. 

Dear America: FEED YOUR PEOPLE

Every once in a while I get a great reminder as to what we are doing and why.  I came across a meme on social media today that went on and on about how “the new American lifestyle” is to basically steal $75,000 from government assistance programs.  Being someone who has been, and is currently still in the system I call bullshit, and I called it out on my friends page.  I feel it’s my social obligation as someone who is fighting the system to well, fight the system. For one it is actually pretty hard to get on disability, for two almost nobody gets $600 a month in food stamps (we got $270 as a family of 4), and the abuse in these systems is actually closer to 1%.  It’s all propaganda.  It’s smoke and mirrors to get the mildly poor to blame the extremely poor so they don’t see what’s actually happening behind closed doors.  We spend more on the military than the next three countries combined yet we pay our military personnel the least.  Where does that money go?  Why do our career politicians make over 10x more than the national average?  Do we honestly believe that our politicians (who own stock in big business companies) are honestly going to make decisions that are going to hurt their bottom line regardless of whether they hurt the American public?

It amazes me that we have so many Americans that are going hungry, that have to chose on a daily basis to pay for gas to get to work or feed themselves and their children.  These aren’t the people who work part time, or don’t work at all and just mooch off the government.  These are hard working people, people who work full time jobs and even part time jobs on top of that to make ends meet.  These are people who may have even gone to college.  I know because I was one, I personally know these people, I intentionally know these people.  Yet we still argue that it isn’t their right to demand a living wage.  It’s not ok to want an increase in the minimum wage, but it’s totally ok that your CEO makes 400 times more than you do.  As someone else said “why are we fighting over crumbs”.  Why are we blaming the people below us for our problems?  We are reliving the French Revolution.  C even joked that we should put a guillotine in front of the capital with FEED YOUR PEOPLE written on it. Here is the real question and the real misdirection: why is this issue put on the back burner to more trivial issues.  When I get up to the pearly gates I highly doubt this is what I am going to hear “Hmm, let’s see here, you preached the gospel, supported the issues that involved feeding the poor, and making sure people earned a living wage, you were against corporate greed, but your candidate wasn’t opposed to gay marriage so we really don’t want your kind here.” and if i do, then that’s not where I want to be anyway.  There are STARVING CHILDREN IN OUR COUNTRY who have working parents but once the bills are paid there is nothing left because life is about SURVIVAL.  THIS is what we should be picketing the capital about.  We need to be handing out awards to people to pay their workers a fair wage, or help these families break out of this cycle, not to people who openly discriminate.   The “sanctity of marriage” should be the least of our issues.  How about the sanctity of life?  Wake up America: FEED YOUR PEOPLE!

So what’s our solution?  Once our 5 year plan is done the farm should only need to bring in $1000 a month to pay all the bills and pay us enough to put some in savings, retirement, and college funds.  Anyone we have work on the farm will make at least $15 an hour and all visiting teachers will make half of the class fees. Anything the farm makes over this will be donated to help families in need.  We will sell our products for the same or less than the stores and whatever produce we don’t sell is given away (we even do this now). C wants to run for a political office once we get set up and running well. If he gets elected any pay he receives will also be donated. Our farm is all we need. This is the way life should be. Not hoarding money so you can what? Be better than everyone else?   Own more stuff?  Have people envious of you?  I call bullshit. 

Meal Planning Part Deux

I have had a request for a blog on my meal planning. Let me preface this by saying that I am FAR from being a type A personality. I have high anxiety which gives the perception that I’m a type A, but I’m not. I plan just enough to ease my anxiety, but I’m still pretty flexible.

I like to plan our meals for 2 weeks, but I am also in the time of the year when I do my yearly meal planning as well. I plan for 2 weeks so I know exactly how much we need to buy when C gets paid to give us 2 weeks of meals. In terms of our yearly planning I store everything that we grow in some form or another. Pickles are a snack, not a mandatory food item so I only made enough to give us 1 quart of pickles every month. If we run out and find we want more I will just keep more next year, not a big deal. The zucchini I cut up with the squash so we have some to pan fry or put in stews, but the majority I shred for casseroles and bread. The two really big ones are the poblanos and the tomatoes. One of our favorite meals is stuffed peppers. I stuff enough peppers with either bean and cheese or beef and beans for 26 nights worth of meals. That gives us one meal every 2 weeks. The tomatoes I save at least a quart of either stewed for roasted tomatoes for a 2 week period. My intention is to have a quart per week, but i’m not sure our tomatoes are good for that this year. If they are then I am also going to can some salsa. There are so many things I make that have a tomoato base, it’s so versatile. The rest of the pablanos I chop up and freeze to use in things instead of green peppers (they have the same flavor but with a nice bite). I slice and freeze my eggplant that I use later to make eggplant casserole or fried eggplant sandwiches. C dries all his peppers and makes ground red and green peppers and also really amazing hot sauce. The jalapenos and banana peppers we pickle and make jalapeno jelly. I am currently trying to get together my fall garden but it’s not growing so well. I’ll update you on that later.

Today I had C go shopping at the restaurant store. He picked up 3 kinds of cheese (two of which should last the month), baking powder, 10lbs of ground beef, a big bag of sausages, and sour cream. The total came to $90, which I’m totally good with. This is what my meal planning looks like for the next 2 weeks:

pork chops with tomato rice Mon 1
chili rellenos with fried green tomatoes Tues 1
grilled cheese with tomato soup wed 1
squash lasagna thurs 2
spinach and mushroom quiche Fri 2
quesadillas sat 2
ranch taco salad Sun 2
blackbean burgers with cole slaw and jalapeno poppers MON 2
chimichangas TUES 2
grilled veggie sandwiches with friend onions WED 2
cornbread fritters with cucumber tomato salad THURS 1
pizza FRI 1
Nachos SAT 1

We still need to pick up lettuce, cabbage, milk, cream, and buttermilk to complete the meal planning. Breakfasts and lunches are thrown together from eggs, bread, cheese, leftovers, etc. I don’t worry so much about those. Everything else, the veggies, breads, sauces, etc I make or pick from the garden. The groceries we still have yet to buy will cost about $15. That makes $105 spent for at least 2 weeks of meals, plus we are working to not have to go to the grocery store more than once a month after the new year.  All but one of our chickens were killed so no chicken until next summer (we are buying another 25 or 50 in the spring), C is going deer hunting when the season is upon us, and we will have bacon again starting in Feb.  I am very much looking forward to that.  We will have a years worth of bacon plus some to sell.  The thing that is hurting us the most is not having much meat, but we are surviving.  We eat a lot of beans.  A lot of beans, but things continue to get so much better.  We were having issues feeding ourselves at this time last year, now we have a quarter of a freezer full, and with the addition of a deer, or two or three, we will have plenty of meat.  The key is to store as much as we can in some sort of usable form.  It’s exhausting now but I will have much more time on my hands in the winter.

Hope this was helpful!