Friday, October 16, 2009

Frugal Ramblings

Since this is my first blog, I thought I would ramble about myself a little. I was born and raised as a country girl, but not too far from the big city of Seattle. I spent the first 12 years of married life in Hawaii, but I was always longing for more space and a garden. After a short stop back in Seattle, we bought a farm on forty acres in northern Wisconsin. Not only do I have ample space to garden, I have ample space for everything. Outside, that is. No closet space to be had in this 83 year old house. The barn is roomy though and my daughter has two old horses that she gets to play with. My son has a dog and my husband has two riding lawn mowers.

We are sure learning a lot about the ins and outs of living in the middle of nowhere. Friends don't come by often, unless they live next door. If you forgot to buy milk while in town, you can forget cereal the next morning. It's too far to drive thirty miles for anything less than an emergency. Chocolate is an emergency sometimes! We calculate the distance around here by how much it costs in gas to get there. Well, it's $8 to town and back or $20 to the big city.

We've experimented with different animals and know now what not to do. We kept two of the four horses and gave away the two sheep. When you have to wade through three feet of snow for four or five months in the winter, you must decide whether it's worth it to go out and feed them. I have twelve laying hens and one rooster. More than one rooster is too many. The little banty/silkies were quite terrorizing, so we kept Big Red. Imagine our suprise when we plucked the silkies and found they had black skin! Meat chickens are not normal and after two years of raising them to put in the freezer, I decided it's more cost effective and less annoying to just buy the Amish chicken at IGA. Chicken feed is expensive and they can eat a lot. Although the dog is adorable, he is pretty useless. His name is Buddy, but we call him Hank after "Hank the cow dog". If you haven't listened to the Hank tapes, you should check them out at the library. The cat has been flown from Hawaii to Seattle and then driven to Wisconsin twice. She loves winter because she gets to lay by the fire all day.

My first two summers of gardening have had mixed results. The weather is really unpredictable. The first frost really does come right up until June 10th and the last one can hit during the last week of August. You just never know. I'm working on raised beds with tunnel covers. I didn't have them completely done this year, but I'm hoping I'll be all set next spring. My first year I had tons of tomatoes. I canned salsa and spaghetti sauce and lots of tomatoes. This year, I had a terrible crop and did absolutely no canning. But, this spring we ate tons of salad and peas and broccoli and cabbage. I dug up lots of carrots and onions. Of course, there was zucchini by the bussel and we've eaten some really yummy butternut squash. I tryed experimenting with growing potatoes in trash bags, but it didn't go over very well. I don't know if it was the weird weather this summer or what. I'm putting them in the ground again next summer. We love to eat lots of potatoes, so I was really disappointed with my failed experiment.

Homeschooling has been a way of life to us for eleven years now. It's worked out well for all the moves we've made and I love how it makes our family close. It's a little harder out here in the country. Most of the kids friends live in town and so they only see them a couple times a week. 4H has been a big blessing for us in that regard. My daughter gets to ride horses weekly with 4H friends. She is also helping out with a reading and riding program at a friends stable. My son will be driving next summer. He is excited about that.

My newest endevor in life is couponing. I think I finally have the hang of it. Between my price book, coupons and the fact that I cook a lot from scratch, I been able to stay in my $60 per week food budget. (For those who will ask, yes that includes health, beauty and paper products and pet food.) My goal right now is to get it down to $50 per week. It takes time to get stocked up on bargins when you don't have extra money to throw at it. But once you get the cupboards pack up a little, it really makes a difference in the budget. I'll be blogging about my deals and savings as I find them. I also plan to blog about my frugal menu plans and recipes. It's like a little challenge for me and is what keeps me sane when the money pressure is building.

With Christmas just around the corner, I'll be on the look out for ways to make our season a little brighter with out blowing the bank. Any ideas are always welcome.

Happy Fall!

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