Last week I shared a two-part segment on how RancherMan & I make ends meetwhile living and working here on our homestead without the comfort of a regularly-scheduled corporate salary infusion.
Those posts were wildly popular! There are lots of you hungrily looking for ways to cut back! Whether planning to make the leap to self employment or just looking for ways to stretch your dollars.
Now last week I pointed out that researching for the lowest cost on anything you buy is important. But it’s doubly important to research & reduce your month-to-month obligations. Those bills are going to come around not just once, but Every. Single. Month.
Think about your recurring monthly bills for a moment. Have you just been paying them when the bill arrives without giving them another thought?
RancherMan & I both live and work right here on our ranch. While this lifestyle is blissful & absolutely amazing for us, it also means there’s no regularly-scheduled corporate paycheck for either of us.
We’re often asked,“How in the world do you DO IT?”
It’s true, as any self-employed person will tell you there are many more hours of work necessary for often much less income.
And it’s also true that we don’t have near the disposable income we used to have when we worked in the corporate world. But that world just didn’t work for either of us.
We were both weary of the concrete jungle and hustle & bustle of the city. That citified world is not what spoke to our hearts.
This year I planted heirloom sugar pumpkins in my garden. And when it was time to harvest them I knew I’d first be able to enjoy them for a bit as decoration. I love the way those little pumpkins looked propped on our antique cast-iron Franklin stove.
But several days later I was in the kitchen enjoying the last of my favorite pumpkin granola. I knew that since I planted those delicious pumpkins for use in my granola it was time to cook those babies down into pumpkin puree.
We have two tractors, a 55 hp Mahindra for the big jobs and an older and smaller 32 hp Ford 1910 tractor for mowing, disking, etc. RancherMan usually hops on the newer big-boy tractor with the higher horsepower and front-end loader to do the rough stuff. And I happily allow him those tasks.
My preference is Ole Blue. She’s a 1983-built tractor that purrs like a kitten & is as reliable as the day is long.
Recently our Mahindra dealt us an unpleasant blow by having a deteriorating gas tank, rendering it USELESS. So much for the reliability of a fancy-schmancy tractor that’s only 5 yrs –OLD!
(Mahindra’s certainly seen the last of us as future customers)
So RancherMan went to work playing tractor mechanic for the Mahindra. But it was the ever-faithful Ole Blue Ford tractor that pulled the load on the Homestead.
Recently I decided I wanted to plant a pear tree since back in ‘the day’ all homesteads in this area had pear trees. They were very easy to grow & could produce lots of fruit for the household. I decided not to plant it in my yard – both for my poor backyard soil issue as well as fallen fruit messes.
Instead I planted it a short distance from our yard. But this area is accessible to the cows. You know how cattle are – they love to rub on trees. This little sapling didn’t stand a chance if left unprotected.
I needed a way to keep the cows away from it long enough to give it a fighting chance. But I like to repurpose what we’ve already got to serve a need whenever possible.
So I put on my thinking cap & started looking around the homestead for supplies.
I’ve often thought about other people’s perspectives on why I try so hard to provide for myself. (Although I’m focusing today on food production, homesteading encompasses providing many items for yourself, not just food.)
I love to garden and it brings me joy knowing I’m providing healthier food than can be purchased at any price. Healthy veggies are often fresh out of my garden and on the supper table in an hour or less! I also like to grow herbs & spices such as rosemary, thyme and oregano.
But from another person’s perspective – why buy the seeds and plant them, water the plant until it grows?
And why bother weeding the beds constantly under that Texas summer heat? Why wait several weeks later harvest it, dry it and put it in a jar? You can just BUY a bottle of oregano for a couple of bucks!
I suppose it’s true that it doesn’t take much money to supply my family with oregano. So why do I even bother with this homesteading thing?
It seems utility bills are going nowhere but up. We’re all trying to watch those dollars carefully.
But there are easy ways to cut that utility bill other than just trying to keep unused lights turned off. One of the most energy-intensive acts in a home is producing heat.
Heat for cooking, heat for melting, heat for dehydrating – it’s all digging into your wallet! But there’s an option that often we don’t even think of that can save us some real cash. That’s absolutely free solar energy!
Here are a few ways I enjoy using this amazing free resource to not only fill a need but also save a few bucks.