24 Carrot Rabbitry

City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Change to comment period

Just wanted to let you know that I have closed comments on posts that are over 90 days old.  When a post hits that mark, comments on that post will automatically be closed.

I had left them open because I did not want to exclude the comments of those who might come across a post they like long after it has been posted.

I am closing them because my experience has been similar to that of a friend who had a blog.  The only people who comment on posts that old are spammers.  That didn’t bother me for a while, as I’d have only one or two spam comments to moderate every once in a while (there are thousands that I never see — I see only those that made it past the automatic filter).  Lately, it hasn’t been unusual for me to need to moderate 10 of them an evening.

I don’t need to be doing that.  The time is short, and I don’t need to be wasting it on moderating fake comments.

I love getting comments.  If you really want to comment on an older post, send me an email through the contact page, and I’ll reopen it temporarily for you.  :)

Thank you all for coming here and reading.  I apologize for not posting as much as I thought I could around this time.  I had forgotten that I needed to work on the family calendar when I said that!  I’ll be posting plenty in a few weeks.

This is a heartwarming video about a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome (like my own ILoveBunnies and Bunny-Wan Kenobi).  He saved up for two years for a LEGO kit he really wanted, only to find at that point that the kit was discontinued:

That will bring a smile to your face.  :)

Please pardon my infrequent posting, it will continue for a few more weeks, as at this time every year I create our family calendar.  I create and print them myself, and we give them out to friends and family every year.  I get emails asking when they are coming if I am late!

Once the calendars are in the mail, I will be back.  :)

In every thing give thanks!

1Th 5:16-18
(16)  Rejoice evermore.
(17)  Pray without ceasing.
(18)  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Psa 136:1-26
(1)  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(2)  O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(3)  O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(4)  To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(5)  To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(6)  To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(7)  To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(8)  The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(9)  The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(10)  To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(11)  And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(12)  With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(13)  To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(14)  And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(15)  But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(16)  To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(17)  To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(18)  And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(19)  Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(20)  And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(21)  And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(22)  Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(23)  Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:
(24)  And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(25)  Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(26)  O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Whenever I am troubled about things, I do try to remember I Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks.”  It is a hard thing to remember, and I find myself remembering it better when I am encouraging someone else who is worried.

I read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom when I was in my early teens.  Just thinking about what she and her family went through puts things in perspective, but there is one passage in the book that helps me remember that even things that seem bad can be used for God’s good.

It’s when Corrie and her sister Betsy have been in a concentration camp for a while, for hiding Jews.  The conditions, naturally, were horrific.  Finally, on top of everything else, their building became infested with lice.  Corrie was very upset, but then discovered that Betsy was thankful.

Thankful?  For lice?  Had Betsy lost it?  Corrie had had about all she could take.

Then Betsy explained.  Hadn’t Corrie noticed that ever since the lice had come, the guards would not come into their building?

Corrie realized with amazement that yes, she could be thankful even for the lice.

This passage is one of the things that will remind me that I see only a tiny part of what is going on.  It is God who sees the whole situation and guides it.  If they could see the mercy of God even in lice, I can certainly trust that the Lord can work my situation for good, as He says He will.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!
Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!
~Au­gust L. Storm

Once the property was bush-hogged, and the driveway was bulldozed, it was time to get the land cleared.  The house, having been completed early, was already sitting on the dealer’s lot, and time was ticking on our loan offer.  We needed to work quickly.

We called the logger who had cleared some land farther down the road.  The wood had brought a nice amount of money for the landowner, so we hoped that this would be the case for us, as well.

As it turned out, the logger came and looked at our trees, and said that our trees were only good for pulp because of the large number of branches they had.  Unfortunately, the bottom had fallen out of the pulpwood market, and he was barely getting anything for it, he said, so it would cost us a decent bit to get it done.

Being pretty much at his mercy because of our situation, we agreed, adding some incentive for getting it done very quickly.

Logging day came, and we headed out to the property again.

When we arrived, they had already long since begun. They had loaded a truck and carried it off up the road.

Three large piles of branches greeted us at the back of the property. I could see a lot of burning in our future!

The two pines in the front yard still stood, and the logger would add to the piles left from the bulldozing.

He had already begun adding to the other bulldozed pile.

Mom walked among the trees still marked for removal. We had a little while to wait for the logger and his crew to return.

When they did return, we stayed at a safe distance! ILoveBunnies and Bunny-Wan Kenobi watched the tree-toppling with interest.

A crew member made the cut...

...And the logger used his Bobcat to push the tree over in the desired direction.

With the tree felled, it was time to cut off the branches. Great, more to add to the gigantic burn piles!

The logger lifted the trunks effortlessly with the claw-like device on his Bobcat.

The trunks were loaded onto a truck.

As all of this was going on, I noticed something about a very tall and beautiful pine we were going to keep. A large injury.

As I looked closer, I realized the tree had been girdled a long time ago. The coil of rusty barbed wire still sat next to the base of the tree. It was obvious that the tree had been trying to recover from this injury for a very long time, and had not had a lot of success. There was sap everywhere, and missing bark. I called my beloved Shay quickly. This tree had to come down... did he want me to see if I could get the logger to take it?

As I waited anxiously for Shay to call me back, the crew worked on grinding the final stumps and roots into the ground. Finally, I heard back from Shay, and ran out to the logger.

