Saturday, September 26, 2020

10 Day Local Food Challenge Preperations

 I think I can do the local food challenge next month.

There are 7 steps on the website  

I'm going to do the ones that are not stupid and I've added a few of my own to make it frugaler and simpler and less stupid.


From the website:

1: Decide to do it.  Pick the dates (so, that's 2 steps but whatever). Done and almost done.

2: Look around.  The radius is supposed to be 100 miles.  More or less.  Interestingly, despite living in the midst of some serious wheat country, one product I would like to have but am having trouble getting within 100 miles...is flour.  Like normal wheat flour.  I can get it in 50lb bags but that's nuts given how much I would like to use and my storage issues.  More anon.

Otherwise, the 100 miles is less frustrating because it's more logical.

In the "look around" step the website includes finding food sources as well as finding people to do it with you.  I don't need people to do this with me.  Cripes.  The US is very extravert biased.  The assumption of the group effort being the best option...ugh.  Anyway, I'm looking around for sources and pretty much have that sorted.  Those were discussed in the previous blog.   I found a baker who uses local-ish flour.  Shephard's Grain sources from the NW and if you search the provider code on a bag, you can tell if it is within 100 miles or not.  Well, the baker hasn't done that but he will sell me a pound or 2 and I am deciding whether that's good enough for me.  I will look into all the providers listed on the website and check the distances.  Why flour?  Calories vs $$ and time for food purchase and prep.  More anon again.

3. Consider the 10 exotics.  Those were discussed in the previous blog as well.  Still narrowing it down. 10 days is not forever so I can finalize on the day.  I've started figuring out meals from the locally available non-extremely pricey food sources.  I can make soup out of pretty much anything, if I have flour then noodles, bannock and etc are options.  

Let's finish the online steps, some of which are stupid.

4.  Do it!  Yah.  I know.  Why the "!"?  Not needed.  Of course, that's not prep so the website is low on prep.

5.  Join the facebook group.  Nope.  Not doing that.  Stupid.  More extroversion bias and this idea that an experience not shared publicly didn't count.  Of course I'm sharing it on the blog and warning people (people who want to go out to eat with me sometimes).  Facebook is not where it's at. They track crap on a level I do not like, yada yada yada.  Leaving it.

6.  Yeah.  They forgot to fill this in.  Not super impressed with their proofreading or clarity of thought/communication.  


7. Celebrate!!! (jesus...3 !s?) And tell everybody about it.  (jesus!!!).  Anyway, I'll probably post about it here and leave it there.  

Subsumed under this step, is the trying to make permanent changes to keep the 100-mile diet going in one's life.  They don't discuss why, but here's a few reasons why I would like to try to keep doing more with foods I can get within 100miles.  To help the local food economy by USING it and putting my $$ into it.  Support your local farmer with emphasis on local.  I want to enjoy more of the wild foods around here.  Some limits increase creativity.  If you know what foods are available, you can learn more ways to use them in more ways.   I like to cook and this is a way to be creative with cooking, similar to pantry challenges.


Other steps I'm taking:

A. Stocking up on local products a bit slowly so it's more frugal.  Local lentils were on a bit of a sale at the coop so I got a quart of those.  At the last Plummer Farmers Market I got 10lbs of potatoes, a few good storable onions, and a few other things that I think I can keep.  With the new freezer available at work, the peppers I got can be diced up and stored to make those lentils taste like something.

B. Thinking through entire days of meal planning.  So far I have outlined 7 days of meals.  Breakfast gets a bit samey but my breakfasts are a bit samey so that's not a problem.  This also allowed me to go through the ingredients that are the most productive "exotics."  Like bananas.  Is it the best use when my apples will probably be available?  We'll see.  It helped me pick spices/herbs and pointed out that I probably really do need an exotic oil in the mix.  Coconut oil is looking like a good option so I can make a bit of a chocolate bar out of coconut oil cocoa powder (an option for another exotic) so I don't go bonkers with the lack of chocolate.  If  I include sugar...bob's your uncle and I can have a chocolate treat like a little brownie (with that flour) or a chocolate pancake.  And one that doesn't taste like chicken or bacon which are my best options for local fat/cooking-oil. Pancakes fried in schmaltz do not sound delicious.   I was also able to look at the daily calories.  They are low.  Especially if I am doing physical labor or am a bit cold (being cold burns calories).  This made me realize that fat/oil and probably local honey will be good exotic and local options.  Eating enough meat and greens to get my daily vitamins is easy and easily locally sourced.  Eating enough meat and greens to get my calories would have some serious intestinal consequences and eating enough local beans and lentils to get those calories up could gas me out of my wee shed.  A bit of local honey in some of my apples for applesauce seems like a better option.  Or honey in my coffee if need be.

So already thinking through the meal plans also pointed out that the struggle with a calorie-toxic diet may have a link to this remote sourcing of our diets which also tends to lead to eating more high calorie sugary processed foods.

C. As noted above, not getting people on board with doing it, not my goal, do what you want.  Instead I am alerting people who might be eating with me.  If they are my friends, and who eats with enemies anyway, they know I do weird stuff but it's easier when I warn them.  This worked well for my month of not eating out.   Hope it works for 10 days here.

