Getting Back to Simple (and paying off debt)

book

We are firm believers in the powers of intention and manifestation.  You can paint your life however you wish.  We were desperately trying to manifest more income.  On the full moon we generally each light a candle of gratitude and ask for what we would like to see in our life.  Usually it’s more income.  Then it kind of hit me, we have actually doubled our income since June when Doug found a job.  Our online business has picked up and my work down south has too so it’s not a matter of making more money.  I realized we have been spending more money!

Oh, it’s so easy to do, isn’t it?  There was the debt to start paying again, of course, but there are plenty of places money falls through the cracks.  When I first started this blog over five years ago we were seriously starting to homestead.  Before we moved from that house I was canning four hundred jars of produce, growing food and ninety percent of my medicine herbs, had chickens, and Doug milked goats each morning.  I learned to make cheese.  I hand washed our clothes in an old wash bin with a handy plunger-like item that got our clothes far cleaner than the washer.  (We had all our kids at home and a grandbaby on the way so we did go get a washer.  Our washer here still doesn’t clean for anything.)  I made our body products (we sell them in our shop), cleaning products, sewed and handmade presents, and had like minded friends near by.

Being frugal is so much a part of being a homesteader.  Having some money set aside to get by is only a part of it.  I want to get rid of all of our debt (except the house) this year, fifteen months max.  My ideas never go as planned, but it is a good goal!  Debt is our jailor.

But it’s not just about money.  Once we moved around and lost and found ourselves again I had stopped making our own things.  Our skin is drier, we are paying five times more for organic body products when I can make my own.  Same with cleaning products.  I seem to have forgotten how to be frugal.  Frugalness is eco-friendly, healthier, savvier, and freer.  It is in the Homesteader’s Ten Commandments.

I hadn’t been to the library for a year because I have been playing at the book store (expensive!) and I decided that was a good first step.  Walking out of the library with a pile of books and movies makes me feel like I’m robbing the place!  Free knowledge!  I picked up a gem (which I may have to buy) called “Little House Living” by Merissa A. Alink.  As things run out I make the homemade version.  Her book is inspiring.  I have already made the dish soap (took five seconds and very little cash).  I could have written this book four years ago.  I love it and I love that it’s getting me back on track.  I love her rice mix, and her youth, and her story, and her recipes.  She shows us (or reshows us) that it takes no time at all to make your own things and the benefits far outweigh the minimum time and cost.

We will get that debt paid off and I will get back to my Little House on the Prairie self.  It’s good for the soul.

What are some ways that you stay frugal?

 

Favorite Farm Books

We love to read around here.  We are at the library a few times a week.  Emily has already started reading daily to Maryjane.  Transporting oneself into an adventure for free and the unlimited knowledge that we can obtain from books is something I do not take for granted!  I prefer farming memoirs over “how to” farm books.  I do love The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Living by Abigail Gehring.  It is a mega textbook that graces the coffee table and gets little use.  However should I ever need a reference for how to fix a fence, milk a goat, or grow raspberries, all I have to do is thumb through this trusty tower of farming wisdom.  I prefer the whimsy of tales from the farm.  Direct and full of set backs, disappointments, laugh out loud humor, and triumphs.  Teach me through your story.  I have learned everything thus far from memoirs of what others are doing and from trial and error.  These are my top ten favorite farm books.  They are entertaining, secretly educational, and great summer reading.  What are your favorite books?

wisdom of a radish coverThe Wisdom of a Radish; And Other Lessons Learned On a Small Farm by Lynda Browning

I really enjoyed this book.  I laughed about every minute of it.  Her personality is so beguiling and fun.  And the lessons learned I have already instituted on my own beginning farm!

made from scratch coverMade From Scratch; Discovering the Pleasures of a Homemade Life by Jenna Woginrich

This is one of the first books that set me on my current path.  Her prose is easy to read, like she is an old friend with a great sense of humor.  Stories of first time bees, chickens, learning the fiddle, and inspirations from her friend’s farm made me want to farm too.

barnheart cover Barnheart; incurable longing for a farm of one’s own also by Jenna Woginrich

She is one of my favorite authors.  This is the sequel to Made From Scratch and it is again like visiting an old friend, comfortable and speckled with humor.  From her rental farm, to driving around with sheep in her Subaru and to finally getting her own farm, this book is heartwarming and fun.

sheepish coverSheepish; Two Women, Fifty Sheep and Enough Wool to Save the Planet by Catherine Friend

Another laugh out loud memoir where she holds nothing back.  Her personal life, the personal life of sheep, and life on a farm are all painted realistically and hilariously!  I am about to read her other book, Hit By a Farm.

growing a farmerGrowing a Farmer; How I Learned to Live Off the Land by Kurt Timmermeister

From a shock of land covered in brambles and junk to a full working farm, this story is uplifting and entertaining.

the feast nearby coverThe Feast Nearby by Robin Mather

This book isn’t so much about farming, but of eating locally.  I ended up buying the book because there were so many delicious looking recipes!  After a heartbreaking divorce the author moves to a small cabin and tells delightful stories throughout the seasons.

the town that food saved cover The Town that Food Saved; How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food by Ben Hewitt

This book takes us on a journey of different farms around a town where local food and small farmers bring sustenance to the people in a small area.  A roadmap for all communities that wonder how to provide truly local food.  Inspiring.  Made me want to make cheese.

the good life book The Dirty Life; On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

A great story from city to family life on a farm, it is full of antidotes, lessons, and ideas for farming and what farming life really looks like.  A little whiny at times (Oh you poor dear, had to run off with a good looking farmer to the country and *gasp* live a freeing lifestyle…) but makes up for it in vivid writing.

animal vegetable cover Animal, Vegetable, Mineral; A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Though I was not impressed, nor pleased with her incessant bashing of vegetarians throughout the book, the general story captivated me.  Canning, preserving, growing enough food to survive, and eating in season all inspired me to try to do so myself.

the bucolic plagueThe Bucolic Plague; How Two Manhattanites Became Gentleman Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

One of my favorites.  I never laughed so hard.  The insights of a gay man and his partner, who works for Martha Stewart, stumbling upon an old farm and purchasing it.  Full of vivid local characters, darling baby goats, and great food all make up this wonderful memoir.  Funny and sensitive, a hilarious look at becoming a farmer.