Monthly Archives: September 2013

The View

The view outside my window this morning. If I were home, I’d be looking at a million things that needed to be done. I could be doing laundry, or yard work, or just watching some brain-numbing television. I could have slept in, would definitely have already eaten breakfast, and been sitting around bored.

Instead I woke at 5:45, donned some camouflage garb, and sucked down a quick cup of coffee. I painted my face, checked to make sure I had all the necessities, and then climbed into the cab of My Handy Man’s truck. We set off for the Clay Hill bow stand long before the sun peeked over the horizon.

After hiking a half mile in, we quickly set up our gear and sat down. We enjoyed watching a little rabbit scurry about as he tried to find his breakfast. We could see birds flitting from one tree to the next. From somewhere I could not see, a turkey was raising quite a ruckus. We watched the sun rise one breathtaking moment at a time.

Before we knew what hit us, we were covered in whitetail. They seemed to come from all directions at once. A doe and a yearling came one way, a couple of spikes came from somewhere else, and from seemingly out of nowhere a nice sized 6 point. That one was a cull buck as he had no brow tines. And, he was mine if only he would step out and into range.

My heart was pounding and it was difficult to control my breathing. Silently, I willed him to take a few steps in my direction. He did not listen to my unspoken plea, just continued to happily munch on the breakfast he had come for. And, then he turned and walked away.

My morning was not filled with to-do lists, Saturday morning relaxation, or even puttering around in the yard. My view could never have been made with human hands. My eyes were filled with the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. And, I cannot wait to go out and see it again.

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The Countdown

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The countdown has begun……. Well it actually began on January 1st, as soon as one whitetail season ends the countdown to the next begins. At least, that is the way things work at my house. We have spent the spring and summer doing bits of this and that, building some blinds, clearing roads and shooting lanes, and pretty much anything else we could think of to get ready for the start of bow season. And, it’s almost here!

I cannot properly express how happy I am about this! It appeared like the months following January dragged on, but at the moment it seems like the time has flown by now that we are so close. I’m going to post a few pictures of the work we have been doing around the lease. Well, mostly the work My Handy Man (AKA my hubby) has done. I’m just a lowly “Gofer” after all. I am the person holding boards, nails, running into town for forgotten items, or handing him whatever tool he wants. Also, I make a mean sandwich and an awesome glass of iced tea!

This very day, we are heading to The Ranch for eleven, yes that is right, ELEVEN days of bow hunting madness! Did I say I was excited? Because I am, in case you did not pick up on that! My Handy Man is at Bass Pro right now picking up some extra items that we “need”, stuff like more arrows, broad heads, and another ground blind. Apparently, we need a portable one along with the twelve other permanent ones. Who knew? Just kidding, these are all planned expenses. I am just poking fun because I know that My Handy Man reads my blog. Love you, Baby!!

Anyway, I just thought I’d post some pictures of the work we have done throughout the year around our lease, or The Ranch as it is called. We are very proud of our hunting grounds, the hard work we have put into taking care of the place, and keeping the wildlife population healthy. Most people do not realize the work that actually goes into developing a strong, productive hunting lease. So here are the promised pictures. Hope you enjoy them…..

Road Clearing

Lane Clearing

 

Men in their natural habitat!

Men in their natural habitat!

It's always good to see nice big buck tracks on the property!

It’s always good to see nice big buck tracks on the property!

 

 

Beautiful, is it not? We cleared about a quarter mile of this just so we could reach the bow stand called The Outback!

Beautiful, is it not? We cleared about a quarter mile of this just so we could reach the bow stand called The Outback!

 

We built this beautiful bow blind in August/September.

We built this beautiful bow blind in August/September.

 

My Handy Man's buck from December 2012.

My Handy Man’s buck from December 2012.

 

One of my does from Thanksgiving 2012.

One of my does from Thanksgiving 2012.

 

My Handy Man and one of does in 2012.

My Handy Man and one of his does in 2012.

 

And last, but not least, my son and his hog from 2012.

And last, but not least, my son and his hog from 2012.

 

For any of the hunters out there, I wish you a safe, happy, and productive hunting season. As for me, I will be sitting next to My Handy Man in our new bow blind in exactly 33 hours. But, who’s counting?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tightening Our Belts

We have been on a quest to pay all our debt off. Makes sense if you want to live a self-sufficient life, but even if that were not our goal, it is still a smart thing to do. One is not required to live a life of commitment to one financial institution or another. We took a personal finance class at our church about seven months ago and it completely changed our life. And, I do mean utterly altered the manner in which we deal with our dough!

money

 

We have always made sure our bills were paid. We give to our church and other charitable causes. We have rarely been in the devastating position to have to borrow money to make ends meet. That being said, we didn’t know that there was so much more to learn in dealing with our money!

It seems so simple…. Get a paycheck, pay the bills, take care of household essentials, sock away some savings, and then whatever’s left is used in any manner deemed fit at the moment. The only issue with this line of thinking was that the leftover money just seemed to evaporate out of our account without us ever even realize what was happening. One minute there and the next gone, never to return!

During this class, we had to take a good long look at our debt, which to be honest was uncomfortable, but not too horrific. Fortunately for us, our vehicles are paid off, we can afford rent, life’s essentials, vacations (or in our case, the deer lease since that is where we spend most of our time away from home anyway), and to put money into our savings account. I admit that we do have some personal nonsense debt like credit cards with balances that should and can be paid off quickly. We also have some larger debt that we have to take care of such as student loans for each of us, and a business loan taken out a while back. This part of the class didn’t bother me too much.