D. Double checking the dates.  I know I've probably got chicken butchering with a friend on Oct 3.  She will make us lunch and me cleaning up enough to cook for myself at her house and not participating in the food sharing is a pain and cuts into work time as well as makes me look like more of a dick than I really am.  So, that's not the day to be a hard liner about local food.  One of the local foods I plan to eat is the jarred chicken from said butchering event.  It's also a lot of my winter meat/protein source so best not to be a dick that day.

E.  Preparing to be flexible.  If something comes up, I'm ready to bag it for a meal or a day.  Some things are going on around the property and at work that result in unexpected trips to town or meals with others.  See above...be less of a dick.\

Of course I'll keep notes.  I might even put the meals into nutritiondata.com to see how the nutrients come out.  No doubt better than usual but we shall see.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

10 Day Local Food Challenge Attempt, Maybe in October

It's not the easiest season to try this without prep months ago, but it's not the hardest either.
http://localfoodchallenge.org/how-to-2/

Here's the deal from Vicki Robin (of "Your Money or Your Life" fame)


Go 10 days, in a roweating only food sourced within 100 miles or so from your home. You are allowed 10 exotics, which are foods not found in that target area.



Things that make it easier and not toooo spendy: 

I have eggs/chickens which hopefully won't die during the 10 days I pick.
I have a fishing license and access to fish-laden waters.
I have easy access to local honey
I have access to a local farmers market.
I have lots of berries preserved in vinegar.  Berries I picked myself, vinegar isn't local (see exotics section).
I live alone so no one needs to be bothered by my shenanigans.

Challenges might be:
Picking the 10 things.  Like, I think the master bread maker uses random flour, not necessarily LOCAL flour even though we are in wheat country.
I do have access to wheat products produced within 100 miles, and to wild rice (though it's grown in questionable waters) produced locally so I'm not short on access to grains.

Skills/traits that might help me:
I can cook with what I can get
I will eat what I have to eat especially if one of my "exotics" is mustard or hot pepper.

So, the 10 exotics.
1) I'm thinking a fruit, like bananas to make banana eggs.
2) Also an oil.  I don't fry bacon so I don't have grease handy all the time. I would LIKE to fry bacon but living in a small space smelly foods are a commitment to smelling like that, all the clothes/hair/blankets/etc; for a long time.
3) Mustard seeds
4) Vinegar.  These two are so I can keep making my home-brewed mustard. It's super good and even makes slightly crap soup bearable. Also, it's already on the berries.
5) 
pepper.  I can live without salt, but pepper...get real.
6) Nutmeg (for the banana eggs or any baking)
7) Coffee
8) Cocoa powder 
9) Almonds or whatever nut/seed is cheap...possibly sunflower seeds (so I can make fake milk if I want to and to have a "grab-n-go protein other than boiled eggs)
10) Cinnamon!  For the banana eggs and any baking/pancake stuff

IF I'd planned months ago I could have canned apples and other fruits/berries.  Canned/dried tomatoes and veggies or planted the garden earlier.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Oh Yeah...We're Bringing Water Back

 It's back!  Woot woot!!!

Pardon the lame reference to "We're bringing sexy back"...couldn't resist.

The water is fixed.

I'm pretty thrilled.

Friends who know what they are doing taught me what to do.  I need one more pipe wrench and a sump pump and I'd be able to do this myself.

The old frost free hydrant probably still would have worked, but I was done messing around.  There is a new hydrant on the nipple (heh heh) at the polypipe that feeds water downhill from the cistern.  

Thankfully the pump is fine AND thankfully I had one pipe run UP to the cistern and another DOWN the hill to the spigot.  The well driller dude said I could save a few hundred on the pipe if I used just one pipe for the whole bit.  I said NO.  I wanted to be able to cut into the water pipe down from the cistern and move things around, add bits, etc.  I think that's easier if the in and out pipes are separate.  This time it worked fine.

I do wish I had a shut off in the pipe.  Had to drain the cistern.  Hence the sump pump because the hydrant is the only outlet right now so it drained into the hole I dug to the bottom of said hydrant.  

Pretty amazed with how much I don't know about pumps and hydrants.  I know more now and could, with a 2nd pair of hands, replace the hydrant myself next time.  Good lord I hope there is NOT a next time.

As I was digging the hole, it kept filling with water.  I bailed and let it soak into the concrete like clay that is my soil.  When it's wet, it's heavy but I can slice it.  When it's dry you have to use a breaker bar to chop it up and then shovel it out.  I traded off between the two methods. 

When I got to the bottom of the hydrant, there was sticky grey clay.  The friend who knows water systems said that IS my red/yellow clay once it is wet and reacting with things like the gravel that bedded the hydrant.  Anyway, I'm 4 feet down in a hole, using my trusty Marshalltown 6" pointy trowel to clear out some gravel and that strange clay from the base of the hydrant.  I start hearing AIR rushing out the top of the hydrant (see previous post) and water starts shooting out the top and spigot bit.  On to my head and the rest of me.  Refreshing and surprising.  My hair had dirt/clay in it which became mud.  But, what are you going to do?

Must have just been water in the pipe because it stopped.


Once the friends got here Saturday, I finished digging because apparently I needed a bigger hole.

