"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Motherhood; duckling style

Oftentimes my husband and I have conversations that start like this :

Me : "Hey, I think getting some ducks would be really cool."

Husband : " Ducks are pretty sweet."

Me : "Mom said Tractor Supply has chicks already. Wanna check it out this weekend and just see what they've got?"

Husband : (Now understand he has received the wife 'green light') "I mean, if you want to sure! We can go Saturday after you get out of work."

So, after work on Saturdays I always head to my parents. After coming in and greeting the dogs my dad looks at me with this big grin on his face and says, "So, you're getting ducks?". Ever the instigator he is! So we took a family ride over to the good 'ol TSC and lo and behold...there were a mess of cute little brown Khaki Campbells. Since they looked so happy all cuddled up together we took what they had left, which was nine, home with us and loaded up my dad's brooder in the truck. I grew up with a mess of ducks and ducklings because my Mom adores ducks. You should have seen her staring longingly into the box on our ride home. I think once they're older she'll end up with a few. Needless to say they are all warm and cozy in their brooder fed and watered and entertaining us like mad. I spent close to an hour yesterday peering in like a little kid just watching them. I have to say, it was love at first peep!

Khaki Campbells are known for their great egg laying abilities and we also wanted something to take care of the slug problem we encountered last year. Ducks in general are excellent foragers and don't require much grain in the warmer months. The only downside to the Khaki Campbell is that aren't very good mothers, so we may end up getting a few more ducklings of another breed that make good mothers so we can raise our own ducklings. I am looking forward to having them out with me in the garden eating pests and keeping me company (plus, eating the weeds I throw to them). They are going to make an excellent addition to our growing homestead.


Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Letting your husband cut your hair and other money savers...

I have had some scraggly, nasty hair ends for about a month now. Usually my husband's grandmother cuts my hair but she's been out of state for quite awhile and I had become desperate. Now, not desperate enough to PAY someone to cut my hair or anything! I don't think I'll ever be that desperate. So I picked up a pair of shears (because no way am I messing up my best craft scissors on my stupid hair!). I then explained to my husband the extreme faith and trust I was putting in him by letting him anywhere near my head with a sharp object. I then patted him on the arm and tried to inspire him with my words, "Mess it up, and I'll kill you". He did a good job, just trimmed the ends and they were nice and straight. I then used this tutorial to fix things up a bit and TA-DA! Semi-free haircut (the scissors cost money, sadly). I like to think that I saved around 20$, not to mention the last time I actually got a cheapo haircut the stylist did such an awful job that I had to fix it anyway. So I also saved some sanity! Then I got to thinking...what other things can I save money on so that I can put more $$ towards paying off the mortgage?

1.) Magazines

Personally, I love magazines. Pretty colorful pictures and lots of recipes and ideas to try. But paying 4$ to 7$  an issue? No freakin' way man. Yes, I know subscriptions are cheaper than the list price but those still COST MONEY. So instead I signed up for Recyclebank and read and clicked some things and got POINTS which I then use for FREE MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS! So far I've gotten Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, Everyday Food, Woman's Day, Country Living (that's a flippin' good one!), another Martha Stewart for my mom, and Real Simple. Holy cow that's a lot of free magazines! Plus, you don't have to keep them for yourself you can give them as gifts as well.  Who wouldn't like to pine over pictures of beautiful flower arrangements in Martha Stewart Living? Well, probably your dad....Not to mention, once you're finished reading them you can give them away to someone else. RECYCLING! HOORAY!

2.) Making new stuff from old stuff

I work at a credit union, so I see a lot of the same people all the time. One of our neighbors comes in quite often and knows we have some rabbits (and that we love free stuff, apparently) so he brought us over two rabbit hutches when his daughter's rabbits went to the big carrot farm in the sky. They are not the style we like to use (not to mention large and cumbersome for housing just one rabbit). My husband is also of the making stuff work persuasion so he ripped one of those puppies apart and made me a cold frame for the garden. Now, it's not the prettiest thing and you won't see it in Organic Gardening or anything, but it gets the job done and it was FREE (because he even rescues reusable hinges and all that jazz). The best present is a FREE present I say!

I've also rescued old tin cans by crocheting a little can cover. Now you can put whatever the heck you want in that can and it even looks snazzy! I mean, if you're into the look of plain 'ol tin cans that's cool but I like things pretty. I do have some standards you know.

3.) Grow it, baby!

We are big fans of sprouts and those fancy schmancy microgreens. Unfortunately they are super expensive and not so fresh in the store. So I bought a reusable sprouting top kit for $4 at the health food store that you use with a quart size wide mouth canning jar. These things last FOREVER and if you're a mason jar nut like me you have at least one jar hanging around. Our favorite are mung bean sprouts and they are super cheap and a half pound bag gives us loads and loads of sprouts. My husband then made me a planting flat out of a bunch of crap laying around in the garage and I planted microgreens in there. They were super tasty! Again, the seeds are pretty cheap just look around for the best deal. I also keep those plastic containers lettuce blends come in from the supermarket and use those like mini greenhouses. I have some wheat grass growing in a couple on the windowsill right now. Even in the winter IN MAINE you can grow something tasty and good for you!

4.) Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without

I should probably get this tattooed on my arm since it is my personal mantra. Is it ripped? Sew it! Is it worn beyond repair? Re-purpose it! Do you really need it, or can you live without it? Do you really need 5 of those if you only use one? I have piles of sheets with rips and tears waiting to be made into rugs, cut up holey jeans waiting to become potholder gifts (thank you Tightwad Gazette!), old mugs waiting to be filled with candles, and old carrots trimmings and the like in a bag in the freezer waiting to be veggie stock! Options are endless. If you can't think of a use for something, try googling it! You'd be surprised!


