Today has been busy but very productive, at least I feel like it has been productive. The weather outside was gorgeous, not to hot not too cold and no really wind. We needed and actually did get some garden work done.
Zach pulled some chicken poop out of the coop and placed in several of our square foot beds. I went behind and broke up and stirred in the dirt followed by covering with paper mulch for the winter. I am hoping to finish this process in the next couple of weeks so that it can compose over the winter. Matt helped level and moved one of our greenstalk (vertical planter) to the front. And then he and Zach move one bed to a new spot. Kendall and I spent some time in the greenhouse. I am super excited to have several green peppers growing in there currently!
Another big project today was making and canning Matt’s chill. This will be used for lunches mainly! We have 16 pints to put in the canning closet. I hope to post a link to the youtube video soon!
Life is busy, difficult, busy, and overwhelming this month. Hopefully I can get catch up and spend a little bit more time with blogging. I also really want to be consistent but at during this season I will just do what I can and give myself some grace!
Financially, I feel like we have recovered from Matt’s short period of unemployment this summer. I am working on finishing the year strong but also starting to look at some changes and plans I want to make for next year. Credit card debit has really creeped up on me, so trying to balance paying that off and saving and enjoying the few short years of kids at home is a balance that takes a lot of mental energy. Groceries have always been one of the biggest expenses for us. My plan and goal for November and December is to pay for what we get and then use any remaining money to pay down the credit card debit. Starting in January, I would like to start saving to purchase another whole cow in the summer. Ideally, I would put $500 a month in a saving account for six months to make this happen. We have a ton of food in multiple locations and I am really working on keeping it organized and to work through the food that is here before buying new things. I have found a couple of “guidelines” that are helping with making plan a little bit easier. First we are having a “breakfast casserole” every Sunday morning. This makes getting ready for church much easier and quicker. Soup for Sunday dinner is also going well with occasional leftovers for the week. I am finding that I must cook 3 meals on Saturday or we end up eating out. Freezer meal are awesome and I already know that I need to have many more in the freezer during the summer.
Kids- Lily is currently in Florida spending two weeks with Haley and David. She has finished her first eight weeks of college classes and is struggling to balance work and school. She also will need a loan to fully pay for her second semester of college. Zach is playing football which means practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with games on Wednesday. Braxton is playing baseball which is one game a week. Kendall is anticipating swim season and has started swimming at least 3 days a week. We are also currently struggling to get her permit. Kendall decided very quickly that she did not want to and could not handle working along with school
Chickens- We are getting between 2 and 6 eggs a day. I don’t understand but we have not had to buy any eggs so that is a plus. We have switched the bedding from paper to wood shaving. It is more expensive but the eggs are cleaner. We have purchased another automatic door which is working perfectly. We also still have at least one possum and one racoon who visit once a week. This is a significant decrease from daily so something is working.
Garden- I have probably 3 galloons of tomatoes currently in the freezer. I actually have still been collecting tomatoes this week. We are attempting to keep peppers alive int eh green house. We planted onions and asparagus but that is all for the fall. A couple of beds have paper mulch on them but I would like to move some planters and mulch a couple more beds but again just am struggling with the time.
The word for my job is intense. I really enjoy both the kids and my co-workers but my mental capacities are being exhausted regularly. I am also struggling with some health issues. Nothing major buy annoying.
We do have several trips planned more details to come!
The month of September ends this weekend! It was definitely a month of change and a month of catch up. I will share more in our monthly update but I am very hopeful that we are going to be on solid financial ground moving forward.
Last Saturday, we ended up clothes shopping. It was definitely time to buy some new jeans and long pants. We still have a couple of small needs but I am hoping to stop shopping in November for everything but food!
Haley and David will be coming up to NC next weekend. Lily is going to return to Florida for 2 weeks. It should be an experience for everyone! I am sure that Kendall is going to have the hardest time with Lily not here.
We are still harvesting a small amount from the garden. I also received some onion starts and asparagus in the mail today that I need to get planted.
Our rooster is crowing and all the hens appear to be laying however we are only averaging 4-5 eggs a day from 7 hens….. this is an increase from 3-4 a day but we have enough eggs to eat and share so that is good enough!
Some good and exciting things going on around here!
The “baby” chickens have started to lay. We do have a rooster. The white chicken which I call “spas” appear to be our best layer. We have been getting consistent eggs every day for a week from her. The eggs are smaller and blue so easy to identify!