The logger asked what I would offer for him to take the giant pine. I had $100 in mind, but told him straight that I did not know what the job was worth, and that I would trust him to give me a fair price. He asked how $100 sounded, and we shook hands. The tree was coming down one way or another. It was $100 extra to the logger, $2,000 later to a professional tree remover after the house was up, or a storm. We picked the $100 option, and the logger himself made the cut, as it was going to be difficult to take it out without taking a lot of other trees down with it. We understood we would lose at least two.

He explained to me how the cuts worked. What he left uncut would act as a brake, pulling the tree to fall in that direction. It was fascinating to watch it fall exactly as he wanted it to. As it fell, its branches grabbed the other two trees we knew we would lose -- a maple and a pine -- and brought them down. Other trees lost limbs, but no other trees fell.

At the end of the day, we were left with a barren landscape. We were sad to take down all those lovely trees, but we knew our house would be safe.

The next step would be to decide again exactly where the house would go, as our markers were gone.  Then we could get the pad built, and the house set!

And so we continue.

This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
(Dan 4:17)

That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
(Dan 4:25)

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
(Col 1:16-17)

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
(Pro 21:1)

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
(1Ti 2:1-4)

I cannot say that I believe our country made a wise decision a week ago.

Many people would conclude that I am, therefore, a racist.  They would be wrong.

My votes never have anything to do with the color of anyone’s skin, or any other aspect of ethnicity.  I have voted for Alan Keyes several times.  I moved from Florida shortly before I would have had the pleasure of voting for Marco Rubio.  I have voted for whites, blacks, and Latinos, and I have voted for men and women.

When I do my election research, I look for history, votes, quotes, comments from supporters, comments from opponents, issue positions, articles… anything I can find that will tell me about the person’s true character and beliefs.  What is this person’s view of life?  Of the role of government?  Of the Constitution?  Of rich people?  Of taxes?  Of spending?  Of Israel?  Who endorses him?  Who opposes him?  Etc., etc., etc.

I mark the person who, as far as I can tell, comes as close as possible to a reverent regard for our Constitution, which was penned by men much wiser than they are given credit for today, as they are widely viewed with contempt.  They saw these days of trouble coming from afar off, days in which we struggled to remember our foundations, and wondered what would be the outcome of it.  I believe it was Thomas Jefferson and John Adams who corresponded about it.  They thought that we would ultimately make the right decision.  We shall see.

(By the way, I voted third-party for President this election, as has become my custom, as neither Democrats nor Republicans seem interested in the Constitution beyond giving it lip service, for the most part.)

There are plenty of people who believe that socialism is the right decision.  It isn’t, if you are interested in keeping our Constitution.  There are plenty of socialist countries.  I share the opinion of many others:  if you think it’s such a good idea, go move to a country that already has it.  It has already been tried here, repeatedly.  It doesn’t work any better here than anywhere else in the world.

I have always found it ironic and amusing that so many of Hollywood glow about the governments of socialist and communist countries.  These same people will trash America.  Now, why would they choose to stay here, since this country is so horrible, and these others are so wonderful?  Because they know what side their bread is buttered on.  It’s this country that has allowed them the freedom to become what they are.  In a socialist country, they’d be figuratively squashed like bugs (which would not make many of us unhappy, by the way).

What was the purpose of this country?  To provide a place where everyone could be assured of an equal, fair outcome?  No.  It was to provide an environment in which anyone, especially with persistence and hard work, could have a chance at happiness and prosperity.  To provide an environment of liberty even in faith, in which the government could not set up one faith and outlaw others.  To provide a place where government itself was suspect and bound, severely limiting its ability to restrict the freedoms of the people.  To provide a place where one need not fear the government.

People complain about stalemates in Washington, but our government has frequent stalemates by design.  It slows the ability of the government to take actions that would hurt us.  Possibly the worst thing that happened in our government was the installation of air conditioning at the Capitol.  This allowed our House and Senate to stay in session much more, giving them more opportunity to erode our freedoms.

Our Founding Fathers knew well the dangers of government.  They restrained it as much as possible.  Unfortunately, it has broken many of its bonds, and has been feeding itself handsomely on the backs of its citizens ever since.

The answer is not more of this, it is less of it.  It’s not government assuring you of a fair outcome, it’s people individually taking responsibility for their own risks, their own decisions, their own care and feeding, their own preparation for the future, etc.

Was life hard before big government and socialist redistribution?  Sure it was.  But people had more interest in making a way for themselves, because nobody else was going to do it for them.  You could decide what sort of food to eat, and you were responsible for the consequences if those choices were not wise.  Today, we are allowed to make few decisions, and we are rarely allowed to fail when we do make decisions.  The result is laziness, an inability to think for oneself, penalty for success, and a lack of freedom.

*sigh*

Ultimately, though, I know that God was not caught by surprise at the result of the election last week.  The Word of God is filled with examples of Him bringing one nation to conquer another, as punishment for wickedness, and for other reasons.

If He can turn the heart of a king like a river, He can direct this President to His will.  Not that His will will be pleasant at this point.  This country has strayed far.  But I know that whatever comes, He will carry us through.  Unlike me, God can see the big picture, and somehow, this all fits into it.  I just have to trust and obey.

Thrifty Tips

Over at Rural Revolution, Patrice Lewis has listed some ways that she and her family save money, and has encouraged other bloggers to do this too.  I thought, after I saw her post, that this would be the perfect way for me to break back into blogging after our whirlwind move.

