Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!)

Once a Farmgirl, Always a Farmgirl

Limbo.  A basement studio apartment graciously rented to us by our friend.  A shop trying to pick up steam.  A man working so hard.  What do we do now?

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We have always had plans.  Dreams.  Goals.  I need a homestead.  I don’t mind if it’s in town or not.  A goat, some chickens, a gardened front yard.  Clothes flicking in the wind on a clothes line.  The windows steamy from canning tomatoes.  Doug’s goal is financial security.  Once and for all.  When we spoke our wedding vows, for richer for poorer, we thought we’d get both!  Done with the poorer, he says.  His dream, his goal, his manifesting is security and to pay a light bill without wondering how to pay for groceries.  Mine is to do the same but in a little homestead.  With lace curtains in the windows, cats by the fire, fresh rolls baking in the oven.  Home sweet home.

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Homestead, here we come.

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!), Homestead

How to Become a Homesteader-Part 4-Thrift, Bartering, Splurge

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Finding balance is one of the things we all strive for in every aspect of our lives.  Becoming a homesteader is about living the life you want, that you dream of.  It’s about taking chances and knowing you can live on less.  It is about spending time in the gardens and with animals and friends and not giving our life to a corporation, who will have you replaced by the time you hit the parking lot, or grave.  This is about relationships; with community, with friends and family, with nature, with God.  This is about freedom.  When we are living on less, we need to know when to be thrifty, when to barter, and when to splurge.

You can find tops for empty wine bottles to turn them into lanterns at Lehman's or kitchen stores.  Just fill with lamp oil and whallah!
You can find tops for empty wine bottles to turn them into lanterns at Lehman’s or kitchen stores. Just fill with lamp oil and whallah!

Being thrifty means that we reuse a lot of things and we don’t produce a lot of waste.  This is helpful on our pocketbooks and the earth.  We find we need less.  We don’t go to an office job so we don’t need really nice clothes, nor do we worry too much about our appearance.  We use our clothes until they are torn.  Our cars have to be practically falling apart while driving before we get a “new” one.  We read books from the library and rarely purchase new.  We reuse rubber bands to fasten stems of greens together to sell.  We save all of our twist ties and use them to stake plants to trellises and tomato cages.  Wine corks can be put in the bottom of pots before filling with soil for drainage.  Boxes that are too small to put in the garden or use to store canning jars get torn up and are used as fire starters.  Wine bottles get turned into oil lamps.

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Bartering is imperative in the homesteading world.  Being able to trade for services that we cannot do ourselves helps us live on a small income and helps connect us to others.  Rod put up a screen door for us and Doug cleaned up his computer.  We are trading one of Elsa’s kids for one of Jenet’s Nubian kids.  Last year Joan and I traded canned goods so we would have a bit of variety.  We barter herbal medicines for a lot of things!

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When to splurge?  Buy good quality feed for your animals.  Buy organics for yourself if you didn’t produce them.  When buying tools, buy the best you can so you don’t have to repurchase.  Buy quality seeds.  Not everything need be cheap.  Sometimes a bargain costs much more in the end.

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Then there are other types of splurges.  We live this way to enjoy life.  My post about boxed wine gave folks a good laugh around town, I’ll tell you.  I received large boxes of wine and funny comments.  I bet knowing my affinity for good wine that you can guess that it wasn’t long before I was darn sick of boxed wine!  If it’s under $15, a bottle is worth it.  One can find a great deal of fabulous wines in that price range.  And if Doug and I aren’t running around wine bars all week like we used to, you can bet your overalls that I am going to enjoy my glass of single vineyard, estate grown wine with dinner!

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This weekend we are taking Emily, Bret, and our sweet Maryjane Rose up to Boulder to celebrate Emily’s birthday a bit early.  I bartered for the rooms at a gorgeous Bed and Breakfast.  We will splurge on great meals and make fond memories with our children.

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Enjoy the good life today folks.  Life is sweet.