I purchased 50# of tomatoes from my favorite farm stand for $28 this week. I have topped off our supplies of salsa, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. I made 16 jars of enchilada sauce. We currently have a pot of spaghetti sauce going which used half purchased tomatoes and half from our garden!
We will continue to harvest from the garden, today it was 2 large cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes and green beans and basil. But I will be pulling more dead plants this weekend and also not water for the rest of the season.
In other weather related news! Our windows are open! This is so nice and hopefully will result in extra savings on our electric bill next month.
We have planned two trips at least for me to Florida in December! I love the warm weather!
I made a big decision this week, not to plant a fall garden or even attempt a second planting of anything. The reason is that I just do not have the time or energy to attempt this year. I have been super tired every day this week after working. I am doing well just to keep up.
But someone forgot to tell the garden! We are continuing to get a small harvest 2 or 3 times a week. Last Sunday, I made a pot of tomato sauce to use in our favorite Mexican rice recipe. I was able to freeze a total of 19 1/2 cup bags to use. This is just 4 short of my total of 24 I wanted for the year. I am almost positive that I will be able to get the remaining four before the end of the garden. Last night we again harvested a medium size bowl of tomatoes. I debated on turning these into sauce as well but decided to chop up and freeze as diced tomatoes. I have about 10 cans of diced tomatoes but these are seasoned for Italian food. Zach pointed out that we needed diced tomatoes to make Spanish rice. I was able to freeze 4 bags of 2 cups of diced tomatoes. I would like to get another 8 bags in the freezer but if not we have a start and don’t need to purchase this minute.
I don’t remember if I shared about our pear harvest this year. If not or if you want to get a refresher course, check out the story here! After canning 21 quarts of diced pears, we placed about 2 dozen in our closet that we use for cold storage and left another 20ish on the counter for fresh eating. I noticed this week that the pears were starting to turn and needed to be used. We also discovered that some of the pears in the closet needed to be used as well. We decided to make pear sauce/syrup. It made 2 pints and 5 pints. I used some on my pancakes this morning and it was good!
Another item that we are still getting from the garden is cucumbers. I have canned 3 pints of bread and butter pickles already. I made an “experimental” batch of refrigerator pickles, and they were a hit. I was able to get a second jar started today. We also have some cucumbers for fresh eating as well.
Matt and Zach have been outside working on a new deck in front of our small metal building that holds the bikes. I spent alot of time, trying to make sure we don’t waste food. I have gone through the refrigerator as well.
Today we saved by staying at home and eating at home. Remember every little bit counts!
I am going to call this the summer of just enough. My garden is producing but not an abundance. Today we harvested about 5 pounds of tomatoes, just enough for breakfast and a batch of spaghetti sauce. Just peeled and chopped up all the cucumbers from the week. We made a cucumber salad for a party tonight and have enough for a second batch but not enough for pickles. I planted 5 plants of zucchini and 5 plants of yellow squash. But yet we are only getting enough squash and zucchini for fresh eating. I have frozen 2 packs of zucchini for bread but that is not the abundance I was expecting. Just for record keeping, the local farm stand is advertising a sale on tomato for $2.50
After much thought and debate, we are headed to Florida to visit Haley before the school year starts. Lily is not able to go due to work. Matt will make his decision based on his two interviews next week.
IT is HOT! Like 95 plus degree and we have not had a rain that added to our rain barrel since our beach trip so almost 2 full weeks.
Summer Goals were a high propriety this week. I currently have 51 dinner meals in the freezer. I am adding spaghetti sauce every couple of days as the tomato come in. I have had a request for salsa next so I will plan on that instead of spaghetti sauce on Sunday after we return from Atlanta.
We purchased a 12 gallon water tub for the chickens last week at Tractor Supply. The chicken drank at least 8 gallons in a week. I am hoping between it and the feeder we can decrease the amount of time and energy spent on the chickens.
Today is my first day of Summer break! I have exactly 9 weeks to enjoy some downtime, catch up on cooking, preparing meals for next school year and getting the house back in order.
This past week has been extremely fast and more busy than I imagined. Zach and Kendall are both at camp. Lily has worked every day multiple shift and we had our first swim meet. My work was overloaded so I did not get to catch up on the things I had on my list including posting pictures from Lily’s graduation and party. These should appear next week!