Frugality is no new idea to us.  Everywhere we have lived, we have had to pinch our pennies.  Sometimes, when it is very quiet for a moment, I swear I can hear them yelping from the pressure.

The last job I held was almost 17 years ago.  At the time, Shay and I worked at the same store, and together we made less than $900 per month.  Of course, $900 went a good bit farther in 1995 than it does now, but we certainly weren’t burning up the world.

Then I learned I was pregnant with our first child, and I became so ill, I had to take a leave of absence.  I was never able to return.  With that, we could not afford for Shay to continue to work at the store, and he found a job as maintenance man for a hotel.  This didn’t pay as much as we had both made together, but it came close enough, for a while.  Eventually, an earlier unwise decision overcame us, and we sold our little home and moved south to start over.

Shay moved from job to job for a while, looking for some income somewhere where he was allowed to do good work, and where he didn’t have to compromise his morals.  That was harder than it should be.  Eventually, he landed in apartment maintenance, and then became a maintenance supervisor.  Now he is a public housing inspector and does an awful lot of driving.  But even though he’s part of corporate management now, his net income is not a lot.  Definitely not what I bet you think corporate management would make.  Actually, it’s about what he was making at his last maintenance job, just a little bit more.

I know someone who makes three times as much, and is constantly borrowing from friends, and has collectors hounding him.  It’s all in how you choose to spend.

So we have had to save money wherever we can.  It’s getting harder.  I hate to shop anymore.  Every time I go into the store, prices have gone up.  I feel like (and probably look like) the proverbial deer in the headlights.  The prices scare me, and make me worry for the future, trying to stretch my husband’s income to feed our family and pay the bills.  I have to repeatedly pray, and tell the Lord how worried I am, and thank Him that I know He will take care of us through all this somehow.  We see bad things coming down the pike… worse than they have been the last several years.  It’s just a matter of how fast it will get here.

I remember a light switch plate my great-grandmother had at her apartment, in the bathroom.  I have no doubt she put it there just for me:

Reach up just as far as you can.  God will reach down the rest of the way.

This isn’t a “God helps those who help themselves” type thing.  (By the way, that is not in the Bible… a lot of people think it is.  God helps those who cannot help themselves, though.)  It’s more of a “Whatever you need to do, do your best at it, and God’s grace will cover the rest.”  I know that part of being a godly wife and mother is taking the money my husband earns, and using it in such a way that my family is well cared for.  But God knows that as prices go up, Shay’s paycheck isn’t, so I have to scrimp and save as well as I can, and trust God to carry us through it.

Here are some of the things we do to pinch our pennies:

