Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Chicks are Coming! The Chicks are Coming!

I have been annoying the cashiers at Tractor Supply for over a month asking about when the chicks will be in.  I am so anal about it because this is the first time we have done this.  I have called at least once a week (sometimes twice) for the past month and a half.

On Thursday morning, I called in the morning as I usually do, and was not satisfied with the answer.  The cashiers don’t even CHECK to see if anyone is aware of when the chicks are coming in.  They try to get me off the phone as soon as possible, and that ticks me off.  If they gave me a definite date (or even range,) I wouldn’t be calling them every several days. 

I decided to call again on Thursday evening, and I am so glad I did!  I talked to a guy named Christian.  I asked him questions about the chicks and he said they received an email the day before that the chicks would be in within 5 days, or on Monday, February 28th!  I got an answer out of someone!  I was so happy and excited!  He then went on to tell me the breeds they will have, the cost, and he just kept going on and on about it.  He eased my mind knowing that TSC will have them for 2-3 weeks.  Everyone else made it sound as if they get 50 chicks and once they are gone (that day,) they are done.  NOT THE CASE!  Christian also informed me that we cannot buy only 3.  It is state law that we have to get at least 5 because they are flocking animals.  I am perfectly happy with that; Todd…well, he could do without them altogether.

Christian also opened up telling me that they call him the “chicken guy” at TSC because he owns and raises them himself, so he is very educated about them and the breeds.  I told him I was interested in the Rhode Island Reds, and he stated that they are beautiful birds, but they don’t start laying until their 6th month.  The Golden ??? breed lays within 4 months. 

He was just a wealth of information.
Now…we are just waiting for the chicks to come in! 

BTW: They cost between $2.50 - $3.50/chick.  Assuming they start to lay within 4-6 months, the chicks would pay themselves off within 12 eggs each.  The food is $7.99 for a 25 lb bag.  How much of a 25 lb bag can 5 chickens eat?  Not that much.  So, to everyone who says that it is more expensive to raise chickens, I think they may be wrong.  But…I guess we’ll find out first-hand!  I am going to keep track of everything and will report in to let everyone know about the costs of raising these chickens. 

So far, our expenses have been: $8.51 for chick food.


I keep seeing posts about gardens, and it makes me long for Spring, when I can start planting this year's abundance.  I realized that I had absolutely NO pictures of our garden on the blog.  So, this is last year's garden.  Todd made the fence in Squiggy's fenced in area.  The fence was FREE to make.  It was oak pieces of wood that was used with skids from work.  It is hard wood, and piggy-proof. We got a truckload of dirt to make the mounds, so that wasnt cheap, but over the years, it will definitely pay itself off.  This year, we need to get more gravel for the paths in between the mounds.  I will also be adding more dirt around the outside part of the garden to plant more items.  There was just too much unused room last year on the edges.

So, here goes.
These pictures were taken the last week of May 2010 and June 1st 2010.


Inside Garden

Seeds have been planted (greenbeans are what have sprouted!)

June 1st : everything is growing!

Greenbeans (bush beans)

Zukes - flowered alot, but I had to polinate them to get them to grow mid-season
My first cuke plant ever.  We will have many more this year. 
Red Raspberries - started out as just a few canes.  Now, they are taking over the world! :-)  Yeah right. I wish.

Potted blueberry.  1st season of having the plant.
The potted strawberries.  I killed them by not fertilizing (this is their second year in these pots) or watering.  Will do better this year, I promise.

Some of the produce

There you have it.
No, onto this season's garden! :-)

We Are "Weird" as Dave Ramsey Puts It

My husband gets made fun of at work for some of the things we do to save money.   They include movies, videos, eating out, heating the home, home-repairs, vehicles, etc.  It’s funny, because people cant imagine living like we live (planning where our money goes,) and I cant imagine living as they live (NOT giving every dollar a name!)

We cannot justify spending $7 a person to watch a movie in the afternoon.  Todd’s co-worker goes out with his wife a couple times a month for dinner, a movie, and popcorn.  This is a $50+ night out for them.  We spend less than $20 for two tickets to the dollar theater and lunch.  We are morning people – we cant stay up past 9 or 10 at night.

