Sunday, January 24, 2016

Just Surviving

No posts lately because things have been pretty rough around here for a while.  I got the goats settled in a temporary pen, but was unable to get the larger pen setup because apparently this entire pasture is rocks with a couple inches of dirt.  I could barely get the t posts in for the temp pen.  So far, it doesn't seem to be a problem for them, since they prefer to hang out in the goat house on cold days anyway.

I decided to make a run at the costume market again for Halloween this year, which wiped out October, then I temped as a supervisor at my former place of employment for the holiday season.  Things got hectic when I found I was expecting again, my health went down hill for a bit, but we are climbing out of the first trimester hole, trying to get some motivation going again.

I'm planning out my Spring course of action for the pasture, even though I'm going to be getting bigger by the day.  I'm hoping to have my Dad come up with his tractor and auger attachment to get the pasture in good enough shape that I can maybe think about adding chickens before May.  Gotta get back on track!

Photos of the Goats in September

These are my girls!  The twins are Princess Leia Organa and Queen Padme Amidala.   The other with my toddler(to show scale) is Kara "Starbuck" Thrace.  I'll post some more recent pics soon...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cart before the Goat?

I'm getting ahead of myself.  I had originally intended to learn small skills and work my way up to the bigger stuff.  But the heart wants what the heart wants and apparently the heart wanted goats!  Part of the push to get goats started because for the last two years I've observed a certain pattern on craigslist.  Come the fall, people start to sell off their extra livestock for cheap.  I have no proof of my theory, but I'm figuring that as people start to evaluate their winter feed needs, they start to liquidate their surplus animals.  I wanted to get in on this trend this year instead of next.  I had made arrangements to rent pasture in the prairie about 20 minutes away by bike/3 minutes by car.  I'm starting out with a 112' x 70' spot.  For the time being, the temporary pen is 25' x 8'.  I'm pretty proud of myself on the construction of the goat house.  Most of the materials used were free for the taking.  The base is free pallets from my husband's work, then 5 bales of straw ($3.50 each) form the lower walls and the top half is an old metal truck canopy.  There are windows and a flip up door.  The whole thing is waterproofed with free billboard tarps.

I've started with 3 goats.  I got the cute little mini togg(Nigerian/Toggenburg) doeling above for $60, $75 each for two sister doelings that are half Nigerian, and a quarter each Lamancha and Oberhasli.   For the time being, I'm just going to learn the skill of keeping livestock alive over the winter.  Once I have mastered that skill, on to breeding, kidding and milking!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

You only get to pick two

I used to make costumes for a living, kinda.  Let's say, I made costumes to make sure I could survive, because my job wasn't enough.  More specifically, I made what I call replica movie costumes.  Oh, you want to be Princess Leia for Halloween?  I can do that.  In the replica costume/cosplay world, you can have a costume that is accurate, cheap or fast, but you can't have all three.  If your costume is made quickly and accurately, you are going to spend a ton of money hiring someone to make it for you.  If you really want cheap and accurate, you are going to spend a great deal of time finding materials in your budget and then you are most likely going to spend tons of time machine and hand sewing, depending on the costume.  I once made an Arwen Mourning gown from Lord of the Rings for a client and I was behind on my timeline.  I stayed awake for 20 hours doing nothing but hand embroidery!  Lastly, if you don't care about down-to-the-last-detail accuracy, your costume can most likely be made cheaply and quickly.

In my prepping plans, I have tried to employ a similar dynamic.  I've observed that preps can be obtained cheaply, quickly and easily, but never all three, sometimes you only get one.  If you are rich, you can stockpile an impressive stash quickly and easily, but it will cost a pretty penny.  Good compost for gardening can be relatively effortless and low cost, but it takes time for the compost to work.  You can raise small livestock cheaply with fodder or expired food stuff from the stores, but you have to make the effort of picking it up or growing it everyday.  Growing food cheaply takes some time, but the canning and preserving take a great deal of effort.