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!), Homestead

How To Become a Homesteader-Part 1- Finances

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Our homesteading school garners a lot of interest and folks of all walks of life are more and more interested in leaving the rat race and joining the simple life.  Most people have a romanticized view of what homesteading looks like, but the good news is, most of those images are true.  It is lovely to live so simply and to not worry as much and to have more freedom with time.

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We have a lot of people, friends and family, ask how to get to this point.  How do you achieve the homestead?  How do you get your own place, your own farmstead?  How do you leave your job?  How do you walk away from your lifestyle?

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Here is the very first thing that one has to realize, grasp, and accept before they pursue this lifestyle.  You must be prepared to give up your way of life.  You must be prepared to give up a lot of things, a lot of comforts, a lot, in order to get away with living this way.  But you get much, much more in return.

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1. Regarding Work- unless you are independently wealthy or are expecting an inheritance, you’ll need to make an income.  There are a lot of people with “regular” jobs looking to escape to this lifestyle but do not want to give up the RV payment, the car payment, the cable package, the all electric run home, the big house, et cetera.  But, a lot of times the reason that people want to become homesteaders is to get away from those rat race jobs!  To not be reliant on others to keep them employed.  To not work 40+ hours a week breaking their backs and then expect to be able to go do chores and call in to work if a sick lamb is born.  Homesteading is about being your own boss.

There are the few that enjoy homesteading on the weekends or love their corporate jobs.  This is more about those of you that want to choose what you do from day to day, who want to live closer to nature, and who want to be less reliant on the system, and have faith in their abilities to provide for themselves.

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There is a new wave of entrepreneurs coming up.  People are realizing that four year college is not the answer most of the time for our young folk.  Heading into their adult lives with debt is not a great way to start out.  Trade schools are rising in popularity and for good reason.  There are few people my age that know how to fix plumbing, who can do carpentry, or who can fix their own cars.  We all got used to hiring people and that is expensive.  But if these young people can grab some of the training and jobs out there to do these things they can work for themselves and make a fair income.  Not just young people, if you need a new career, look into trade work.  If you know how to do these things, focus your energies on these skills to make a homestead income.

I have friends that make their entire living off of farming.  One needs less bills in order to achieve that.  We make a very nice living (it may be considered poverty level, but it works for us!) making and selling herbal medicines and teaching.

If you get your bills down low enough, an enjoyable part time job might be sufficient.

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2. Bills- Do you need a cable package?  Do you need television?  Do you need internet?  Can you use free wifi somewhere?  Get your bills down as low as you can on paper and then you will see how much you need to make per month.  Forget the five year plan, the “when we get this paid off” plan, “when we retire” plan.  Life is short, life is waiting, act soon!

Take away preconceived notions.  You do not need to own a lot of land to homestead.  Find a cheap rental with a friendly landlord.

As you get involved in this lifestyle you will find that you will meet more and more likeminded people.  Homesteaders are an amazing community of people that are always willing to help with advice and expertise and who love to barter!

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3. Debt- It seems impossible to get rid of the debt we accumulated through student loans and losing our house from our previous lifestyle but we certainly aren’t adding any more to it!  We do not use credit cards.  We do not take on debt.  We highly recommend the Dave Ramsey program.  Assume that if you can’t afford it today, you can’t afford it later!  A cash based budget is easier to keep track of.

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4. Rely on Yourself- Learn how to make alternative medicines.  They are every bit as effective as pharmaceuticals.  Barter for what you need if possible.  Preserve as much food as possible.  Heat your home with wood if possible.  Make a list of where your money goes….doctors, grocery stores, clothing stores, et cetera, and see what you can do for yourself.  Break it down even further.  Crackers on your grocery list?  Learn to make them!

It is empowering and takes some stress off of you if you can do it yourself.

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5.  Learn New Skills- Can you get a book on how to make home repairs?  Can you learn to build a fence?  Can you learn to make antibiotics?  Can you learn to can?

Yes you can!

This is the first step in successfully becoming a homesteader and leaving the status quo behind.

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We get to babysit our granddaughter while our daughter is at work part time because we make our own schedules.  We have so much fun with that little munchkin.  We have time to run around with our animals and enjoy the views here.  We have few worries here.  We are in control of our life and is there anything sweeter than that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!), Homestead

5 Steps To Becoming a Homesteader (or just simplifying your life)

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1.Write down your goals. 

Do you want to quit your job?  Move to the country?  Have an urban farm?  Homestead on the weekends?  Live a more peaceful, mindful life? 

We have been on the path to simplicity and homesteading for about seven years now.  It started with reading books like “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” by Barbara Kingsolver and wanting to learn to can and grow all of our own food.  I started canning (badly) and started a sad little garden in the city.  I got better!

Our goals were to leave our corporate world and busy suburban lifestyle.  When Doug had a nervous breakdown our timeline sped up.  Our goals constantly change and morph each year.  We have a pretty extreme list of homesteading goals right now.  I have no way of knowing if they will work, but I have written them down and am working towards them.  Ask and you shall receive!

  • Find a place with a small house that has a wood stove.  Wood cook stove?  Even better.  Said house should be around $850 a month.  Don’t laugh, it could happen.
  • Small house would be on a bit of land.  I need a full acre of garden.  A quarter acre at the moment provides us with 90% of our vegetables during the summer and early fall, and 80% of the medicinal herbs I use.  Another quarter acre could be the remaining herbs I need to grow, and additional fresh eating vegetables, plus a pond.  A green house and hoop houses could inhabit part of the remaining half acre and a large preservation garden (everything I need to can) and a spice garden (Lord, do I spend a lot on spices!) could round out this menagerie of growing Eden.  An orchard would be added as well and then of course we need room to walk about, have our goats, chickens, and ducks, and be able to ride our bikes to town.
  • A composting toilet and gray water systems could be in place.  We will use as little electricity as possible.
  • This will be a haven for our friends, children, grandchildren, and wildlife.

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2. Learn two skills. 

There was a vast amount of information about homesteading lost with our past generations.  We just don’t know how to do many of the basic skills and farmstead chores anymore.  Find a mentor or a class or a great book and make a goal to learn two things.  Two things a month, or two things a year, whatever works for you.   

A few years ago on this homestead I wanted chickens and to preserve almost all of our food for winter.  The next year I wanted goats and alpacas and to learn to spin.  I learned to spin, didn’t like it, didn’t care for the alpacas, gave away the alpacas, fell in love with goats, got more chickens, and canned over 500 items.  Homesteading is constant rearranging of goals.  This year we got bees and ducks and started growing almost all of our medicinal herbs.  We dug up the driveway to make more space to garden.  Last year we dug up the front and side yards.  Last year I learned to make soft cheese, this year hard cheese.  Doug has learned fencing methods and how to milk a goat.

We have learned what we enjoy, what we don’t, what’s a waste of time, what’s imperative to our homesteading journey.  Learning everything at once is not possible and would be overwhelming.  Just pick two skills.  What do you want to learn?

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3. Get Money Savvy    

Rethink your finances.  Get out of debt.  Stay out of debt.  But don’t wait for pristine credit before you make the jump.

Our BIGGEST mistake that will continue to haunt us for years to come was getting into debt.  We had fourteen credit cards, owned our house (or the bank did), had two car payments and had amazing, perfect credit.  Ironic, isn’t it?  We took the Dave Ramsey program at our church six years ago and it changed our lives.  We paid off and cut up all of our credit cards.  We do not have any still.  We paid off a lot of debt.  We then lost our house and one of our cars in the crash and our credit went to crap.  Which didn’t matter at the time because we were content renting for half the price of our house in Parker.  We have everything we need but there is the little matter of $50 grand from the second mortgage that still says it is an open account and $25,000 for the student loans we still owe.  There should be a money back guarantee.  If you don’t use your degree you should get a refund.  I do not see, with the interest rates the way they are, how we would ever in this lifetime pay these off.  If you are in debt, get out.  If you are not, do not venture into that pitfall.

