Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, May 21, 2015

2015 Garden Photos

The garden this year is coming along nicely so I thought I would share. Enjoy!
This is the top bed area. As you can see the catnip has really taken over the front portion. There are also carrots, beets, basil and tomatoes in this area.
Here are some of the tomatoes in the top garden area. You can just barely see the narrow walk and then the beets on the other side of the walk.
A small huguelkultur bed on the other side of the top portion of the garden and yes that is the shallow part of the cement pond!
Still at the top of the garden but in the pond area looking back toward the house and goat barn. Under the tree is a large huguelkultur bed with herbs and flowers.
There are 2 bed areas here. The triangle bed which splits the pathway to go in different directions and then on the very far side next to the fence is the salad bar. All the kale has been harvested from here and the salad stuff is about done. Some wayward catnip has taken up residence but will become rabbit food shortly. The triangle bed has flowers and herbs that haven't come up yet.
This is going down the left side of the triangle. Peas haven't come up, then there are tomatoes, basil, marigolds, zinnias, and after th tomatoes will be another crop of peas. In the middle bed is squash, then on the far end the bed is fallow until fall. Directly across from the first set of peas is okra, watermelon, 4 o'clocks and soon to be eggplant.
This is down the right side from the triangle. On the right is oregano, lavender, sweet peppers, tomatoes, pole beans, hot peppers and asparagus. Oh, marigolds, basil and morning glories.
This is the outside fence along the driveway. it houses cucumbers, kale, dill, radishes, zuchinni, marigolds, and apple mint on the very far end.
That is it for now. Happy gardening!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dogs Earned their Keep

The dogs definitely earned their keep yesterday. I was in the garden working when I heard a big commotion with the chickens who were in the front pasture. I looked up and saw several chickens on the run back toward the house and barn. Behind them was a dog, then two dogs. So I screamed at the dogs to get out of here and my two heard me. They came running off the side porch and saw the dogs too. They went after the two dogs giving them a beating that they won't soon forget and ran them back through the fence. I think these two dogs came from a neighbor about a 1/2 mile down the road. Fortunately, because of the quick action of my dogs I didn't lose any chickens. I think it will be some time before those dogs think about coming back. Titan had blood on him and it wasn't his blood. They definitely earned their supper last night. Of course, Titan was worn out and had to take the kind of nap only a mastiff can take! Sometimes, I tend to think the dogs are lazy and good for nothing. But they are the reason that I don't have bad critters and can let my chickens free range. I used to have skunks here on a regular basis and I haven't seen or smelled a skunk in years. Dakota works all night long keeping predators at bay. My neighbor lost all his chickens to coyotes. The coyotes stay well clear of my place. Before Dakota I lost all my rabbits in one night as something, torn through the wire into the rabbit hutches. Now, my rabbits are safe, most of the time. I did lose a chicken that went through the fence into the woods on the neighbors property. Both Dakota and I watched it happen, but she couldn't do a thing because of the field fence. It was the chickens fault for leaving the dogs protection. These two dogs are definitely worth their keep, even when it seems like all they do is sleep. Blessings, Kat

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thermal Curtains are Working Well

Hello All,
I just wanted to give an update on the thermal curtains that I spent weeks working on. They are working better than expected. The past week has been hot even for deep south standards. We went from one week being in the 70s for highs and then jumped right into the next week being in the high 80s and low 90s. Big difference and actually quite miserable outside. However, the thermal curtains are working wonderfully. Yesterday, the high was 91 for us. We closed the windows, blinds and curtains on the south side of the house about 10 am. The eastside curtains are closed as soon as I get up in the morning and then opened about 10 am. The west side curtains are closed about 4:00. So while it was a hot 91 degrees outside yesterday, the temperature in the house never got higher than 78 degrees. The back of the house was even cooler at 74 degrees, but it has no south facing windows at all. Still no air condition running and we were quite comfortable most of the day. In the late afternoon we felt a little warm, but I attribute that to the humidity since the actual temp was not warm at all. The humidity has been quite high. And there it is, the culprit that usually forces us to finally cave and turn on the AC...humidity. Not only does it make you feel as if it is 10 degrees hotter than it really is, it will make mildew start to grow in the house. That simply cannot be tolerated as we are all highly allergic and it is no fun throwing things out that have gone completely green. I remember one summer I wasn't paying close attention and the furniture in the living room (which we don't use much) was completely green before I really noticed it. It was a bear to clean all of that upholstery and take the furniture outside into the sun to completely dry and solarized the mildew. So we will just have to see and I am much more vigilant these days. Otherwise the curtains are working wonderfully and while most in the south are already running up those power bills with their ACs we are still getting a small reprieve. Blessings, Kat

Friday, May 8, 2015

Vinegar weed killer

Ok, there are many homemade recipes that just don't work. However, this vinegar weed killer really works and on a sunny day it works fast. Here it is:

Vinegar weed killer

In a 32 oz. spray bottle put 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup dish soap and fill the rest of the way with white vinegar. Spray on plants to be killed.

That is it. It is so easy, cheaper and healthier than the chemical alternative. However, there are some cautions:

This will change the pH of your soil.

This will kill all plants, so be careful of overspray.

It works best in the sun.

Some weeds are stubborn and might need a second application.

That is it. I keep a bottle fixed all the time through the growing season so that I have it handy. This really does work well and I don't have to worry about poisoning any of my animals. Blessings, Kat

Frugal Things Done for April

Well, there was nothing exciting about the last part of April as far as savings. It was pretty much just a routine thing around here. Here is what was accomplished.