Since I'm not affluent, the option for me is to focus on the preps that require more time and effort to obtain.  I watch craigslist quite frequently, especially the "free" section.  Great things can be for the time and effort of picking it up, and many things that people just want to get rid of can be used in an unconventional way to give it new purpose.  Take an old pickup truck canopy/shell.  I've found several photos online of people re-purposing them as chicken coops and goat houses.  Eureka!  I head to craigslist and there are 4 in the free section, begging to be picked up.  Free chicken coop, right there.  I took the time to figure out the closest and cheapest suppliers of bulk beans and grains.  Even just a little time and effort can bring down the bottom line.

So, time to develop the "skill" of saving money on preps, goodness knows I need to!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

After action report

Two weekend garage sales with a toddler was exhausting!  I'm not sure I was thinking straight, but we survived.  Overall, I learned some very useful information for the next planned garage sale in late September.  First, start early.  The first weekend, I only opened up at noon and went into the evening.  Apparently, this is not when folks are out looking.  Second, opening on Thursday, great idea.  The die hard shoppers are actively looking for sales.  The second weekend, I opened at noon on Thursday and did $85 in an hour, then nothing.  For the next garage sale I have, I'll open at 8 am on Thursday for sure.

The final numbers, $291 the first weekend (Thurs-Sat) and second weekend $340 so far.  I say so far because I added lots of fabric the second week and a friend had me set aside some fabric that she will pay for on her next paycheck.  What is really sad is that it hardly made a dent!  GAH!  I'll never be rid of it all!

So the plan is to rest up and go at it again in late September.  I might do it for two more weekends and then just donate what is left. In the meantime, I'll be listing all the fabric on "destashing" facebook groups and craiglist.

Friday, July 17, 2015

One Year, Per Person

This isn't skills related, but I will be posting my progress on my LTS food storage goals.  I have 3 months of food in the house right now for the three of us to live comfortably for 3 months.  In my mind, one needs at least a year supply of food.  My reason for this is that if the disaster that brings our country to its knees interrupts the food supply or inflation drives food out of your price range, you need to be able to survive and eat through at least one winter and growing cycle before you have produced enough food for the next year.  I don't have facts to throw at you to support this position, just my person philosophy.

As it stands, I have 10 adults(including me and hubby) and 5 children under 7 that I would feel obligated to save, should the worst happen.  These are all family.  I haven't mentioned that I'm planning on storing food for them because I don't need to be the crazy aunt right now.  So I've been doing what I do best, researching how much food you need for about 12 adults(5 children can equal 2 adults, yes?).  I'm focusing on grains, beans, sugar, salt, oil and spices.  With exception of oils, these are all easily stored in mylar bags.

I found an infographic on pintrest for 1 year supply of food for one person at 2200 calories a day. The good thing about that is if you ration the food to 50-75% of 2200, you can add more good eatin' time to the counter down clock and still survive.  Here's how I added it up:

12 Adults/1 Year

1100 lbs Beans (Lima, Pinto, Navy, Garbanzo, Lentils, Split Peas)

4800 lbs Grains (Popcorn/Cornmeal, Rice, Soft White Wheat, Hard White Wheat, Hard Red Wheat, Rolled Oats)

700 lbs Sugar (a lot for canning)
1.5 Gallons Molasses for making Brown Sugar

TBD  Salt
TBD Spices

I have the amounts, now where do I get them cheap and how much will it cost?!?  As for the where, I have found a couple of sources on the internet for local-ish grain and bean growers.  I purchased 50 lbs of split peas and lentils at Winco recently, packaged by the Columbia Bean and Produce, Inc.  There isn't much on the website, but I'm going to call them up and see what their walk-in prices are.  I will be cutting the Winco middle man out, especially if I buy in bulk.  The grains requirement might be fulfilled by Palouse Grain Growers, Inc.  Both of these suppliers are not super close to me, but are between me and my BOL.   If I save my money and take fewer trips, I can stock up quickly.

Sooooooo much stuff...

First day of my garage sale!!!  I was so excited!  My mom came up to hang for a couple of days, so I was able to open the sale a day early on Thursday.  We put our sandwich boards(made by my awesome FIL) out and within minutes had people stopping by.  I then put up a craigslist ad and had people coming 30 miles just to my sale!  All said and done, subtracting the $40 I took out in change, I cleared $200 in one day.  It didn't make a dent in what I have for sale.  How did I get so much crap..I mean salable items?!?