  • We shop at thrift stores and yard sales whenever possible.  It is rare that an article of clothing that is actually brand new crosses our threshold.  I cannot imagine how much we would have spent on clothes for the children if we had been buying new clothes to replace the new clothes that they had outgrown.  I buy for the future, getting sizes I know I will need eventually, if I find them at good prices.  We don’t just shop for the kids there, though.  We shop for our own clothes there as well.  Many nice clothes can be found at thrift stores and yard sales, if you look carefully.  You can also find small appliances, decorations, furniture, and sometimes even fabric.
  • When I have to shop retail, I go with a list.  If I buy things that are not on my list, it is normally because they are things that I needed but forgot to write down.  Seeing the item jogged my memory.  I keep my list general, as much as possible.  I don’t shop for ground meat, chuck roast, and country pork ribs.  I shop for meat — and buy whatever is at a good sale price.  Near Thanksgiving, we’ve been known to buy three or four turkeys.  One year, we were able to get the frozen turkeys quartered on the butcher’s bandsaw.  That works as long as they don’t use a metal clip on the legs.  But it was nice to be able to cook 1/4 of a turkey at a time, at various times of the year, rather than a whole turkey now and then.
  • We buy good quality store brands as much as possible.  Some things don’t do well in generics or store brands, but most things do.  Sometimes, even the store brands go on sale, and we can save even more.
  • We go to one movie a year — whatever Pixar is offering.  It’s been a rare year that we have deviated from that.
  • Other entertainment we limit as well.  We had cable in Florida, and my uncle has it, but it isn’t even available here.  Satellite is, but we don’t have any intention of getting it for anything but internet.  We actually don’t have a TV at the moment, but we’ll get one to watch VHS and DVD on.  But regular TV?  It just isn’t worth it.  I’m tired of trying to find something worth watching among 100 channels, and VERY tired of scrambling to change the channel when an inappropriate commercial comes on!  We might try putting up an antennna, but we’re not paying for TV past that.  Our kids have a Wii, only because my brother gave them one, and they have some fun computer games (but very limited time on both).  We buy most of our movies at yard sales and thrift stores.
  • We go to the library.  ILoveBunnies is an avid reader, and received a Kindle for her birthday from my uncle and his fiancee.  For ebooks, we go to Project Gutenberg, Open Library, ManyBooks, Free-eBooks, and Obooko — places with free ebooks.  We get books at thrift stores and yard sales, too.  She has spent a couple dollars on one ebook at Amazon.
  • We cook from scratch, whenever possible.  We have a nice complement of seasonings, most of which contain no salt, as we like to add salt separately.  Prepared foods are more expensive, usually lower quality, and have things in them that you wouldn’t put in yourself.
  • When we have leftovers, we use them.  If we have enough, we might have the same thing two nights in a row.  If not, we’ll cook a few nights and then have a “Leftover Night”.  Other times, leftovers are saved and used in pot pies and such.  We also will save small amounts of gravies and vegetables in a zipper bag in the freezer.  When the bag is full, we have what we call “Freezer Soup“.  Tomato sauces get saved in another bag for a future batch of spaghetti.
  • We buy large cuts of meat that we know will give us several meals.  A pork shoulder roast will give us a dinner (for 5) of sliced pork and whatever else we put with it.  We might have a second night of sliced pork.  Then we’ll pull it, if we haven’t already, and have another meal of Sloppy Joes.  We’ll get a leftover night or a number of lunches from the meat left from that.  But don’t forget the bone!  We don’t pick the bone clean, we leave some meat on there.  We freeze it, and pull it back out when we want to make split pea soup, or 15-bean soup.  Boil the bone, and the meat all falls off, and the marrow comes out of the bone, and you get a really flavorful broth.  With that, we have soup for two nights, and then more for a leftover night or to freeze and pull out for dinner some other time.  That’s how many meals?  That’s 5 or 6 meals for 5 people, plus quite a few lunches, from one pork shoulder!  We just did this last week.  The bone is in the freezer now, waiting to become a wonderful soup.
  • We buy in bulk.  We belong to Sam’s Club, and buy only what we can get for less there than anywhere else (not everything is cheaper at Sam’s!).  Yes, there is a membership fee every year, but that normally pays for itself my first shopping trip after paying it.  Even at the grocery store, I don’t go for the package of two pork chops, I go for the package of twenty pork chops.  It’s almost always cheaper per pound.  I can divide it up at home and freeze it in zipper bags.
  • I am learning how to can.  I have a pressure canner, and will be planting a vegetable garden.
  • We raise meat rabbits.  At full production, I can put rabbit meat on the table twice a week on average.  If I add more rabbits, I can serve it more often, or have more meat on the table for a meal.  When I was paying $15+ for 50 pounds of rabbit feed, it was costing me about $1.25 per pound of bone-in rabbit meat, which is pretty cheap these days.  I can sometimes get chicken for less, and occasionally I can get pork roast for less.  Other than that, our rabbit meat is cheapest.  Eventually, we plan to expand our rabbit production so we have enough to trade with neighbors for other meats and vegetables.
  • I am trying a horse feed with the rabbits, as it is much less expensive than rabbit feed.  As long as you compare the ingredients and analyses, you can often substitute.  I found the highest-protein, lowest-molasses horse feed I could that is is locally produced.  I bought a bag of alfalfa pellets as well, to raise the protein a bit more for the rabbits.  They are getting used to it.  There is barely any molasses in it, so I think it should work out well.
  • I am learning how to sew.  I am much farther along with this than I am with canning.  When I go to a thrift store, I look at draperies and sheets as potential sewing fabric.  ILoveBunnies is learning, too.
  • We carry debt only when necessary.  If we don’t have the money, we don’t buy it.  For emergency dental, medical, or car work, we will use credit for as short a time as possible.  At the dentist, for instance, there’s no interest as long as it’s paid off in a year.  Naturally, we had to make an exception for our new home.  Getting a well-built mobile home instead of a stick-built house saved us a lot of money, as did being able to buy the land outright.  Our mortgage is $750 per month for 20 years, and we are paying extra on the principle to get out from under it faster.  NOT renting saves a lot of money.  Rent would have been 2 – 3 times as much, for less house and land.  And it wouldn’t have been ours, so we couldn’t have done what we wanted to.  ALSO… we’ve heard quite a few stories in the last few years of families renting and keeping current, but the landlords weren’t keeping up with their payments, so the houses got repossessed and the tenants were displaced… in spite of the fact that they had been faithful.
  • We have ceiling fans.  Continuously circulating the air helps it feel cooler, so you can be comfortable at a higher temperature.  It costs less to run the fans than it would to keep the air conditioner at a lower temp.
  • I shop used for most of my homeschool supplies as well.  There is an annual used homeschool curriculum sale that we go to.  I buy for the future, so that I’m not stuck needing to buy something new later, because I didn’t take advantage of the deal when I saw it.  I also buy on eBay sometimes, and on HomeschoolClassifieds.  Recently, I actually found a whole bunch of various sizes of nice glass test tubes, many Pyrex, for $5 at a thrift store!
  • We combine errands to make one long trip into town to get everything done, rather than driving 70+ miles round trip every time we need to do something.  This saves lots of gas and time!
  • I build our computers.  This has several advantages.  I can build machines with almost the latest technologies, overbuilding them so that they will still run well years from now when applications are more demanding… and I can build them for half to a third of the price of buying the same machine new from Dell or another builder.  And I know exactly what is in the machine… I can research the quality of every single part.  Another nice thing is that my computers come with no unwanted software (which is known by a very unflattering nickname) that needs to be removed.  I can put exactly what I want to on it.  I do buy Windows, but everything else I put on it is free, open source stuff, or other freeware.  I have Open Office for an office suite that is just as good as Microsoft Word, but is free.  I use Irfanview for simple photo manipulation, and GIMP for Photoshop-like graphic capabilities.  I use Avast and Comodo for computer security, both free, and together superior to Symantec and McAfee, in my opinion.  I also use CCleaner and Defraggler to keep our machines running lean and mean.
  • Shay, being mechanically inclined and very handy, regularly repairs broken items.  He is about to dismantle and re-glue an old chair of ours.  Many repairs don’t take a lot of knowledge, and can be done by most anybody who checks out a DIY book from the library.  I also patch clothes, to a point.  If the item is just disintegrating everywhere, I won’t.  But if it just has a couple of trouble spots, I’ll patch it.  I patched a pair of New Balance shoes for my uncle a couple years ago, when his toes wore holes in the tops of the shoes.  I put small pieces of leather inside and outside the holes, tacking them in place with super glue, and then sewed them in by backstitching with embroidery floss.  My uncle said it took a one-year pair of shoes and turned them into a three-year pair (he would get gel inserts now and then for them).  He just got a new pair, and I stitched leather into the inside in the same place.  I didn’t have to put one on the outside, because there was no worn hole.  His coworkers noticed the stitching and asked about it.  They were intrigued by what it was (oddly, they had never noticed the piece of leather I had sewn on top of the old pair) and remarked that New Balance shoes were great, but they all had that same problem.
  • We will shortly be putting a timer on our water heater, so it’s not keeping water hot when we are not going to be using it.
  • I will be completing my solar oven soon, and will begin using it to cook and experiment.
  • I am a member of Freecycle, a collection of local groups in which you post something you need, and someone may contact you who has it; or you post something you have and wish to give away, and people who would like it contact you.
  • I am a member of PaperBack Swap, SwapaCD, and SwapaDVD.  On these sites, you can list books, music CDs, and DVDs.  When someone requests one of your items, you send it, paying the postage yourself.  When it is received, you receive one credit per book, CD, or DVD disk (multi-disk sets are one credit per disk).  You use these credits to request the books, etc. that you would like — not necessarily from that same member, but from any member — and they pay postage to you.  We use PaperBack Swap mostly.  I love it!  That’s why I have a link to them in my sidebar.  Incidentally, if you use that link to go sign up, once you list a certain number of items, I get a referral credit I can use to request something!
  • While we do have cellphones, we do not have smartphones or data anything.  Bunny-Wan Kenobi just got his first cellphone.  These days, we consider it a safety thing.  It cannot be a bad thing in this day and age, for my kids to be able to get in touch with me or Daddy or Memaw.  Not that they’re away from us, really, but still.  We don’t have a landline.  It actually is not available to us here.
  • Shay trims his own hair with a trimmer, and I use another trimmer to cut Bunny-Wan Kenobi’s and Mom’s hair, with different guards.  I just give ILoveBunnies’ hair a trim occasionally, and Mom has cut my hair in the past.  I think ILoveBunnies is going to have to take this job over, though, as my mom has lost pretty much all of her central vision now.  None of us is interested in fake nails, hair extensions, hair dye, expensive serums that promise to keep you looking young, etc., so we don’t spend money on lots of things we don’t need to.
  • Every payday, I try to pull out any money we had left in it from the last paycheck, and I put it in our homebound savings account.  Which is to say, it’s cash on hand.  We try not to touch it, and it comes in handy in an emergency, another way to avoid going into debt!  It is not enough to make it worth it for some nincompoop to come over uninvited and try to find it, though.  My definition of a lot of money, and his definition of a lot of money, probably won’t have much in common.  Haha!

