Projects on the Prairie – Part 1

The Food Pantry

We have two families under one roof with 9 people. Sarah’s older son is visiting for the summer.  Since the Covid 19 pandemic we’ve been eating together.  I was cooking separately for John and I  because we have some dietary restrictions and we eat earlier in the day. That was just too complicated and too many cooks in the kitchen!

I’m fortunate to have a lot of cabinet space and a separate laundry room/food pantry.  But over the years the cabinets and laundry room have become a place for extra storage.  I have a reputation in the family for being a “tightwad”.  I call it frugal.  The thought of renting a storage unit to store extra junk would never cross my mind .  However, I’ve resorted to buying a pantry for extra food storage when I could sort through all the cabinets to make room for the extra food that is coming into our house.  Right now with gardening, raising chickens, and canning I just didn’t have the energy.  This unit I bought can always be used for my quilting and sewing supplies if it’s no longer needed for food in the future.  Plus, I got a great buy.

I purchased this direct from Sauder online.  Years ago I purchased a Sauder office desk when I was working from home as a Mortgage Broker and it’s still holding up very well. I love the built in shelves on the side door.  Shipping was free also.  This is not a paid commercial!  The only downside is that it came in many pieces.  John is quite mechanical but he really wasn’t in the mood to be putting this together.  After he laid out the pieces it went together pretty fast. 

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A New Twist on an Old Way

This paradigm shift we’re experiencing right now is forcing our family to think in new or rather old ways.  A few years back I purchased Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois for myself, my daughter-in-law and my best friend for Christmas.

Frugal person that I am, I purchased it from https://www.thriftbooks.com/share/?code=NeichQeK9l6gc0ie11qkdw%253d%253d  Ok, this is a shameless plug that will give you a 15% discount off their wonderful selection of books and give me a discount off my future orders.  Most of their books are under $4.00 and there is free shipping for orders $10 or more.  These are used books and you can pick the condition.  Most are in good condition.

When I purchased the book, I was very excited about having home baked bread that was not labor intensive and didn’t require an expensive bread machine.  Recipes include The Master Recipe, which is for enjoying an artisan loaf  every day and  so simple to make.  If you want to step it up a notch, there are recipes for pizza, flatbreads and pastries.

My daughter-in-law decided now was the time to dust off the book and start making daily fresh bread.  Yeah!  The less trips to the grocery store, the better. We had our first slice yesterday for lunch.  It’s slightly heavier than  store bought bread,  but still light enough that your family who only eats white Wonder Bread will love.  It’s also a healthy addition to your meal that is actually quite filling.

Our prayers are constantly with our country, our leaders and for those families who are  experiencing loss and sickness.  We’re trying to redeem the time.

redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16

 

 

 

Life Has Changed On The Prairie

Like everyone right now, we are faced with uncertainty mixed in with fear.  Taking action has added excitement and has helped to get our minds off dread of the virus and the future.

Our household now includes myself, my husband, my son and his wife and their 4 children, ages 12, 10, 7 and 5.  We have 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and a large room additionSacred Spaces that was a back porch that we enclosed.  My son and his family were renting a two story, 4 bedroom, 2 bath home on 10 acres that was perfect for their large family.  Their family included 2 cats and a growing rabbit family.  Then one day all that changed in an instant.  During a repair of a plumbing leak under the kitchen sink, the repairman thought he saw black mold which extended into the upstairs bathroom.  Before long, they had to move out.  School had started and because we live in a very rural area, there is a shortage of rental homes, especially for large families.  So we adjusted.  Our back porch is now their living area and we have 4 small children in one bedroom, ala “The Waltons”.  Its been exciting, challenging and a blessing to be a part of their lives every day.

Our life has always included a bit of “prepping”.  That’s part of country life.  In Oklahoma we need to be prepared for tornadoes and for winter ice storms.  A few years back our electric was out for 14 days due to an ice storm.  Fortunately our generator saw us through.  When the news begin to cover the Covid-19 and it’s possible spread to us, I began to inventory what we may need.

  1.  Prescriptions- I ordered a 90 day supply for John and I.
  2.  Over the Counter meds-Everything from headache, stomach, first aid to allergy relief.
  3.  Canned goods.
  4.  Meats- this year we are fortunate to have more than usual.  We have a deer that was harvested last November, part of a beef from the year before and a pig that was purchased from a lady who attends our church.
  5.  Gardening seeds and supplies.  In recent years our vegetable garden has got smaller each year.  This year my son and daughter-in-law has suggested we have a real garden, one that will support us.
  6.   Baking supplies – Flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt
  7.  Cleaning supplies – Lysol spray, disinfectant wipes, bleach, hydrogen peroxide
  8.   Paper goods – We don’t hoard toilet paper but with a family of 8 we keep a pretty good supply on hand.  My D-I-L purchased flannel to make “family cloth” if needed when the tp supply runs out.
  9.  Fuel and oil for cars, tractor and generator.
  10.  Get the cellar cleaned and stocked for tornado season.

I have a small flock of egg laying chickens that we keep in a movable pen.  They are aging and egg production has slowed down.  Yesterday, my Daughter-in-law and I went to Atwoods, our local farm goods store,  to purchase chicks, starter feed, and feeding equipment.  My plan was to only buy about 12 but my son suggested we get about 20.  They are straight run so we probably will have extra roosters that can be used for chicken and dumplings.