We see NO VALUE in buying DVD’s. Nor do we see the value of going and renting a DVD at $3 or $4 at the local movie rental place. Todd has a couple of new DVD’s, but they were bought by my mother for his birthday or Christmas, and he watches them frequently.  They are Avatar & StarTrek.   We get the majority of the new release movies from the library for FREE about 2-4 weeks after they come out on DVD.  I’m glad we do this, because a lot of them are so D-U-M-B; I would be TICKED if I paid $4 from the movie rental place to see it.  However, we DO subscribe to Netflix.  We like having millions of movies at our fingertips whenever we want to watch something different, and the $7.99/month is worth it to us. 

Eating Out:  We mainly eat out with coupons or at lunch-time.  We love a hibatchi-style restaurant in Akron.  We went there just the other night for dinner.  The thing is, we use our Entertainment Card and get BOGO.  We both order waters, and we get the cheapest thing on the menu, and we can eat there for $20 including a nice 25% tip.  This meal includes soup, salad, a few pieces of shrimp, our chicken & rice, and sherbert with fortune cookie for dessert.  Todd’s co-worker keeps telling us we need to go to a place called Wasabi.  The prices are really high, and I don’t see the point in going when we can get the same experience (and we know we love the food!) at our favorite place.

Todd and I both love our vehicles.  They get the best gas mileage in their class, and they both cost around $12,000.  Todd constantly tells me about a hybrid car that gets LESS gas mileage than my vehicle and costs TWICE (or more) as much as mine did. It boggles my mind.  I am so spoiled with Bianca that I don’t know if I could ever get another vehicle that gets worse gas mileage.  Plus, she is so cute.  I could never imagine paying more than $15,000 for a vehicle. 

I am lucky that Todd agrees with me on all of these areas of our life.  And he even wanted the fixer-upper we now live in.  Not many husbands would get themselves into the mess we got into with home.  We paid $35,000 for our home knowing it was worth a lot more when fixed up.  Now, 4 years later, it has been appraised at $94,000, and the renovation isn’t even complete.  The mortgage on the home is currently at $56,000 (we took money out for the new septic that was needed at $16,000 and a new roof at $5500.)  I couldn’t imagine having a mortgage of $100,000+, even with our income.  I LOVE watching our principal go down every month, and look forward to the day that the mortgage is paid off completely.

We are definitely frugal.  Some people would call us cheap.  But I don’t see our attitudes about money changing even if everything was paid off and we are making what we make at the moment.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

RIP Squiggy Maroo

Today, my beloved pig passed away.  He passed away after being sick for a little over three weeks, and the vets not knowing what was truely wrong with him.  I'm glad he's not suffering any longer, but I already miss him so much.  I love Squiggy so very much.  He had such a personality.

These are a few pictures of him.  I have so many great visions in my head of him in Spring and Summer following me around the yard.  Him lying on his side waiting for belly rubs.  Him soaking up the sun and loving every minute of it.

I hope he knew how much I loved him.
I'm sad that I wont get to see that adorable tail wag any longer.  No more apple cores or watermellon rinds for him.  But I know he is at peace.

Todd was home today and made an apparatis (sp?) to keep Squiggy upright.  Around 2 today, while I was at work, Squiggy took his last breath.  Todd was laying with him when he took his last breath.  Todd didnt want to tell me while I was at work or on my way home from work.  I am thankful for that.

At any rate, this is how I am going to remember the love of my life.
There will never be another Squiggy...

I love you, Squiggy Michael Maroo Crispin.  I will never stop loving you.

My First SB Purchase

I had accumulated $45 worth of SwagBucks since starting in December to search online using the SB toolbar.  We made our first purchase with SB’s, and we got a new camera!  No, the camera wasn’t $45, it was actually $109 with free shipping, but we had a gift card from my Uncle Todd from Christmas, and decided to use that along with my SB’s to get our camera for FREE (with $36 left over for another day on the gift card.)

Right now, we are waiting to receive the camera in the mail, but I cant wait to get it.  Our Fuji camera was dropped into water a few years ago, and has been very blurry and not focusing as it used to.  So, we look forward to learning about our new camera and hoping it takes great pictures for us.

The next item I want to buy with SB’s – my mom’s Mother’s Day gift – a scale she wants.  $35.  Right now, I have $10 SB’s, $25 more to go by May.

After that, I’d like to buy a water-bath canner for myself so I can use when it’s time to can this Summer.   

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I THOUGHT I was Overwhelmed Before! HA!