Having the sump to keep the water (which continued to flow in...must have bene in the ground from the years of draining from the frost free hydrant or something) down to a reasonable level really helped.

The nipple was a good surprise (unlike nip-slips which are generally NOT a good surprise for me).  It meant the new hydrant could just screw right on.  

Before we did that, we removed the old hydrant and ran the pump enough to make sure there was no clog and the water flowed well.  It did and it did.

Then more pumping to clear room for me in the hole.  At one point, I was within an inch of wet undies...and COVERED in clay from tip to tail to boot.

We start screwing on the new hydrant.  And keep trying and trying and trying and trying. It just will not thread.

The water-guy friend tests the screwy end of the hydrant with a plastic thingy.  It won't thread either.  DAMMIT!!!

I call the hardware store where I got the 6' hydrant.  They don't have another but they have a 7' hydrant, same brand.  FINE. Sold.

I change my pants  and shoes (too much clay/mud on me to get in their truck for the hardware run).  So, half muddy, we march into the store.  The store guy tries to tell us it's fine.  He's using a threaded nipple (heh heh) to test it and it goes on about 1/2 a turn.  We test the 7' version and it goes on a good quarter INCH, several turns, before it jams up.  I say I want that.  The 6' should not bind that fast.  It does taper so it gets tight, but that's nuts.

We get back to the ranch with the new hydrant, which is too long for the pick up bed and hangs over the tailgate corner a bit, and with new pipe dope to seal it up.  Back in the hole we get it threaded on and aimed fine with me on the base and the friend on the pipe.  Then I start the pump to fill the cistern enough to test it....no dice.  WIERD.  The friend reads the instructions and we should not have cranked on the pipe, instead I should have had both wrenches on the bottom on fittings.  Damn.  

Off it comes, more wrenching.  I have both wrenches in a hole filling with water (nearly to the undies).  More pumping.  We get the hydrant back off and all is well, AND the pipe seriously BURPS and gets pressure.  So, now we have a hold full of water and we're screwing the hydrant back on with me running both wrenches, sometimes with my feet halfway up the walls and my butt on a little ledge I didn't dig out and the water rising.  We get it and open it up...I make them wait until I am out of the hole.   

It works.  We have water with pressure!  It's been a month since I've had that.  YAY.

The water dude has us cut up a plastic bottle to make a void around the outlet at the bottom of the frost free hydrant.  I tape that one and we test it.  Still working.  Can see the water and hear it shooting into the void.  The hope is that keeps the clay from filling in the little hole again...as least I know how to fix it in a few years when it does happen.  We bed it in gravel (I kept that aside in buckets as I dug).  They take off.  I put a cut up shopping bag, the woven plasticy type, around the top of the plastic bottle cludge to try to filter any clay flowing down from the top trying to infiltrate the void.

Throw in the rest of the gravel and start with the clay.  I would say dirt or soil but who am I kidding?  It's clay.  I get it 1/3 to 1/2 full.  The hydrant is pretty stable and I'm beat so I give it up.  I will put more in today.

The clay I dug out is on tarps so once enough is off a tarp I can roll the rest off by pulling the tarp across the hole.  I will tamp it down as I go to try to keep it from sinking too much.  We'll see.

Here's an action shot of some hole work:



Friday, September 18, 2020

Thar She Blows!!!

 


It's not supposed to do that.

But at least water is coming out at a reasonable rate.

It didn't last long though.

Seems like some sort of wonky clay clog.  

I have help coming.  I've been without adequate water for a few weeks now.  It's kind of sucked but not more than some other things.

Tomorrow...in theory...we finish the dig out (which involves a sump pump now....cripes) and we go from there.

I hope I have a drop cord long enough to run that little pump.

Anyway, I have a new hydrant to install and took my time digging it out because I was being careful of the pipes and whatnot AND because my shoulder and back will only take so much punishment in a day.  



Saturday, September 12, 2020

Another One Bites the Dust and the Cost of Eggs from the Coop of Misfit Chickens.



It looks like Suzanne went to cross the road...literally crossed the highway...and ended up as an ex-chicken.  She seems to have suffered a direct hit by a semi. I could see her.  I'd gotten her off the highway before and WARNED her that this would NOT go well if she kept it up.  I was talking with a neighbor up on my porch and I could see cars swerving a bit.  Dang.  Then I could see a chicken.  Double Dang.  I hoped she would not cause an accident.  She didn't.  The neighbor and I saw a semi coming, after the chicken had been across the road and back to our side, and I said, "Ugh, just hit her" or something like that.  Shortly afterwards...no more swerving.  No more glimpses of a chicken in the distance on the highway.  Oops.  Then I noticed cars driving crooked a bit further down.  The neighbor, who has a bunged up leg so I walk her back down the hill when she leaves, was ready to go.  I walked her down and sure enough.  Chicken parts all over the highway for about 20 yards.  When traffic cleared I threw the main bit off into the ditch so people would quit swerving.  There was not enough coherent material to make a positive ID.  The hen did not actually suffer.  This was over before the nerve pulses made it from the point of impact to her tiny brain.  No head was located.  My sister did recommend making an ID with dental records.  Ha!  The remaining light red hen is clearly Bonnie, clipped wings.  That means this must have been Suzanne.  The Novogen breed lays well and is calm and easy to handle, but is NOT bright.  1 lost to raccoon.  1 from last year smothered herself under a tarp.  Another from this year just wandered off.  And now this.  They don't seem to be doing well as free range hens.  Then again, I do have the misfits and off cuts.  The runners and the garden accosters.  So my sample is not representative.