Save a hundred dollars a month.  Pay yourself first.  Put it in a coffee can or the bank.

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4.  Simplify.  REALLY Simplify!

Every hour you work is money spent on something.  How many hours do you have to work to make enough to pay for the car?  Gas?  The house?  Cable?  Cell phones?  Restaurants?  Is it worth it?  What do you need?  How much time would you like?

It goes against every grain of our society to make less.  The mantra is make more, spend more, the more you make the more you can give, the more you can have, the more secure you will be.  Wrong.  I highly recommend you read “Radical Simplicity” by Jim Merkel.  It outlines our footprint on this planet as well as radically simplifying your life.  If you work less, you leave more work for others.  If you consume less, you leave more for others.  If you have less, you have to work less (this does not include the good kind of work on your own time on a farmstead).  The less you consume, the less resources you take from the planet, less pollution, less animal habitat loss, less unfairness.  Do you need a huge house?  Do you need to buy all of that packaged stuff?  Does it really bring happiness?

My goals are to lessen even more.  We are stressing over bills still and have too much stuff.  What is it with the seven sets of (gorgeous) antique dishes in my cupboards?  All the clothes I don’t wear?  The jewelry I don’t wear?  Where is our money going?  I am now writing it all down, the spending for each day.  See where the leaks are.  See what we don’t need.  What we don’t need to buy.  How much is everything really costing us?

And despite the stressing of leaching money, I want to make less.  No, I have not lost my mind.  I want to stay beneath the poverty line.  I have all the food I need, I am looking at lessening my rent, getting rid of my water bill and most of the electric bill, driving less, less gas money and wear and tear.  High taxes?  Don’t have them.  Where is your money going?

I am ready to simplify even more.  Make less money.  Offer medicines on a donation basis so that everyone can afford them.  Does cable television make us happy?  We don’t really watch it, so no.  That glass of wine in the evenings?  Yes, I don’t have to give that up.  By freeing up your money and where you spend it, you have only what you need and love.  And lots of time to watch the sunset and play with baby goats.

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5. Just Do It!

No more five year plan, maybe next year, only if he gets a raise, or when the kids move out.  There are no guarantees you will live long enough to live the life you really want.  Now is the time to act!

What can I say?  I have friends my age in their forties heading on to the Great Beyond and ones in their eighties who are too tired to do any more.  What is the best time to pursue your goals, cut your spending drastically, move to the place of your dreams, and start living self sufficiently?  Now is a real good time.  And if you cannot move yet or don’t want to, if you don’t want to quit your job or change much at all, just learn a few skills.  Cheese making?  Crocheting?  And urban garden?  Simplifying and homesteading can be done on many levels.

 

 

 

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!)

Funding and Getting the Life You Want

What is your dream life?  To live in a high rise apartment with a balcony of plants?  To live in a suburb surrounded by like-minded families?  To live in the country?  Life is really short.  Scarily so.  And in these fleeting moments, where do you want to wake up and spend your moments?  Where can you breathe?

What is your dream job?  A sleek 9-5 with all the perks?  Teaching or nursing?  Are you happy in the job you are in?  Perhaps you are retired or a housewife and you have money coming into the household.  There are always ways to make money.  May as well do something you love in order to make it.

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Change can be scary when we can’t see a clear path, but it always leads somewhere, and when following a dream, it tends to lead straight to that dream!  You don’t need a lot of money to follow a dream.  If it is meant to be, any money needed will show up just in the nick of time.

Now, how are we going to spend our money?  I have told you the story of our fancy living.  Our expensive mortgage, two car payments, upstanding jobs (where we were easily replaced….no job should take up so much space in your life) and our seemingly upscale lifestyle.  Cruises, expensive dinners, really bored kids.

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When we left it all, we were hanging on to an idea, a dream, and it played out before our eyes.  The house coming up for rent, the shop coming up for rent, the farmer’s markets being fantastic.  But that is just house and finances (granted, while helping people along the way).  How do we want to spend our money?  How do we want to live our life?