This week has been a rough one for us.  Todd has been super-man for me by taking care of Squiggy, watching him, keeping his temperature at the right levels, giving him shots, force-feeding him through a turkey baster (after all, Squiggy IS pig-headed!)  He really has taken over quite a bit.

However, this week, Todd got S-I-C-K.  He has strep throat again…for the 6th time since we’ve been together.  He gets strep at least once a year and has since he was a child.  He probably should have had his tonsils out a long time ago, but we are looking into having them out now, as an adult.

Since being sick, he’s done nothing but sleep.  He’s slept more in one night than he usually does in 3 days!  That being said, I have had to take over pretty much everything.  Cleaning up, dishes, taking care of Squiggy, Squig’s laundry (which is about a load a day or more right now,) Todd’s laundry, my laundry, take care of Lana, and the 4 cats.  Oh, and that is on top of going to work for 10 ½ hours a day.  The first night, I was exhausted and in bed by 8:30.

The second night, I had a load of Todd’s laundry that needed washed and dried for work the next day, a load of Squig’s soiled bedding (he cant walk so he wets himself,) an 8 ½ month old rambunctious puppy to play with and get her energy out of before bed, a piggy to be fed by hand and loved, dinner to prepare, a dishwasher to unload and reload, and several birthday cards to prepare and send out in the mail.

I also promised someone at work that I would look over his taxes for him.  H&R Block was going to charge him $240 to do his (simple) return, and I thought I may be able to do it.  Now, I feel pressure to get it done, and I have so much else going on.

The first day of going through all of this, I was a real bear (to put it nicely.)  I was stomping around making it known that I was not happy about the situation.  That night (Monday,) I prayed to God to take all of the stress off of my shoulders, help me to change my attitude, and He did.  I woke up Tuesday morning feeling renewed and ready to take on the day!  The stress disappeared.  The responsibilities didn’t disappear, but God took away my stress and worries and enabled me to get everything that needed to get done, done.  I was able to make every minute count and accomplish what I set out to do.

It is amazing how much more peace I feel when I know God is on my side, working WITH me.  Sometimes, I try to take the reigns of everything, but I need to trust in Him.  It will always work out when I put my faith in Him.

Mom's Childhood

When mom and I go away by ourselves, or even if we are just spending time together, we talk…a lot!  You would think that after having my mom for over 30 years, I’d know everything there is to know about her life, but that is not the case at all.

I learned several things about her family the weekend she took me away for my birthday.

My mom had 4 other siblings.  We have driven by the house she grew up in, but we were never allowed inside when we were kids.  My grandfather started to hoard everything when my grandmother died, and from what I was told, there was a path to the kitchen, to the bathroom, and to the couch.  Otherwise, there was “stuff” from floor to ceiling. 

I always wonder about the way my mom grew up, because she never really talks about her past and her family.  Her siblings are spread out around the United States, many of them not having talked since my grandmother passed away in 1982 or 1983.  They just aren’t a close family, and it’s a shame.

The house they grew up in was (is) VERY SMALL; I would say about 850 sq. ft. at most.  About 4 or 5 years ago, mom and I went to her home-town of Cuba, NY, and we drove by the house she grew up in.  Her brother currently owns the house because their father left it to him (he is the only one that lives in Cuba and took care of the house when grandpa was ill before he passed away.)

When we drove up to the house, I spoke out loud and said that I wondered if the house was open.  Mom said it couldn’t possibly be open, but she’d love to see the inside.  So, that was my cue.  I went up to the house and low and behold, the door opened.  I looked over my shoulder and waved her to come in from the car.  I let her lead the way so I could soak up as much information as possible from the stories she may tell.

As a side note, this house was an old boy-scout camp cabin.  It was VERY primitive.

As we walked in, there was the family/living room.  This room was not very big - probably 13 x 15.  That may sound big to some, but I cannot see 5 kids and two adults having enough seating in that room to do anything together.  There was a wood-burning stove in the middle of the biggest wall, and that heated the home (well, this side of the house.)  The rest of the house had NO HEAT.  Mom told stories of the Winters (remember, they are in upstate New York where there is A LOT of snow and it gets REALLY cold) that they put their socks and jeans on the stove so they could dress into warm clothes.

The foundation was collapsing, and the side of the family/living room was wide open to the elements.  There was an ENORMOUS bee’s nest that pretty much took over the corner of the wall.  You could see that the squirrels and critters were coming and going into the house.  On that wall, there was a cedar chest.