The bantys seem hardy.  I did lose one to a broken leg, but in fairness she was so old she probably had osteoporosis.  The other two are still about!  And still putting out eggs. As are the other 5 remaining hens.

Here's the current chicken list, then on to egg costs:

Fabio
Clyde
Bonnie...the last light red novogen.
Pru
Pearl
Porky
Flossy
Flo
Gertrude ("Gert")...the newest youngest novogen who is bright red.  They fade as they age so you can kind of tell who is likely to still be laying.

As for the egg cost:

I get 0-7 per day.  7 was a banner day.  Usually 3-5.  Let's call it an average of 4 per day, 28 per week.  This might change with the lower hen count at the moment.  That's 2 1/3 dozen a week.  I spend 12.50$ for 40lbs of feed and 3$ for some oyster shells.  They feed seems to be lasting about 3 weeks (for 8 hens and 2 roosters) at summer rates. Might have to feed more in the winter.

That's 1$/week for oyster shells and $4.17ish for feed per week.  $5.17 input (all components of the coop are free or were bought ages ago for other reasons and the amortized investment is around 0) per week.

 5.17/2.33333333 is about $2.22 per dozen eggs.  Not bad.  Local free range eggs are going for 3$/dozen or more. Organic at the store $6/dozen.  Local free range at the store about 5$/dozen.  Farm eggs from the farm, that I would have to drive to get, $4-5/dozen.  Since these are my own and got straight from chicken to pan, or stored in the shed unwashed and unfridged, the convenience and lack of driving add to the value for me.   I am able to give away about a dozen a week so that's nice.

Seems worth it.

The feed is local, non-GMO, and the hens kicked up their laying-power when I started this vs trying to mix my own.  So I get to support a local farmer.

This is where I'm getting my feed:

http://www.lazydaeranch.com/

They drop it at my work so there is no added fuel cost or anything.

I wonder if they want their bags back?

My current feed-barn is a single metal trash can I picked up years ago at a yard sale for about 3$ and have used for a variety of things. I could use a 2nd and 3rd storage option for winter so I don't have to haul 40lb bags up the hill too often.  We'll see if that happens.

The chickens eat around the property all day so they may need more feed in winter and I will likely cull the flock down to the best layers with the most cold-hardy traits before then.  Maybe keep the big cock (heh heh) because his bulk adds to the heat in the coop. We'll see.  He's a bit of a dick with a big comb which may be bad during winter. The small cock (heh heh) with the flat comb may be more likely to survive winter.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

A Month Without a Grocery Store Trip

 In August my financial/thrifty experiment was to go the entire month without a trip to the grocery store.

It was EASY.  The farmers markets are going strong and I'm at one per week minimum.  Small local ones.  My garden has greens and zucchini and potatoes.  Zucchini are "fruit" and the berries were pickable, as were some plums.  Friends were handing around tomatoes, summer squash, and potatoes.  

I had a few jars of duck still on hand (who eats so much pekin duck that they get sick of it?  Me.).  

My chickens are laying 0-7 eggs a day, usually 3 or 5.  Plenty to eat and share.

I'm making and selling mustard at a farmers market so I'm at one each week for 2 purposes which encourages me to go ahead and focus on the food that is there.

I've also managed to go through a few things in my pantry supply.  The "pantry" being various metal boxes, tins, and jars on shelves with some back stock in the dead fridge down in the crap camper/bee-shed.

It was actually EASY to not go to a grocery store.   I ate my cracked wheat up which is good because I was getting bored with it.  Makes a fine breakfast base.

I had, and still have, some black beans and sunflower seeds for veg based, long storage freeze-ok protein.  Ate some of those but the solar cooker is hard to use on work days.  The beans are tough to make in a thermos, I think they are old.  Lentils would have been a better option.  They cook faster and are easier to cook in a variety of ways.

The month of not going to a store also encouraged me to eat from the garden!  I know.  Stupid to have it and not eat much from it.  Some things were small or I was sick of greens. Well, too bad.  Eat them anyway.  It's a habit I hadn't had before and now I can look at the garden the same way I look at pantry stock PLUS it's fresh.  Got a few tomatoes, several zucchini, plenty of potatoes.  Harvested camelina seed (works like flax seed) which will last into winter for me and the chickens if needed and may have enough to plant too!  Some garlic and walking onions with the various herbs helped with the flavor options along with the spices in the pantry stock.

Since I'm making and selling  mustard, I eat plenty of that as well.

There is good bread at the market so I buy that for a change and to support the market.  Egg sandwiches, duck sandwiches, tomato sandwiches.

I got bacon at a different market one Saturday and used the grease for a week to keep the eggs tasting a bit different than the usual random veg oil.