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now. :)

Don’t forget to read Patrice Lewis’ Frugal Tips post, and you’ll find a list of links to other bloggers’ tips at the bottom of her post!

I’m back!!! The move is done!

I certainly intended at first to continue posting all while we were improving the land, setting the home on it, building outbuildings, moving in, and all that.  Within reason, of course, since there was a period of time during which we had no internet access.

As it turned out, the craziness increased exponentially the closer we got to moving.  We were hardly ever home (at my uncle’s house).  When we were, we were either packing like mad, or exhausted.

We moved on September 6th.  Like I said, we had no internet access for a while.  Even once we got it a few weeks ago, I did not have much time to devote to posting.

Now that I’m back, I want to bring you through the rest of the process we have been through.  My next post will be a response to a post over at a blog I love, and, after that, I will pick up where I left off… after the bushhogging, the delivery of the container, the delivery of the home to the dealer, and all that.  I don’t want to skip all the adventures and misadventures we’ve had along the way.

I will be working to post frequently, so I can pull you up to present-day happenings as quickly as possible.  :)

Lyme disease is no fun.

Some 20 years or so ago, Shay and I went camping for a week.  When we returned, we went back to work.  I can’t remember how long it was after that… days?  a week?  two weeks?  Anyway, at some point, while I was working, my right foot swelled.  At break time, I removed my shoe, uncovering a tell-tale bullseye on my foot.  I was barely able to put my shoe back on, but Shay and I went immediately to a local doctor who took walk-ins.

Sure enough, I had Lyme disease.

I was put on 30 days of doxycycline, which made me sensitive to sunlight.  Riding to work, I had to cover my arms, or contort them out of the sun.  Anytime sunshine hit my skin, it felt immediately like that part of my skin had been stuck into a hot skillet.

At the end of 30 days, I had to go back for a follow-up visit.  I got 14 more days of antibiotics.  Oh, joy.  The sun sensitivity lasts for a week or so after you are off of it.

