Trading the Past for the Future

We have been making a lot of changes to help us reach our homesteading goal. But sometimes, old habits die-hard.

We’ve lived the American Dream most of our lives. Work hard, make money, buy lots of things, take nice vacations . . . .  Like I said, it’s the American Dream.  But somewhere along the way our dream changed and it changed dramatically.  We want to work hard, but we want to work hard to sustain ourselves.  We will need to make money for the necessities, but we want to live a life in which we have redefined what those necessities are.  We don’t need the nicest or biggest televisions.  We don’t need the nicest cars.  We don’t need to take fancy vacations (although I must admit I enjoy a nice vacation from time to time).  We need food, clothing, shelter and the means to get those things.  Those are the real necessities.

It’s not always easy to make big life changes, but trading our past life for our future life is a really good trade.  We just need constantly remind ourselves . . . . .

Mr. Fix-It

Part of the homesteading lifestyle, is the desire to do things ourselves.

Instead of buying all our food at the grocery store, we want to grow our own produce, raise our own meat, and provide ourselves with dairy products.

Instead of heating our home with gas or electric, we want to use wood that comes from our own property.

Instead of going out and replacing something that breaks, we should try to first fix it ourselves.

The list goes on, but the outcome is the same. We gain a higher level of self-sufficiency, we save money, we learn lessons and we have a level of satisfaction that we can’t get from outside resources.

Historically, when something breaks in our house we either call the repairman or we replace it.  So when the washing machine broke last week and flooded the house – you can read about it here – both hubby and I began shopping for a new washer.  Of course if I’m going to purchase a washer, then I should purchase the matching dryer.  After all, this set is somewhere between 12-15 years old, the dryer is bound to give up in the not too distant future and has served its purpose.  It doesn’t matter that the dryer still works, we can sell the set on Craigslist and put that money toward the new set.  Someone else will buy it, fix the washer and all will be good.

Then it happened.  Sticker shock!!!!!  Seriously people, why do washers and dryers cost so much money?  I’m quite sure they have doubled in price since I purchased my set and how many loads of laundry could I do at the Laundromat before I would have paid for a new set?  I began doing the math and it wasn’t pretty.

In the meantime, hubby switched his focus from shopping for a new washer and dryer to figuring out what the problem was with our washer, narrowed it down to the most likely problem and ordered the part.  Yesterday the part arrived and when he got home from work he rolled up his sleeves and went to work.  Within about 20 minutes everything was done and we tested it out.  No leaking.  I did a load of laundry.  No flood, not even a tiny leak.  It was the first time he has done any washing machine repair and my Mr. Fix-It man did a great job!!

By simply changing our mindset, we saved around $200 in repair costs and saved around $1500 by not running out to purchase new appliances.  Not only did we save a lot of money, but this experience has taught us a valuable lesson.  It has given us more confidence in our abilities or in this case, hubby’s abilities 🙂

” There Is A Lesson In Almost Everything That You Do, And Getting The Lesson Is How You Move Forward. It Is How Much You Enrich Your Spirt ” Oprah  ~ Mistake Quote

 

 

Less Cookies for More Happiness

When I first read this quote, I knew I had to include it in a post one day. So I held on to it until I was ready to use it.

Today, as I got ready to write a blog post, I read this quote again and realized how others might interrupt these words.

“Do whatever it takes to make you happy . . . . ”

There are so many things that we do to make ourselves happy.  But not all of those things create lasting happiness.  For a matter-of-fact, some things we do to make us feel happy can actually cause us unhappiness later on.

For example, I might decide to bake a batch of cookies.  The smell of those cookies baking makes me happy.  The taste of those cookies makes me happy.  But the bloated feeling from eating too many of those cookies and the extra pounds put on my body from eating those cookies, don’t make me happy.  It’s a fleeting moment of happiness.

Of course that’s just an example.  I may or may not have baked cookies, eaten too many cookies and put on some extra pounds from these cookies 😉

But now I’m getting off track, so let me get back to the point of this blog post.