I learned to make the sticky rice that I'd gotten as a 'rona stock up. I'm keeping 2 weeks of healthy and easy on the stomach food around.  The only rice I could find was 5lbs of sticky rice like you get in sushi.  Most people here were clearing their usual shelves and they don't shop the "ethnic" aisle.  So I went there and sure enough, big bags of reasonably priced rice.  It cooks up sticky but delicious.  I do rinse it and the chickens like the starchy water. 

TP...I took one of the roll ends from work that usually end up getting tossed and got a 4 pack at a drug store when I was down to the last scrap.  Yes, other things wipe, but sometimes you just want the old reliable familiar turlet paper.  So, now I have plenty.

I went ahead and went to a Second Harvest distribution in the community as well.  Got corn, onion, bananas, bananas so far gone they were for the chickens (really were bags of mush), and a few other veggies.  There were also "farm to family" boxes which are a 'rona thing.  But those had ham, milk, cheese and a few other things that a) need a fridge and b) I didn't need and c) I don't usually eat.  I don't do the dairy.  The ham would be too salty and the size is beyond what I can eat without fridging or freezing it.  I left that for someone else.  I went late in the day after those in true need had mostly already been, and asked for the stuff that others would tend to leave behind.  

Another day I was helping butcher chickens at the food distribution center (learned a new trick or two that I will share later) and was told they had 10lb bags of white flour that they were having trouble passing out to people.  I said if they had spares, I would use it.  So, I have 10lbs of flour in the camper back stock now.  I will get it in jars or something so I can bring it to the shed slowly.

Being mindful of my stock made me kind of ration out the delicious things.  I do still have the garlic olive oil sent from a friendly non-local aunt as a future treat.  I'm wondering if I could use my banty eggs, which are small, to make manageable amounts of garlic mayonnaise...winter time experiments to do.  Full size eggs make too much mayonnaise for me to eat in a day and I'm not keeping that stuff at room temp.

Anyway, the upshot is that during august and with a reasonable stock of stuff, a garden, and non-grocery store options, I was able to do it pretty easily. 

I saved a bucket ton on my grocery budget. BUT (there's always a big but), did spend more going out to eat.  Partly this had to do with hanging out with people and partly it had to do with treating a birthday person.  I need to be more clear about when people come to the market with me, then we bring food or eat at the market.  Though one time, I traded mustard for a meal at a restaurant and that went well. Might try it one more time when I really need a change.

I had plenty of coffee but by the end of the month was down to the coffee I buy because it is cheap and because the can it comes in makes a really nice berry picking tin, nail/screw container, tool-belt accessory, chicken feed scoop, etc...and less because it is good. It is CRAP.  The other coffee I had was from a different friendly non-local aunt and was stunningly delicious in my travel french press, my stove top percolator, as a cold brew and probably as just a pinch between the cheek and gum.  I managed NOT to go out for coffee through August but the first of September found me at a drive through pouring out the crap coffee and paying 2$ for something drinkable.  Damn...need to spend a bit more on the beans/grounds and maybe just drink 1 fewer cups per day.

I have so much tea stock thanks to 2020 and 2019 gifts that I'm SET and I made a point to enjoy it.  I will continue to make a point to enjoy it daily which will help cut back on the coffee.

The month also taught me to be more creative with what I have.  Eggs boiled up (which is hard because they are so fresh...I had to save some for a week at room temp and they STILL had the shells clinging on to the white after boiling) and put in the left over juice from a jar of pickled beets I got at a farmers market make a nice flavory topping to a salad from the garden I hauled in to work.  

As I do most years now, I picked berries (so far service, huckleberries, oregon grape, chokecherries, and blueberries) and fill a jar and cover with apple cider vinegar.  I've taken some of the huckleberry vinegar to make dressings for the salads when I remember to pick greens and pack them into work.  One day I ALSO remembered to throw in some of my sunflower seed stock and the salad was a pretty decent lunch!  I can put boiled eggs in the fridge at work whether in beet juice or a carton, and add those to the lunch tiffin if I have a field trip.  Saves $$, contact with random folks in different towns, and is healthier.  So, trying to remember to do that more.

At the end of the month, I took stock of the back stock and made a new list of foods to re-stock or that would be better choices.  The list is now split into stuff that would be useful sooner, and that which is good to buy if on super sale for long term stockage.  All while keeping and eye on my revised lower food budget.

Long term stock up items are things like dried fruit, nuts, lentils, and canned fish.  Maybe canned tomatoes too because it makes for easy soup in the winter.  Possibly also canned beans in case I get sick and want easy meals...can of tomatoes, some dried onions and things, and a can of black beans makes a really decent soup.

All in all this was a really good exercise.  I've done pantry challenges in the past.  That's also a good exercise.  This one stretched my imagination a bit more and cut the grocery budget as much. I'll do it again. 

I'm also looking at doing a 10 day local challenge in Sept.  More anon if I do it.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

101 Money Saving Ideas: Numbers 84-101: Finally the Finale

Reminder: Totes bogarting from Centsible Living with Money Mom.

I considered stretching this out but who am I kidding.  This isn't monetized and I only add "content" as the kids say, when I feel like it.  Why stretch it out?  Who cares?  NOT ME.  And that's the only relevant bit.

These are still in whatever order I think of them.  Not giant key tip that will change your life as 101.  Can't. Be. Bothered.

