Life

Category Archives — Life

This Weekend’s Progress

To be perfectly honest, this post should probably be called “Saturday’s Progress” but it’s not our fault. We had a nice and moderately productive Saturday with temperatures reaching a whopping 55 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a very unproductive, rainy and SNOWY Sunday in. You read that right– snow in April. Maybe that isn’t all-too bizarre but it feels wrong. As per usual, Jeff seems to be working through the “good” weekends and home for the “bad” ones in terms of weather. This was one of his better weekends since the weather has been improving. Even so, it was a great weekend. We made some progress on the goat shed, had a date night out by ourselves, and spent the next day in with the kids.

What did our progress look like on Saturday? Well, I had been helping Jeff a little bit when it dawned on me that I should be taking pictures for the blog (duh!) but here is what we had going on that day (hands Jeff the mic):

 

There are a few components going into this project. First, for approximately $40 I picked up what was supposed to be a used 10×10 carport frame with no roof. As it turns out, it’s only an 8×10, which is fine because that is about the dimensions I need for the goat shed. They don’t need a whole lot of room, just enough to keep them protected on the three sides outside of their enclosure.

I decided to give them an 8×5 area for bedding and separate 8×5 off of the back for feed storage. The frame was damaged, so what you see in the pictures is only half of it. The rest will need straightened and welded before I piece it back together. Meanwhile, I picked up the plywood you see from work when they decided they couldn’t use it anymore, on the cheap. I even got some free help from our son Sampson when it came time to put it up.

In addition, I was able to pick up some free siding off of an old barn which will not only become siding but also the roof for the goat shed. All total including hardware, I will have spent less than $100 on this project. It should last 15-20 years when it’s complete.

You may have noticed a gap at the bottom of the back wall. This won’t be an issue once I add the other half, but I really should have notched the bottom of the plywood to eliminate it. Didn’t really notice until we were done with the walls. On the other hand, it won’t be in contact with the ground and acting as a wick for moisture.

We will post more pictures as we get further along so you can see the end result. After the shed is finished, we will put up temporary fencing (we plan to expand the enclosure later on) and finally get the goats moved home.

My New Kitchen Multi-Tool

This post is dedicated to my new kitchen multi-tool– that’s what I’m calling it anyway. It’s actually called an immersion blender, or sometimes referred to as a stick blender, and it sure is handy. We’ve had piles of eggs sitting around and I’ve been telling myself I really need to make some mayo, especially since we buy it almost weekly, but it always seemed like such a daunting task. I’ve made it before, with some failures and successes, but even with my trusty hand mixer, it took forever to make one darn jar of mayonnaise. So the idea of going through that again totally turned me off.

Last Friday night I finally decided to give it a whirl and– no bueno. I made a mess, it took forever, and the mayonnaise was “edible” but mediocre. So, after Jeff came home from work and got to hear me whine about my first-world problems, I mentioned an immersion blender and (supposedly as a majorly early birthday present) he got me one on Sunday afternoon. Yes, these are the things that adults get excited about.

Here she is in all of her beautiful glory:

And no, the photo is not staged. Why would I move a mess off of the counter at 10 o’clock at night just to put those items there and take a picture? Pshhh… ridiculous.

Anyway, you know I had to use this new kitchen gadget as soon as possible, so today became mayo-making day. What previously took me 15-20 minutes (which is a long time to slow-drip/drizzle oil and hold a hand mixer!) now takes less than 5 minutes. It is so easy and quick. The only damper (with this and any food preparation, for that matter) is cleaning up the mess after.

Not only did I use the immersion blender to make mayo, but I also used the whisk attachment to add spices to it and the food processor attachment to dice onion, celery, and carrots for my giant egg-salad dinner (and breakfast, and lunch, and dinner again…) Long story short, I recommend you hop on down to the store and get yourself one of these this Easter week/weekend.

Already have an immersion blender? Tell us what you use yours for in the comments below.

Why We Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

You probably hear the question every year– what is your new year’s resolution? Maybe, like many people, you do participate in this tradition. I decided I’m not that into it, and I will explain why.

I worked at a gym for a little while and, unsurprisingly, gym memberships spiked with the new year. Attendance from these newly-devoted, fitness fiends would dwindle as the months went on. A few months prior, these people were willing to sign a contract that obligated them to pay a monthly fee for their gym membership, only to let it go to waste. That’s like laying the foundation and buying supplies, but not building the house. What happened?

New year’s resolutions, though they can be vague, are really just statements of goals. There’s not much point in making a resolution if you don’t have the determination to reach the goals set. The thing is, a lot of people think they are ready to make that commitment but lose sight of their goal as time goes on. So how does one avoid becoming discouraged or losing interest?

