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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pennies from heaven

Phil and I went to the grocery store the other day. We came out about the same time as a guy carrying a case of beer. I am not sure why I even noticed him, but I saw as he walked out the door of the store he raised his hand and threw money on the ground. I thought surely he must have thrown some pennies down, but when I took the shopping cart back to the store I found 2 quarters and 3 pennies. I wonder if this person had so much money he could just throw it away? Why in the world would you simply throw money away like that?

I have always lived rather frugally, and I am comfortable with that. I have always lived below my means. I don’t enjoy shopping for expensive new clothing. I really would like to live in a home that had new working modern appliances and a large kitchen. But I am OK with what I have. I enjoy canning and preserving much of the food we consume. I totally love the chickens. I am not excited about butchering them, but it will be wonderful to have fresh chicken in the freezer.

I don’t really enjoy eating out in a fancy restaurant. I enjoy going out sometimes, but expensive restaurants put me on edge, always afraid I will do the wrong thing. I was raised in a very common family. We seldom went out to eat when I was a kid. I would rather grill out at home and eat at the picnic table (if I had one that didn’t wobble like crazy).

I wish I didn’t have to work full time, and could enjoy our home more. In another 15 years more or less that will be fulfilled. If I had been wiser with my investments I could probably retire earlier than 65 – 70. I was so busy raising the kids I didn’t put any money away until I actually started making money at my current job. I am thankful that I have every penny Mom left to us girls when she died, plus what I have been able to add to that every month. I don’t obsess about money, but I do want to be able to live above the poverty level when I retire. Mom and Dad taught the three older girls to save and work hard. (The youngest missed those lessons.)  I pray that I have passed along some of those lessons to my children.

Pennies from heaven picked up and invested can bring big dreams for the future, figuratively or otherwise.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Molly is a working girl now

Last week I went to the “upper garden” to check things out. This is a spot I planted berry plants and the leftover starter plants in. I started “clearing” the area a couple of years ago by covering the grass/weeds with a layer of cardboard and straw/hay/leaves etc. I love this way of clearing a new area, not so much work!

The berry plants are finally starting to take off. We got a few golden raspberries this year and some really huge blackberries. I don’t know if the blueberries are ever going to take off. The soil is not exactly what they like.

I planted lots of tomatoes and peppers in March as starters to share with our neighbor and Delana. Unfortunately neither of them wanted any, so I had quite a few left overs and nothing to do with them. Rather than throw them away I planted them in the area that had little time to prepare to be a growing field. I was quite proud of they way they popped up; some had fruits on the plants already. Not bad for a left over useless piece of land.

When I went up the other day I was filled with horror. Most of the tomato tops were gone, some of the pepper plants were munched, lots of berries were eaten, and the pumpkin and gourd plants had been decimated. We don’t have that area fenced in, I am not sure if it ever will be. I decided that Molly needs to start doing her job, and be a farm dog. I told Phil I was moving her doghouse and she was going to start sleeping outside from now on. He is not happy with me. He wants the animals to all sleep in beds, with pillows and comforters. She is doing a wonderful job protecting “her” property. I am happy to report that the deer have stopped eating that garden. Unfortunately since she is tied up she can’t protect everything and they are still munching what they can in the front area. SIGH, it just never ends. Molly is a hard working girl. I am thankful she is part of our family.

Molly got the emply peanut butter jar to clean it out ... then got it stuck on her head!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Totally Joann

I am feeling so good about myself. This is the very first time in ........... I don't remember when.

In December I went to see my doctor and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It was high enough she was concerned enough she wanted to make sure I got immediate attention. She put me on some medication and I took it as I was supposed to, but I still didn't "get it". I went in for my follow up visit and my blood pressure didn't improve much ... all I was doing was taking the pills (most of the time). She scolded me and sent me home with more medications. I went back a few months later and she laid it on the line for me. She said something like, if you want to stay alive to watch your grandchildren mature, you have to make some changes in your life.

It was a wake up call. I joined a gym and I joined weight watchers. I go to the gym 4 times a week over my lunch and WW on the other day. I have lost 22 1/2 pounds and I have lowered my blood pressure. Yesterday and today it was lower than "normal" 104/53. I am feeling quite good about myself. I am getting so addicted to feeling good that I would like to spend more time at the gym... I honestly don't know how. The only option is to go in the early morning .... I just don't think I can get up any earlier than I already am. Going after work is not an option. I always have a ton of work at home to do in the evenings. I'll have to work on that!!!! My goal is to get my blood pressure under control so that I no longer need to take the medication. Also to loose enough weight that Phil will find me more interesting than the Royals cheerleaders. (Just a joke, but he DID end up following one of the cheerleaders and helping her tote a huge dice) I am finding more energy to climb steps and find myself less out of breath after doing something strenuous.