We go on more little trips and mini-vacations than anyone we know.  We have this split personality where we want to be homebodies and farm and live a simple life….while traveling.  Actually, we don’t want to travel all the time, but we have found solace and renewal in overnight or two stays throughout the year.

We barter for stays at a Bed and Breakfast in Boulder Canyon.  We go to the hot springs for the day in Idaho Springs.  We go to holiday festivals.  We stay a few days in Colorado Springs (45 minutes away).  We play hard, we work hard, we rest hard.  How do we pay for it?

We don’t have smart phones, Iphones, tremendously fast internet (Not that we could out here anyway!), a ton of cable channels, or data on our phones.  Our phones are cheap, off Ebay, and do the trick.  They call out and usually accept calls coming in.  (Now, of course, if it were up to me, we’d have even less….compromise is important in a marriage though.)  With the money that almost everyone we know uses on these seemingly necessary objects, we visit new places.

You can live big on just a little by deciding what is important and what is not.  We don’t buy a lot of new clothes and if we do they are Walmart specials, thrift store, or on sale.  We have over 500,000 miles between our two cars.  (I should probably start budgeting for a new truck.)  We don’t have car payments.  We live in a community where my rent seems like a lot, but it is nearly half of what we were paying in the suburbs.  We provide our own health insurance in the form of herbal medicines.

When we eat out, it is at the nicest restaurants.  We go to bed and breakfasts.  We play.  We have a modest emergency fund, clothes, a roof over our heads, a lot of food preserved for winter, and lots of memories.

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We took Bret, Emily and little Maryjane up to Manitou Springs overnight Monday.  It was their second anniversary.  We stayed at a very old, and beautiful bed and breakfast.  We took Maryjane to meet Santa at the North Pole.  We treated the kids to fondue at a restaurant voted the most romantic.  We made memories as a family.  We made our bond that much stronger and had a nice 24 hour rest.

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Last weekend we took our daughters Shyanne and Emily as well as Bret and Maryjane to the pumpkin festival we attend each year.  We missed our son who was not able to attend for the first time, but we continued to make some memories, build a scarecrow, and had a few breakdowns as well as triumphs, just like when they were little.

In a few weeks we will be in California visiting our friends, staying in their home, cooking fresh meals, enjoying real seafood, and touring wineries.  Cheap airfare, generous friends sharing their home, and saving a little extra instead of spending it on other things will provide a five day memory making trip.

How do you want to live?  Where?  Doing what?  With whom?  Now is the time to take action and make your dreams come true.  Live how you want!

(Our journey has not come to a stand still.  Our shop has closed, our classes have picked up, we want that larger farm where we have no town restrictions and can homestead how we want!  We are still working and dreaming towards that…)

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!), Food/Wine (and preserving)

Veggies on the Cheap

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Preserving food for the winter is a smart thing to do.  Whether a snow storm keeps you indoors or for some reason there is a tragedy and the grocery store is not available to you to buy food, you best have some stores.  You could can, dehydrate, or freeze (though watch for power outages), and store root crops.  I have plenty of posts on how to do so but where do you get the vegetables affordably?  A case of vegetables at the grocery store would be cost prohibitive.  I am farming a quarter acre but I will not have enough to eat now and get us through the entire winter.  We better head to the farmer’s market.

  • Ask for seconds.  Ask the farm early in the day to save you the slightly bruised tomatoes to make sauce with.  Or the apricots to can.  Or anything that may be still good but it is not pretty enough to sell.  You could end up taking home cases of plenty good produce!
  • Ask how much a case of something is.  If it is in season it will be cheaper.  You may be surprised that it is not as much as you would think and you are supporting a farmer.
  • Go at the end of the day and see what is left.  Farmers don’t generally want to take things home.
  • Seek out friends with gardens.  Everything is usually ready at once!  Farms come in all sizes.
  • When at the market, don’t ask how much everything is individually.  If you fill up a big bag or box with stuff then ask how much it is, you will get a better deal.
  • Start a friendship up with people at the farm.  Friends get deals, and making friends is always a great way to improve life even if you didn’t get anything!  Be a loyal customer.  Loyal customers get deals.