We harvested a quart of blueberries from our bush today! This is so exciting because I should say that a quart made it inside.
The garden is not doing as well as I had hoped. We already have an attack of squash bugs! We did spray for bugs and fertilize on Wednesday. I am planning to pull out the yellow green bean plants as it appears either this was not a variety that grows well or the whole pack was bad. I will try another pack of seeds because I really really want green beans to grow!
The chickens are fully intergraded. They are all going into the coop at night before the door shuts!! We are consistently getting 5 eggs a day! But we are still attempting to trap both racoons and at least one possum that continue to visit!
The goal for tomorrow is to move the chickens outside! They have been in training all week. First Lily sat their cage near (1-2 feet) from the chicken run. Next she moved the cage to beside the chicken run and finally inside the chicken run. They spent over 4 hours in a small cage in the chicken run today. Tomorow we open the door! After doing some research this is a full 2 weeks later than when we moved out the original chickens.
We did determine that before we leave the new chickens we must create a barrier at the bottom of the chicken run. It would be possible one of the small chickens to fit through the wire and escape. The plan is to use cable ties and cardboard as a solution until the chickens are bigger.
I have now purchased 4 gallons of strawberries from a farm in Mocksville. They have been the sweetest and best tasting strawberries we have eaten. I do have 2 bags frozen I am hoping to add another 2 bags to get us through the winter.
Lily’s community college graduation was yesterday! It was so neat. Check out yesterday’s post for pictures.
We need to install the cardboard on the chicken run, install a new radio in Lily’s car and work on our new rain barrel tomorrow. Sounds really busy! I also have an awesome garden update to share!
Countdown to Summer!
5 weeks till Lily’s High School Graduation!
5 weeks of school for the kids and 5 weeks and 3 days until my Summer Break!
60 days till we go to the beach!
We are all ready for the newest chickens to move outside. Last weekend, Lucky the rooster escaped! This evening they have knocked over the water so much that the cardboard box is mushy and the floor is wet! They should move outside full-time next week!
I am starting to organize and prepare for canning this summer. I have been slowly purchasing jars since October. I have been lucky enough to find on sale at Walmart, Target and Tractor Supply for around $1 a jar including rings and lids. I was hoping to pick up some jars used but they are at least $2 a jar so today on Walmart, I found an ordered 3 dozen pint jars and 3 dozen quart jars. One of my goals for tomorrow (Saturday) is to get the canning closet organized and cleaned!
This weekend is probably the least busiest one in a long time. We do have several small projects to complete but the goal is to rest and prepare for the busiest week of the school year!
We tried one of the new recipes that I was hoping to use to stock the freezer this summer and it was a bust. No flavor!
The summer is fast approaching, and I am counting down the days! I want to make a list of the things I want to accomplish during the summer break. This way I will also have more accountability this summer as well.
Gardening- My goal is to grow and preserve as much from the garden as possible. I am hopeful to restock the freezer. This goal may also include purchasing some items to make my life easier in the fall.
Prepared Meals- I would like to get 100 dinner meals in the freezer. I will also work on adding convenient breakfasts as well. I also want to freeze at least 10 pizza crust and maybe even some pie crust as well. The dinner meals can include both crockpot meals and casserole. I actually need to get started on test meal during the rest of May to help determine what things we like and what is worth making again and again.
Exercise- I am going to set a goal of 3 times a week this summer. This can include walking in the pool and hopefully at least 1 trip a week to the Y to work out.
Restock- I want to spend time organizing and restocking both the pantry and the freezers. I had actually thought about adding a goal for shopping at least one day a week.
Store and organize all the pictures. I need to clean off my phone but am really afraid that I am going to lose pictures. I also need to make and order several books from Shutterfly.
VIew and Decide on at least one additional video course for our Sunday school class.
Earn at least one $50 gift card using apps. This is free money but also something that I don’t always make a priority.
Organize/sort and Print a new passwords list for home.
Review, revisit and revise as needed our household budget. I am hopeful that things will have settled down so that I can put together a realistic budget for paying off medical bills and reducing our overall debt.
Enjoy at least one day a week either reading or just relaxing by the pool. OR at least one day a week on a special adventure with the kids!
The overall goal for the summer is to get everything back organized and ready for the school year.