The time has come 

As of today we are going to be actively trying to get everything ready to start the tires. We still have to level the ground around the concrete slab and add the concrete where the door is going. Our (my) goal is to be working at least 2 hours a day (weather permitting) until the tires are complete. The ultimate goal is to start the tires the first or second week in August. We will also be needing a lot of help (although we expect this to be completed with no help at all). We need people to help level the ground, pound tires, fill wheelbarrows with dirt for the tires, and the most important is we always need help watching the kids. If you would like to offer help in any way, shape, or form please Let us know!  Also to all of our friends please be patient with us for the rest of 2016. We may not see much of you and for that I am sorry but rest assured that we should be back in full force in 2017! 

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So much progress. 

We worked for 4 days straight over the Easter holiday and C’s days off. We finished laying the drainage pipe, started on the water lines, and finished the curved part of the concrete forms. We still have to finish the water lines, put in the conduit, and level out the ground a bit more with an excavator. Then we can finish the straight parts of the concrete forms and lay the gravel. We feel so accomplished. We did have to move the projected concrete date to the end of April, but those things happen, thanks to the weather. We are still on target though. It looks so much more real now, especially since every part of my body hurts from moving dirt and tracking through mudholes. Here is what we have so far (notice the wheelbarrow for prospective…) 

  

Preparing for spring

MOur spring plants started to grow which means we needed to bring them outside.  C got up one day and started putting together a greenhouse. 3 hours later and this was up:
 
It doesn’t look like much but it’s 8×8 and holds temperature like crazy. We put a heater inside for the nights it gets below 35 and a thermometer that also measures humidity. One night the breaker blew and it dropped below freezing and we lost some of our plants but it wasn’t many and it’s still early enough to replant them. 

Finally an update!!!

The last you heard we were preparing to lay gravel in the driveway. We did. That Wednesday they came and dumped the gravel. It was a bit entertaining too. 

   
   Here is the gravel being laid nice and neatly.   

 Here is C pulling the gravel truck up the driveway after it got stuck. 
  And lastly the giant pile of gravel that we later had to spread out with the dozer. It was an interesting day but …
We have a usable driveway!!

We are probably one more load away from finishing it but for all intensive purposes it’s done!

The bane of my sanity

  Meanwhile on the Homefront….

Currently the only way to keep our home heated well is a wood burning stove that is in our living room. C grew up using these so he is fairly used to them. I, on the other hand, did not. We had a fireplace we used about twice a year at my moms house when we wanted to feel cozy. 

This is our stove 

 It’s actually a really nice stove. “Why do I hate it?” You ask. Because of several reasons 

1) this stove in our tiny house has 2 temperatures. “No heat is coming out” which makes the house the same temperature as it is outside or “dear Lord it is hot in here we have to open windows to survive”. Now don’t get me wrong there is an in between but it only happens when the fire is trying to die so you have to poke it every 10 minutes so it doesn’t become the first temperature. This isn’t bad if you are at home, awake, and have the time to poke at it every 10 minutes. But let’s be real here, how often do you think that actually happens with us?  

2) I have never in my life chopped wood.  You would think this would be an easy task. Take an axe. Hit some wood with it. Instant firewood. Not so much. It has taken about two weeks to get the hang of chopping wood. I say two weeks. What I actually mean is about 10 minutes at a time 4 times over the past 2 weeks. I have been lucky enough that C had chopped all the wood I need. He is back at work now so much practicing has happened in the last 2 days. 

  

This is the 8lb splitting maul C bought me to help me split wood because the axe didn’t have enough power behind it. 

  
This is the log C cut that I have spent the last 15 minutes trying to split 

  
This is the same log with an axe stuck in it (and I mean that sucker isn’t coming out easily) because I somehow thought the axe would do a better job?  It looks like this log will have to be split when C gets home from work. 

3) I am the worlds worst arsonist, unless you count unintentional fires. I’m great at those. I am terrible at starting a fire. The kids and I ran errands today and when we returned the fire had gone out. There were a few hot coals left but basically it was done. I added small pieces of wood with even smaller kindling. Lit pieces of cardboard on fire to get it started. Fire started burning well but then I somehow managed to put out everything, including the hot coals.  After an hour of trying to start the fire, screaming at the stove, throwing the rake thing, using 2 types of accelerants, explaining to my 2 year old that mommy isn’t acting properly because mommy is frustrated, then telling her that mommy wanted to “set the thing on fire” which made me stop and laugh about the fact that I did indeed want to set it on fire, I finally got a good fire going. 

4) I somehow always turn my hands, arms, and face completely black every time I mess with this stove. 

The positives?  The house is warm most of the time, I am learning a valuable life skill, and lastly, apparently chopping wood burns about 480 calories an hour. That’s a major workout. 

My accomplishments today:  
   

We can officially build

We have obtained the building permit!  We slaved over these plans. We stressed. We worked until they were PERFECT.  We went into planning and zoning completely anticipating they would make us go back and get an architect to sign off on them, which basically would have been someone singing off on what an engineer had originally made that we modified slightly. 

They handed C some papers to fill out, asked him some questions, we wrote a check, and they handed us a building permit. We have to have our electric inspected so we have to fill out all of that paperwork too, but WE HAVE A BUILDING PERMIT!!! 

C’s reaction: “building permit quest complete. New level obtained.  100,000 exp points gained” 

   

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.

