Monthly Archives: April 2008

It’s weird but…

The more bad news I read online, the less I seem to worry about it. I’m not happy about gas prices, obviously. Food prices aren’t helping either. Still, it looks like the cold weather is leaving slowly. (KATU reports snow level down to 2000 feet this week, just above our heads.) We’ve been able to let both the goats and geese out a bit, although we still need to put in pens for both. We’re planning where we want to put in the new building, whatever it is. I re-read the underground house book and we talked about a place where we can build into the slope. There’s actually a perfect spot for it, already dug out. We’d have to shore up the slope in that spot and it is on the wet side of the place. I still doubt that we’ll build underground, but it’s a spot I hadn’t considered before. The view from that spot is not as nice as up top, but it is a lot more sheltered.

We are getting use of a couple of mountain bikes that were donated to the church several years ago. We can use those to ride over to the place we caretake for the church. We’re getting use of Mike’s chainsaw, the one that Jeffrey moved inside after Abe left it out on a stump this fall. We’ve got the word out that we’re looking for an old snowmobile, which would really make life easier for us in the winter. The puppy is getting bigger and easier to deal with every day. This week, we’ve been letting her sleep on the floor with the big dogs, instead of in the cat carrier. So far, she’s behaved well.

So I guess we need to focus on the things going well in our lives, instead of listening to how bad it is supposed to be. Maybe the problems are being overstated. Maybe it’s those folks out there somewhere, that have the problems, not us in Stabler. Folks in Stabler live in hard times pretty much always. So they have ways to deal with it, mostly sharing what they have and trying to find ways to do without what they don’t have. Things may get worse, but then again, maybe they will get better. Who really knows?

My commute-redux

Had to wait for these guys to get out of my way on our road Friday.
Deer in the driveway

another view:

Another view

Stock up the pantry

Did you see that even the Wall Street Journal has gotten the news? Link They call it Return on Investment. Food is likely to continue to go up in price, in the same way that gas prices keep climbing. It’s a good idea to start small, just buying a few extra items of the things you normally use each time you shop. If you’ve been living on prepared foods, it’s high time you learned how to cook from scratch. Prepared foods are going to get considerably more expensive than the basics. If you lose your job or have to seriously cut back, it’s great to know how to make a cheap and nourishing soup for dinner. Anyone can learn.

If you’ve already started with food storage, it might be a good time to consider tools or supplies that would be handy to have. I’ve read that the government stimulus checks are supposed to start showing up as direct deposit or in the mail starting May 2nd. It would be good to have a plan if you are likely to have some extra money coming in.

It’s over

I somehow doubt that I get many readers with a well to do lifestyle. But for the record, that whole lifestyle of spending way more than you make and charging to the max, it’s over. It’s not coming back any time soon and likely not even in our lifetime. You need to deal with the new reality. It’s like those folks who thought that having a home equity line of credit was like having savings. Then they found out that the banks could revoke that line of credit. Suddenly, they don’t have a penny in case of emergencies. Savings are real (and yes, you can lose savings, as folks found out during the bank failures of the Great Depression).

So, what can you do? You need to learn to do what folks used to do: live within your means. It will mean the end of recreational shopping. You’ll need to learn how to take care of things and make them last. You’ll need to learn how to get good value for your money. You’ll need to learn how to cook and prepare foods from scratch. It doesn’t mean a life of deprivation. It does mean taking a lot more responsibility for yourself and your family.

My friend, Ginger, has taught me a lot about this. Ginger is a prepper. She has been working towards a year’s supply of food. She started out buying the long term storage stuff, like grains and beans. Then she started buying short term stuff. She’s got this organized in a way that lets her rotate her food. I guess you could say she has a well stocked pantry. She went through a difficult time recently when trying to sell her home. To save enough money to pay her mortgage on a reduced income, she was able to use her food storage. Imagine what it would be like, to have a year’s supply of food to depend on. If you were unemployed, you would still have enough food for yourself and your family. You could use that unemployment check to pay the bills and buy gas for your job search. The stress level would be much lower. Even three months worth of food would give you peace of mind.