84  Give people a shot.   As long as you are giving Peace a Chance...

perhaps give people a chance.   Now that I'm the local farmers market mustard mogul (more anon), I'm meeting lots of people who are very very different from me and lots that I do not want to spend much time with.  But...

remember Pee-Wee Herman's dictum:  There's always a big but:



Meaning that there is always the temptation to say "but" and talk yourself out of doing something.
I would normally not talk to these people BUT (this time it's a good big but) I talk to them to try to get them to drop 4$ on mustard (or lots more $$ on mustard).  We already have something in common.  We're at a farmers market.  I have a table between me and them which helps with my personal space bubble.

I've met people who want to learn from me, who want to trade stuff, and who have skills I want to learn from them.  It's been interesting.   

Yesterday I got to talk to a woman just now learning about off-grid laundry.  I have tried it all and though she is a very different person, I gave her a shot and she's a good PR person for my product, which she doesn't like, and is good at sharing her information about where to get things and what she wants to learn or teach. 

Another dude and I will need to minimize our contact and we still managed to do a swap.  

Moral:  Give people a shot.  You don't have to be BFFs forever and you don't have to 100% avoid them.  The struggle for me is finding ways to NOT discuss politics.  Once I get that down I'll be better at this tip.

85 Trial and Error Works.   Especially if you keep track of the errors and the successes.  I'm toying with the idea of buying 1/2 as many of compressed sawdust logs I like to use.  Subbing out free wood (heh heh) others are offering and making more of an effort with the paper brick maker.  This can save me 140$ plus gas money and a trip to a hardware store.  OR  I could get cold and have to hand haul logs/wood up the hill.  It's a debate.  If it's a mild winter, easier.  Rough winter, tougher.  I think I'll try it.  I have more tools now and more skills and more people living a similar lifestyle who can share and help if it doesn't work.  So, might as well run the trial.  I've kept a record of how many sawdust logs I burn per winter.  I know my current stock.  And I have a month to change my mind.  So, we will try...I think. 

I'm also trying different ways to grind mustard, different things to ferment.  Etc etc etc.  Keeping notes means that I don't have to run the same trial over and over. 

86  Try New Things.  I thought I'd already done this one because it's super obvious.  But I don't see it in the list. 
Try a "new" brand or type of food.  Especially if it's cheaper or otherwise fits better in your lifestyle.  I tried dehydrated coconut milk powder. It's not "cheaper" per serving.  It IS shelf stable.  So it doesn't go off and I can make only what I am going to use at one time.  This has eliminated waste. 

Right now I'm trying a month without going to a grocery store.  So far, for food and eating enough, it's been easy.  The farmers markets are open.  I have a garden and laying hens and canned duck meat.  The only challenge is I'm out of mustard seed and the online order hasn't arrived and might not arrive in time to restock for the next farmers market.  My local sources are grocery stores.  Damn!  Not really a big deal.  Skipping grocery stores has really cut the food budget and I'm going to cut back on the trips in general.  Fewer trips is less gas, less impulse purchasing.  Saves $$.  It's also been easier to eat what I have on hand when that's the option.  Today I wanted chocolate.  I had some in the pantry stock.  It had bloomed in the hot weather and was gritty, but I ate it anyway and it was good.  No trip to the store.  I could have melted it and made it better but I couldn't be bothered.

I'm still eating out now and then at restaurants and still saving $$ on the overall food budget. I think  I could do just 1 grocery store trip in Sept because the garden and farmers markets will still be going strong.  Then, maybe 1 or 2 trips per month.

Other new things...selling stuff.  Worked out so far.
Try new foods, different clothing brands, different stores, different friends, etc etc etc.  If you hate it, then don't do it again.

87 Learn to Say No.  How is this not like the first thing?   Jeez. 
OK.  Say "no" and save time, money, effort and agony. 
Sometimes you can say it indirectly or nicely.  Often just be blunt and stop talking right after the word "no."
Today, I got a lovely invite to coffee with friends.  I was already loading the truck with wood (heh heh) and headed home to unload.  Joining would be fun.  This week I've had zero alone time.  THis month I'm not buying coffee out and didn't have any on me and no other beverages.  Today I have a bucket ton of chores to get done.  So, once I got home with the wood, I texted back that it didn't work today but thanks.  An indirect and polite "no." No one was offended. 

Often I have people ask me to do things I would loathe and would cost money.  My favorite example is an invitation to a "lady's night" at a lawn-garden-lumber type store.  I'm offended by the idea that "ladies" need a special night at the lumberyard.  I go there when I need to go there.  I don't need a special time.  This cost money to get in.  There was wine...for a price (I don't like wine).  There were foot massages...for a price...WTF?  At the lumber store?
Anyway, I said, "Why would I pay a stranger to touch my feet at the hardware store?"  To which came the reply, "You aren't paying a stranger to touch your feet."   "So the foot massage is free or is a friend doing it?"  "no"  "So you want me to pay a stranger to touch my feet."   I should have just said "No" and walked away.  The price for the night was going to be over 50$.  To do sh*t I hate with people who confuse me.  NO. 

I'm better at "no" now.  We should teach kids that.