Grocery Shopping

We totally overspent yesterday.  We knew we would, and I know it’s going to save us a ton of money in the long run, but it still sucks.  How did we overspend?  Thanks to some awesome friends of ours (you know who you are!) we discovered a restaurant supply store right next to Cs work.  This is where C bought the 50lb bag of flour for $14 the other day.  we bought butter, 10 lbs of flat iron steak, 10lbs of ground beef, 10lbs of pork chops, a huge jug of the good Worcester sauce, 3lbs of Mozzarella, and a large piece of Parmesan cheese, oh and enough olive oil to last us about 6 months.  We spent about $145.  I just about had a heart attach, but after thinking about it a LONG time i realized we are actually saving ourselves a lot of money.  If we send $20-$40 every month on meat we will be buying at least 10-20 lbs of meat, will have a huge repertoire of meat to chose from, and we will only be buying veggies at the grocery store (that is until ours come in).  We currently have about 10 weeks of meat in our freezer.  that’s pretty darn good i would say!! Plus we wont be buying more meat until next month.  our freezer is so full.  We need to get the deep freeze from Cs mom soon, especially before our 25 chickens are slaughtered.  We have enough food to feed us for over 3 weeks.  I’m pretty excited about all this, and NOTHING is from a box or “processed”.  It’s gonna be great once the veggies come in.  We will be spending probably about $50 a month on food if that.  I don’t think we have ever had this much food before.  ever.  We had trouble closing our freezer.  It felt pretty darn good.  Just to think that only three months ago we were striving to live on food stamps.  God is good!  We have a long way to go but we are so much better than we were when we started.

The silver lining of biodiesel

No matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, there really is one thing I can rely on.  The God works in mysterious ways.

As much as I wanted to get a car first, as much as I really wanted us to have 2 cars as soon as possible, things are working out the way they need to.  As I’m watching this weekend unfold I am realizing this fact.  Am i scared C wont be able to find a vehicle this weekend?  Yes, but he really has until wed to get one and we may actually have one.  We have a truck that the service department has to look at and possible fix some things on Monday if the truck we are looking at tomorrow doesn’t work out.

But that’s the small fish.  Here is the big fish:

If we had followed our original plan I would have been the next to get a car, probably at the end of the month and it would have been a jeep commander.  Why a jeep commander?  Because it can seat 6 and in the rare occasions after the baby is born when we have all of us riding in one car we need a 6 seater.  Of course I was having that fall on me even though it really isn’t the most earth friendly economical option.  About 4-6 months after getting the jeep C would have gotten the truck he is currently looking for, and I would have then realized my mistake and been stuck…

Why would I have made a mistake?  First off the truck gets about the same mileage as the commander, but possibly better.  Second, it fits six so we would have had 2 six seater vehicles for those rare occasions we need it. Third, and the real reason I would have been upset…The truck is a diesel.  Ever since college I have wanted a diesel vehicle so I can have it run on homemade biodiesel.  C wants that too apparently (because we share the same dream, duh).  So here we would have been with one biodiesel vehicle and me being jealous.  That’s a sad story.  It’s so super easy to make your own biodiesel too.  We plan on getting a diesel generator for the house for “just in case” emergencies and running that on biodiesel too.  To make biodiesel you convert used vegetable oil (usually from fast food places that would otherwise have to pay to have it disposed of) into biodiesel using one of these biodiesel fun filtration/ conversion kits.  The cost starts at about $1500 and goes up from there.  The one in the picture makes about 40 gallons per day for about $1 a gallon.  The most awesome part about it isn’t the saving money part, which is really nice.  It’s the fact that once we make the switch we will not be tied down to the oil industry at all.  We complain about these giant companies that have monopolies over our lives, we complain about the fracking destroying our environment and contaminating the land, yet we rejoice when gas is below $3 a gallon.  I feel like a giant hypocrite.  Unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to live in America without some sort of vehicle, unless you live on the east coast but even then it can be tough.  We are cutting our ties to big power, cutting our ties to the water company, and now as soon as we can we will be cutting ties to big oil.  Now if only there was a way to do this with cell phone companies and internet, but unfortunately we can’t make those ourselves.

Sooooooo… Here is the NEW plan (thanks God!).   C gets his truck.  I still need a second car in the next month, but he says he is working on that so i’ll trust him to figure that one out.  I guess i have to, although I also have to admit that i’m super jealous that he gets a car before I do, but such is life.  Anyway, as soon as we can get his credit up (which should happen fairly quickly now that he has no debt except for a car payment he makes every month), we are going to get me a diesel SUV type car.  I have been looking around and it looks like a jeep (I love jeeps) liberty will be the best way to go for us.  We will also need to refinance his truck at some point this year too, but we’ll cross that bridge after we have 2 reliable vehicles.  I have to say, as upset as I am that we STILL don’t have 2 vehicles I am happier about this plan, and far more excited about it, than I was about the original plan.  I guess things really do work out in God’s timing.

It’s Februrary!!

Last Sunday I had just gotten home from church when C looked at me and says “it’s February, we should start thinking about planting”.  I turned to him and said “ok, we’ve got $30 to play with, lets head to lowes!”.  So we did.  We had some 72 well starter greenhouses left over from last year, so we bought more of those, some seeds to go with the ones we had saved, and starter soil.

garden 2 garden 1

That was the best feeling in the world.  Last year it took us until the end of march to be able to afford to start growing.  I know it made C feel good too.  I also realize it’s a bit early in the season to be planting, but last year we had such a hard time getting the seeds started we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time this year to work out all the kinks.  We planted 6 different kinds of peppers, 3 kinds of tomatoes, spinach, brussel sprouts, ad maybe some other stuff?  Our plan is that once it starts to get warmer and we are past the fear of frost we can start planting on the property.  We expect to have at least an acre garden this year.  We would like to have a yield that will take us through the year.

We have been talking about these plans for so long it’s so surreal….  This is going to be fantastic!