Monday, August 26, 2013

Updates From the Farm

Things have been hopping out here on the farm! The garden is in full swing, canning is happening daily, kids are heading back to school, and winter prep is beginning.

 We made the decision as a family for me to quit my full time babysitting job. I've worked at home for the last three years doing at home daycare. It was a huge blessing but now that my children are older it had become increasingly difficult to home school and run a day care. It will be an adjustment financially and mentally. I almost feel like I'm on vacation all the time now!
A large part of why we decided it was time to move on is because my children have enrolled in a part time private school. It is the best of both worlds. The children all attend three days a week and spend the other two days at home doing their homework. They are all excited to begin our new adventure.

This summer has been one of the most difficult since we moved to the farm. The weather made it difficult to successfully raise our livestock. We have battled cocci odious and worms in the goats and sheep. My daughter lost her market goat to cocci right before our fair. It was a heartbreaking and costly loss. I made the decision to cull some of our livestock because of the worming issue and cost of winter upkeep. We sold the sheep and two of our dairy goats. We still have four dairy goats left and have decided that we won't purchase goats from off the farm again, unless it's a very trusted source. Lesson learned...some of my new livestock are what brought in the worms and cocci. I'm hopeful that we will be able to finally get the worms under control. I've rotated our pasture all summer and the remaining girls are in a completely new area. It's heartbreaking to sell some of my beloved dairy goats but we just couldn't continue to take the financial risk of sky rocketing vet bills.  We kept our most loved and kind girls.

The hen house also saw some changes. I purchased a variety of "mutt" hens when we first moved to the farm, plus some white leghorns. I never really wanted the variety of hens that we had and so we sold off all of them except two Easter Eggers who escaped the pen. My goal is to take the fall/winter off except for our two remaining hens and then in the spring purchase an entire flock of silver laced wyandotte hens.

Our garden has done relatively well considering the way the weather has been this year. My strawberry and red raspberry patches have been the best they've ever been.  My tomatoes are doing well too. We battled blossom end rot, but we escaped the blight that hit many of my friends gardens. I've been harvesting at least a peck, if not two pecks a day for a couple weeks. The sweet corn did great until the family of coons found it. We lost probably 15 doz. to them. Thankfully, my Amish "grocery store" had a great crop. I bought 10 doz. ears of corn for $20!

How has your summer been? Have you struggled in your garden or with your livestock this year?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bare Bones Grocery Budget

Our family is having a season of breaking. First, our riding lawn mower died, then, our washing machine ( the third one in FOUR years!!), then our push mower decided to stop running, and finally, a front coil spring on our van broke sending it to the shop for a week! When you live on a shoestring budget our "rainy day" fund didn't  have the funds to replace everything, so we've borrowed money from different parts of our budget to afford some of the repairs. One of the places we've taken money from is our grocery budget. Our current grocery budget is $250.00 plus another $100 for household needs for a total of $350. Here's how we're making it work.

1. As soon as you realize your grocery budget is going to be drastically reduced take inventory of your freezers, refrigerator, garden, and pantry. Write down everything you have and how much you have.

2. Make an extended menu plan. I made a month long menu plan based around what we had on hand.

3. Don't forget to include breakfast, lunch, and snacks!!

4. Set a rotating breakfast and lunch schedule so you can eliminate thinking about what to fix.

5. If you have a garden, check it daily for things that need to be picked and consumed. Thankfully, we have two large gardens so our snacks have been tons of fresh picked strawberries!

6. If you've wanted to eliminate bad habits such as coffee, drinking pop, or buying junk food now is the time! Your new budget can't handle buying those things.

7. Start a price book. This is the time to know exactly where the cheapest stores are. Don't put it off-this can make a huge difference in your budget!!

8. We are a gluten free family. Right now we can't afford any special gluten free flours so we're eating "naturally" gluten free: meats, veggies, and fruits.

9. Don't acquire any animals thinking they will reduce your grocery budget. We have dairy goats, laying hens, and meat chickens. They don't really reduce the budget though because we have to buy feed for them. The farm has it's own separate budget. My laying hens pay their way with the eggs I sell and thankfully, right now the goats are "free" because they're on pasture.

10. Our budget is pretty tight for a family of seven. We're doing okay but once my stockpile of oats, sugar, cocoa, etc starts running out it's going to be hard. Our plan is to take some scrap metal in and sell off some old camera equipment to give us some "bonus" money to start replacing them.

What are some ways you save money on your grocery budget?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Homestead Goals for 2013 Update

I was looking over some goals that I shared at the beginning of the year and realized that I've achieved some of them!

Purchase a Nubian doe.
Completed in March. We purchased a beautiful Nubian doe who is on a bottle. It's so much fun to have a bottle baby again! Mocha is my oldest daughters dairy doe to show in our fair. I'm excited to eventually be able to compare the Nubian milk to our saanens milk.