If I keep this up I will live a very long life.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday .......... another auction

What a killer day this has been! It was an auction day, and we have been looking forward to it for quite some time. We both love auctions but sometimes spend to much money … and but some crazy things. Today was no exception. The first cool thing that happened is that I met some “old home” people. Phil is always talking to people, and met one of the Hammons family from Weeping Water. The guy never did tell me his first name, but he is related to the funeral home Hammonds …. So I am sure I would probably know him from my youth days. The auctioneer is a cousin of the Mason family … Dad and Bill Mason used to be good friends. What a small world it is.

So, we got there around 8:30 this morning (we needed time to check everything out). There was so much STUFF it was amazing. I was excited to find a chicken plucker (got it for $30) and a few canning jars (about 3 doz for $1). Phil found a new lawn mower for $300 … and excited to see them listed on line for well over $1,000. I was heartbroken that I didn’t get the Ford tractor … Phil said the bad tires made it a liability. We also got a chicken feeder for $2 plus a shade screen (that we have been looking everywhere for) for the coop. I think the most amazing price was for a really big trailer (hay rack size) for $4. The silliest was a mobile burn barrel. But the wheels are steel and look really cool. Maybe we can put something else on the wheels.

There was a cute little lawn tractor that didn’t work and sold for $10. The guy who bought it said if we want it, he is probably not going to take it home. Another project for Phil. It was a good day; we met nice people and really enjoyed the time with them. It was so hot that I thought I was going to melt a few times. My skin is getting to dark I don’t think I can burn anymore … but I don’t know after standing outside for 8 hours straight! We went through 6 bottles of tea and water that I brought from home, plus 5 bottles we bought at the auction! I don’t know what the high was today …. But I am sure it was well over 90. I think we are getting tougher!

Tomorrow morning we have to go to Springfield and pick up Hay for the gardens. I am so thankful for all of the free hay we have gotten this year. The gardens are well mulched and happy. We have had to work hard to bring the hay home …. But no complaints it was free. We have a new source of manure …. haven’t had the time/ability to take advantage of it yet but I certainly plan on finding the time. He is close and will even load it for me.

Life on Pooh acres is good. We love it here. What a wonderful gift we have been given, the ability to live out here and enjoy life they way God intended us to life.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The beat goes on ..... and the beat goes on

Have you ever heard a chicken coo? I forgot over the years what a peaceful sound chickens make. For the most part they walk around scratching and picking at the oats we throw out for them. Phil says they have an egg laying cluck … I am not convinced of that but he has been around them more than I have. Tonight one of them (we don’t have names for them yet) started cackling/clucking like crazy(the laying an egg sound according to Phil) ….. she didn’t lay an egg. They are so peaceful and easy. I want more … at least 10. The plan is to grow the flock in the spring then in the fall winter over only 10 or 12. Next fall our freezer will be full of yummy Sunday dinners. We are enjoying the fresh eggs every day. I am so excited to have fresh eggs because I see how much prettier they are than store eggs. I read about the Omega 3 that they produce and how healthy that is for you.

Last night we had a wonderful “garden” dinner. We had fried potatoes with onion and garlic from the garden (it was SOOOOO good) and broccoli and beets (neither one of us thought we liked them until we tried them again) fresh salad, tomatoes and cucumber slices. We didn’t grow the T-bone steaks, but they were farm raised. It was a wonderful dinner. I am so excited to have more fresh food throughout the summer.

We are trying some new “stuff” this year. I planted lima beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans. I have never grown eggplant until this year. I am still not entirely sure what to do with the eggplant that is ready to pick. Every year I want to try at least one thing I have never tried. Phil is expanding the lower garden for next year …. I am SO excited, I can’t wait!!!!!!!

He said he is going to expand the “original” garden from the fence to the retaining wall. He wants to make that an herb garden. I am currently planting herbs by the garage but they are going crazy and growing over one another. It will be so cool to have a specific area for each herb.

I am so excited to see the changes over the last three years. Phil reminded me this evening when we moved here there were no outbuildings (except the garage and barn). Much of the property was covered in trash. There was just nothing going on. We have worked very hard. Pooh Acres is looking very good. We look more and more like a farm every day.

On a personal note. I am SO excited. At my weigh in this week I have lost 20 pounds. I am working so hard at getting healthy. I am still going to the gym 4 days a week (unless I have to get my oil changed or ????) and weight watchers one day a week. I think I am doing a good job. I am thankful that Shanna is going to WW with me, and giving me encouragement. I know I have done this before, but the high blood pressure diagnosis has given me a reason to want to get healthy. I am thankful to the two older sisters being my cheerleaders. I will get more healthy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry ..... wait only chicks.

Things are happening now! Phil finished the chicken coop (95%) last weekend. We still need electricity and water but we have a great enclosure and coop (it is built better than a prison! I don’t think anything will get in or out of it). Wednesday I picked up 2 chickens. It was so cool to put them in the pen and watch them scratch and pick and get to know their new home. Thursday Phil’s friend (and the hired hand at Pooh acres) gave us 4 more chickens. I was very surprised when we got home last night at dark and I saw so many chickens in the coop.