Now time is ticking!  Best get preserving!

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!), Homestead

Homesteading Freedom

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Everything costs something; either time or money.  Everything will require something as its payment.  We used to have a cleaning lady, nice cars, enjoyed expensive restaurants, took the kids on cruises.  We worked hard for the money and spent it on what we deemed the good life.  But it was a farce.  It was an illusion of freedom.  Behind cubicle walls and by his phone strapped to his belt, Doug was actually a prisoner.  I, too, even though I owned my own business and raised my own children, was stuck in the “gotta make more money” and “need more time” trap that so many moms feel these days.

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Emily, Shyanne, and Peep

I remember clearly a conversation that my friends and I were having at dinner one night when we talked about organic, vegetarian food compared to quick, processed food.  They were arguing with me that theirs was far cheaper.  I said, “A bag of organic beans is less than two dollars!”  “But you have to spend more time making everything.  We don’t have time.  You have to spend more time to save money.”

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Doug and I are working ridiculous amounts of hours right now.  We are putting up money and goods for the winter like little squirrels….exhausted ones!  But we know the trade off.  One always has to work.  What will you work for?  I want to work on preparing and storing my own food, making what clothing I can, selling excess to help pay bills, creating and selling herbal medicines to support us on our own time.  We heal people, we are as self sufficient as we can be at this moment, we work hard, but we fall into bed satisfied each evening.  We are much happier than we ever were when our tax returns said we were living a good life.  We know that we traded money for time.  Time spent doing things we want to do and creating a life that is more satisfying to us than our run-around city life.

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We try to walk softer on the earth.  Not use so many resources.  Pollute less.  Use less electricity.  Buy less stuff.  Stay home more and enjoy each other and our animals.  We have created a life no one expected us to have.  Don’t wait.  Don’t do the five year plan….the “when I retire”….”the when I get land”….the “when I get married”…the “when the kids move out”…just do it.  If you want to live simply.  If you want to take that leap of faith to become a homesteader, do it now. Life goes faster than anyone wants to admit, and the peace of living as a homesteader far outweighs any fears.  Homesteading is freedom.

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!)

Self Fulfilled Prophesies

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Do you believe in self fulfilled prophesies?  “Careful what you wish for, it just may come true.”  “Guard your mind and thoughts.”  “Put it out in the universe and watch it come to life.”  I have mentioned before that by writing out or saying what you desire is like a prayer waiting to be answered.  It is pretty astounding, actually.  It always works!  I have not been living my own belief here lately.  Doug snapped me back into reality, by yelling, “Self fulfilled prophesy!” at my whining that I don’t know if we are going to make it here.  He said we will make it here.  Our business will still thrive.  Our customers will find us online or hanging out at the coffee shop.  Our bills will be paid.  We will have more time together.  And this little farm will suit us just fine for a long time.  We are alright.  We lit a prayer candle.  And that was that.  Case closed.

For the past year I have complained about having a retail shop.  Not having a business, but the retail shop itself.  I am more of a one-on-one talker, a teacher.  Doug is the talker, the people person.  People love him.  I am not a sales person.  I have no patience for stupid remarks or jokes.  I am behind the scenes.  I successfully develop Diabetes medicine.  I am tired of people thinking we are witches because we brew Echinacea.  It’s just silly.  I thought of selling the shop until Doug gave me a look of sheer horror.  He loves our little business.  We help an extraordinary amount of people and animals.  I want a farm and to teach classes, I said.  I don’t want a shop.  Our shop is now closing.  Whoops.  Did I do that?  Yikes, I hope not.