1. At least 2 meals a week were cooked on the grill.

2. We ate 4 no cook meals this week. Two were leftover nights and two were salad picked from the garden) or sandwich (made with wheat free flat bread) nights.

3. Most showers were able to be done in the solar shower, so the hot water heater has mostly been off.

4. All laundry was washed in cold water and hung on the line.

5. I made cheese and butter.

6. Our local small grocer often sells bananas that are starting to turn at a huge discount. I picked up several pounds of these bananas for less that two dollars and froze them for smoothies later.

7. I only had a few small errands this week in town so my husband ran them for me on his way home from work. This meant that my car stayed parked in the driveway for an entire week.

8. I did have to go to town for Little Britches soccer game and on the way home I stopped at Lowe's for some bird netting. I happened upon the plant clearance rack and found 3 lantana, a couple of lavender plants, and a 6 pack of marigolds all marked way down so I got them for the garden. The lantana is really good at attracting bees and butterflies. The lavender will make a nice addition to my herbs and well I just like the marigolds.

9. We took down the old metal swingset and took the scrap metal to the the metal recycler. It wasn't much but we made 15.00.

10. The weather has been nice so no AC or heat. Just the windows open.

11. I made some new skirts and dresses for Petunia for the summer.

I guess that is about it. All in all I am happy with our downsizing of our electrical useage. We are now running on average around 15 kwH a day. I would like to see this go down even further, but not sure if it will. We will see. Have a blessed day, Kat

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sewing for Less

Recently, I had someone ask me why I bothered sewing clothes when I could buy them at the thrift store cheaper than I could buy fabric. I explained to her that sewing isn't a skill that warrants expensive trips to the fabric store. Many times I have someone give me clothes that are a bit out of date or too large or whatever. Usually, my sewing adventures involved re-making things into other things. Here are some things that I have done that keep clothing, household goods, and other sewing costs even cheaper than buying clothing at the thrift store.

1. Re-making what I already have. I had some boho/hippy style skirts that were given to me by my mother in law. They were cute and I love hippy style clothing. However, it doesn't really love me. I am short and a little wider than I would like to be and these skirts made me look shorter and wider than I already am. But I didn't want to get rid of them. So I made them into summer sundresses for me and my oldest daughter by simply replacing the elastic waistband with another piece of elastic that fit around our busts and then adding nice wide shoulder straps. We can wear them loose or with belts to give our waist more definition. They fit great and even left loose are more flattering because they fall in a more even way than they did when they were skirts. They come to just a hint above our knees so don't make us look even shorter than we are. The cost of 5 dresses was maybe 1.00 that I had in thread and elastic. That is about 20 cents a piece. Thrift store cost would have been at least 2.00 a skirt if not more.

2. When I am at yard sales or flea markets I pick up sewing supplies. I am always looking out for sewing supplies. I once bought a quart size Ziploc bag full of black thread for 1.00. That was years ago and I am still using that black thread. There were probably 15 to 20 spools in that bag. Another time I bought 4 large spools of serger thread even though I don't have a serger. I paid about 2.00 for all 4 spools. I use it for handsewing items and I am still using off those spools.

3.Along the lines of remaking, many times yard sales with have nice quality clothing for almost nothing. If the material of the clothing is good quality I try to consider if I can re-make it or re-size it. I have made many skirts out of shirts that were way too large or dresses for my daughters out of shirts that were too large.

4. Clothing that has stains can often be cut apart, the fabric flipped over if the stain doesn't go through and remade into something else. Or it can be cut up and the stained portion discarded, then the rest can be used for some type of home goods craft such as patchwork placemats for the table, or everyday dinner napkins that don't really need to match perfectly.

5. Fabric is fabric, so I am prone to picking up decent quality sheets anytime I can. I had built up my stash of sheets so well that recently when I made thermal curtains for the house I had plenty of sheets for the project. I made curtains for 14 very large sets of windows (4 required an entire kind size sheet to cover) out of maybe 3.00 worth of yard/thrift store sheets. I also made 3 shade cloths for the garden out of some cheaper stained sheets that were actually given to me.

These are just a few of the ways that I can save money sewing. Sewing for our house saves a lot of money and doesn't mean any trips to the fabric store. Recently I was in the fabric store getting my scissors sharpened and while I was waiting looked at the price of fabric. The lady that prompted this post was right. For the cost of fabric, I could buy a whole lot of clothing from the thrift store. But I can do it much cheaper. Blessings, Kat

Monday, April 20, 2015

At War with the Electric Bill

Our power company really and truly has a racket going. When the bill comes it has two numbers listed on it, the useage amount and the amount of state tax charged. These two are added to give me the total amount to pay. They like to say that I pay 7-8 cents per kwH. However, if you look at how much you used multiplied by the appropriate rate (tiered rate) then you find that you have been charged almost twice what your calculations should have been. When you call the company to find out why you find there are all sorts of hidden fees within the amount charged under useage. Fuel fees, base rates, several different taxes, etc. You can't win for losing. We dropped our useage down to 640kwH this past billing period. According to the rates we should have been charged 44.80 plus the 3.00 state 47.80. Instead our bill was 90.88. Over 30.00 in hidden fees and taxes. Must be nice to get away with hiding charges and fees from customers. I bet a lot of folks out there would not be happy if they realized what they are really paying and what they should be paying. Why tell people that they are paying 7 cents a kwH when clearly they are not. Isn't that false advertising? Wouldn't that be illegal if any other business did that? So how is it that the power company can get away with it? So we are at war and determined more than ever to give them the least amount of money that we can get away with. Have a blessed day, Kat