88 Say Yes sometimes.  This works great if you might learn something or get to try something.  Like selling for a friend at a farmers market.  I said I'd give it a shot.  That's my way of saying 'yes.'  Turns out it's fine and I can sell stuff.   I'm not great at it, but I can do it.  I don't like the crowds and will like my alone time Friday nights when the  market is done for the year.  For now, I said yes and I'm trying it.

I said yes when a friend asked if I wanted chickens.  And to learning to butcher.  And to going to pick huckleberries.

Since I struggle with being around people too much, I try to make sure I have an out for any "yes" that puts me with too many people for long periods. 

89 Wear the clothes that work for you.
I am usually dressed like crap.  According to other people.  I don't care.  Today, carhartt pants with duck blood stains, a bit short.  Untied ankle boots, no socks.  Messy braid.  Sweat stained cap.  Dollar store glasses (OMG!!! I should totally start doing an outfit of the day series!).  Cotton tank top.  Ratty bra.  2nd string underpants.  Why?  Because it's chores day.  The tank top is a workday worthy one but I'm out of non-workday worthy tops so what the hell.  It's hot out.   These are the clothes that work for me.  Since I don't care, I have no idea if anyone was judging me or staring.  Not caring is awesome.

To work, I always wear long cotton pants, usually jeans.  I never know when I will be in the field.  There is no point in wearing delicate clothes.  Usually I wear, or have at hand, a decent button down shirt.  This can look reasonable professional.
Almost always wear boots.  Never wear open toe shoes or any sandals.  These don't work for me or my job.  I do not live a flip flop lifestyle.

90 Don't Care What Others Think of You
Once I stopped giving even half a crap about what others' thought about me, life got much easier.
I'm wearing clothes today that look like I fished them out of the trash.  They are sturdy and they work.  So I am wearing them.

I don't care whether people think my living off grid is cool or stupid or if it doesn't cross their mind either way.  I don't care.  I'm doing what I want. 

Not caring helps with selling stuff.  I don't care if people don't like mustard.  Great.  Move on to the next farmers market booth and make way for those willing to spend too much money on mustard.  I don't care.   I also don't care if you want me to make adjustments like the woman who actually complained that the mustard didn't stick to her sausage.  First, I managed NOT to make a filthy joke about it.  Second, I said, "Push harder." (which was again hard not to make a filthy joke about).  She offered several suggestions for "improving" my product so it would stick to her sausage.  I didn't care so I just nodded and moved on.  Though clearly, not entirely because I'm still mocking her.

Way back in grad school I stopped caring about people's comments on my hair styles.  I stopped getting it trimmed.  A professor told me I'd never get a job if I didn't cut my hair into a style and wear some make up.  I stared at her until she stopped talking and walked away.  Still got a job.
The best interview I did for professoring was when my baggage got lost on the way.  I had what I wore on the plane and the undies I'd wisely stuffed in my carry on.  I was comfortable and had a reason for not caring about my clothes.  Sadly, my baggage caught up with me and I had to dress up the 2nd day.  Oh well. 

I also don't care what you think of my lunch as I crack open a jar of meat and dig a wad of wrapped bread out of my bag, or slice up an entire zucchini and eat it raw.  Doesn't matter to me.  In grade school I cared.  Easier not to.

Turns out, the less one cares about how others perceive them, the more positive that perception seems to be.  One woman keeps calling me a "rock star" because I don't care.

One frustrating bit right now with the not caring, is when people TELL me to care.  The planning dept people in my county keep telling me that the house I made them permit, "won't sell" and that I will be "stuck with it" or that "buyers will want more bathrooms."  To which I say, "I don't care."  They want me to care.  This makes me angry so I must care about people still trying to put their values and ideas on me. 

91 Know yourself.
There has been chatter of late about what my sexual orientation may or may not be.  This could offend me, but it makes me laugh.  See above "Don't Care."  Also, I know I look different than most women, dress differently, and live differently than the norm.  Part of not caring and dressing how I want, eating how I want, living frugally, is knowing myself.  I know what I like, what my goals are, what I want vs what I need, what my priorities are.  I also  know how I look or sound to other people.

It's not a surprise to me when questions come up.  It's not a surprise to me that I confuse people.  Knowing myself helps with the not caring and with making my own choices, doing what I want.

Once in a while someone surprises me with an insight about me that I haven't been aware of, but I take it on board and think about it for a bit, and then move on. 

92 Take a step back every day.
Take moment to see what you are doing, or thinking or saying.  Or just to look at the stars.  The current culture is all about distraction.  Take a step back.  Not some big deal 3 hour meditation.  That will end up being another distraction if it's not what you want to do.  Just a step back.  Maybe look at the person in the car stuck in traffic next to you.  Look up at a cloud.   Turn off the tv/computer/whatever.  Or if you are obsessively cleaning the toilet, take a step back and remember that someone is just going to take a dump in there anyway.  It doesn't have to be clean enough to eat off of.  It can be if you want it to be, but it doesn't have to be.

Any step.  My chickens are good at making me take a step back.  So were the bees.  Going to check the bees and seeing that they decided to bugger off...that's a step back.  OK.  I tried.  You moved on.  Right.  No point in getting my knickers in a twist.  Can't chase down 30,000 bees and make them move back in to the hive.

Last night it was an amazing night sky.  Got home late and tired and over stimulated.  Stepped out of the car and noticed it was very dark and I could see so many stars and planets.  Even a satellite moving across the Milky Way.  15 seconds of a step back, 

93 Dare to Change Your Mind.
Right now I'm living off grid, let's not debate what that means for the moment, working full time in the "real world" on grid, and etc.  If I started hating any element of my life, I will change my mind.  It's fine.  So what?  This goes with the trial and error and trying new things and much more.  Right now I'm fine with not having indoor plumbing and hanging out with the cool kids/oddballs.  I can change my mind.

Right now I'm frugal and thrifty and tracking my money.  I might change my mind on that. I might now.

It's fine.  I used to never buy used shoes.  Then I changed my mind.
I used to use shampoo.  Then I changed my mind.
I usually change my mind in ways that save $$.  Sometimes now.

I also like to change my mind about little things.  Like the 25cent suede blazer I bought at thrift.  I thought I would wear it.  I haven't.  It's time to change my mind on that one (see tip 94)

94 Raw Materials.
Sometimes the value in an item, is in its raw materials.  I got a 25cent suede blazer.  Turns out I don't wear it.  I've had it for months.   Now I'm looking at it as raw material...tanned leather.   I could use a knife sheath and I want to learn to use the awl I have.  That leather hanging unworn among the too many coats is probably the place to start.  It's 25 cents.  Enough leather to make a lot of mistakes.

I also need some hinges...leather makes a decent hinge.  Hmmm....25cents well spent! If I change my mind (see tip 93) about the blazer being a blazer and decide it is raw material.

95 Be Clear.
I was not clear yesterday.  A friend was with me at the farmers market.  I wanted to make sliders with the pretzel buns from the fabulous baker who sells bread there.  Pulled pork is for sale across the street.  I asked the friend about it a few dozen times and offered the cash to go get the goddamn pork. She didn't.  After the market closed she ran over. And the BBQ place was closed too.  YEAH!  I KNOW.  Then I realized I hadn't been clear.  I wanted sliders DURING the  market to eat when it was slow.  She assumes that we are doing the market and eat AFTER the market.  I don't know why I was hinting around.  Could have just said, "I want sliders now"and it would have worked.

I have been looking for canning jars lately and let people know what size and what price.  NOW I have enough and need to be clear that I am not buying any more for a few months.  If I'm not, I'll have people asking me to pay them for jars I don't need. 

Being clear saves $$ and aggravation.  We ended up with a decent dinner last night, but also it cost more.  Oops!  Should have been clear.

96 Ask
Not just for stuff, but about stuff.  And stuff.
I have a friend finishing a business degree.  So I asked about easy money tracking for the mustard selling.  She had good tips.  I am not doing everything...like not marketing to restaurants because I don't want to. 

People asked me about off grid laundry.  I know about that.  It was good of them to ask. 

I wanted to have chickens so I asked if people knew where I could get some.  Now I have all the chickens I can handle. 

A friend wants to start fermenting stuff.  I like to ferment.  So he asked me how. I told him.  Just ask.

97 Answer
When you have an answer, share it.  But don't get too attached to the idea that people will do what you said or hear what you actually said.  People screw up.  It's what sets us apart from the animals.  Or not.  We do what we want.  All of us.  So, share the info if asked and then let it go.
If you don't know, then that's the answer (see tip 98)

98 Admit Knowledge Gaps
I can butcher a chicken, but I'm not great.  People asked me how.  So my answer was, "talk to that lady" while pointing to the lady who teaches butchering.

One of the WORST workshops I went to was a permaculture workshop where the instructor would NOT admit his knowledge gaps.  It sucked.  He kept saying that he had a Ph.D. so he know more than us.  Well I have one too.  AND I poop in a bucket so I know more about humanure.  The Ph.D. had nothing to do with anything.  The idiot instructor also told a farmer with 40 years making a living at farming that the Ph.D. meant the instructor knew more about farming than the farmer.  The class participants turned to the farmer with our questions.

When questions turned to gardening and farming, I pointed to the farmer. 
The instructor got pissed.  Also fun to watch.

99  Own Your Expertise.  It's strange, but I do know my composting including toilet composting.  I own it.
 At one point, the instructor asked what the class wanted to do with 20 minutes when he didn't have anything ready to present.  I snorked (laughed and put beverage up my nose) when a woman said, "I want to hear more from Jill and Dave about composting toilets."  Dave was another class member using a bucket toilet full time.  The class, as a group, turned their backs on the instructor and grilled Dave and I about turlets.  It was awesome.
When they started asking me about the nitrogen vs carbon percents etc, I admitted my knowledge gap  (see tip 98) and said, "if it starts to smell like an outhouse, take it out to the compost pile and add more sawdust or peat."  "how much" "enough to cover it.  If it still stinks, add more."   Number 1 tip...don't pee in the bucket."  I didn't start spouting percents and chemical formulas or principles.  I know how to make it work and rough ratios.

100 Don't Play the Lottery
It's stupid and you are not going to win.

101 Pay Attention.
Just that.  Pay attention to your money.  To your purchasing.  Your goals.  Your life. The world around you.  Other people.  Opportunities.  How you spend your time.  How you and your life are changing.