New Year Goals

We are already a few days into 2015 but I would like to wish everyone a happy new year. I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year and the one that is upcoming over the last few days, trying to figure out my goals for the upcoming year. Looking back at my 2014 Goals, I didn’t accomplish any of the things I had written. There are reasons for each with money and time spent elsewhere being the two biggest factors. Another reason I have been stuck in a rut with some of the projects is because I didn’t know if I would be staying here at all. Up until I moved back for my new job, I was thinking about selling the place to focus on getting out of debt. Now, I think I will be around for a while, but the thought of selling the place hasn’t left.

So, big projects like a new greenhouse, permanent chicken coop and a nice dock for the pond, are not on my priority list. Yes, we could really use a new coop, especially since Heather bought a bunch of new chickens a couple weeks ago to produce more eggs and hopefully keep up with the demand she has had at work. We have only gotten two eggs so far out of 8 new hens that are supposed to be laying, but I think the stress of the move and weather are a big factor in that. By springtime the other 5 (hopefully) hens she got should be laying as well so we should have more than enough eggs then.

As for my 2015 goals, I’m trying to stay simple this year. And simple is one of my goals. Simplifying my life that is. Easy as it sounds, it may be difficult to do.  A tiny house has been on my mind lately, with part of the thought being that I have too much stuff if I ever wanted to live in one.  I’ve started to downsize the amount of stuff that I have by listing things I don’t need or want on Craigslist. It will be an ongoing process but will hopefully bring in a few extra dollars towards my next goal, paying down debt. Between school loans, credit cards and my truck, my life would be a lot simpler with a few less creditors. I’m still listening to Dave Ramsey and have already started (or attempting anyways) to use cash only as part of my monthly budget. The next step is to save my $1000 emergency fund, followed by paying whatever extra I have every month towards the lowest balance loan. I’m hoping to get rid of my credit cards and maybe my smallest school loan this year. The truck doesn’t have a sign in the window yet, but it will be for sale as soon as I can get a cheap car or truck.

I would also like to clean up and fix up the property as much as I can on a limited budget. Cleaning the pond is something I can do by hand, even though it isn’t much fun. The muck, which is made up of all the dead leaves, algae and whatever else has fallen into the pond over the years, should make a good fertilizer for my garden. Continuing to build the garden soil, build raised beds from materials I have laying around and maybe try a hugelkultur type bed or two with the sticks and branches laying around are also inexpensive tasks I hope to accomplish this year.

In list form, here are my goals for 2015, which includes a few that I haven’t talked about yet, but shouldn’t need much explanation.

  1. Simplify life
  2. Save $1000 emergency fund
  3. Pay off debt
  4. Lose 40 pounds
  5. Sell/donate  unneeded/unwanted things
  6. Cycle instead of drive
  7. Buy cheaper vehicle/ sell truck
  8. Volunteer
  9. Clean pond
  10. Build raised beds/ build garden soil
  11. Cook more/ stop eating out
  12. Take a multi day hiking camping and/or canoeing trip
  13. Sell more eggs

And one from last year that I want to work harder towards…

14.  Produce at least 25% of food requirements here.  I don’t think I quite met this goal last year, even though I was able to put up more food than I expected from the garden, especially with not being here a good portion of the summer.  I also had the 15 meat birds, some of which are still in the freezer, along with some frozen corn and green beans (soon to be dinner).  Meat chickens and rabbits will contribute towards my protein needs this year and with any luck I’ll have a bountiful harvest with enough to can for the winter.

Another weekend in the books.  I’m sitting here watching some Big Bang Theory and thinking about everything that has been going on the past week.  The weather has been up and down.  It rained most of the day yesterday.

Picked up some brick/concrete off Craigslist to start filling in one low spot.  Proceeded to get the truck stuck for a day at the same time.  Today I picked up some free fencing.  Some split rail which we will use somewhere and some privacy fence which I plan to use as siding on the woodshed or chicken coop.

More flowers have bloomed.  Some daylilies have started popping up. Blueberries are starting to get buds.  The grapes which I’m not sure have survived the winter seem to be getting buds as well.  I’ve been cleaning up the garden and around the house.

Need to finish up my laundry.  Bed will follow soon.  Another work week starts tomorrow.