And the farm has landed here.  Nearly everything I wanted in a farm, a place to do classes, and sell the herbal medicines.  Plus a genius computer husband that can make us an even better online store for Garden Fairy Apothecary.  I can have a pot of tea ready for anyone who wants to come by the house and visit while refilling their tincture bottles.  I have what I asked for.  What I wanted!  I guess I just didn’t mean this second.  I wanted this.  It came.  We will make enough money to survive here.  Not a million bucks.  Just enough!  No worries.  Self prophesy.  We will succeed!  And help and educate people for many years to come.  Keep thinking positive, people!  It works.  Make your own destiny.

Do you have a self fulfilled prophesy to share?  Would love to hear it!

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!)

Re-Simplifying

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We go through lots of changes, moves, lifestyle changes, job changes, but we have always tried to simplify in the process.  More meaningful work, less bills, less consumerism, more good, simple fun.  Inevitably things sneak back up and though we are not “as bad” as we used to be, we certainly are not that simple anymore.  I look around and there are a lot of items to dust!  The cable and cell phone bills are more than the utilities.  The amount of gas money we need is exorbitant!  Where the heck are we going that we have to drive so much?  Our shop is seven miles away and everything else is in walking distance.  (I do go drive to pick up Emily and Maryjane quite a bit, I’ll give you that one.  But ever so worth it!)  At least we haven’t picked up our really bad habits again like credit cards, but we still need to look around and see what is happening here.

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Where did I get all of this stuff?  Oh my poor friends.  We asked them to move us last year.  We saved a thousand dollars not getting a moving van and it looked like we didn’t have all that much stuff.  John and his kids grabbed their horse trailers and our friends from all around came to our rescue.  As I saw them driving up, vans, and trucks, and horse trailers, and cars full of stuff, my mouth dropped open and a glazed look of shock took over.  Where the heck are we putting all this…ahem…stuff?  The garage is packed.  The basement is packed.  The more I take to charity the more it seems to procreate.  I think my junk is cloning itself.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we are not hoarders or packrats.  Our house looks very nice.  I just get to wondering, why don’t I sell the piano and make a rent payment?  Because it is almost a hundred years old, and in perfect condition, and I play it for two minutes once a year…or so.  Why don’t I sell the hutch that takes so much space?  Oh, and why do I have seven sets of dishes?  Where did all these tables come from?  I might need them.  I love my roll top desk. It has taken up residence in the garage for the time being…for the last year….hmm.  We are having a garage sale this weekend.

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Where is our money going?  Well, right now I guess I could ask, what money?  Ever since our vacation things have just been dwindling down and I better straighten up.  Sales are way down and we have had to use our savings to pay bills and taxes and even though the farmer’s markets are starting soon, what happens afterwards?  We eat out too much.  It is fun and tasty and a habit we really ought to knock out.  We spend a lot on gas.  We dwindle.  We have contracts with the cable and phone companies until the end of the year and we can readdress those.  What we really need and who has a better deal, etc.  Those are really our only extra curricular bills.  It is possible that our student loans may never get paid off at our current rate!  Time to evaluate our money situation and what we are going to do and start implementing all of the things I have been preparing for.  Grow and put up all of our food for this year.  What I cannot grow enough of, I can get from farmer friends.  I can freeze enough milk for the year to make cheese with over the winter.  I can get cheese from the store on sale and wax it myself.  Lisa taught me that.  It will stay good for twenty-five years that way.  Holy smokes.  That is some aged cheese!  Play more cards, read more books, use less electricity, cook all of our meals.  Be a good homesteading housewife, for crying out loud!  And get back to that good simple life we adore and aspire to.

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Sometimes you just need to re-evaluate.

Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!), Homestead

Support Your Local Homestead!

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For centuries women have tended the home and the family and on the side sold things made by their hands to help support their family.  It seems to be an innate instinct in us.  Many homesteaders are entrepreneurs.  In this economy it can be scary out there.  What can we do to make sure we can put food on the table?  What can we craft, make, sell excess of, teach?  There are many opportunities to start a homestead business.  I have always told my homeschooled children that I would rather them make a smaller amount of money and work their own hours taking pride in making things from their own hands then to be cooped up in a cubicle day in and day out unappreciated!