School has let out until April 6th here.  My grandchildren’s school year ends the first week of May so we expect school will not start back until the fall.  D-I-L is planning to homeschool the remainder of the year and possibly next year.

I’m sure there are holes in our planning.  We just do what we can and trust God for everything.  This is uncharted times for our generation but I feel as a family and a nation we’ll be much stronger having gone through this together.  How has your family prepared and what are you doing to keep up your spirits?

 

 

 

It’s Not A Simple Life

Several books over the past several years have talked about going back to “the simple life”. Several years ago, with a busy career in the banking world while trying to take care of my widowed Mother,  my husband and a teenage son  while commuting 2 hours a day found me dreaming of a simpler lifestyle.

A book that I happened to read, The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn was the catalyst for me to start making changes that would completely turn my life upside down. Amy’s book was a compilation of the newsletter she wrote of the same name. After a decade of debt in the 80’s, families were looking to get out of debt and leave the lifestyle of spending on things that didn’t matter and investing in the things that do matter. The things that mattered to me was having time to spend with my son,  help my Mother,  have time to grow spiritually and pursue hobbies and interests for which there was no time.  Through strategies I learned to payoff debt and living a frugal lifestyle, I was able to leave that job even though at the time I contributed over half of our family income.

Tightwad Gazette

I eventually went back to work a couple of days a week at my old job when my son was getting ready to go to college. I had an opportunity to work from home as a Mortgage Broker. This seemed like a no brainer at the time since I would no longer be commuting.    This was a high stress job with little time off over a 11 year period and once again I began dreaming about “the simple life”.  Another book that led me to set a goal and accomplish early retirement is Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. This book led me to think out of the box from the standard retirement advice given by financial planners which is usually save at least a million before you can retire and wait until your 67 to collect your Social Security.  Even though The Tightwad Gazette and Your Money or Your Life were written in the 90’s and some things are dated, the principles are eternal and still worth reading today.

Your Money or Your Life

 

If it’s not a simple life, then what is it? I say it’s a focused life. To achieve my goals, I had to focus on the goal, read everything I could find and put into practice those daily activities that would help me accomplish the long-term goals.

Last week John and I made a visit to Jamesport, Missouri. Jamesport is the home of a large Amish and old order Mennonite community.  I’ve admired the Amish ever since my quest for the simple life began. It was wonderful to hear the clop, clop, clop of the horse and buggys and enjoy the hospitality of our Mennonite host Marie at the Arbor House Inn. It almost sounds like a Beverly Lewis novel. I felt I was in one of her Amish novels. John pointed out to me their beautiful weed-free gardens. I felt a little ashamed about my weedy vegetable garden at home. I decided I needed to devote more time to the garden. While weeding, that’s when it hit me; the Amish do not live a simple lifestyle, it’s a focused life. They focus on what’s important to them and they give it their very best effort. Their devotion to God and family are their top priorities. It’s not simple in the way we might imagine a simple lifestyle. It’s very hard work raising large families, farming, growing gardens and canning for the winter.

Arbor House Inn

The Amish live by the Ordnung (church rules) which keeps them focused on what really counts.  In the English world (what the Amish call us) we would not give up our freedom to live this life, but we can decide on what is truly important and make daily decisions that keep us from being distracted from the life we really want to live. Ok, I am talking to myself.  I have lots of interests and get easily distracted. But my new goal is living a focused life (and having a weed-free garden).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Christmas Gift

In much anticipation I opened up the gift from my son and daughter-in-law.  When I saw the title on the box, “Pet Sweep Animal-Powered Debris Removal System” I tried hard to hide my disappointment. Had my 7-year-old granddaughter, who watches too many product commercials on T.V., made this recommendation?  We do have 3 dogs and living on a dirt road produces a large amount of dirt and hair.  I just didn’t see how this was going to work out.  As you can tell from the picture, Bailey our red Healer didn’t look very interested in earning her keep.

Fortunately, when I opened my package I found something more useful.

pet-gifts

My gullibility never ceases to amaze myself!

 

Man Week Has Arrived, a.k.a. Thanksgiving!

When I met my husband I soon learned that Thanksgiving doesn’t revolve around the turkey,  but the deer.  It’s rifle season week in Oklahoma.  Before we bought our home, we would make the trip to his sister’s home in the country so he could deer hunt.  I was very happy when we bought our home in the country so I could have our Thanksgiving dinner at home.

For many years now, I have called the beginning of deer season, “Man Week”. This was due to the invasion of men at our home.  Man Week has now become Man Season as duck hunting has become a popular past time as well.  Deer season has 3 phases: bow, primitive arms and rifle.  John does not bow hunt but we do have friends arriving who do.

A tradition on the first day of rifle season, which is tomorrow, is that John will get up way before day break and cook breakfast and have coffee ready for the men who will be hunting.  This year man week will include our granddaughter who took her first deer last year and is very excited to go out again.

I am a little tired (exhausted) by the time Thanksgiving is over, but it’s a wonderful feeling to have a family and friends tradition  that all look forward to coming back for the next year.

What traditions does your family enjoy around the holidays?

Recent Rains Have Us Kickin’ Up Our Heels!

It’s been dry for so long.  We’re enjoying the recent rains.  In past summers the drought and extreme heat killed pasture grasses forcing us to put out hay for cattle in August.  Shortage of hay drove up prices from $25 to $100 and up per round bale.  Ouch!

Praise God, it’s October and the cows are still enjoying green grass and children are happily playing in mud puddles!

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.” Isaiah 55:10  NLT