Purchase two wool sheep.
Completed yesterday! My son is now the proud of owner of two Shetland sheep. A ram lamb and a girl. He will be showing those as a breeding sheep project and then we'll start our own small flock.

To successfully breed our pig.
Unfortunately, our beloved pig passed away from unknown causes in late January. It was a devastating blow to the farm. She is still missed and I'm anxiously waiting on getting a new pig when the time is right!

Have you achieved any of your goals for your homestead?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Long Time, No Post

Life can be crazy sometimes can't it? Somehow, in the middle of trying to simplify my life, it seems it just kept getting more complicated! My husband was called back to work in early January. I picked up two extra kids to babysit. We added three new goats, two meat rabbits, and soon to be two lambs, a meat goat, and 100 broilers to the farm!  The days are never long enough to get everything I want done.

I've been spending time researching ways to make our lives run smoother and it seems to keep coming back to self discipline! I'm not very good at that! I must take the time to make our menus, grocery shop, prep and cook, clean the house, plant the garden, weed the garden, feed the animals, teach the children, love the husband, cherish the children, nurture my relationship with the Lord, be a good friend, and the list goes on and on. I'm overwhelmed just thinking about it! There's no way I can succeed at this is without self discipline.

Is it even possible to manage all that I have on my plate? Compared to some, it doesn't seem like much. We don't have activities that we run to every day. I'm not on the go. The days just seem to slip by without much accomplished.

Do you have any tips for me? Have you figured out how to accomplish all your needed tasks??

Monday, January 7, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

We are spending the month of January eating down our pantry. It might seem strange to eat through all your stockpile but, for our family we're in the process of changing our eating habits. We are going to embark on the GAPS eating plan. My hope is that by eating what we already have on hand it will free up some extra money in February to start purchasing more fruits, vegetables, and pastured meats.

coconut flour chocolate chip muffins
baked peanut butter oatmeal
gluten free snicker doodle coffee cake

gluten free pasta
gluten free grilled cheese/veggies
homemade lunchables
gluten free chicken nuggets/veggies
fend for yourself

gluten free oven fried chicken/mashed potato/peas
turkey burgers/fries
general tso chicken/rice
chicken enchilada bake/rice
pork tenderloin
homemade pizza

For more meal plans check out I'm an Organizing Junkie

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Homestead Goals for 2013

I can't believe that it's 2013 already! It seems like just yesterday I was thinking about my goals for 2012!

I am excited about what I hope to happen in our lives and on the farm this year. I feel like for the first time I'm finally getting my feet back under me and I'm able to farm, run a household, and home school.

Homestead Goal for 2013:

* Successfully raise 100 meat chickens.
2012 was NOT a successful year for us. My son lost his entire flock of meat chicks leaving him with no 4-H project. I purchased 25 meat chicks in November and we're down to FIVE! Clearly, raising meat chicks in the winter wasn't a good idea.

* Breed both of our dairy goats. Successfully milk both does.
  2012 brought us our first goat kid. I, finally, was able to successfully milk our Saanen doe. This year we're breeding our Toggenburg and our Saanen.

* Purchase a Nubian doe.

* Purchase two wool sheep.
 My son wants to try his hand at showing these this year.

* Successfully breed our sow.
 Yes, we've decided to keep the pig! My husband finally just told me to keep her and breed her. I feel blessed that he understands my crazy attachment to this pig. She comes right up for ear scratches and loves to be hugged. Strange right?

* Purchase 25 heritage breed laying hens

* Can much more of the following:
-grape juice
- peaches
- pears

* Grow more of the following:
- cucumbers
- sweet peas!
- shelling peas
- sweet corn

* Depend less  on the grocery store.
 This will mean being much more on top of things with the garden planning, purchasing of egg layers, and raising our meat.

What are some of your goals for your homestead in 2013?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Homestead Updates

We thought my husband had made it through all the lay offs but the second week of December brought an unexpected lay off. He is expecting to be called back into work sometime in January. ( Hopefully!!!) The good news was that he had two more paychecks coming but we also had some bad news. We weren't as faithful in saving money once he had received his job bid ( we had thought that would secure his position and that he wouldn't get laid off.).  Thankfully, I have my babysitting jobs to help keep us going since he doesn't qualify for unemployment. 

I purchased 25 meat chickens the week of Thanksgiving. We are now down to 16! The loss with these birds can be so high. I'm learning more and more that we need to overbuy so we can end up with some in the freezer! We're having a snow storm here today and I'm praying that the rest of the chickens will make it!

We still have the pig. Her new butcher date is set for Feb.3. I really hate the thought of taking her. I had no idea when we bought the pig that I would become so attached to her but she really is like a dog. She comes when you call her and loves to have her belly scratched! I know that I can't keep her. I just don't have the set up for her and the cost of feed is crazy! I don't think I could come out ahead even if I bred her. 

How are things around your homestead?