The next part was the awful segment of the class for us. It dealt with how we pay our bills and then pay for anything else we buy. Bills are paid online, by mail, or by phone. Not so bad or even life-changing. However, everything else has to be paid for in cash. EVERYTHING!!! Groceries, gas, clothing, haircuts, recreational activity, even going out for dinner. No cash…….. no doing any of these things. Plain and simple. Our life was about to get difficult!

Well, maybe difficult is not the right word. Inconvenient is the proper term, I think. For us, that meant no more handiness of paying for gas at the pump, no more adding extra goodies to the grocery buggy, and no more spontaneous outings to restaurants or the movies. We had to start planning ahead and setting aside money for EVERYTHING that we do. How did any of this direct us to our goal of living a simpler life?

money and coinsSurprisingly, it was not that hard once we sat down and made a budget, together for the first time in our married life, and figured exactly where we needed to disperse our money. We set up funds ranging anywhere from an auto fund to a clothing fund. I even have a chicken/chicken coop fund! We pay cash for everything and now we see the value in doing so. Shelling out actual money is so different from swiping a debit card. It is almost painful to hand over real dollars whereas a little plastic card causes no reaction in us at all. Suddenly, we focus on every dime we spend and nothing is considered insignificant.

Now, my husband and I have a monthly budget meeting to go over upcoming expenses. We are very different in our thoughts on handling money, so coming together on our budget really brings peace to our marriage. We are both on the same page and on board with how to go about everything that we are trying to accomplish.

What we have learned over the past several months has helped in so many ways. First off, we figured out that we were nickeling and diming ourselves outrageously. Little items like a drink and a snack when we fuel up or randomly deciding to go out to eat after work really start to add up. We figured out that Christmas or birthdays are not unexpected, in that they come every year, so we should be setting money aside to pay for those things. Most importantly, by becoming so focused on budgeting and paying cash, we found out that we have a lot more money left and have been able to start chinking away at the debt we do have. I see a self-sufficient farm in our future and it makes me smile. a farm

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Selling Out

The Dream

The Dream…..

 “The present is what slips by us while we’re pondering the past and worrying about the future.”   -Ziggy

We have gone and done it….. We sold most of our worldly possessions. I am still not quite sure how I feel about this, even now that it is too late. My emotions run the gamut from a sense of loss so great to a feeling of liberation that I don’t think I have felt since I was a child. It is terrifying to give up almost everything that we have acquired over the span of our life together. On the other hand, I feel like I’ve been suddenly unshackled by the weight of all those material goods.

In my previous post, I explained the self-sufficient lifestyle that my husband and I were reaching toward. In order to grasp this cherished dream, we have to cut some costs and lose some debt. It seems to us that common sense dictates that we go into this new way of life as unhindered as possible. We have no desire to attain the land that we would farm, only to be unable to make the necessary improvements because we have no funds to ensure our success.

The opportunity to live on a piece of property that we can begin a journey toward self-reliance has presented itself and we have pounced on it. We have the chance to live on a few family-owned acres and get started on our path toward independence. We can have a large garden, pigs, chickens and start learning some of what we will need to know when we are ready to purchase our place. The price for being able to stay on this property is payment of the annual property taxes.

The benefit of making this move is not just the ability start raising our own food now, but by relocating it means that  we have cut our annual overhead from $14,400 to a mere $1400 in just rent alone! In order to do this, we have to downsize from a 2000+ square foot house to something that is approximately 900 square feet. We will be purchasing a used single wide mobile home to put on the property, but fortunately there is already water, electricity, and a septic system on the acreage. Of course, any improvements that we make will stay behind when we leave, but the wealth of experience that we gain will go with us to wherever we happen to land.

The Opportunity

The Opportunity

 

The thought process behind this step toward our vision baffles a lot of our family and friends. Some of them understand what we are trying to do, but a good number of them think we have lost our minds.  However, I feel very blessed and I thank God that we do have family that loves us and believes in us enough to help us move toward our vision.

 

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The Goal

My husband and I have decided to simplify our life. We are tired of running around madly, just trying to get from one day to the next. The target is to change the way we live. We want to get rid of our debt, homestead a place, and leave the hectic pace of our life behind. We are both in the medical field and we see that at the end of the day, what really matters to us is the way we have lived this journey called life.

For us, growing our own food, living a debt free existence, hunting, and spending more time together is what counts most. During our married life, we have dabbled in gardening and raising our own livestock, but not to the extent where we can live off of what we produce throughout the entire year. We hunt for much of our meat and it has gotten to the point where we hate going into a grocery store and buying meat since we like to know where it comes from, what it eats, and how it is processed before putting it into our bodies. The same thing goes for vegetables or any other food product. If I turn any package of food over, I want to see only things that I can pronounce as the ingredients listed.

We have no illusions that this will be an easy or a swift transformation. We know we have set the bar very high, and that it will be extremely hard to get to where we want to be, but it will be worth it when we get there. My husband is the hardest working man I have ever known and he is so resourceful that I am sure together we can do this.

I started this blog as an online diary of our journey toward the vision we hold of our future life. Hopefully, it will serve as a guide toward our dream by posting our successes, failures, and reading the comments and/or suggestions from others. I have read a myriad of blogs for a long time, the content of them differing depending on what I was searching for or interested in at the time. So, for us the time has come to step out and reach for what we want in life, instead of just sitting by and praying that one day it will happen.

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