Sunday, April 27, 2014

The First Weekend of my Unemployment

Learning to live on less, not just by choice, is definitely a mind game.  Even if you are good at keeping negativity down, these are times that really seem to test your resolve.  And it's only been 2 days.

The first thing I'm learning is keep yourself busy.  This weekend, I started cleaning random junk drawers in the kitchen, made fresh butter from some cream in the fridge, and ran the dog down playing fetch.  Since there is a chance of snow tonight, the garden is covered and the hatches are battened down.  It hasn't really hit me yet that tomorrow I won't be in my normal routine of waking up early, getting the kids ready for school, and then going to work.  But I've scheduled a few things to get done in the morning, so that helps.

If you're in a similar boat, get yourself a schedule.  Find SOMETHING to do, even if it isn't all that important.  If you find something constructive, then you'll at least have an outlet for your creative side and be producing something towards your goals, even if it's not financially.  Anything you start setting up today is one less thing to worry about in the future, and one advantage you'll have surviving economic hardship.

Make sure you also have an emotional outlet.  My kids and wife have been great dealing with me this weekend, which proves their patience and long-suffering is truly a gift from God.  I know that there is a job out there for me, either with a company or one I create myself, but in the meantime, there needs to be a way to deal with the stress and anxiety without venting to others.  This blog helps, as does getting out with the dog.  I've ridden my bicycle more in the last week than I have in the last year, and I'm trying to find solace in the small moments of peace and quiet.

Finally, volunteer.  For a lot of people, the loss of a job, even if it's nothing personal, is still a big hit to your sense of self-worth and value to society.  Pick a cause, or a classroom, or a church, or something, and just give them some of your newly found free time.  By giving of ourselves, we remind ourselves that our value is in our character and our drive, not in our pay scale or a title.  Learn to love yourself, just a little bit, for the person you have become over the years, and share the best of yourself with those who may not have even those smallest of blessings.  At church this morning, I got sat down in front of the mixer console and the media computers.  They were very shorthanded today, and needed someone in the hot seat.  Thankfully, they didn't have to train me, I set up many of those systems and revamped a few over the last couple of years, but it gave me a purpose, even for an hour, and that was incredibly therapeutic.  Get out and help some organization or person in some small way.  God blesses us when we least expect it if we are doing His will, so maybe by helping others, you're also helping yourself.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Well folks, this is what it is all about.

We spend all of our time working towards an event that may never happen, or a disaster that may just as easily pass us by.  However, one of the things we should be preparing for is the inevitable.  After 9 years of employment with the same company, I've finally joined the ranks of the downsized.  For a lot of people, this would be catastrophic.  Thankfully, my wife and I have made an active effort to reduce our debt (all that's left is the mortgage) and try our best to live on less.  It will not be easy, but until I'm back to work, we're living on 40% of our previous income.  We're grateful that it happened in the spring, and our garden is in.  We're also thankful for the time that we spent learning new skills and becoming less reliant on the normal ebb and flow of money.  This is our test, and we're not sure how long it will last, but we're finally forced to live the way we always tried to.  I'm going to track our journey, and post what lessons we learn together to try and help others who find themselves in this situation.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Back After A Long Break

