Change in the air

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It's with some trepidation that I acknowledge, we are about to make some pretty huge changes to life around here.
For eighteen or so years, we have been trying to establish a smallholding economy, live simple, walk lightly on the earth ... and on rented land, in a rented house, although we've had our glory days, they are few and far between.
I stayed home to home-school our daughters, and even when they moved to a christian school, and finally a state school, I worked from home. Firstly on our own ventures, and latterly on customer service call taking on the phone, from home.
Two years ago I stepped out in faith and applied for a job two days a week in a christian care home, on the admin staff. I got it, and have been doing it ever since, but we saw it as a support to my main function as wife, mother, and farmer.

Neil's decorating business is doing OK, but we both know we should be more focused, and it could do a lot more. We are drowning, and it is frustrating and heart breaking to be unable to do the smallest job around here, because we simply can't afford it.

Last week, I was brought into negotiations for a far bigger, far better job. There is a strong possibility that I will move towards getting that job, and then, for the first time in over twenty years, I will be at work full time.

A small cry goes out from my heart when I say that, but it's a practical solution. We've decided, I will have to work for a decent salary, Neil will have to build his business for all he's worth, and between us, we can get out of debt, gather some money, and howbeit a bit late in life, buy ourselves some security, God willing.

But here's what's important. We're going to nail this part time farm/homestead thing if it kills us. We've both agreed that it will be what keeps us sane. My side of it involves homemaking, growing the veg garden - growing us flowers (my commercial flower venture will likely be postponed) and blogging/writing about it. His is to keep a simple, straightforward, profitable small sheep operation running on the field, so that the field has a job, pays for itself, and is there for our future plans when we get through this. Oh and to decorate this house to within an inch of its life.

My Welsh pony Diva will have to go. Nearly all the goats will go, but we do plan on keeping house-goats. I'm not going back to commercially produced milk. The chickens will move over here, to be near to the house. I only wish the goats could but I suspect our narky neighbour would play up about that.

I really want to remember to share our progress - as we embrace frugal, part time, rented plot smallholding. (how many challenges can you pack into one project?!)

I know some of you live this hodge podge patchwork life as well - how is it going? Do you have any words of wisdom for me?

Stupid Tax

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Anyone who's listened to Dave Ramsey knows about Stupid Tax. It's what you pay for being a dimwit who gets into debt, or makes other bad financial decisions. Credit Card debt is Stupid Tax, as are parking fines, bank charges, overdue library fines - in fact if you could have avoided it by using your brain, and yet some how you're still paying it, it's Stupid Tax.
We have a lot of this darn tax to pay.
Today was Neil's birthday, and it was a pretty scrimpy day. I'd scraped money off the top of every category and bought him some work boots he wanted. H bought him a book - Church Zero - which he was excited about, and Boo bought him a new padded shirt.
We had a nice meal, and I plan on making him a lovely Indian Fakeaway sometime in the week.

But you know what? Paying off stupid tax and watching people you love go short of stuff on their special days absolutely stinks, so lets get at this debt and cash flow problem as soon as possible!

We are now designing a way to stay as true as possible to our homestead ideal - to make grow and produce anything we possibly can and avoid buying where we can learn to produce - and to stick to a simple and God honouring life - at the same time as moving up a gear in terms of earning and scrimping, to straighten up our stewardship and give ourselves choices.

This will involve selling some livestock,  concentrating on producing for ourselves and only selling surplus when it truly is surplus, and fitting the homesteading life in around more work off-site for both of us.

Watch this space for hopefully interesting hints on tips on how this works!






Progress

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I wonder if I get less done, or if I expect more of myself, get more done, and still whine?!
I feel like nothing got done today.
In reality, I cleared a bed for garlic - I was going to start planting, it's very late, but decided to let the bed and its evil couch grass roots lay open to the hopefully hard frost tonight. Maybe that will knock it back!
With H's help, I taped up a huge hole in the polytunnel. It's very much a first aid measure, but it's done.
I pricked out about a million larkspurs.
I took a good zip out of a dead pair of jeans, and put it into a good pair of jeans which had a broken zip (Neil's). To do this, I had to dig out my trusty Singer hand cranked machine. It did all those triple denim layers without complaint. I love that thing.
I fetched and carried girls to and fro - H to the yard, Boo to work, and onto town to meet her friends.
I invented and cooked lentil and bean burgers, I made burger rolls,  marmite chips and two kinds of coleslaw for supper.
I made two loaves of bread.
I made a pot holder out of part of the aforementioned busted up jeans.
H and I did all the afternoon chores - sheep, chickens, ponies, goats, turkeys and plants.
Written down, it looks a lot more!


Uber Frugal '16

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Going for it!
Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired! ©Dave Ramsey

I wrote those first two lines at the beginning of the year.
Clearly, I've written precious little else since.

The situation here has come to a head, and we have decided we have to get focused, get out of debt, and build ourselves a future. Who cares if I'm past the middle of the 50s? I work in a place where two of the residents are over 100. I'm not saying it's going to happen, only God knows that, but it's a bit early to be giving up, especially as the hubster is 8 years younger than me!

So, we have to make some hard choices, get on a written budget, and get out of the mess.Then we can work on making good things happen.

Homesteading on a shoestring is in one way a good mix - growing your own food and living simple ought to bring down the outgoings - but in another way, a challenge. When things go wrong, they go spectacularly wrong, and that usually *costs*!

I was offered extra hours at work, and I'm taking at least one more day. I'm pushing for a full five day week, but I don't think that's going to be offered.

Meanwhile, we've decided realistically that 'farm' activities need to be curbed this year, and my main or possibly only business venture will be a new one - cut flowers.  So I've bought a modest amount of seeds and a good book on the subject, and here we go.

I follow lots of great 'frugal' blogs - and I might be bothering one or two of the authors for a guest post and a bit of support!

Anyone else taking debt by the horns this year?


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