So here’s some recommendations:

  1. Start a garden. It’s time to start doing. Even if you have a postage stamp yard, you can still grow enough for salads. When we lived in the Airstream and travelled, I had a garden in milk crates. I could put it in the trailer when we moved and back out at the new location.
  2. Pay yourself first. You need savings. I’ve talked to several people who have gone from good paying jobs to poor paying ones. All of us are astounded at how much money we used to waste. Start from wherever you are and start to put something away first thing, before you pay anyone else. Read The Richest Man in Babylon to learn why this is important. Another good book is The Millionaire Next Door. People that are really rich don’t have the lifestyle you envisioned.
  3. Learn how to make do. This goes back to that idea of getting good value for your money. I just found a great book on getting this mentality: Thrift in the Household. You may not want to make your own vinegar. But read that part on weighing what you buy and then weighing the waste. Sometimes we think we are getting a great deal, when we are really overpaying for junk.

I am not in the doom and gloom camp, not yet. I do think that we are going to have a period at least equal to the tech crunch. Given the higher prices on food and fuel, I suspect it will be a longer downturn. You really need to take a look at your spending and start planning for that downturn. After all, if I’m wrong, it won’t hurt you. If I’m right, it might make a big difference. If you’re interested in learning about food storage, Provident Living is a good place to start.

More Loretta pictures

Loretta in the snow

This is a picture of Loretta in the snow a couple of weeks ago (all gone now!) She’s chewing on a lettuce leaf. It’s just hard to get a good picture of black dogs.

Loretta up close

This is probably the best picture I have of her. It’s a little washed out because we had sun coming in through the front window. You can actually see her face and she’s not chewing on anything.

Loretta with the teeth

And this is what she normally looks like, rolling her eyes and chewing on something. Good thing she was calm when I took this!


I wanted to do an update, as I managed to get a few decent pictures of Loretta awake. Can’t get a connection on my laptop here at work. So I’ll try to do that shortly.

In the meantime, I had a real shock today. They’ve set up a retirement fund for us at work, and the company is kicking in some money. I’ve not been able to add anything to it. When I checked it out, it showed roughly $59 that had been contributed by the company. I put it all in a fund for energy stocks, primarily oil. I checked it today and I have $154 in the account. Wow! It’s doing so well, that I think I just may have to have something taken out of my check. At some point, I’ll have to diversify it a bit. Guess it pays to spend time reading financial blogs.

I’ve been taking a strong look at the budget recently. We’ve just not been able to make it from one paycheck to the next and are getting killed with overdrafts. I’m considering getting rid of the goats. I’d hoped to have milk out of Lily this year, but just don’t know if I can afford the cost of hay much longer. Inertia has kept me from putting them up for sale. The other issue is that Jeffrey went through a bad week physically last week. I think he had the same flu bug that I had. It really concerns me when he’s not feeling well. I guess I’m just used to the way he was in the old days, where he was always overweight. He’s in great physical shape but thin. It’s easier on his joints but leads me to worry quite a bit.

The other issue that has come up recently has been titheing at church. We were trying to make a point, that we don’t want to attend a church where people are made uncomfortable if they can’t afford to tithe. It lead to someone trying to give us a bunch of groceries, in exchange for us taking the money and titheing. Not good. I guess it was given in good spirit, but she totally missed the point. I’m feeling pretty good about finances, although there’s no reason for it. I just feel like we can finally get things back in order, especially when we get the economic stimulus money. I guess we’ll just have to see if it helps or not. More than anything, I’d like to be able to afford to replace this car. It’s got more than 300,000 miles on it and I can’t expect it to last much longer.


Loretta asleep

This is Loretta. She’s an 8 week old Springer/Golden cross. It’s hard to take good pictures of black dogs.

full view of loretta

I’ll try and see if I can get a picture of her awake this weekend.