During this time, I made a $100 error making change for a customer — I gave her a hundred too much.  I found out after that that Lyme disease can cause confusion and problems in concentration if it is not treated quickly enough.  It isn’t a terribly common symptom… and, at the time, central nervous system symptoms of Lyme disease were not widely recognized.

But I found myself having trouble counting money.  I would lose my place and start over, again and again.  It would take me 3 – 4 tries to count someone’s change.  I asked to be taken off of the service desk, since I had no confidence in my ability to count money anymore.  They didn’t take me off, saying they were confident in me, so I lived in fear that I would make another big mistake for the next several months, while the symptoms resolved.

So now here we are with this raw land that has up to now enjoyed a quiet existence as a tick and chigger heaven.

It has been a very busy couple of weeks!  We had the area for the house cleared, we laid out the location for the house, we went back and moved the location 10 feet forward, the pad was laid, and the house is set.  It isn’t finished yet, but it is certainly getting there!  I will be posting lots more pictures, maybe tomorrow, so you can see!

All this time, we’ve been pretty faithful with our measures to keep chiggers and ticks from biting.  The sulphur we’ve mostly replaced with Coleman Botanical insect repellant, made with lemon eucalyptus oil.  It seems tests have shown it to be as effective as lower concentrations of DEET.  Tests or no, the stuff works!  I have had no bites of any kind while wearing it, and I don’t think anybody else has, either.

Wednesday, August 1st, the day that Shay and I went to move the stakes for the location of the house 10 feet forward, we didn’t take any precautions.  No sulphur, no pantyhose, no repellent, no shirt tucked in.  I figured, this won’t take long, and the bugs have probably all moved to the trees anyway.

That night, I went to scratch my back, and found a rough bump right in the center.  I went immediately to Shay, who removed a tick about 4mm in diameter.  It hadn’t been attached more than the few hours that had elapsed, so I figured I was safe.  20 years ago, they were saying a tick had to be attached at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease.  I didn’t think that made a whole lot of sense, but I also didn’t know that the study of Lyme disease was in its infancy then.

Yesterday (Friday), we went to watch the house setup be completed.  As the day wore on, I experienced more and more pain.  This is not unusual for me, as I have benign hypermobility syndrome.  This is often referred to as “loose joints”, and just means that the joints have more movement in them than they should.  I have a regular level of achiness because of this, and I became my own chiropractor in my teens.  I have to adjust various joints several times a day to stay somewhat aligned and at as low a level of pain as possible.

My uncle is envious of me, because when something is out on him, he has to pay a chiropractor to fix it.  I just have to work at popping the joint.  It may take a few hours for it to get to the point that it will pop, or I may have to take ibuprofen to lessen the irritation for it to do it, but I can do it myself.  I told him that yes, I may be able to pop them back into place myself, but the thing that gives me the ability to do so also is what makes it so that I don’t stay aligned in the first place.  He doesn’t have to go get realigned several times a day, just a few times a year.

It is funny, though, as we’ll be doing something like standing and talking, or sitting and watching a movie, and he’ll suddenly say, “I heard that!” — feigning jealousy at my being able to pop my own joints.  Most of the time, I don’t even realize that I popped something until he says that… it’s just that natural for me to work to alleviate the discomfort of something being misaligned.

I do have days, though, in which the pain will increase and increase, until I can barely walk.  This is normally on errand days, when I do a lot of walking on hard floors.  I try to remember to take ibuprofen before I leave on days like that, but I’m not always successful.

So as the pain increased Friday, I didn’t think a lot of it, just figuring it was my usual pain.  I was nearly crippled by the end of the day, and took some ibuprofen when we reached the car.  When we got home, I curled up on the sofa.  I hurt so bad, I couldn’t bring myself to get up and take a shower.

After a while, I took my temperature.  It was 101.2*, in spite of the fact that I had taken ibuprofen two hours earlier.  Shay took me to an after-hours clinic.

After considering my vitals, my symptoms, and my previous history, the doctor decided it was probably Lyme disease again.  So now I’m back on doxycycline (thank goodness the stuff is cheap!), and taking Tylenol and ibuprofen to keep the pain and fever down.

I am in less pain now than I was in last night, but I still don’t feel very good.  Everybody is making sure that I pretty much don’t have to do anything, because it drains your energy as well.  I am so sapped.

Learned my lesson, though!  I don’t care if the neighbor’s kids think we’re paranoid, I am not interested in doing this again!  And I’m even less interested in one of my kids, my beloved husband, or my mom doing it either. :)

Little beastie had terrible timing… I’m too busy for this!  The Lord is carrying me through, though.  :)

Preparing the Land!

Well, we have entered the nutty time of the move.  The house has been delivered to the dealer (only 2 WEEKS early!), and is sitting there waiting for us to have a place to put it!

But first, here’s my favorite line from the deed to our property, which we paid for in full:

"...the buyers, their heirs, and assigns shall have and hold the described property in full ownership forever."

Of course, property tax laws make all land- and homeowners renters anyway (pay your property taxes or you’re evicted and your property and/or home sold).  BUT it is still a very exciting line to read in the deed.  We showed this sentence to our kids, and explained to them that since they are our heirs, this means this property isn’t just ours, it is theirs.  Particularly for ILoveBunnies, who is five years older than Bunny-Wan Kenobi, this produced quite a bit of excitement.