Over here, we are trying to reinvent our business. (Doug and I will be doing markets as well.) Trying to be resourceful to appeal to the public and the community so that we can put food on our table while helping those around us.  Nancy is looking for the same thing.  We absorbed everything Joel Salatin told us in an intimate gathering and farm to table dinner last summer.  We have read books.  I have actually exhausted every single farming book available to me in the library system. (Can someone please publish another one?  I need something to read!)  We feel the need pulsing through our blood streams to become farmers.  There are no books specific to us.  We are not in our early twenties.  We do not qualify for the term “Greenhorns”.  Pity, it is such a fun name!  Most of the farmers are older and are retiring.  There are only names signifying possible craziness when two middle aged women want to become farmers.  But boy do we look cute out in the garden!  What we do have is collective business experience, a youthful exuberance and tons of energy and ideas, and two daughters willing to tag along and help!  We have computer savvy husbands with two sets of extra strong hands.  We have support.  We have creativity and a great collection of cute farmgirl clothes and aprons.  Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to wear my bonnet at markets!  Somewhere it will fit in!

IMG_0368  (Farm fresh eggs with sunny orange yolks)

Many great businesses have been started by resourceful women…and men.  The local businesses on your street need their community in order to survive.  What you can do is support these businesses.  The same people you see at the bank, at the grocery store, in your church.  These people need your help.  I wish I could tell people, even people that shop at my store, that every time they go purchase herbal medicines and salves at the big health food store, they put me that much closer to going out of business.  Every time one goes to Cost Cutters instead of the single mom cutting hair, she can’t pay one of her bills.  Big corporations pay their bills just fine.  We small businesses are often cheaper, you get more, you get more quality, and yet we are forgotten in the shadow of a big store.  Granted if no one in my neighborhood is crafting shovels and I need one, I go to Walmart.  I won’t lie.  But there are so many shops on our quiet Main street that could supply a wealth of what people are looking for.  Farmer’s markets help bring the people together.  I don’t know about all the tents of people selling stuff they bought.  Packaged pancake mixes and magical weight loss mixtures, but those that make and craft and grow.  Those are my heroes, the ones I want to help.

2012-05-09_19.10.12 (Emily with Nancy and Faleena’s goat)

Nancy and I are making rich soaps, all organic ingredients.  Made from her goat’s milk.  We have made them beautiful, simple, clean.  I am making my famous lotion, renaming it Farmgirl Face and Body Cream for the markets.  I have made soy wax candles in darling coffee cups.  I have made aprons, double stitched and darling, a staple for any farm girl.  I have planted rows and rows of greens.  Nancy has planted even more rows and rows…and rows of greens!  We have herbs growing.  My dining room is overflowing with over-wintered herbs for cooking.  Our spoiled rotten (but adorable) chickens are all laying and we will sell our combined rations of fresh eggs with their beautiful orange yolks.  Nancy and Faleena will be busy baking muffins, breads, pies, and other goodies.  Emily is hand roasting organic coffee beans and designing the packaging.  She is also selling cups of coffee at the market with fresh goat’s milk and sugar.  Emily and I spent an afternoon developing many medicinal tea blends and packaging them.  We have organic green and black teas to offer as well.  Medicinal honeys add a sweet touch to administering medicine and our collection of extracts that have been our staple for years will be there as well.  We have fresh preserves, jams, beets, zucchini and more that we have sat in hot kitchens canning.  Emily is making organic baby food.  Faleena is spreading the word about us in the media world.  Doug has made us a darling logo and is making our labels and banners.  Steve tilled up the soil for Nancy.  We are set!  We are ready!  Come out and say hello to us at markets!  (And you can certainly go “like” our page on Facebook.. https://www.facebook.com/5Farmgirls?ref=hl ) Farm to table dinners….classes….the ideas are endless.

flower power (The youngest Farmgirl, Maryjane, will be at markets)

What homestead business could you start?  What is your skill and passion?  And what business could you support to keep your local economy, nay your neighbors, strong?