The first thing you need to do is make a plan to reach your goal. If you don’t make a plan you are planning to fail. Planning involves creating smaller goals as the framework for big goals. Taking the steps necessary to reach smaller goals will seem less overwhelming and much more manageable. Reaching a number of set milestones can give you a greater sense of achievement, which keeps you motivated.

Another big influence to your success is being realistic about your goals. For example, don’t expect a year’s worth of progress to happen overnight. In addition, don’t set your sights on something you aren’t physically, mentally, or even financially ready for.

It is equally important to remember not to expect too much of ourselves in situations where we don’t necessarily have full control. While you will sometimes reach a speed bump or obstacle which requires you to slow down or take another route, remind yourself that you will still reach your destination in due time.

All that said, I don’t really commit to new year’s resolutions quite simply because I believe we should always be actively pursuing a better version of ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I think goals are important and it is equally valuable to leave the past behind you, accepting it as lessons learned, but don’t limit yourself to setting goals because it’s a new year. Instead, commit to making improvements for yourself on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.

Our New Homestead

Moving into a new home and having a baby are considered to be two of the more stressful life transitions, though luckily they are also among the most positive of “big changes” that a family faces. We were fortunate enough to experience both events this year, and more or less on the same day, at that.

I became pregnant with our third child early this year (2018) which is about the time we started seriously searching for a house. It took several months of looking to find an ideal property. After a couple of delays, it just so happens that we were able to close on our home the same day I was scheduled to induce for medical reasons. After bringing a fresh baby into the world and spending a few nights in the hospital, we headed directly to our new home, initially with little more than the clothes on our backs and a few essentials. 

What we were Looking for…

First of all, we changed our budget at least three times. Houses are expensive enough, but it is really difficult to find a home with acreage that doesn’t cost a fortune. On top of that, we were limited by the requirements to receive the VA loan we needed to buy our home. Several of the houses we looked at needed work to an extent, and some of them we would have considered if there weren’t so many stipulations involved or we had the financial means to pay for repairs.

With two toddlers and a baby on the way, we felt a home with at least three bedrooms would be best. We preferred to have a basement, at the very least for storage purposes, but decided a crawl space was acceptable under the right circumstances. As for the property, we decided that two acres of land was our minimum if the price was right and it met our other requirements. That being said, we primarily looked at homes on five acres or more. In fact, the first house we made an offer on had around 20 acres, but after a couple of inspections, we decided to hold off. While the land would have been wonderful to have and would have offered the best opportunity for our goals to blossom, our number one priority was to have a secure place to live.

Other attributes we were attracted to included running water or a pond on the property, partially wooded land, outbuildings, or anything else that would contribute to our future plans for the homestead.

What we Found…

While the home we ended up with definitely pushed our budget and didn’t meet everything on our “want” list, it is a three- bedroom home on five acres, close to half of which are wooded. It has a walk-out basement with a finished family room, extra bathroom and potential fourth bedroom, which will ultimately serve as our office space. Furthermore, there is a detached three-car garage coming off of an unpaved, half-circle driveway. Wild turkey and deer like to visit our yard on occasion, too! All in all, it is a beautiful home with great space for the kids inside and out, a reasonable chunk of land, and a good place to call our home.

Plans for our Homestead…

Beyond finishing enclosures for the goats, chickens, and rabbits we currently have, we plan to make space for quail, pigs, and ducks. If you think that isn’t dreaming big enough, we will also build two greenhouses. One greenhouse will come off of the basement, which should help supply additional heat to the basement. The second green house will be a walapini, being built partially underground. The greenhouses will be for growing produce we buy on a frequent basis as well as things we should be using more often. Additionally, one will house an aquaponics system where fish and plants have a symbiotic relationship.

Inside the home we will have a rocket stove mass heater, which should help reduce heating costs in addition to the solar and wind energy we plan to install. Our solar panels will not be on the roof but placed next to the home where they will get the best exposure from the sun year-round. We were able to find some inexpensive solar panels and acquired some towers, cheap to free, from people who just wanted to get rid of them. The towers will be used as antennas (e.g., ham, CB radio) and windmills.

This is all, of course, a brief overview of our existing plans which are subject to change and expand. We will be discussing each topic in depth as we move along and document exactly what we do and how functional it ends up being, as well as any alterations necessary. We will put forth our best effort to provide detailed videos and images in addition to written documentation of the happenings on our homestead. Please continue to visit our site for updates on the adventure ahead of us!