Tuesday, October 7, 2008

what to do now?

Since I've never shared it before, to the left is a picture of the little chicken coop I built for the 3 layers we currently have. It has wheels now, and I move it every other day to fresh grass around the back and side yard. You can see the ramp on the left bottom that the birds use as acess to the roost and nest boxes in the top. I nailed pieces of shoe molding every 3 inches along the length so they have something for traction, it's worked great. Not bad for being made from 2 landscape timbers (free from an 18 wheeler load of pipe), a small rabbit hutch (free from a freecycler), a few 2x4's (bulk load buy from craigslist),hinges and latches from the Habitat for Humanity store (at $1 each set), and chicken wire from Lowes. All in all I have only around $25 invested in it, including the brown paint done after this pic was taken ("oops" mix bin from lowes at $2 for a gallon can). It works fine for now with only 3 birds, but next year will get a bigger model of the same basic design when we get more birds.
The initial reason for this post was to talk a bit about where we go and what we do next. While reading the newest issue of Mother Earth News, there was a letter from an older woman in her late 60's. She told how she dreamed of homesteading her whole life, but something always got in the way. She's retired now, and has poor health, and can't. Her idea behind her letter was basically this-What is stopping you from following your dreams and when do you plan to do it before it's too late? It really made me think....a lot.
What DO we do next? We talk constantly about self suffiency, and make small changes here and there, but when are we going to take the BIG steps? What is stopping us? We have electricity and gas for heat and hot water. When can we get to the point that we can shut them off or use them very little? Why aren't we there yet?
Of course there is a money issue. We have a house and car payment, one credit card payment (we dont use it anymore), one loan payment, and utilities. We have electricity and gas. Cable is an option really, but we do occasionally watch something and I use the roadrunner for internet service. Gas runs the heat and hot water, everything else is electric. Utility bills SHOULD drop quite a bit now that the kids are gone, but they're still there. I'd love to go solar, but you have to BUY the materials of course, which would create another bill. I'd love to go with a wood cookstove and another for heat, but again, those aren't free. So what do we do?
First and foremost, I want to REALLY concentrate on getting some things paid off. I hate the fact that Lisa has to work, and so does she. For 3 years when we first married, she stayed home. Things ran smooth, bills were minimal,more got done, we were basically in better shape as far as the household goes. I lost my job and couldnt find work for almost 9 months, she had to go to work. We got so far behind that we both still have to work now. We miss the days of her being home, and we both want that again.
Tonight I want to sit down with her and seriously look at the bill situation. I want to do everything we can to get the most to these bills and get them paid down or off. I don't want to keep making excuses. I want to follow our dreams, even if it means making sacrifices. It's high time we WENT forward instead of just looking there.
I'll try to post tomorrow on how the talk went and what we have come up with. Off to work for now......


Patrice Farmer said...

I think you have a firm grasp on living your dream already, better than most people and if anyone can figure out how to become more self-sufficient and cheaply, I'm sure the two of you can.

Can you reduce some things like your car payment? Can you buy a used car payment free? I too have roadrunner but it comes with the cable and it is cheaper to keep the cable than to remove it, because if I remove it, they will charge me separately for separting the line and it would take nearly two months before we saw a difference. And if I reduced it from digital to regular its a savings of $14. So I keep it, its almost like you have to have cable nowadays esp. with this new digital revolution thing coming up...I really hope that you all can see your dreams come true and the first step is what you're doing, sitting down and mapping it out.

Patrice Farmer said...

Scratch what I said about the cable...you got me to thinking...I'm paying for the t.v. to watch me more than I watch it. I could save money if I turned it off in the long run and could put money away for things I really want in the future...like possibly goats. Thanks for posting this.

Chris W said...

The cable comes to mind just because it's such a horrible waste of time. For instance, last night after I finished a few things, I sat down to eat on the couch and turned on the tv. I watched "No Reservations" on the travel channel..then "Bizarre Foods" right after that. Before I knew it, it was 10pm and I had to get in the shower and go to bed. I'm sure there was SOMETHING I could have done in that 2 hour timespan. Even if there wasn't, I could have found something to read, and learned something, but all I learned in that 2 hours was that Samoans eat raw giant clams and that Anthony Bordain likes to drink...nothing useful at all, like 95% of what most anyone watches. I try to make the most out of "spare" time, but the tv is always handy and a good excuse to relax. I want to elimate that.
Part of the reason for the basement room I am working on is to make it a sort-of second living room. All of our homesteading/self reliance/gardening books are down here, as well as all the magazines we get or buy, and the computer. I want to make it not only an emergency/storage room, but a place to get away from the tv. Somewhere we can sit and relax, read a book, read to each other, and make plans with all the available reference material we have.
We all have those days or evenings when we just want to sit on our ass and veg, most of the time, that is well earned. I just want to make sure that my veg time is not wasted time. I'm almost done with putting things away down here. Now I want to be on the lookout for a decent couch and chair to put in here...make it kinda homy and comforting rather than look like a big office. Plus...I plan on leaving the furnace set kinda low, and using a small electric heater in here to keep it toasty...gotta lure Lisa in here somehow! LOL

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