When I originally read this quote, I thought of all the things I could be doing to help move me closer to my goals.  I thought of all the times I have allowed uncertainties and fear prevent me from taking bold steps forward.  I thought of all the times I focused on the obstacles and took my eyes off the bridges that could assist me in getting across those obstacles.  And then I may have baked cookies, eaten cookies, etc., etc.

What I need to do, is focus on the fact that happiness is a journey.   I need to open my eyes wider and look for the opportunities that exist, then take advantage of those opportunities.  Life is full of uncertainties, so I need to live each moment of my life to the fullest.  I need to do whatever it takes to stay on the happiness journey.

That is what this quote means to me and I need to post this in my kitchen so I’m less tempted by the cookies 🙂

Today Better Than Yesterday

My yesterday included laundry, which isn’t different from most days for me.  The washing machine was doing its job, while I chatted on the phone with a friend for a few minutes.  The call ended and I heard running water.  As typical in my house, there was kid noise and the weather lead me to believe I was hearing snow melting and running off the roof.  After quieting the noise, I realized the water I heard was not coming from outside, but inside.  I immediately headed toward the laundry room and found water running out into my family room.  AHHHHHH!!!!

The washing machine had finished running all cycles and was off, but water was still filling the machine and a steady stream of water was running from the bottom of the door of my front-load washer and onto the floor.  Over half the utility room, the entire 1/2 bath and a portion of my family room floor covered in water.

As quickly as I could, I moved the washer and dryer out-of-the-way so I could turn off the water.  With the water no longer filling the machine, I began to throw towels on the floor, but a considerable amount of water was obviously still in the machine as water continued to flow from under the door.  Unaware of how much water was in the machine, I tried turning it one to drain the water.  Unfortunately, my washer has a rule that says I can’t turn it back on without first opening the door.  So, I grabbed a bucket and hoped for the best.  As soon as the door opened, massive amounts of water poured out filling the bucket within seconds and the rest flooding my house even more.

After about 30 minutes, I had used the majority of towels in the house and had the majority of the water cleaned up.  Hoping there was no other damage to the washer, I put the wet towels into the drum and turned it to the spin cycle.  Fortunately, it worked and I was able to remove the excess water from the towels.   Of course the water was still turned off, so at least I didn’t have to worry about more flooding.

Now I had about 5 loads of towels sitting in baskets awaiting a trip to the Laundromat.  And not a trip on a beautiful winter day or even better a beautiful spring day.  No a trip to the Laundromat on a rainy winter day with 8-10 inches of snow now melting because of the rain and warmer temps.  A wet, slushy, dreary day of flooding inside and outside.

The beautiful thing about today is that I get the choice to make it better than yesterday.  So today I make the choice to not do laundry and that will most certainly make today better.

Weeks Homesteading Part 3 – Donkeys

For those who have been reading my blog for quite some time, you probably don’t remember me ever mentioning donkeys as part of our homesteading plan.  There is a good reason for that.

Donkeys were never a part of our homesteading plan.

But several weeks ago, I learned something about donkeys that I didn’t know.  Donkeys can be used a livestock guard animals.

Guard animals?!!!  Yes!!!  And they are especially good guard animals for sheep, goats and cattle.

I had absolutely no clue that donkeys were used as guard animals, yet it appears they will protect farm animals from coyote, wild dogs, fox, and bobcats.  They rely on sight and sound to detect intruders and will run after them and use their loud bray to run them off.  If the intruder doesn’t back down, the donkey will rear up on its hind legs and strike with both front feet.  A solid single blow from a donkey can severely injure or kill a predator.  Wow!!!

Not all donkeys are created equal, which means that not all donkeys are good at guarding.  For those who want more information on using donkeys as livestock guard animals, you can find some good information at Hobby Farms.com.

I still have no plans for a donkey on our little homestead, but it’s nice to have this information in my back pocket.