My mom opened the cedar chest, and there were a lot of items my grandmother had saved.  I was in awe.  From what I understand, my grandmother adored me.  I have heard stories about my grandmother that are not good ones.  From what I understand, she is pretty much the reason no one wanted to stay there at the house.  Everyone as kids couldn’t wait to get out of the house.  But grandpa “was a peach” as my mom said.  He loved his wife and she could do no wrong. She gambled his paychecks away, and never worked because she was “too sick” to work.  She took my mother’s paychecks when she started working at 14 stating that she was “saving them for when it was time for her to move out,” to find out that she had spent every last penny my mother ever made.  As I mentioned, my grandmother adored me, and I have absolutely nothing against her.  I actually wish she was around for me to know her to form my own opinion of her.  She died visiting me for the 4th of July when I was 2 due to complications with her diabetes. 

My mom gave me permission to take a book with newspaper clippings my grandmother had been saving.  As we walked through the narrow hall, you came to the kitchen.  The kitchen was TINY.  I don’t know how 7 people ate in the kitchen.  There was junk everywhere.  Mom said that there were piles of “stuff” that was there when SHE lived there 37 years earlier.  I found pictures of my grandmother and grandfather, my long lost cousin, Jovonne, and the family.  Mom said I could take them as well.

The bathroom was a toilet.  Mom told stories of how they couldn’t flush the toilet in the Winter because the pipes had frozen.  They had no water.  They had to wash their hair in a sink, and that was once a week.  Not even hot water was in the house (no water heater.) I saw the bedroom that “the girls” slept in.  There were 3 girls and 2 boys in my mom’s family.  There were two twin beds against each wall and a dresser.  There were still ashes on the dresser from when my mom lived there.  The “girl’s bedroom” was a 9x9 room.  Barely enough room to fit the two twin beds.  Two girls slept in one bed, and one in the other.  The dresser had 4 drawers.  I’m not sure how 3 girls shared that dresser.  There were no closets in this room.

The boys slept in a small room attached to the house.  Again, no heat.

I knew about the bathroom situation (7 people – one bathroom and pipes freezing,) but I learned that they did laundry once a month.  How in the world could a family of 7 do laundry once a month?  I asked mom about underwear.  She said she honestly doesn’t remember, but she doubts they had enough clean underwear for everyone for the month.  There was no washer/dryer at the house, so they went to the laundry mat and did it all.  I have gone 2 weeks without doing laundry, and all I can say is, ewww.  I don’t care what anyone says, after a few weeks, your clothes start to smell if you wear them more than a handful of times.
I also learned during my weekend get-a-way, that mom and her siblings always got chicks and ducklings for Easter in their Easter baskets.  My grandpa apparently loved duck eggs.  But the chicks were not only a gift for Easter, but used for dinner several months later.

I love hearing stories from my mom about the way things used to be.  They didn’t have a phone, so they had to use a payphone down the road (a pretty long distance,) and how mom and her siblings would sneak out at night and go swimming in Cuba Lake when it was really hot.  They would leave their suits on tombstones in the cemetery on their way home so they’d dry over-night and their parents wouldn’t know about it. 

I couldn’t imagine living as they did, but the simpler life definitely appeals to me.  My mother was poor growing up, but she has so many great memories.  I have so many great memories myself growing up to tell our future children.  None of them were bad memories.  None of them have been hardship memories.  My brother and I were blessed with parents who loved us and wanted better for their children than what they had…and they succeeded.  Though they divorced, we never needed/wanted for anything.  I have nothing but great memories growing up.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Animal Hoarding

One day last week, a coworker of mine accused me of being an animal hoarder.  I was a bit shocked and offended by the accusation.

I know we have a lot of animals.  I am aware of that.  But we don’t have an unmanageable amount of them.  A farm has animals, does it not? 

I love animals, always have.  I think it would be one thing to have taken in these animals but not taken care of them (reminder: these two kittens found US. Not vice versa.)  For instance, not getting them fixed.  We definitely DO NOT want our population of cats to get any larger!  So, we are shelling out a few hundred dollars to get them fixed and vaccinated.  We know that if we want to have ONLY 4 cats, this is something we have to do.  We had a home (farm) for the two kittens, but Todd and I fell in love with them.  To this day, we still adore the kittens.  They are the most lovable creatures and we have not regretted our decision to keep them.  But we have taken every measure to lower the possibility of more of them.   