I also want to take a moment to explain how this got paid for.  My grandmother and grandfather came from very modest backgrounds.  My grandfather was in the Army, then later started an advertising business.  They saved up.  They bought wisely.  They invested wisely.  Their savings grew.  They bought this house in a very nice, up-and-coming neighborhood, and continued to save.  The neighborhood has up and come, alright.  Whenever one of these older homes is bought, it is razed and replaced with a mansion.

Fast forward to the last few months and the settlement of my grandmother’s estate (my grandfather passed away many years ago).  It is the wisdom of my grandparents that has paid for this property we now own, and put the down payment on the mobile home we are about to install on it.

For Shay and me, life has always been very much paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes that hasn’t been enough.  My grandmother worried about me, knowing how little we made.  Then she got to meet Shay a bit less than two years after we were married.  She saw how much we loved each other, particularly how much Shay loved me, and his deep faith in the Lord, and she knew I’d be alright.  She knew our life would be difficult, but that I’d be alright.  And that’s the way it’s been.

We are so very, very grateful to them.  It is my sincere hope that they would be pleased with what all their work is accomplishing for us now.  I have no doubt that they would be delighted.  We have gotten to the point in recent years that we have been able to save somewhat.  But this economy is not like the economy my grandfather and grandmother built their investments in.  Our investments are not in bonds, developments, and things like that.  We have been investing in things that will get us by in emergencies and further our self-sufficiency.

So anyway, here we are with this raw piece of land.  It used to be a hay field, which explains why it is relatively smooth and well-drained, and why it had no trees until the last couple of decades (got to see that in Google’s historical imagery).  Then it had a driveway running through it to a long-gone house somewhere east of us.  That’s all that’s been on this land.  It’s never had electricity, phone, water, sewer, anything.  Where do you start?

The first step is getting the place bushhogged. Forget the thick woods at the front of the property for now, we need to work with the grove of pines in the center of it and the clearing at the back. When this picture was taken (from the clearing toward the grove), you could hardly see into the grove at all because of all the brush.

What a difference! Now you can see into that grove. While I was standing more near the corner for this shot, it's still from the clearing, looking into the grove. Somewhere in there is where the house will sit.

Unfortunately, some of the pines are in the house's footprint, or are too close. Our property is on the top of a very gently sloped hill, but a hill nonetheless. These pines grow very tall, with very deep tap roots, so they make marvelous lightning rods. So... top of hill + lightning rods = not too safe. We marked all the trees that are to come down, so the logger will be able to tell which ones to take.

In addition to being lightning rods, these trees eventually become hollow, making them even more of a threat to have around.  The trees we are leaving are enough to give us a bit of shade without endangering the house.  However, we will be planting replacements — trees that grow 30 – 40 feet tall, and don’t have the deep tap roots that lightning finds so irresistible.  Eventually, all the pines in the grove will be gone, because eventually they will be a danger to the house (they grow 80 – 100 feet tall).

ILoveBunnies gives Daddy's machete a try on a bit of brush left over from bushhogging. Neither she nor Bunny-Wan Kenobi was able to replicate Shay's effortless one-swing slice of young saplings, though.

Bunny-Wan Kenobi decided maybe he'd be better with a saw instead.

We learned some quick lessons, as it has been a while since any of us has been this rural. We got some hats to keep the sun and ticks off (from above, anyway), and some field-grade sulphur and pantyhose to keep the chiggers away! We also got some light-colored, long-sleeved cotton shirts for protection from sun and chiggers. Mosquitoes are nothing compared to the misery inflicted by the tiny chigger!

Chiggers are redbug larvae, and they love brush and tall grass!  After our first visit to the property, when it was being shown to us, I ended up with a lot of chigger bites.  I had forgotten about chiggers, not having dealt with them since I was a teenager!  Contrary to popular belief, they do not burrow into your skin.  They inject enzymes into your skin which liquefies the cells, and they feed on that.  Your body’s response is to wall off the injury with a crusty tube.  Unfortunately, this only helps the chigger.  After a few hours (usually long after the chigger is gone), the site begins to itch.  It is both the enzymes from the chigger and the tube your body has built that contribute to the horrific itching that follows and lasts for two weeks.

The next time we went out, it was my mom and ILoveBunnies who came back with chigger bites.  This was when I realized we needed to do something to keep this from happening.  I remembered going to camp for 2 1/2 weeks every summer when I was growing up, way out in the woods.  We used sulphur to keep the chiggers away, and it worked quite well.

To dress for chiggers, you first put on pantyhose.  Even the MARINES do this!  Chiggers cannot get through pantyhose.  Then you put sulphur on your skin in the various places chiggers prefer — around the waistband, around any band on your skin (the bands and straps of bras, for example).  More around your neckline and shirt cuffs, and under your arms.  Without pantyhose, you also include the top of your socks (and down to your ankles, if your socks are loosely woven), the backs of your knees, and around the waist and legs of your underwear.  Believe me, if you’ve found a chigger paradise like we have, it’s a lot safer to go with the pantyhose.  You do NOT want chiggers in your underwear.  Trust me.  You tuck your pants inside your socks, and your shirt inside your pants, in an effort to keep the chiggers on the outside of your clothes.

After bushhogging, it was time to get a driveway bulldozed!

The same man who bushhogged for us came to clear a driveway for us. A good number of trees had to come down in the dense front woods to give us a driveway. Here, he forms a pile of downed trees.