Heating the Homestead Cabin

When we decided to remodel our living room several years ago, we put in a gas fireplace.  Just flip the switch and we have a fire and a heat source.  While our primary source of heat comes from our gas furnace, this particular fireplace also came with a battery back-up.  We’ve lost power in the winter a few times and our furnace doesn’t work without power.  So a back-up source of heat was a wonderful selling point.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out quite as well as we had imagined it would.  For a matter-of-fact, I can only remember one time we were able to get the fireplace working during a power outage.  Not a good thing.

Our frustration with our gas fireplace has led hubby and I to some discussions on how we want to heat our future home.   We both enjoy watching the fire in our fireplace, but we do miss the sounds and smells that come with burning wood.  So as we consider features we would like to have in our next home, a wood-burning heat source is high on that list.  Power or no power, as long as we are diligent in making sure we have wood, we will always have heat.

Now the decision becomes fireplace or wood stove.  We discussed.  We researched.  Ultimately, we decided a wood stove is the best way to go.  No big masonry work required and less heat loss thru a chimney.   Twice a year cleaning of the wood stove pipe is recommended, but I’m sure that is something we can handle on our own.  The harder work will be cutting and hauling our own wood.  We learned a little about that last spring when the big Hackberry tree in our front yard got hit by lightning and fell.  Yet the thought of having wooded property that allows us to provide our own wood source and a  roaring fire in our wood stove providing heat to our home feels right.

And there are so many wood stove choices.  Like this one . . . . .

the Hearthstone 8012 woodstove.  It will heat up to 2500 square feet, will burn up to 10 hours with a heat time of up to 14 hours.  No need to get up in the middle of the night to put more logs on the fire.

Of course there is also the option of a wood cook stove.

But I haven’t researched them enough to know if I’m sold on that idea or not.

Making plans and considering all the little details of our homestead is part of the work that goes in to turning our dream into our reality.  Sometimes the decisions are easy and sometimes the decisions are hard work.  But it takes work and perseverance to turn dreams into our reality.  

Snowy Thoughts

The snow is coming down. It’s not coming down vertically as light fluffy flakes, but instead millions of tiny snow flakes are blowing horizontally across the yard.

DSC_1224

Every once in a while a stronger gust of wind sending even more flakes blowing off the roof of the house, spiraling down to the ground. Drifts of snow forming across the yard.  Our fire pit slowly being buried in white.

DSC_1227

 

According to the forecast, we have several more hours of snow yet to fall.  A total of 6″ – 8″ inches expected, with winds becoming stronger and temperatures continuing to drop as the day goes on.

Our dogs don’t seem to mind the snow at all.

Snowy face Zoey
Snowy face Zoey (Keeshond)

 

Jagger (Papillon) and Jada (Keeshond)
Jagger (Papillon) and Jada (Keeshond)

 

As I have been watching the winter storm today, my mind has been wandering to what our life on the homestead might be like in weather like this and I realize just how unprepared I am.  No insulated overalls, coat, or gloves for working in weather like this.  No insulated work boots either.  I do have a couple of pair of really thick, warm wool socks.  I suppose I could start a new farm fashion trend with my Vera Wang wool coat and Ugg boots, but somehow they just don’t ooze ‘farm life.’

So much learning and preparation that still needs to be done for our life on the farm.  And no time like the present to start learning and preparing.

 

1001 Posts

This is blog post 1001. I didn’t realize I had hit the 1000th post mark when I posted yesterday, so the little quote I am now so fond of was more appropriate than I realized – Don’t Quit.

I have stuck it out with my little blog for 6 1/2 years, although not all those years have been on WordPress (I started with Blogger before moving to WordPress) and it’s been a great way of journaling all the ups and downs as the Weeks’ Family travels our journey thru life.

Thank you for reading and following along.  I hope you’ll continue to check in from time to time as we strive to reach our dream of having our little piece of the country to build our homestead.  Who knows what might happen on this adventure!