Birthday Weekend

Saturday was my 27th birthday.  I didn’t do anything around the house most of the weekend, but that was mostly because we got another 5 inches of snow on Friday.  But on Saturday I went and picked up a Singer Treadle Sewing machine that I had saw on Ebay Classifieds for $25 (quite a steal, really- I checked out Craigslist and there were several similar on there for $250+).  Turned out to be made in 1934 and still in very good shape.  The elderly lady I bought it from said that she used it to make all of her daughter’s clothes, but she was moving out of her townhouse and needed to sell a lot of stuff.  After getting that home I went and sold some antiques and pottery that I had purchased at auction a while back to a small store that buys/sells that kind of stuff.

I was buying stuff when I was laid off to eventually sell at the flea market or online, but since going back to work I haven’t been able to go to the auction and continue getting stuff.  I made a small profit on the items I sold but I was hoping they would buy all of the stuff I had so I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.  It surprised me what items they were interested in (like some chinese made wooden toys) and which they passed by without a second thought (like some prints from a famous artist whose name escapes me at the moment).  So I will have to find someone else who might be interested in the rest.

Sunday we went to the “My Furry Valentine” pet adoption event, which is where Heather had adopted our dog Cooper at last year.  We wanted to go talk to the rescue and tell them how he is doing.  I made sure to tell Heather before we got there that she is NOT allowed to sit on the floor and let any animals curl up in her lap this year, which was the moment last year that I knew we would be going home with a new little plott hound puppy.  He has grown to be an annoyingly needy 55 pound wannabe lap dog, who is jealous if Zoe, the almost 13 year old plott hound mix, or Alexis, the cat, is getting the attention instead of him.  And his favorite toy lately has been his food bowl, which I have to admit is kind of cute when he sits looking like a little beggar, as in the picture below.

Cooper

After eating some pizza for lunch we went to Home Depot for some more tubing so I can finish tapping the maple trees.  I also picked up a bunch of wood off their bargain cart, which was 70% off.  Mostly I got some 2x4s that are slightly bowed, or on a couple of the 16′ 2x4s the last 2-3′ were bent but the rest was fine.  The plan is to use them along with the free lumber I got a couple weeks ago to frame up the chicken coop and woodshed.  Now I just need to find some cheap/free siding and roofing to finish it all off (let me know if have any sources for those).

Today it is back to the grind and the dreadful hour-each-way commute that I have every day.  I like my job but HATE the commute, so even though it looks like they will hire me on when my 3 month contract is up at the end of the month, I am still looking for something closer to the house.  Look for a post about “What I Want to be When I Grow Up” that is soon to come.

Until later…

Chuck (away)From the Rural Side

 

Craigslist

Craigslist is a website that I will say I am addicted to, along with others like Homesteading Today, MSN and Yahoo.  I log on to CL about a dozen times a day, mostly looking to see if there are any free items that I could use.  A couple days ago a guy had a post for 2×3 lumber for $20.  The picture looked like a good stack of wood so I emailed.  I heard back from him yesterday and he was frustrated with other people not showing up wasting his time.  He said if I could come by that evening I could have all of it for free.  SCORE!  So I went last night and picked it up.  It ended up being 2×3 rough cut, mostly poplar, in lengths from 6-10′.  He had bought it off an auction hoping to use it to frame out his basement but a lot of the boards are not perfectly straight.  I got about 70 of these laying at the house now, waiting for me to use them on the next project.  I think I can frame most of the new chicken coop and a woodshed with them.  I had been collecting pallets for this purpose but now I think I will use them to keep the firewood off the ground.

Spam is one of the worst things I have dealt with on CL.  I have dealt with some of the people off CL who say they will be there and never show up- something I have never done to those I have told I would be there.  Then there are people who try to get something of value for nothing.  My other pet peeve is when I email somebody and never hear back even though they repost the item as still being available- like a posting for free patio pavers and rock that I replied to 3-4 times back in the fall and never heard anything back even though they posted it every couple days for a few weeks.

I had a posting up earlier this week for free railroad ties and telephone poles that I want to get rid of and got a bunch of emails.  I am supposed to have somebody come out Saturday to get them and he has a line of people behind him if he doesn’t show up.  I emailed everybody back to tell them they were in line, but I won’t wait hours to tell the next person to come get them.  The weather is supposed to be warmer this weekend so I want to get the things out of there and get my garden cleaned up.  I also have a bunch of branches to clean up from the trees I cut down Sunday- something I will talk about in my next post.

Until Later…

Chuck From the Rural Side