We'll have a lot of burning to do!

He works back and forth to smooth the driveway. He won't finish it just yet. That'll happen after the home is in.

 

Looking from our gravel road, down the driveway toward where the house will sit. The post at left marks a corner of the property.

The driveway goes right into the grove of pines, where the house will be.

 

You can now see and travel from the old driveway that cuts through our property to the new driveway.

We have rented a 20' shipping container to use as a secure shed for now, until we're all settled in and have a regular shed.

Meanwhile, as I said at the top, the home we ordered arrived at the dealership TWO WEEKS EARLY!  So we went to sign the papers and take a look.  When we arrived, only one half was actually there.  When we finished signing, we went and took a look at it, as well as we could.  We heard the other half was almost there, so we waited.

Here comes the other half! It was so exciting to watch it get hauled in like that. Our salesman watches from the left. Oversize load? You'd better believe it!

The red shutters are just as pretty against the siding as I had hoped!

Mom and Bunny-Wan Kenobi watch as some steps are put up to the door so we can go in. All of us but Shay had come from the property, so we're all in our woodsy clothes.

"What did you put in that thing?!?" This is the incredulous question we got from the driver. In his 20 years of pulling mobile homes, this was his heaviest haul. While it is normal for them to blow some tires on the trip, which is why the accompanying truck carries a load of extras, he had gone through 13 tires, and two sets of brakes had flown to pieces.

One of the brake failures had sent shrapnel into the vapor barrier and insulation under the house. This dealership has amazing service reviews, though, so they were quick to assure me that they will take care of the damage. And I know they will. That's the kind of reputation they have.

What did I put in that thing?  Well…

We wanted a solid, well-built home that will be safe, well-insulated, and last a long time.  I did some upgrades… mainly things like upgraded linoleum throughout, with a thick, high-quality linoleum that will last a long time, and won’t be an allergy or asthma issue like carpet.  I turned the dressing table in the master bathroom into a linen closet.  I added a second, larger pantry to the kitchen.  I kept the options that extended the cabinets to the ceiling and upgraded them to a more durable kind (one of the upgrades the salesman had already figured I’d want).  I put in a gas stove and furnace, which I have missed since we lived in Delaware.  I put in some of the decorative upgrades they offered, such as arches in a couple of places.  These upgrades wouldn’t have accounted for a lot of weight, though.

Shay, on the other hand, requested some upgrades that added a significant amount of weight.  Thick plywood floors instead of oriented strand board.  2″ x 6″ exterior walls instead of 2″ x 4″.  Maximum insulation, something like 33/19/33.  Not a lot of weight in the insulation, but it gives you an idea of the types of upgrades he was after!

It has 2″ x 8″ floor joists on 16″ centers, just like a stick-built home, too.  Very nice.

We can’t wait to see it all put together, and also see the rooms we couldn’t get to that day.  Well, we could have, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut the plastic.

Until then, here’s a shot of part of the kitchen.  A bit grainy, but it’ll give you a idea what it looks like…

I upgraded the Formica, too. It was unclear whether it was more durable, but I had already chosen it before I knew it was an upgrade. I really like it. This island is humongous! I will be able to do so many things on it. I have a lot of counter space, even though I took some of it up adding the second pantry.

One of the standard features of the kitchen was a beautiful arch over the stove with columns that rested on the counters beside the stove.  It housed the vent and light.  As you can see, I did not get this feature, even though it was very pretty.  I was really concerned about how far away the light was from the stove, and that my mom would not be able to see well when she cooked.  I saw a photo of a model that had the arch, and the light was on.  You could see a little of the light on the wall behind the stove, but you couldn’t see the light on the stove.  For Mom’s sake, I nixed the arch.  We weren’t really sure how we would like navigating around the columns, anyway.

Thursday, the logger is supposed to come to take the trees we need removed, and grind the stumps.  He assured us that he doesn’t grind the stumps to the ground.  He grinds them into the ground, and grinds the roots, too.  They won’t be coming back, they won’t be termite havens, and they will be gone plenty enough for the home to go where they used to be.

Warning: Sporadic Posting Ahead

I’m sure pretty much everybody has moved at least once, so the craziness associated with it should be well understood!

Our moving day should be sometime in the next 2 – 3 weeks.  As you know, the actual moving day occurs in the middle of the move as a whole event.  Before moving day, there’s the packing, readying the new home, packing, getting permits, meeting contractors, packing, cleaning, contacting utilities, and packing.  After moving day, that’s a whole ‘nother level of craziness as you UNpack (and realize that somehow, even though you have all your boxes, you’ve lost half of your stuff!).

Then there’s the fact that I haven’t learned what sort of internet access there is out there.  I think there’s no broadband… at least, that’s what I heard a lady at permitting tell someone else.  When it was my turn, the poor gentleman who was helping me with my permits was having such a time spelling our name correctly (it’s Amish and a bit unique), that I forgot to ask specifically about internet access.

So anyhow, please bear with me as my posting will probably be a bit irregular for the next month or so.  Not that it’s ever been really regular, but I’ve been getting better.  :)

I will try very hard to keep y’all up on all the exciting things going on at our new little homestead!  My next post, which I will start working on as soon as I click the “Publish” button on this one, will fill you in on what has happened so far.

My last post, on hand-feeding baby bunnies, took me a week to complete!  :o  That’s how little we’ve been here lately.