We had a kitten find us that was named Gracie.  We found a home for her with a friend of mine’s mother in Buffalo, NY. 

Logan, our almost 2 year old female cat was a stray that was severely sick when we got her.  She had an awful infection on her chest and our neighbors would not take her to the vet.  So, we agreed to take her in, took her to the vet, and about $500 later, she was fixed and vaccinated and the infection is gone.  We barely see Logan.  She is wild, but she is OUR responsibility.

Squiggy was a “gift” from my mother.  She now knows not to give anyone a pet as a gift.  But she meant well, and I love my pigger. 

Lana was to keep Squiggy busy.  Funny enough, she beats up on that poor pig.  She has beat him into submission.  It’s cute watching them run around together, but I think piggy was happy as a single piggy (even though pigs are supposed to be social animals.)  None-the-less, Lana is part of the family.  There is no giving her back.

And last, but not least, we are planning on 3 chicks. 

So, we are at:
4 cats
1 pot bellied pig
1 puppy
3 chicks (if we get them before they are sold out.)
If THAT is hoarding, then I am PROUD to be a hoarder.  All of our animals are fed, warm, loved, and time is spent with them EVERY DAY.  Not once have they gone without a meal or affection.  No, I am not able to spend 5 hours a day with each of them, but I am not able to do that with my own husband at this point.  Weekends are special times that they get extra love and affection.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Having Faith

In the past, I had seen Todd as very negative.  He would get upset at the slightest error made, and I thought that was his personality.  Well, it feels like since I turned 30, I have acquired his “bad luck.” 

My beloved piggy is hurt / under the weather.
A zipper to a brand new coat broke.
I have been late to work every day this week.
Dropped a whole heck of a lot of coffee on the floor.
Didn’t have the lid of my new coffee cup on correctly so every time I took a drink, it would spill down the front of me – and I didn’t realize it until about 3 or 4 sips in.
Royally messed up dinner.
Road rage on the way home from work (which I have been good at controlling.  All bets were off this past Monday.  I was doing things I hadn’t done in a LONG time.)

Just silly stuff like that.  It was making me down and out.  I was thinking, “Am I gonna catch a break here?!?”  I said a few times over the past several days that I’ve turned 30, “What’s next?!?”

And then it dawned on me.  I haven’t been putting my trust in God. I haven’t been leaving it all for Him.  It’s not my AGE that has changed anything.  It is my ATTITUDE and my ability to let things go and give them to God.  I have really been slacking off on my daily devotionals and my time with God.  Could that be the reason for my “bad luck?”  And really…in the scheme of things, I realize that my “bad luck” is minor.  It’s not like my family is not healthy or I am dieing.  But I could not control my negative thoughts, feelings and the words that were flying out of my mouth. 

I am trying to work on my attitude and giving it all to Him.  He is in control, not me, and I have to keep that in mind – always.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Wonder Why Consumers Struggle With Debt...

Last month, we FINALLY paid off our Home Depot card.  We always seemed to have a balance because, after all, we have a fixer upper house.  There is still alot more to do to the house, and we'd get the 12 months same as cash and then pay off the balances before they started to charge interest.

For the first time in 4 years, we do not have a Home Depot balance.

In the mail, approximately 3 weeks after paying off our last project (french doors,) I get something from Home Depot.  Our old credit limit was $11,000.  This is what this mail said:

"Dear Todd M. Crispin!
It's easy!  Your credit limit will automatically increase to $12,500 when you make a qualifying purchase of $299 or more with The Home Depot Consumer Credit Card.   As an added bonus, we've included a coupon you can use when making your qualifying purchase to receive No Interest if Paid in Full Within 12 Months on your next purchase of $299 or more on The Home Depot Consumer Credit Card! ... "

We dont care about the credit limit, but in the past, this would be a time where Todd would think about what projects he wants to do this year on the house, and he'd go shopping.  Not this time.  We still have enough from previous purchases to last pretty much the entire year. There is still one window to put into the front of the house, pergo (fake pergo) flooring to put into the Living Room, a brand new front door.  That sounds like enough work for the year!

It's amazing when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, how much you DONT want to take advantage of these "great offers."  We dont even see them as "great offers" anymore, which I think is a huge stepping stone for us and our future with debt freedom.