August 6, 2012

Keeping Big Picture

An update would be good before the month passes.

Jake's job situation is doing well, although his change from working at home to a commute has complicated some things, he will be transitioning back to home soon it looks like.  There is nothing like having a hubby that gets up early to finish the day by 3-4ish.  That extra hour is priceless with our little ones.  Right now we also have a lot of home projects to do as well. Evenings go by so fast!

It is a bit of a dilemma to have money to spend, desire to save, but then have a lot of things that we can do to improve our current home.  We have to prioritize and budget what is necessary and what we can look forward to after we get land.  It is all very exciting, but it is easy to rush certain things and neglect other priorities.  Keeping goals and writing down priorities should really help to keep focus.

Here are some things to remember:

1) No Debt
2) Budget Healthy Meals
3) Not too much dreaming - God knows our desires and true satisfaction is found in daily seeking Him!
4) Take care of what you have and enjoy it!

 I can get stuck in the details and forget about the big picture, but I LOVE finding movies like this to keep the inspiration going.  

July 12, 2012

A Realistic Garden - Lots of Variety!

First I want to apologize for the hideous formatting. Out of desperation I had to make something visable.  I am wondering if it is my blog theme that is causing issues.

I found a website that gives a planting schedule for the vegetables/fruits in our zone. This will give me a realistic idea of what Vegetables I can grow.   Zones 5-6 Planting Schedule. 

I found many sites that list some plants that are grown in zone 5, but they do not list ALL plants grown in zone 5.  I am thoroughly annoyed by this that I can't find a list of all common plants in zone 5. Even better, it would be nice to see a list that is categorized by plant type.(ornamental, vegetable, fruit, etc...) If anyone finds such a list, please pass it my way!  I may need to search at the library for this one.

Another site I just ran across is Harvest to Table. They also list a lot of farm and gardening blogs that I want to check out so I bookmarked for a later date.

I also appreciated the planting schedule at 2BSeeds that lists all hardiness zones and veggies.

Here are all foods we eat regularly that I would like to at least say that I attempted.  Some of these things we might do better to just buy in bulk from the experts (i.e. rice, beans, wheat, and oats)
Green beans
Swiss Chard
Black beans

Fruit trees are a dream to me.  I know it can be difficult to do organic, but I would like to at least try:

Fruit, melon, and squash
Butternut Squash
Acorn Squash

Black Walnut (perhaps a dwarf variety and away from other plants)
Almond (great ornamental front yard tree)

Herbs - basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, lavender, rose hip, rosemary

Flowers and trees (besides the already listed)  Peony (will be the first thing planted on our land...) , lilacs (every color), daisies, pansies, coleus, holly, roses, maple, did I mention lavender and lots of it!

July 11, 2012

Plans A, B, and C

While discussing timing/living options in preparation for our long term goals we came up with three plans.

Plan A)
    1. Move single wide to land to avoid lot rent and save more monthly.
    2. Save money to build home (the beauty of this is if we decide we don't like the land or the location we can sell the land and home, or attempt to, and possibly make money on it. Testing out the spot as it were and still having a well/septic set up for a more attractive sale.)
    3. After money is saved, build home on land while living in singlewide
    4. Sell single wide cheap or give it away to a needy family
    5. If we plan to stay and build we can use the current slab from the singlewide for part of the barn.

Plan B) Same as plan A, but purchasing a doublewide for temporary use instead of a singlewide. Here we would be a little more comfortable with more kids and could take longer to save to build what we need.

Plan C) This plan is simply to not build long term and to move a double wide onto the land to live in indefinitely.  The advantage of this plan would be the sq. footage of the home, possibly a 4 bedroom with a four-season room and more money to work with for animals, garden, and pond. The disadvantage of this plan is that we will not get the efficient home we wanted long term.

Plan D) Stay where we are paying lot rent, taking longer to save to build. We can still purchase and plan while living here.  This is a tough one because all that lot rent could go into saving for a build.

All of these are still being discussed and we may think of another plan as we consider the above options. We are in no rush, well, maybe a little out of excitement. Hehe. It is fun to discuss our future together with the children and we are even thinking about what a nice place we could have for the grand kids to come visit, Lord willing.  Who knows where God might call us to or away from.  Our lives are ultimately in His hands. Nothing gets past Him without his approval!

July 10, 2012

Educating and Decisions on Land

Since we are almost out of debt and attempting a savings we now are in "research" mode. We feel somewhat settled in our temporary home from the downsizing and fixing up we have done.  This time will be spent doing a lot of work on big picture, long term plans.  Where do we want to raise our family?  Where could we stay through our retirement?  Would we be close enough to town if Jake had to get a 9-5 punch clock job? Would I still be able to be a part of a homeschooling community? What about church? These are the kinds of questions, as would be expected, that we have been asking ourselves.

One thing we are keeping a close eye on are tax auctions for the counties we would consider being in.  We plan to attend one or two of the auctions this year to see what they are like.  There are 2 or 3 pieces of land that are desirable we may take the plunge on with what little savings we have at the moment, but it would only be if no one else bid on them, which is probably unlikely.

After much prayer, consideration, and lots of talking in between our children's needs we really do think the following things are important factors in our land decision for what we need the land for. We tried to think big picture and also look at important details. There are of course details not listed that should be considered with all land purchases (well, bugs, soil testing, mineral rights, etc...)

-At least 4 acres (at the very least)
-Either on water or large enough to dig a pond
-No more than 40 minutes from town we currently live in
-Close to a small town
-Preferably not next to farm land or wetland
-Able to have a few animals (chickens, bunnies, maybe a cow for meat(which would require a barn, in which case more than 4 acres would be best.))
-Electricity available at street (need to consider changing our blog name! We still want to do wind/solar, but still want to be connected to the grid to avoid battery storage.)

This is a fun time for us. We don't have to think too seriously right now, but still enjoying and being content with where we are right now in our decisions and the provisions we have at the moment.  While we focus on taking care of what we have we are excited for the future.  It would be nice to get out of lot rent (It was just raised $20/month), but we would not want to rush anything just to get out of lot rent.  We knew it would be like this, we are just anticipating our next step.


May 21, 2012

A "Manual" Housewife?

Can I do it?  Can I manually grind wheat and make juice?  Can I make 5 loaves of bread a week if we have a  few more kids? Can I keep up with the chickens, weed the garden, do the wash by hand, and homeschool on top of it all?  I could, but it would be all my life.  There would be no time for family or friends. If a family were to go all out with this lifestyle they would have to become a team, no questions asked. Everyone would need to do their part to help out the whole family.

At this point with two young ones I have to pick and choose.  So far here is what I have done to transition to a more "manual" lifestyle using people energy instead of other energy.

1) No dishwasher - We do all our dishes by hand
2) No more microwave - Not sure how much energy this saves, but it is taking away a conveniece that really isn't all that missed!  Supposedly it is healthier too!
3) Manual hand crank Juicer - A step to a healthy lifestyle.  Many people don't juice at all so it is somewhat irrelevant to the average family, but we have begun juicing wheatgrass.  Check out the awesome benefits of wheatgrass here
4) Manual wheat grinding - My 4 year old is getting in on this one. I hope to have a post on this soon, but I have yet to make a full whole wheat loaf or a loaf of bread without the bread machine. Why
5) Cutting back on the dryer - This is soon to be my next step. Since I do cloth diapers while at home it really is good to do some line drying.  While in the mobile home I would like to at least have an accordian drying rack or a ladder used creatively like one of these ideas.

I am doing quite well with this gradual transition.  This is a surprise because I am such a black and white all or nothing person.  If we were to do it all at once I would certainly give up the first week. Transitioning slowly gives me the opportunity to master different aspects of the lifestyle we would like to achieve. Maybe someday I'll be making my own soap, cloth napkins, and other things.

May 3, 2012

Back to planning

-Jake lost his job December 31, 2011
-We have been on unemployment and watched God provide in awesome ways
-We had a baby girl on January 15, 2012
-Jake found some really awesome freelance opportunities at the end of April, 2012.

So now we can begin to plan again. For a while we really just stopped looking at land, stopped dreaming and considering house options, because we found ourselves getting too anxious over something that might not work out. We were just thankful for each day with food on the table for these last 5 months. We have not struggled nearly as much as many people do around the world. 

Where are we in our land/home plans?  Last night we were talking about the future home for the family and the topic came up of electricity.  We decided that perhaps staying on the grid would keep us from having to have the whole battery shed thing so technically we probably will not be going "off grid", but we would still try to generate our own electricity with solar and wind. We will also still try to have a manual lifestyle using as little electricity as we can. 

So our next plan is to finish paying off the debt. (When we sold the house we said we wanted to be debt free in a year.  With Jake losing his job we weren't sure if that would happen, but hopefully within the next few months we can be completely debt free! I can't wait!

Then it is save save save for land as much as possible and to keep our informed eyes open for the right land. We will be making need and desires lists for land and I will share those when we make them.  I will also share with you some of our thoughts on the home, green house and energy and perhaps some ways I am transitioning as a wife and mom in our little single wide. We also have a raised garden with 8 beds at Jake's parents house not too far away.  

I am looking forward to getting back into a paced dream mode and looking forward to having you along for the journey!