Since we have moved in this house the amount of STUFF people have given us is outta control. If the word is out you'll take anything they'll offer it to you first. Sometimes things will be duds, but just put it up for free on Craigslist or offer it to someone you know can use it. Just in the last week the ladies at work have given me celery scraps for our rabbits, the solids from juicing for the chickens, and three boxes of Morningstar Farms faux meat goodies. Dude, I'll take it all. Of course this goes both ways and if you have a surplus or something you can't use make sure you return the favor. Nobody likes a mooch.

These are just a few of the LOADS of money saving ideas you can find around on the internet. If you've got any awesome tips, feel free to comment with them! I'm off to eat breakfast thanks to my wonderful chickens. See? Even the chickens know I like free stuff! Keep 'em coming, Buckeye!

Yo Stacie, I'll lay so long as you keep feeding me all those scraps!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hello again, friends!

Needless to say it has been ages since I've posted on here. When we bought our place in May we kept putting off getting internet! First we didn't have a computer, then my brother in law built us one, then my husband lost his job so we didn't want to have another bill, and then, and then, etc. Well now that husband o' mine is in school (exciting, I know!) so we really couldn't put it off any longer. Unheard of are the pen and paper kind of assignments because literally ALL his assignments are done online. It's pretty ridiculous in my opinion. But I digress...

Yes it's true, we bought our own place! Nothing felt better than to sign on that dotted line (actually, many  lines!) and know that something was OURS! We had been saving since we got married so we got to put a big chunk down and have a tiny little payment that we can swing no matter what happens. It's just a little single wide mobile with a HUGE two car garage and it's just shy of having 2 acres. Not the big farmhouse in the country I'd always envisioned, but do you know how much it costs to heat those? In all seriousness what we could get for a house with what we had was trash. We looked at a couple and they needed loads of work and were in such bad condition. I never thought I'd live in a mobile but when we walked in it just felt like home. It's definitely fine for the two of us. Most people have problems with storage in mobiles but between our 5 closets (seriously) and the giant garage we don't have enough stuff to fill the place up! We've had some issues (had to replace the water pump...TWICE) but that is just part of home ownership. We both really love the place though, and can't wait for the spring to come so we can dig in the dirt. I had a few little plots last year but this year I've already bought my seeds and we are planning on EXPANDING! Hooray! It's at the top of this giant hill and when we take the dogs for walks the view is amazing. You can see mountains, and the lake. We're also situated in between an old deserted garage and a giant field so we have a lot of privacy. Our only neighbor is really the older man across the street, Leo, who is retired and was in the Marine Corps during Vietnam. He is the nicest guy! He lets us use his snow blower and comes over to visit our animals. He is the best neighbor we could have asked for!

So, about those animals...first of all, we got another dog! We adopted him from a man who had recently gotten divorced and worked so many hours he really was neglecting his dog. He wanted to find him a home where he got the attention he deserved. So now he lives with us! He's a black lab and golden retriever mix, around 3 years old named Tito and he is a big ol' lovebug!

Look at that face!
We couldn't have asked for a better addition to our family. He is so good with our other dog, Sookie, too. They love to play together and snuggle on the couch together. It was like they knew each other all along! My husband is now itching for ANOTHER dog but I think two is enough for now...unless he finds another dachshund like Sookie!

Out in the yard we have three rabbits, two does and a buck, and one egg laying chicken along with four Silkie roosters. The funny story there is that my dad gave us a whole mess of the Silkies and a few died and one got eaten by something...and now all we have is roosters! Then he gave us some older laying hens and a rooster but the rooster just got out all the time and scratched up my garden and we only had one who laid and she always got picked on. So we sold those and now we just have one left, a Buckeye. We love her so much we're going to get a whole mess of Buckeye chicks come springtime from the hatchery. They are a rare breed so we can't find them around here. They are all so entertaining though! The rabbits are great and we've already put a bunch away in the freezer as well as selling some at the farmer's market. A lot of people get grossed out at the thought of eating rabbits but they are one of the easiest, cleanest, and cheapest meat animals to raise. We like them!

Buying a house can also be an incredibly expensive task even after you pay the mortgage. There are so many things you need that you really don't realize until you move in. Since it was May and warm when we moved in we went without a dryer until around October. Those things are expensive! Thankfully my father in law let us use his riding mower for a while since we have a big open yard. Then my husband's grandfather gave us a push mower and a weed whacker. Also we've gotten tons of animal housing from different people. One woman I work with gave us a chicken coop, and someone who I wait on every week at the credit union gave us two rabbit cages. Also when my brother in law moved into his place he gave us this walk in chicken coop but we ended up using it to hang our rabbit cages up in. It's really nice, and it was free! The stuff that my parents have given us has really helped us out too. My husband has a big toolbox on wheels and tons of tools thanks to my dad (plus a welder). My mom has given me tons of stuff for decorating and for the kitchen as well. Thank God for our family because we couldn't have been as frugal as we have without them.

As for my husband and I, we are doing pretty well. I work at the same place as I have and I love the women I work with and I love seeing the same people every week. My schedule has changed from four half days to three full days and that's really nice. I save on gas and have an extra day to do projects around the house. My husband has had a harder time of it with finding a good job and keeping that job. He's gotten laid off twice, which is expected in this economy, but really hurts when you've gone and served your country and then no one will hire you. Thankfully we found this amazing program through the VA called "Vocational Rehabilitation". They pay for your training, all your books and all you need for that training (including notebooks, printer ink, etc), give you a monthly stipend, and help after training to get you a job and keep that job. It has been a real blessing. The only downside is that my husband's school is about an hour away so on bad weather days it can sometimes take him over two hours to get home. When spring gets here it will be much better!

So, that's what has been going on since my blogging disappearance. I hope to be writing more often now! I welcome any questions or comments. 

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie