Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sunday Savings on the Homestead Week 10: Plan Your Garden!

Every Sunday I will be posting a Sunday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!

March is here! I can finally get excited about gardening! Not that the snow has gone away yet, but planning what to plant, where to plant, and how much is wonderful! 


I have already amended the soil a fair amount with old chicken manure and bedding. I might add in a bit of peat moss too because my soil is a heavy black dirt that needs some lighting up. 

What are you going to plant? Where? How much?

My garden is going to contain:
2 rows (18 plants) tomatoes - 9 paste tomato plants and 9 heirloom tomato plants
2 grape tomato plants
2/3 rows of snap peas
2 rows of green beans
1 row of yellow onions
1/2 row of red onions
1 & 1/2 rows of bell peppers
4 zucchini hills
4 summer squash hills
2 pumpkin hills
4 acorn squash hills
1 row of carrots
1/2 row of kale
1/2 row of spinach

I am still debating on planting potatoes. If I can expand the garden, I probably will plant a combination of red and white potatoes. 

Tonight (Monday), I plan on listening to Seeds for Generations' Garden Planning Webinar! Jason is very knowledgeable about gardening and will provide great information to help you plan your garden! 

What are you planning? Have you already started? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Daily Habits, Routines, and Prepping: Why Do They Go Together?


Many of us do the same things every day. We get up in the morning, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and start our day. Have you thought about how your daily habits and routines are a part of your prepping?

I didn't always see daily habits and routines as part of my prepping. I didn't use to have these habits and routines. Then I discovered Fly Lady and started to develop some routines. Then I had a few emergencies and discovered how nice it was to have these habits in place. I didn't have to search for clothes to wear. My clothes were in a neat pile, ready to wear. My phone and keys were in easy to find.

Lately, my nightly routine has been expanded. I make sure that by the time I go to bed, these things are happening:

1. Dishwasher is running.
2. The washer is running.
3. My clothes are laid out for the next day.
4. My phone is on the charger beside my bed.
5. All the lights are off.
6. The doors are locked.
7. Keys are beside my phone or in my jacket pocket.
8. My need-to-remember list is sitting by my phone.
9. All Ebay orders are packed and ready to go in my car bag.

Daily habits and routines can make or break your prepping. Having a daily routine is a good habit. Good habits will make your prepping even better. They can set you ahead and give you a reason to not worry about what isn't done. If the power goes off during the night, you don't have to worry about a stack of dirty dishes and a mountain of dirty clothes. That has been taken care of. If I have an emergency during the night, I can slip into my clothes right away. I am not having to look for my phone.

However, these habits did not happen overnight. I had to practice them over and over again. I had to learn a few lessons when they did not get done. I hate scrambling to get things done even though I am a procrastinator at heart. This daily habits keep me calm and give me less to worry about.

And isn't that the core idea of prepping? Doing things now in order to not worry about them later? 

How do you develop these habits and routines? 

1. Write a list. Write 8-10 things you want to have done at night and in the morning. I have my morning list and my evening list. I use to keep these on my phone and my mirror so I could review them constantly. I have changed them over the years due to changing needs and more independent kids. I just make sure my list includes things I don't want to worry about tomorrow.

2. Practice, practice, practice. Doing these habits and routines takes practice. Over and over again. You will out what is working and what is not working. I always want to get up early in the morning and get a lot done. That does not happen all the time so I have learned to do a lot more at night.

3. Your list may not be my list and that is okay. You have to do what works for you. I just know I am happier with these things taken care of at night. I don't have to face these things in the morning and I am prepared to face whatever happens in the morning. My list makes me worry less. Your list should involve things that will make you worry less.

My daily routine keeps me sane and is just a good thing to have. What do you think?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Preparedness on the Cheap: Learning Your Evacuation Routes


No one wants to think about evacuating their home. I know I would not leave mine until I absolutely had to or was forced to leave. However, in being prepared, we have to think about all possibilities whether we want to or not.

I live in a rural area. I know my evacuation routes by heart. I have them marked on a map that is always in my vehicle. I carry maps of Minnesota and Iowa because those are the two areas I travel the most in. I know the main routes and the alternate routes by heart. I have routes that miss all towns/cities, but can always go into a town if I need to.

While I find this important in rural areas, I find having evacuation routes crucial in urban areas. When I find myself in a town or a city, I look at maps to make sure I know how to get out of town. Main roads are good, but might be clogged with other traffic trying to leave. I look for alternate routes and I also try to make sure I have contacts that live or work in that city for more information on ways to leave the city.

Another thing I do to learn my evacuation routes is to also learn landmarks. I will talk to myself when I am drive and tell myself the landmarks. I try to memorize these landmarks so if I don't have a map or I am not using my vehicle, I can still know where I am going.


Things You Will Need To Learn Your Evacuation Routes

1. Highlighter or Marker, Pen, and Paper
2. City Map
3. County Plat Maps  (If you can get them. Not every state or county has these.)
4. State Map with county paved roads marked on them
5. Atlas with primary and secondary roads marked on them
6. A vehicle in which you can travel your routes.

How To Learn Your Evacuation Routes

1. Decide where you are going. I talk more about this here. Make sure your routes are highlighted.
2. Write down your evacuation routes so you have a separate source in case reading a map is not feasible. Also, you will memorize your routes better by writing down your routes.
3. Take a drive. If you have time and gas money, drive your primary and alternate routes. Start noting your landmarks and where they are at. If you have passengers with you, this would be a good task for a passenger to do. Stop every twenty miles or so if you are by yourself and write down the landmarks.
4. Drive back home. Do the same thing as #3, but in reverse. You might notice different landmarks on your way back home.
5. Once home, type up your evacuation routes as well as a list of landmarks in order of being seen. Also, type your evacuation routes in reverse in case you need them to get home. Put these in every vehicle as well as your bug out bags so you have them handy when you need them.
6. Update these at least once a year. New roads are being added all the time and sometimes your evacuation plans need to change.

I know we have GPS, Google Maps, and other such things nowadays. I don't like using any of those things. You know why? Nothing, and I mean nothing, replaces map-reading knowledge, memorization, and good common sense. Those electrical things can fail, die, run out of battery, or simply not be available when you need them. Do not rely on them.

Involve your kids in finding your evacuation routes. If they are drivers or college kids, they need to know this information. You might need another driver in case of emergencies, need of second evacuation vehicles, or injuries. Your college kids need to know how to get back home safely using multiple routes. 

Make this an family effort. You never know what your kids need to know and when they need to know it. They might have a better idea than you on getting somewhere fast. And it never hurts to have a second, third, or fourth pair of eyes either. 

In the winter, this is a good task to have done in a weekend. Whenever you do it, do it as soon as you can. You never know what you will face today or tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, January 9, 2015

Making a Budget: No One Wants To, But We Need To!


In the 13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year post, point #13 was to find someone to be an accountability partner for spending and budget making ideas.

Before you can look for an accountability partner, you need to do something first. You need to make a budget.

I know, I know. Making a budget is really, really, really hard. 

I know because I struggle with it too. However, I am determined to make a budget this year, adjust it when necessary, and stick to it. I have to give my money a place to go and I have to keep a tighter eye on where it is going.

Making a budget is not an overnight project. You need to look at the last 2-3 months and determine your expenses (bills, groceries, gas, etc.). How much, where, and frequency of money being spent is all things that need to be noted. How much money you make and frequency of money being paid to you needs to be noted. From these things, make a budget.

You can use a computer program or go low-tech (like me) and use a notebook or a planner. Just so your budget is not in your head, but on paper or saved on a file. Seeing it on paper makes your budget real to you. Keeping it in your head means that your budget is abstract and easily adjusted to what whims can suddenly take place.

Now, will this budget work exactly for the next and every month? Yes and no.

If you have expenses that are the same every month, never vary, and no surprises occur, you will be golden. If you are like me, you will have expenses that change all the time, your kids will surprise you with new needs (thank you to schools), and can change mid-month. You will pull your hair in frustration or find the need to go target shooting.

However, sit back and breathe deeply. Write every month down. Write down what expenses are the same every month. Estimate what you need to until you know the definite amount. You will have to adjust your budget for new things. You might find places you don't spend as much as you thought. You might have places you spend way more than you should. The next few months will be an adjustment period.

Make sure every dollar is accounted for in the budget. Dave Ramsey suggests this and he is right. Even if the dollar is in savings, it is accounted for. If you have a budget surplus, put the surplus in savings so you have that for surprises that may occur down the road. Make categories for clothing, repairs, gifts, etc. and allot money to

Pretty soon, you will have a working budget. I promise.

Having a budget though requires something else from you. Self-discipline and self-control. I can feel some of you cringing already. That is okay. I am too. This is where you may need and should have a budget accountability partner.

What is a budget accountability partner? Someone you can trust to bounce ideas off of, cry on their shoulder when the budget is not responding to your needs/wants, and someone who will help you take a cold, hard look at it.

Make sure your budget accountability partner is someone you trust. A spouse, significant other, parent, family, or really good friend are all good candidates. If you are married and both of you have trouble with the budget, finding a parent, sibling, or really good friend would be good. Some people do find it beneficial to find a professional to help them be accountable and that is fine too. Whatever it takes for you to make your budget work!

I feel this year will be a year that our money will have to go farther and farther yet. Now is the time to take charge of your money, make it go farther, and make it work for you!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, January 2, 2015

13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year!

A new year and new goals! Yes! One of my goals for the year is to live as frugal of a life as possible. What I was really saying is that we are going on a spending fast. We literally will be cutting back expenses and saving money as much as possible. My finances are not where I want them to be and I need to change that.


What will I be doing to save money in the new year? 

1. Unsubscribe to all or all but a few (3-4) emails a day that encourage me to part with my money. Most of the time, I just delete the emails before I read them, but I have moments of weakness and click on them. No more!

2. Commit to spending no money for anything not on the goals list, that is frivolous, or unnecessary. 

3. Write out your goals to know where the money needs to go and what needs to save for. Where does your money need to go? What are your goals for the year? Think about the areas of home/homestead, prepping, financial, gardening, and kids. Set a plan for those goals and how to attain them. Check out my goals here! 

4. Commit to becoming debt free. This is a hard one. I know first hand and am still struggling to become debt free.

5. Spend less than what is earned. Easier said than done, but self-discipline is crucial.

6. Learn to live on cash. 

7. Talk yourself out of purchases.

8. Subscribe to frugally-minded blogs and newsletters for encouragement. 

9. Look for money making opportunities to help pay for projects or pay towards debt. 

10. Learn to live without things. "Make do, do without, use it up, wear it out!"

11. Stretch a dollar and make your money go as far as possible. 

12. Give yourself some grace. Life is unpredictable and some things are out of our control. Pick yourself back up and get back on track.

13. Find some friends, significant other, and/or family to become an accountability partner. Find similar minded people to talk to and bounce ideas off of. I talk about this and budgeting in this post!

Each month from here until December, I will talking about each of these in great length. I will come back and link to this article for you. I have already talked about number 3 and have linked to it already.

Money is important, but should not rule our lives. Make this the year where you take back control!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Preparedness on the Cheap: Evaluate the Perimeter Of Your Property

(Preparedness on the Cheap is a series of articles for the prepper and everyone else that do not have a lot of money, but needs to take steps to be prepared. A good deal of prepping is learning, planning and organizing. Prepping doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but does involve a lot of doing!)

I take very regular walks around the yard and evaluate the property. I ask myself questions such as:


Do I need more privacy?
Does the yard look taken care of?
Where could someone hide? Where could I hide?
Do I have a clear line of sight of all my property?
Where can I take position at to protect my home and family?
What do I need to trim (trees, bushes, long grass) to reduce places for others to hide?
Do I need to secure anything so it can not be stolen?

You might think these questions are a little out there or sound crazy. But when you are thinking about defending your property and your family, are they? The answer would be no. You have a right and a duty to protect your home and loved ones from anyone wishing to do harm.

Anyone wanting to violate your home and property will do so or try to do so, but that doesn't mean you need to make it easy for them. You should learn your property and look at it through the eyes of someone who wants something you have. I look at my yard from the edge of the property and from the middle of the property.

I personally like the fact I have a lot of trees on the road side and north side of my acreage, but not a lot of trees on the other two sides. From the road, people can see some things in our yard. However, we have a lot of privacy. I want a lot of privacy so I am okay with this. I don't want people to see everything I do or my family does.

While trees and bushes can provide a lot of privacy, they also give a lot of places to hide and obscure the line of sight for me. I also have a few big buildings on my property that will hide others too. I am aware of that and plan to take precautions.

Do you have wide open areas to address? I do, but I consider my wide open areas to also be a benefit to my property. Less areas to hide and more area to maneuver people and vehicles.


In thinking about defending your property and controlling the perimeter of your property, you might want to ask this questions:

Where are good places to set traps or trip wires and alarms?
Where do I need to put motion sensor lights, alarms, spot lights, wireless cameras, trail cameras, etc?
Should I put a few tree stands in to better see what is coming?
Where are good places to make a defensive stand?
Where are good hiding spots for my loved ones and me?
What should I hide or disguise to make my property less attractive to others?

If you live in town, you should also ask yourself these questions:

How well do I know my neighbors? Do I like or trust my neighbors?
Who or what in town would be a threat?
Where exactly is my property lines?
Do I need a privacy fence or some way to mark the property lines?

Again, some of these questions may seem a little out there. I consider defending what is mine to be a high priority so I don't consider these questions outrageous at all. By asking these questions, you can make a plan, set some goals for property defense, and start working on it. You do not have to do everything at once, but do what you can when you can.

Remember, we are evaluating our perimeter. I don't have the answers for what you should do because everyone will have unique needs, land, and beliefs. You have to do what is best for you. I plan on protecting my family the best I can.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, September 1, 2014

30 Days of Preparedness: Stocking the Non-Food Items

30-days-prep2

People often forget that while they need to have plenty of food stored, they also need the other essentials in life. What would be those you ask? Items such as batteries, toliet paper, feminine supplies, soap, deodorant, and other essentials make life so much easier and better smelling for all of us! Plus there is a lot of items we do not use every day, but we would certainly need in case of emergency!

How do you plan to address these things? Do you plan on making them yourself or having them on hand? Either way, you need to have the items on hand!


What do you need to have on hand when stocking non-food items? I have a list of things I definitely want to have on hand, but that list could look different for everyone. Here is some questions I ask myself and you may want to ask yourself to start or beef up your non-food stockpiles.

1. What are you prepping for? For example: power grid failures, EMPs, natural disasters, financial collapse, job loss, rising food costs, etc. What items will you need to deal with those situations?

2. What does your family use on a daily basis that they could not live without? I do not mean electronics. I mean personal care items, clothing, etc. Keep track of what they use and start making a list. Have the members of your family makes lists of things they use also to make a better list.

3. What items will you need to have on hand if you have no power as opposed to having power? I have flashlights, batteries, solar chargers, and crank flashlights/radios in case I have no power, but those things would not be a necessity if we had power. I want to be ready for either contingency.

4. What do you need to keep on hand in case you can not go anywhere, need to service your vehicle,  or medical services are not available?

5. What do you need to have on hand to protect your family and yourself?

6. If you garden, have pets, or keep livestock, what do you need to have on hand?

7. If you have a baby, small children, or elderly people to consider, what do you need to have on hand?

After asking yourself those questions, start making a list. I am including a link to a list I keep with me in case I have some extra money or see a great deal to add to my stockpiles.

 Non Food Shopping List

I also look for multipurpose items. I do not like to keep things that only have one purpose, but I know that does need to happen. I also look for items that do not require electricity or can be solar powered.

Also remember, two is one and one is none. I may be able to have too much of an item, but I don't want to take the chance of running out. Neither should you.

A list I did not include is personal security and protection. That list will look different for everyone and greatly depends on what you want to do and what you already have on. I believe in multiple layers of security, but I have friends that believe in just knives and guns. To each their own.

What items do you like to include on your list? What else would you consider?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

30-days-prep2

Thanks for joining the Prepared Bloggers as we work our way through 30 Days of Preparedness. September is National Preparedness Month so you will find everything you need to get your preparedness knowledge and skills into shape. Take one post each day, learn as much as you can about the topic and make it a part of your preparedness plan.

Day 1 - Ready, Set, Get Prepared! Welcome to 30 Days of Preparedness from PreparednessMama 
Day 2 - The Family Meeting Place and Escape from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 3 - I'm Safe! How to Communicate with Family in an Emergency from PreparednessMama
Day 4 - Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan? from Home Ready Home
Day 5 - Preparedness For Pets from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 6 - The Escape Exercise from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 7 - It all Falls Apart Without Mental Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 8 - It's a Matter of Emergency Kits from A Matter of Preparedness
Day 9 - Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights from Food Storage & Survival
Day 10 - Cooking Without Power from Mama Kautz
Day 11 - The Importance of a Shelter & Staying Warm and Dry from Trayer Wilderness
Day 12 - The Importance of Having The Right Tools In Your Pack from Trayer Wilderness
Day 13 - Practice Living Without Electricity from Food Storage Made Easy
Day 14 - How We Choose The Right Gear - (including the MultiFlame Tool) from Trayer Wilderness
Day 15 - Water Storage & Purification from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 16 - Food and Water for a 72 Hour "Go Bag" from Homestead Dreamer
Day 17 - 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and How from Melissa K Norris
Day 18 - Planning Your Pantry from The Organic Prepper
Day 19 - Stocking Up on Non-Food Items from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 20 - Dutch Oven Cooking: Off-Grid Before Off-Grid Was Cool from The Backyard Pioneer
Day 21 - Pressure Canning the Harvest from Timber Creek Farm
Day 22 - Personal Protection & Awareness from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 23 - KISS First Aid from Herbal Prepper
Day 24 - Mommy, I have to go Potty! from Mom With a Prep
Day 25 - Fire Starting 101: The Why and How of Lighting a Fire for Survival from Food Storage & Survival
Day 26 - How to Filter and Purify Water from Prepared Housewives
Day 27 - How To Make A Shelter from Trayer Wilderness
Day 28 - Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged from The Organic Prepper
Day 29 - What Is Char and Why You Should Have It To Start A Fire from Trayer Wilderness
Day 30 - How To Utilize Bushcraft Skills and Forage From The Wild from Trayer Wilderness

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I Do To Be Organized

I am not a naturally organized person. I don't carry around a planner because I forget to write things down in them or forget them altogether. I am a visual person and need to have my organization in front of my face or somewhere my eyes will see.

I use these tools to see where every one will be, where I need to be, what needs to be remembered, and for papers that cannot be lost.

My calendar and two of my lists

Large Desktop Calendar Hung Up on Office Door
- Everything gets written there so everyone can see it
- Everyone writes down their schedule - no exceptions!
- I use Command strips to keep it up

Google Calendar on my phone
- Reminders set up for bills, blog, and appointments

To Do Lists
- I live off of these things!
- Always one in my pocket or nearby
- I use them at work and at home
- I also leave a to do list for my kids so they know what needs to be done by them every day

Shopping Lists
- I write down what we are out of as well as the sales I am interested in


Bulletin Boards
- I have two in the office. One is for coupons, gift certificates, and the phone list. The second board is for permission slips, reminder papers from school, and any sport/music schedules.

Notebooks  
- lists of what items I need/want and what I have on inventory.
- I also use them for holiday shopping, gardening and homesteading to keep track of costs, produce, what worked and what didn't work.
- I use notebooks a lot because that is easier for me than continually updating a spreadsheet.

Pretty easy system for me! What do you like to use for organizing?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Do You Not Worry About Money? Simple, By Worrying About It.

Confusing concept, yes?

I get asked all the time if I worry about money or how do I not worry about money. There is not simple answer to this because right now, I am always worried about money. I try not to worry and trust that my needs will always be meant as well as my family's and my loved ones. That concept seems easy, but in practice is very difficult to do.

Questions and doubts plague me all the time. Do I have enough money coming in to meet the flow of money going out? Will I have a little cushion this month or will it be a really tight month? Will I be able to take care of my family's needs? Will I forced to find another job outside of the home?

Or this week's current problem: Do I have enough money to cover the accidental double payment I made to the utilities with the check I wrote to the mechanic? Too late to stop all those checks so the answer will be sketchy until payday next Tuesday. This problem only occurs when I pay bills in a hurry or forget I paid online and mail a check. I have a system, but that system only works when I use it effectively and look at it every day. And now I am in a bit of a pickle trying to figure what to do. Use the system!

So now that you all know I am so far from perfect that only grace can save me, I will give you what tips I have to use for myself to help keep your worries to a minimum.

1. Use a budget. Let me say that I hate budgets. With A Passion. However, budgets are extremely useful and not very difficult to set up. I just use a notebook, list my projected income (work, child support, and book sales), list my debts (utilities, phone, satellite, internet, etc.), and assign every dollar a home after the bills are covered. I set an amount for groceries, savings, school, gas, etc. If I am working on paying off debts, I write down the beginning amount, amount paid, and end amount for each debt. I like to see my progress and write down "paid off" when I have accomplished that!

2. Use cash for your budgeted items. You can use this for all of your budgeted items or just a few. I take out $20 every paycheck and this becomes my going out money (eating out, having a drink with friends, occasional treat). Sometimes I spend, sometimes I don't. Having cash in an orderly fashion for groceries, household items, and gas will help keep you on budget.

3. Practice self-control and self-discipline. Of course, all of this takes self-control and self-discipline. I don't particularly care for those things either, but they are necessary. Practice saying no to yourself over and over again. Say no to your kids as much as you need to. Use a list when you shop and stick to it! Remember your goal to not have to worry about money and make it worth it!

4. Don't put yourself in places that tempt you to overspend. Avoid the mall, browsing through internet sale sites, stores that you do not have a need to be in, restaurants and bars, etc. Stick to your budget and view those places as very occasional treats.

5. Plan, plan, plan. A budget is plan, but you should also plan out other things like meals, household goods, pet needs, yearly doctor visits, yearly vehicle costs,and house/vehicle maintenance. An oil change or a dog needing food should not be an unexpected surprise, but expected and planned for. By making a meal plan, you know what you need for groceries and can make a list. Save your money for future purchases so you can pay cash and feel good about not accruing debt. Less worry!

6. Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make Do, or Do Without. Frugality and creativity are desirable traits. Reusing and recycling goods are great things to practice and do. We throw away so much that can be reused and recycled. By being frugal, creative, and learning to make do, we can save more money! Learn to make your own goods like cleaners to save a lot of money. Use rags instead of paper towels to clean messes. Many things can be done to help you not worry about money.

These tips help me to worry less about money and enjoy life more. Mistakes can happen as we are human, but with some prevention we can get a little closer to our goal of worrying less about money.

Thanks for reading!
Erica



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 2

Now that you know where you are going if and when you need to evacuate, you need to plan what to take with you. Whether you decide to have a 72 hour kit or everyone have their own bag or both, you need to have some essentials with you. I am choosing to have a 72 hour kit along with everyone having their own bag. I already have a tote packed and ready to go if we need to go.

Several areas need to be covered in your 72 hour kit and/or personal bags:

1. Water
2. Food
3. Clothing/Shoes
4. Important Papers
5. Personal Care and Sanitation
6. Security/Safety
7. First Aid
8. Tools


What you are seeing is a top view of my 72 hour kit. I did remove a few things from it so you could see in the kit better. I just used a tote that I had on hand, but the lid is attached. For the most part, everything has a pouch or is in a plastic bag to keep things organized, separated, and dry.

What is in my 72 hour kit? Many things and I keep adding:

1. A case of water stored by it on the shelf to grab and go.
2. Two water filter straws in case we need safe drinking water
3. Food: some MRE meals, ramen noodles, canned meat, fruit, and vegetables, tuna pouches, granola bars, cereal bars, a can opener, plastic table service for six people
4. A set of clothing, shoes, socks, jacket, sweatshirts, ponchos, hats, gloves, personal items, and books for each person in their own bag
5. A basic first aid kit
6. A gallon sized resealable plastic bag with important papers (copy of birth certificates, IDs, passports, insurance policies, important phone numbers)
7. A washcloth, towel, baby wipes, trash bags, sanitary items, a roll of toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste, a bar of soap, hand sanitizer
8. Flashlight, extra batteries, a knife, pepper spray, ammo, whistle, glow sticks, matches, lighter
9. A basic set of tools: multi-use screwdriver, hammer, pliers, crescent wrench, screws, nails, duct tape
10. A couple of books and a few different card games.

Some other things I would keep in my vehicle or in another place close to the kit is blankets/sleeping bags for each person, another case of water, and a weapon of your choosing.

You may think of other things you might want to include. If you have babies, I would suggest having a well-stocked diaper bag at all times as well as including a can of formula and 10-15 diapers in your 72 hour kit. If you have elderly people to consider, keeping some of their meds in the kit as well as a list of meds in the kit would be extremely important. You need to tailor the kit and/or bags to your personal needs. You also need to remember that you will need to carry out the kit so keep it light and manageable.

This isn't hard to do, but by not doing it, you may put yourself in a situation of having to depend upon others. I don't like feeling helpless or unprepared. This could save your and your family's lives. A small effort for a great peace of mind!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In A Holding Pattern...

Feels like I am just waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting for the nicer weather that is now here and hopefully staying. Waiting for the chicks to arrive. Waiting to plant my garden. Waiting to get my yard cleaned up and in shape. Waiting to build my raised beds. Waiting to be outside in my favorite outfit, tee shirts and jeans.

What is a girl to do while she is waiting? Plan, plan, and plan. Spring clean the house. Reorganize bedrooms. Purge clothes and toys. Figure out where to put the day lilies and how to landscape around them. Watch the amount of sunlight around the barn to make sure the blueberry bushes will get enough sun. Decide what to plant in her planters by the driveway: pretty, functional, or both?

Look at lots of chicken coop plans and decide that I don't want to build anything really. I have two buildings at my disposal and have decided that I want to boot the dog out of her dog house in the barn and put the chicks there. I think it was once a place for the milk separator, but it seems like the perfect amount of room for 12-15 chickens and nesting boxes and a waterer and a feeder. I just need to build a run or get a dog kennel for the chickens to run.

Decide if I want any other animals or livestock. I would love to have a calf or two and a pig or two for meat, but I better stick with keeping chicks alive first. I have to remind myself that taking baby steps are good for my sanity.

Research beekeeping. I know where I could put the hives, but I don't know what is all required and if northern Iowa is a good place for hives. How does one winter bee hives? Lots of questions yet.

Research perennial vegetables and fruits. I would like a homestead that provides food most of the year, but to do that means I have to plant with that in mind. I am already planting asparagus for spring eating, but I want to do more. I also need to buy these vegetables first to make sure my family will eat them.

Staying in the holding pattern for a bit longer. So many dreams, so many plans, so little time!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Garden Plans and Goals Update!

With Spring coming in four days, I would like to start giving regular updates on the progress of the garden this year. I will also share my frustrations too, but I would like to be positive about gardening. Gardening is therapy for me and I want to be an encouragement to all of you!

I plan on sharing my progress through my goals and plans as well as what I have gotten accomplished. As of right now, that is not a lot due to snow, snow melting, and muddiness right now! 

2014 Garden Plans and Goals

1. Buy a rear-tined tiller. My ground gets very hard even with the additional soil conditioners. A tiller will be a gift from heaven. Especially if I can find one that I can start easily. 
     
    Not yet, but soon! I am researching and patiently waiting for an used one. A new one costs $500-600 and that just makes me cringe to spend that kind of money!

2. Adding in more peat moss and compost to nourish the garden. 

3. Buying biodegradable plastic or material that will block the weeds in between rows. I will also be adding mulch on top of this to further choke out weeds. 

Done, done, and done! I bought three rolls of 45' x 3' rolls of weed blocking fabric for the garden! I might need more mulch, but I have five bags of it left from last year. 

4. Move the raspberries out of the regular garden. 

5. Adding two raised beds outside of the garden. One bed will be for asparagus and the other will be for the transplanted raspberries. The raspberry bed will be 12' x 6'. I haven't quite worked out the dimensions for the asparagus bed yet, but I am thinking an 12' x 4' bed. 

Better get cracking on the asparagus bed! Those crowns will be coming soon!

6. Planting tomatoes in the regular garden this year instead of buckets. I will be planting 16 plants. I am borrowing an idea from a friend and using fence to support them. I may keep a few in tomato cages too such as the grape tomatoes.

7. Planting four blueberry bushes. I am looking at two different varieties that are Zone 3 hardy. I am a very northern Zone 4 so I look for plants that survive in Zone 3. I will need to add aluminum sulfate when planting them, but I have hopes. I am still trying to decide exactly where to plant them. Maybe along side the barn? 

I better figure this out soon. I ordered four plants on Friday and they will be shipped out sometime in April along with the aluminum sulfate. 

8. Starting asparagus this year. Since asparagus will take 2-3 years to get established, I figured I better get this accomplished now. 

I ordered 10 crowns on Friday also. We will definitely be getting these started. 

9. Expand the garden about five feet to the east. 

10. Planting in the garden this year: spinach, kale, green beans, carrots, summer squash, onions, potatoes, three varieties of tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, and bell peppers in the actual garden. In four of the buckets, I will be trying cabbage for the first time. I am still not sure about the other four buckets, two big round containers, or three oblong planters. I want to try herbs, but I have not had a lot of luck with them in the past. I also want to leave some space for new and interesting things I find at the garden center!

11. I want to add a hose splitter and another sprinkler for watering. One sprinkler is not enough for the whole garden. Also, after the last few very dry summers, I need to get more serious about the watering issue. 

12. Cut the tree down in the rhubarb patch. It is seriously starting to affect the rhubarb production. I don't want to use chemicals, but I will be using Tordon RTU on all the cut areas to kill the remaining stump. 

Soon, baby, soon!

13. Trim up the apple trees for a better production. We got an amazing amount of apples last year, but I would like a little bigger apples.

14. Leave the strawberry bed alone this year. It is at the end of my garden and doing okay for now. I would love to give them their own bed or space, but not this year.

15. Move the day lilies out of the edge of the garden. I have no idea as of yet where I want to put them, but I am thinking about where. 

Ahhh!!! I still don't know where to put them! Anyone want some daylilies!?!?

 Homestead Barn Hop
  That is it for now, folks!

Thanks for reading!
Erica


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Using Your Tax Refund for Your Prepping

If you are one of those lucky people who get a tax refund, consider yourself blessed. I do! I didn't get as much back as last year and I am perfectly okay with that. However, my tax refund goes towards stocking and restocking my house as well as the necessities and priorities that need to be taken care of.

New shelving! One of last year's purchases!

First of all, if you are in debt, please pay off your debts first. I know there can be some exceptions to this rule. One exception I would make is if you have a need to purchase a vehicle. I think it is far better to purchase a vehicle for cash instead of making payments. I think it is far better to pay cash for anything than to charge it or pay interest.

Second, if you do not have any savings, put $500-$1000 in savings for emergencies. If you need to, put it in a different bank or a difficult to assess area in your home. Emergencies arise all the time and that money may come in handy in September.

Third, make a priority list. What is your most pressing needs for your household and your property? Be sure to take care of your family's needs first. Think about these things:
     What do you need for your food storage?
     What do you need to stock up on (sanitary items, health & beauty items, cleaning products)?
     What do your kids need in the way of clothes and shoes for the next year?
     What do you and/or significant other need in the way of clothes and shoes for the next year?
     What purchases do you anticipate for this next year?
     What repairs do you need to make to your home?
     What security measures do you need to make to your home (deadlocks, driveway alarms, peepholes, security cameras, new door locks, new windows, privacy fence/shrubbery, etc.)?
      If you have pets or livestock, what are their needs for the year (vet visits, litter, food, equipment, etc.)?
      What do you need to do your property (garden, trees, fencing, etc.)?

The list could go on, but from that list, figure out your priorities. What is most important? To me, feeding and clothing my family is at the top of my list and will be taken care of first. Then I work on the rest of the list. Right now, I am focusing on saving for a vehicle, a place for my chickens that I am ordering, a place for the dog for when we are not home, a compost area, and my garden (a tiller!).

Fourth, make a budget for your refund. Do your research on cost of items. Also remember, just because you have the money doesn't necessarily mean you need to buy brand new everything. I actually prefer used goods most of the time because of the cost savings. Make your money work for you and stretch it out!

Lastly, have some fun with your refund! The government is paying you despite the flawed logic in that concept. Take the family out for a movie or a fun day at the local amusement park. You don't have to go crazy (unless you already are, like me!), but some fun family time creates a lot of memories and does a lot of good for the morale!

With a little planning, prioritizing, and creativity, your refund can go a long ways towards helping you prepare. However, purchasing what you need or want does not do you any good unless you actually use those things and practice with them. Make wise decisions and have some fun with it!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Thrifty Thursday Square

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 1

(Preparedness on the Cheap is a series of articles for the prepper and everyone else that doesn't have a lot of money, but needs to take steps to be prepared. A good deal of prepping is learning, planning and organizing. Prepping doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but does involve a lot of doing!)

One thing that most people fail to plan for is having to evacuate. Making evacuation plans and practicing them is a very frugal and cheap way to prepare. The whole family can be and should be involved in making them and practicing them.

Evacuation plans can have many levels/steps to them:
  1. Evacuating the home in case of fire or a natural disaster, but still staying on the property
  2. Evacuating the home due to natural disaster or emergency and leaving the premises
  3. Evacuating the area due to natural disaster or emergency
  4. Evacuating to another area altogether

Many of these plans are intertwined together and can have many steps.

For step #1, one of the first things I did when I made plans was to print off a map of our farm from Google Earth. With the map present, I could make a plan for my children about where to meet. I also have 2-3 meeting places set, just in case. My garage is separate from the house by 75 feet and that is meeting place #1. The machine shed is even further away from the house and depending on weather conditions, the machine shed shop area is meeting place #2.  The opposite corner of our property from the house is meeting place #3. Ideally I want to meet in the garage because that is where the vehicles are and we could move and/or use the vehicle as shelter also.

For step #2, I copied a map of the area and the county from the plat map books we get in the mail from the county. I highlighted multiple routes from our house to take in case we should have to leave the premises. If you live in a town/city, have a city map with routes marked. A good idea would be to have copies of these maps in each vehicle.  Another good idea is to have prearranged plans with family and friends who live locally to you that you can go to if staying at home is no longer a viable option. I have three places for us to go if we cannot stay at the farm and have arranged this with the people living there. I also have written down a few places that would be likely to have a Red Cross emergency area set up just in case we would need it.


For step #3 and #4, I have a map in each vehicle we own of the state of Iowa and am working on putting an atlas in each vehicle. I have highlighted routes to get to the three places we could go to depending on the natural disaster/emergency and the area it covered. I made sure to highlight the ideal route and several alternate routes just in case. I also have routes that do not use the main roads in case of blockades or checkpoints. I really just don't want to deal with them if I don't have to.

If you have college kids, you will want to do these maps with them and plan alternate routes if they have to come home or go to a safe place. If you have kids at school, you will want to plan routes to get them from school if they do not drive to school. If you have high school age drivers, you will want to plan routes for them to get home or a safe place. Make sure they practice these routes and are comfortable driving other roads (such as gravel roads) besides the main roads.

As you can see, steps 2, 3 and 4 are very much the same just concentrating on going from local areas to state/regional areas. Having current maps is very important. In Iowa, we can pick up new state maps from any welcome center in the state. I also get current maps of surrounding states when I can. An atlas can be very beneficial in you can not stay in the state or region. I make sure to update my maps at least once a year in case roads become closed or new one are added. Many people have a GPS and that is fine, but they can fail and are programmed for the main roads. I would not rely on them alone.

The most important part in this is making sure your family understands and memorizes the plans.  In an emergency evacuation, plans can be forgotten so making sure everyone knows, understands, practices, and memorizes the plans is crucial. I am not sure you can practice this enough! Practice with your kids about where they are to meet on the property and to wait for everyone to join them. Practice driving the alternate routes and how long it would take you to drive them. Practice driving them at a slower speed in case you would need to do so to save fuel or weather conditions.

In the next Preparedness on the Cheap, I will talk about what to have ready, bring, and be aware of in case of evacuation. Although I plan to stay home no matter what, being ready to leave home at a moment's notice is very important. I would be ignorant to dismiss that possibility and not be ready for it.

Thanks for reading!
Erica
The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Gardening Plans and Goals

This year's garden is going to be super awesome! Well, it has to be better than last year. Last year was a pretty much a learning experience (i.e. a failure). I will be doing some things different and expanding a bit.

I should be home more this summer since we do not have any more high school softball girls in the house. I will be contending with one in 7th grade softball and one in 3rd grade baseball. That shouldn't be so bad. Also we are looking at methods that will make gardening easier like keeping the weeds down with material and mulch.

I realized that last year I did not post any gardening plans or goals. That may account for why I felt like a failure in the garden last year. After some solid learning experiences, I am learning to have plans and goals. They do give me something to work towards and keep me in line for the future.

 2011 Garden ( How sad!)

2014 Garden Plans and Goals

1. Buy a rear-tined tiller. (Like this one.) My ground gets very hard even with the additional soil conditioners. A tiller will be a gift from heaven. Especially if I can find one that I can start easily.

2. Adding in more peat moss and compost to nourish the garden.

3. Buying biodegradable plastic or material that will block the weeds in between rows. I will also be adding mulch on top of this to further choke out weeds.

4. Move the raspberries out of the regular garden.

5. Adding two raised beds outside of the garden. One bed will be for asparagus and the other will be for the transplanted raspberries. The raspberry bed will be 12' x 6'. I haven't quite worked out the dimensions for the asparagus bed yet, but I am thinking an 12' x 4' bed.

6. Planting tomatoes in the regular garden this year instead of buckets. I will be planting 16 plants. I am borrowing an idea from a friend and using fence to support them. I may keep a few in tomato cages too such as the grape tomatoes.

7. Planting four blueberry bushes. I am looking at two different varieties that are Zone 3 hardy. I am a very northern Zone 4 so I look for plants that survive in Zone 3. I will need to add aluminum sulfate when planting them, but I have hopes. I am still trying to decide exactly where to plant them. Maybe along side the barn?

8. Starting asparagus this year. Since asparagus will take 2-3 years to get established, I figured I better get this accomplished now.

9. Expand the garden about five feet to the east.

Moving these buckets and expanding the garden here

10. Planting in the garden this year: spinach, kale, green beans, carrots, summer squash, onions, potatoes, three varieties of tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, and bell peppers in the actual garden. In four of the buckets, I will be trying cabbage for the first time. I am still not sure about the other four buckets, two big round containers, or three oblong planters. I want to try herbs, but I have not had a lot of luck with them in the past. I also want to leave some space for new and interesting things I find at the garden center!

11. I want to add a hose splitter and another sprinkler for watering. One sprinkler is not enough for the whole garden. Also, after the last few very dry summers, I need to get more serious about the watering issue.

12. Cut the tree down in the rhubarb patch. It is seriously starting to affect the rhubarb production. I don't want to use chemicals, but I will be using Tordon RTU on all the cut areas to kill the remaining stump.

13. Trim up the apple trees for a better production. We got an amazing amount of apples last year, but I would like a little bigger apples.


14. Leave the strawberry bed alone this year. It is at the end of my garden and doing okay for now. I would love to give them their own bed or space, but not this year.

15. Move the day lilies out of the edge of the garden. I have no idea as of yet where I want to put them, but I am thinking about where.


Some of my planning and moving things are due to the fact that they are big weed areas. I can't seem to keep on top of the weeds in the raspberries and day lilies which affect the whole garden. I hope by moving them out of there, I can effectively manage the weeds in the garden. I plan to mulch the beds that I move the raspberries and day lilies to so I can keep the weeds down there.

We do plan to store, can, freeze, and dehydrate all that we can from the garden. This year we will be trying something new with the goods that produce more than we can use, but I will let you know more about that later! I want to get to the point of producing most of our own food, but that may take a few years and a lot of patience.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Frugal Update

 This week has been quieter and I have been lazier. The kids have not had a lot of school or been to school on time so, for some reason, that messes me up. All I have wanted to do is cozy up in my recliner, write, and plan. Paige had a couple of basketball games last week so that contributed to getting not a whole lot done. I have higher hopes for this week.

I made two loaves of bread in the bread maker and a pan of granola bars. I also made a bunch of MYO Oatmeal packets using oat flour that I had on hand instead of powdering oats in the food processor. We ate dinner at home every night except one when we were taken out for pizza!

Grocery shopping was heavier than usual this week due to some really good stock-up sales. I will be going back today for 10 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 1.68 a pound and two cases of water for 1.99 each.

I have a clothing allowance at work that I needed to get used up by the end of this week. So I placed an order on Old Navy's site using Ebates and a discount code. I also bought a lot of sale on their site so my savings were significant, but I haven't had time to figure it out yet. I am guessing the savings to be about $40 for spending $67 plus I will get reimbursed by my company for what I spent. I have a little more to spend yet and have my eye on a few things on Ebay to use up the difference.

I have been pouring over seed catalogs and trying to plan my garden. I am hoping that without high school softball this summer, I might be able to play in my garden more. We would like to get to the point of growing most, if not all, our own food. I know I want to put in 4-6 blueberry shrubs and an asparagus patch in addition to the rest of the garden. We are also thinking we are going to move the raspberries out of the garden into their own bed. We are looking at methods to make the gardening easier. Rob has been trying to convince me to put plastic or material down between rows with mulch over top of it. We are also looking for a rear-tined tiller to make the garden easier to manage and to make the soil fluffy.

I have also been putting together a list for shopping garage sales this summer. Dane has a good size list of needs for the next few years. I also have things I am looking for the house and homestead that would make life a bit easier.

Can you tell I am sick of winter already? I am ready to be outside, but I have an aversion to cold!

I made some changes on the blog. Since I couldn't keep up with the weekend links and some weekends are really busy, I decided to instead post some links on my Facebook page every day for everyone to check out! If you haven't liked my Facebook page yet, please do! I am also working on a pattern for the days, but so far I only have Monday and Tuesday worked out. That might be all the further I get because the rest of the week I would like to dedicate to articles on preparedness and frugal living. Since we will be taking a bigger dip into the homesteading pool this spring, I will be posting more about that too.

Crossing my fingers that I will be getting 5-6 laying chicks!!! Right now I am trying to figure out where I am putting them. Jordan is not crazy about the whole free ranging chicken thing since she thinks they will attack her. I doubt it, but eh.

That is about it for this week! A light week, but oh well!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Saturday, January 25, 2014

When A Winter Storm Approaches

(One of the things I will be doing in the next few weeks is sharing our family preparedness and emergency plans with you. One of my goals for last year and this year is to get this done, typed, and put into a binder for everyone to see and use.)


When a winter storm approaches and looks like it will be a bad one, I use this list as a plan of action. In Iowa the weather can get nasty fairly quickly. With the great technology we have, I can implement my plan quickly because I know when the winter storms are approaching. I do use this list with the mindset that the worst is going to happen to us: losing power, not being able to use outside cooking sources due to wind, and that this could be several days or just a few hours.

Since my water is from a well, the well pump is electrically powered. My list is directed towards if we lose power, we lose water. I always make sure I have plenty of water on hand. I also do everything that may take water a priority on my list. I do not want to melt snow or boil water to do dishes if I do not have to nor do I want to have laundry piled up to the ceiling.

This list will not be the same for everyone. If you have livestock, your list will be different. If you have small children, your list will be different. Everyone has different circumstances and needs. My list is also based on the fact that we have multiple hands and a lot of the things on the list can be done simultaneously.

Winter Storm Family Preparedness Plan

When leaving work and/or school:
1. Fill cars with gas
2. Get some cash from ATM
3. Buy any necessities we might be low on (milk, water, fruit, vegetables, personal and paper items)
4. Buy cat or fish food if needed

At home:
1. Gather all laundry and start the washing machine
2. Wash all dishes
3. Fill buckets with water
4. Everyone takes a shower at some point during the day
5. Park all vehicles inside and shut garage doors
6. Bring snow shovel inside house
7. Make certain tractor is plugged in and gassed up
8. Barn doors need to be closed tightly including the dog house
9. Outdoors cats get fed and watered
10. Make sure heated water dish is plugged in and working in the barn
11. Change indoor cats litter box
12. Plug in and charge compact jump start for vehicles as well as extra charging source
13. Plug in all cell phones and computers to charge
14. Shut any other doors outside that need to be shut
15. Start bread in bread maker
16. Do any cleaning in house that requires water or power
17. Top off fish aquarium with water
18. Make food that can be eaten without power: granola, granola bars, etc.
19. Take care of any online needs like paying bills or responding to correspondence
20. Have kids do homework especially if it needs to be done on the computer
21. Have coolers ready to go outside to hold any perishables if the fridge or freezer loses power for over four hours
22. Take a walk outside to make sure everything is put away and/or in its place.

Like I said, this is worse case scenario thinking. I would rather be safe than sorry if something were to happen over multiple days especially with no power or water.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Homestead Barn Hop

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