Tonight when I got home I went to the coop to check out the “chicks” and I found 3 eggs! One was white, one brown and the last pink. I believe I know what we will have for breakfast tomorrow!!

We went to an auction last night. It started at 5 PM ……. We left around dark. It was fun. I got a pressure canner (the last one I got for $12 and sold for $25) that I plan to put on Craig’s list, and some canning jars. Phil got a couple of toys, some extension cords, and the mother load of wood. We spent $250, but we probably got more than $1000-$1500 worth of wood. We have everything from a simple 6’ 1 X 8 to a 24’ 6 X 6. We started bringing it home today ….. It is amazing how much wood we got. Phil and Rudy (the hired hand) brought home two loads today and I helped with the third when I got home from work. I think there is one more load tomorrow. I wanted to help but they will be getting the wood during Ruby’s game. This is her last game I will be able to see so I will be there. I didn’t realize how much wood there was until we started bringing it home. I have no idea what we are going to do with all of it. I guess there are some projects in the making. One thing I am SURE I will get out of this is my hammock.

Last year I bought a wonderful hammock dreaming of a lazy nap in the shade after working in the gardens. The problem is we don’t have any trees the right distance apart to put the silly thing up. Phil said he would put two 4 X 6’s in, but they really have to go down a ways to make sure it will hold us. (We got some of those in the misc. wood). I can see me napping in the afternoon enjoying the fruits of my labors …… OK, maybe not in the middle of the afternoon. Well me taking a nap is unheard of, but perhaps I will try to change that.

The garden is beginning to “come in”. I was so late in getting things planted … we had so much rain this spring. I am sad the peas are already gone. We have had a ton of “greens”. Beans are getting close and corn will be soon. I am excited for tomatoes and peppers! Potatoes look like they will be bountiful this year. We planted the “leftovers” from last year plus our neighbor brought some seed potatoes over that she didn’t have room for. I planted sweet potatoes this year. I am excited to see what kind of yield they will bring. The watermelon plants have softball size melons on them. The kidney beans are big, and the squash seems to be growing like crazy. Yummm, what a fest we have waiting for us. We are so blessed to have this property and the opportunity to take advantage of the blessings.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Three years?

It has been 3 years since we signed on the dotted line ……….. and our lives changed. I sometimes think back to my “before” life when I had time to volunteer and go to theater productions on a regular basis. Mowing the grass took 20 minutes. Tending the garden just a few minutes.

Yes, it was much easier “back then”. Yes, I did have more time for “fun stuff”. Was I more fulfilled? Was I happier? Nope. I know that I am frustrated sometimes …. And I wish that I could do more in less time. How can I fit 48 hours into a 24 hour day? It seems I am always trying to fit more and more into my days. I still have to work at a “real” job to pay the mortgage and bills. And then come home to work at my hearts passion.

When we signed the papers I had so many fears …. How will we ever pay the mortgage (the mortgage is four times the monthly mortgage payment on the Omaha house). What if one of us looses our jobs? How will we EVER keep up with the outside work? Will I keep the life I have lived for so long, volunteering at the theater and opera? What if the Omaha house doesn’t sell? Oh My Goodness ………….so much to worry about.

The Omaha house didn’t sell. We decided to become landlords. Phil found a renter when he was out buying a tractor to scoop the snow …. We interviewed several families and decided on the Wades. They have 4 children, and have become one of the “kids”. I am so thankful we found them. They are not prefect …. But they are good.

What if one of us looses our jobs? Phil was laid off of his job in March. Things were never good with the contract. In February things came to a head and on March 31 he was unemployed. He has been home since and we are doing just fine. He is working his fanny off and wondering how he did everything while he was working!

How will I pay the mortgage? Yes, it is 4 times the mortgage in Omaha ……… we did just fine with the payments and in March last year refinanced to bring the rate down a LOT. Our mortgage broker was amazed at how much we had paid in such a short time. We have managed to pay forward 6 or 7 months “just in case” so we still have a cushion.

How will we keep up with the outside work? We don’t. We try hard but some things just don’t need to be done!

Somehow things work themselves out. I have been blessed with a wonderful job. Amazing as it is I am paid to talk to people and pretend to be a sales professional. (I have a fantastic boss who loves the fresh food we grow.) Our life is totally different from a few years ago. We don’t go to the theater very often. We don’t go to movies very often. Shoot, we don’t even have time to watch TV! Recently we have not come in the house until dark … then it’s time to shower and go to bed.

Moving to the country has been good for us. We raise most of the vegetables and potatoes that we eat. We have learned to can everything from simple vegetables to soups and meats. The meat we eat comes from a farmer, not the grocery store. Our fruit trees and bushes are in and maturing. Phil has been working on a chicken coop … it should be finished soon, and then we will be raising our own poultry. I wanted to raise a pig, but I don’t think that will happen until next year.

Three years ago changed our lives, in a very good way!