Although nobody is actually following this blog, I've decided to pick it back up again as a way of keeping myself organized and on track. In the time since I last wrote anything down, the world has seen tremendous change. Oil is back to it's 2008 price of $110/barrel, gas is expected to hit $5/gal by Memorial Day, and the threat of rapid inflation is looming on the near horizon. Combined with the Euro Crisis and expected Greek default on May 20th, this could create a very difficult environment for a lot of people.
I haven't been sitting idle, though. Last fall, we purchased a tiny Geo Metro XFi. If you are unfamiliar with this model, it's a 1.0L 3 cyclinder hatchback that is geared for gas mileage with a higher top gear and lightened cam. This car, on a bad day, gets double the gas mileage of our Subaru or Chrysler. On a good day, it can nearly triple their fuel economy. Combined with our 250cc Honda Rebel motorcycle, we are ready for $5-7/gallon gasoline. Our plan during the summer is to remove our Subaru off the insurance to garage it for much needed maintenance, which will save us $60/month in insurance premiums. Adding the motorcycle is only $20/month, so we still save $40/month just in insurance. Then we cut our fuel budget roughly in half. Most days we will drive the Metro into work, but on the nights where the kids or the wife have activities, I'll take the Rebel into work (75mpg) while she takes the Metro to church and town. That should save us about $300/month in just excess fuel costs that we can set aside for maintenance and preps.
Today we are putting in a fence on the front of our yard. Well, to be more exact, we are having it put in, as fence building has never been my strong suite. Too many times in my childhood I found myself pulling steel fence posts back up and having to realign them with the intended fenceline. This will allow us to expand our garden and put in a small chicken coop, which is something we have wanted to do for years.
We've also picked up a pistol for my wife this year. She gets beat up too badly by the shotgun, so a pistol was our plan for her in regards to protecting herself and the children when I'm at work. Our talking to my sister and brother-in-law also helped to encourage them to do the same, so my wife and my sister can learn the finer arts of handling handguns. We chose the Springfield XDM-9, as the 9mm shell is cheap to practice with and not as intimidating as a .40 or .45ACP. Plus, it's standardized caliber-wise with many of our friends and family members, so if we find a good deal on ammunition or reloading supplies, everyone benefits. We also found a nearly local company, Freedom Munitions ( that sells their Blaster practice ammo for a song, 1000 rounds for $166 shipped.
Our primary focus isn't on guns, gold, and beans, though. We have already started our spring cold season crops and even a few indoor garden plants. Our goal this year is to expand the garden, and we have been spending the winter composting and building up our garden beds with fresh rabbit droppings, shredded newspapers, and pine chips to create a nice compost/mulch. Our rotary composter has been doing very well, and we will actually be sharing compost with our neighbors due to it's efficiency.
We've also made a few new acquaintences. There is a rather large prepping community in our part of the country, and we have been talking to our neighbors in that community to share advice and plans for local disasters. We share seeds to lessen the risk of cross pollination, which also allows us to learn about new heirloom varieties and even entire crops that we've never considered before.
I can't promise that this will be updated as often as it needs to be, but I will do my best to update as needed to keep myself on track and to document my plans, my goals, and my accomplishments as we continue moving away from the consumerism lifestyle.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Home Canning Season

Sorry for the haitus. Summer, while being one of the best times of year for prepping projects, is also one of the busiest times of year for my day job. My goal is to post once a week during the rest of the summer and hopefully share all sorts of fun projects with everyone. Today my wife is starting the first batch of canning for the year, cherry almond jam canned with honey. It's a new experiment in that we have never canned with honey before, so it should be an experience. The kids love the cherry pitter, so they have been conscripted to help. So far it's been a fairly productive season for fruit, even our new plants are starting to show fruit. We planted 3 new blueberry bushes from North End Organic Nursery, and a Nanking Cherry, Black Lace Elderberry, Red Currant, and Mulberry from The Nature Company. There is a lot to be said about buying plants grown in the same soil you will be moving them to. In the past we've always purchased from Zamzows or the big box stores, and always had to deal with shocked and stressed plants. So far, no shock, and our blueberries and currant bush are already producing new fruit despite only being in the ground a few weeks. If you are in Southwest Idaho, I strongly recommend either company for quality fruit and veggie plants. The Nature Company will also take plants removed when you change your landscaping, rehabilitate them, and find new homes for them, so if you are doing any major lawn rennovation this year, give them a call!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The First Sprouts of the Season!

As previously mentioned, we started our garden indoors this year, and now, just one week into the process, we are already seeing some vegetables of our labors. Our broccoli and cauliflower are sprouting very nicely. If our goal was just to get sprouts to eat, we would already be harvesting the young, succulant greens. But, we have bolder ambitions for those little verdant stalks, introducing a new strain of broccoli to our town.

Coping With Disaster... and Children

Parenthood can be stressful enough, but dealing with disaster and small children sounds like a recipe for an aneurysm. However, it doesn't have to be a painful experience, at least, more than the crysis itself will demand. One small step in helping your kids cope is to make them familiar with things that will be around even after a disaster. Today, we purchased two Lego dynamo flashlights for our youngest boys. The friendly faces and bright colors will help keep their spirits up, no matter how dark the night. They are fairly large, but they put out a significant amount of light from each foot. With LED bulbs and a dynamo charger, there's no worry about the kids burning them out or running batteries dead any time soon. Granted, their time to play with them is limited and supervised, but helping our kids become familiar with the equipment that may some day be relied on so heavily will give them some basic mechanisms to cope with a world that is otherwise so chaotic.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Gardening Season is Officially Here

Today marks the beginning of the 2011 Gardening season. It was a great day to start tomatoes, celery, and several other crops indoors. Our planting is usually done in little Dixie cups, and we had to finish last year's store of them before moving on to our biodegradable planters. Over the last several months, we have saved all of our empty toilet paper tubes. When cut in half, then notched and folded, they make great planting cups that can be used, then transplanted with the young plants when we pass the last frost.
I also started my long procrastinated indoor herb garden. Basil, cilantro, thyme, and oregano are now sitting in their new homes, basking in the little bit of south facing sunlight we receive until the days grow longer. My wife spent most of her early afternoon planting the vegetable seeds, her hard work is definitely adding an urgency to the garden expansion and new beds that need to be put in before mid-April.