We live our own way here in Eastern North Carolina. Join us in our discussions of frugality, self sufficiency, gardening, and homeschooling.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Update on the Chainsaw and Trees

I am happy to report that the trees have been cut. We are hoping to burn off that section of land soon so that we can begin preparations to plant.  The plan for tonight is to order something to plant.  The chainsaw worked great!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Chain Saw

As I've mentioned before, it really seems like developing our land into a working farm is moving at a snail's pace.  It's been a week since I've posted and for good reason. Most of our week has been centered around a chainsaw...or should I say chainsaws.

We determined that the best place to plant on our land happens to be where we still have a small stand of trees. MrLivingOurWay decided that he was going to purchases a chainsaw.   Then he decided that he could fix up the one that my father gave him.  This sounded like a good idea to me.  It took a day to get out to town and purchase gas for the old chainsaw.  It took another day to put gas in the chainsaw and start it up.  MrLivingOurWay cut down one tree with it before it broke and we were back to square one.  Today, we made the chain saw purchase we were trying to avoid.

It seems like a lot of farm planning is going that way. I can see it taking shape just a little at a time.

Things we've done:

  • Determined where to plant
  • Determined (some of) what to plant during the first year
  • Purchased a chain saw to cut down trees
Big things that need to be done:
  • Contact an agent to figure out what we need to do to apply for organic certification
  • Actually get the land ready by plowing under stumps and adding nutrients to the soil
  • Put up trellises
  • Put up a fence
Time is running out very fast I think we are going to have to change our approach to dedicating whole days to getting ready for a little while (I'm sure you saw that coming).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Update on Living Without Insurance

While things are moving slow, I thought I would update you on our "no insurance" plan.  So far, it is working really well. We have officially been without insurance for 2 1/2 months, so not that long. At the end of January, I marched the entire family into the new direct pay doctor's office to get us all established. The money spent was less than the difference between Samaritan Ministries and former monthly insurance premiums. 

It has been almost a year since any of us had been to the doctor with the exception of the baby.  As luck would have it, MrLivingOurWay needed to go to the doctor the next week for the first time in years.  We could have treated it at home but we were unfamiliar with some of the symptoms and decided just to be on the safe side, it would be good to get checked out by the doctor.  Based on the fever, he decided to go ahead and start on his herbal concoction that he uses for sinus infections.

The doctor was great about explaining why she ruled out several possibilities and then decided it must be an infection of some sort. When MrLivingOurWay informed her that he was taking his herbal concoction, she told him that the herbs would probably work but if he didn't see improvement in three days he should call her back.  Within three days, he was fine and did not need to call her back.  So far it seems that we have a doctor we can actually get a long with.

Since that time, the baby has already been to the pediatrician which we were paying out of pocket for even on insurance. 

My Groupon deal was sort of a wash.  I would have saved quite a bit of money on a dental cleaning and x-rays.  However, it quickly became obvious that this particular office needed cash patients to make up for the high level of medicaid patients they already had.  It is a known fact that medicaid pays doctor and dentists much less than other insurance companies and cash patients.  I came to this conclusion because the waiting room was very full and there were some discussions regarding their high numbers of medicaid patients to be heard in the hallway.  The dental hygenist (a man) was also extremely rude and intimidating.  They decided that I needed $3,000 worth of dental work done.  We knew that since I'd just had a baby within the past 6 months that it was infact possible for my teeth to have taken a turn for the worse but we wanted to make sure and I didn't plan to ever go back to that office for anything after the way I was treated.

We took the list of problems to a dentist that MrLivingOurWay had seen earlier in the year.  The new dentist did not think anything needed to be done in my mouth with the exception of having my wisdom teeth removed.   We had that done in December and everything seems to be fine.  So, we ended up having to pay for two dental appointments but the x-rays at teh first place were much cheaper.  The second opinion sort of saved us $3,000.

We haven't needed to share any needs with Samaritan Ministries yet but I love reading their newsletters and writing our check each month.  I also have not needed to get blood work done again yet.  Our new doctor, has blood work that is cheaper at her office than the prepaid labs.

I also love reading the newsletters from Christian Healthcare Ministries.  Being another Christian Medical Cost Sharing Organization, they have many applicable tips for saving on healthcare costs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Local Sustainable Agriculture News

Of course, right when we decide we need to get things going around here, the weather turns cold for the first time all year.  We should be better about getting out in it but cold rain just isn't any fun.  So some of our daily tasks working towards our small working farm have been very small. For example, finding a chain saw that will be needed to cut down some trees that were left after our land was cleared.

Tonight, my task was to attend a sustainable agriculture workshop. Our local community college is offering these classes for free using grant money.  Tonight we heard from a farmer that is farming a 2 1/2 acre plot. We looked at how package our products for sale and he shared some of his experiences and answered questions. There was also general discussion from the group.  Overall, it was a very motivating meeting and gave me a better idea of the direction that we might want to take.

If you are local to the area, you may want to check out the area's Farmers Fresh Market. It was pointed out in the workshop tonight that the pick up and drop off times are actually a bit more flexible so if you work during the day, you may want to contact them and see if there is another time you could pick up your order.  Small local farmers can also register on the site to sell produce directly to the consumers.  There is a small percentage that goes towards maintaining the service if you are registered as a farmer.  In addition, there are a couple of new farmers markets coming to the area.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Look what just arrived!

Yesterday, our bee supplies arrived.  In one box, you see the bee suits and gloves which will minimize stings.  In the other box, you see the hive as it was shipped. It will obviously have to be put together and painted.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vegetable Planner Giveaway at The Little Homestead in the City

The Little Homeastead in the City is one of my favorite homesteading blogs. They are such an inspiration and I have loved reading their blog for years.  This month they are giving away a vegetable planner chart. Go to the following link for a chance to win:


Getting Organized

While our temperatures are warm at 35 degrees compared to much of the United States, it's still cold to us here in Eastern NC.  So this weekend, has been spent indoors planning.   There are so many things to plan.

  • What supplies, equipment, seed do we need and how much will it cost?
  • Where are we planting our first crop?
  • What kind of materials should trellises be made out of?
  • What kinds of nutrients need to go into our soil?
  • Where do we get organic fertilizer?
And so our weekend has been spent trying to answer these questions.  Since we want to farm organically, there are many restrictions placed on the types of materials we can use. For example, treated wood posted are not allowed for our trellises.   

MrLivingOurWay did go out this weekend to check out our sunlight situation and determined that we will unfortunately need to cut a few more trees but he believes that he will be able to do this with his chainsaw.

We spent quite a while interpreting the soil report that was done on our land.  This helped us determine what types of nutrients and fertilizer will be needed for our soil.  We managed to locate a  whole saler of organic fertilizer about an hour away.  We requested a catalog.

Prioritzing tasks and figuring out what, if any, equipement still needs to be purchased are next on the planning list.

Better to plan now and avoid costly mistakes.  Can you see anything we might have missed in our planning?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

From Hobby to Profitable in Three Months?

We have three months to go from this to farmland. Admittedly, this is an old picture so the stumps and logs are much mushier now than when this picture was taken.

We are officially three weeks into our time of under employment.  It really isn't something we are going to notice from a financial aspect right away, since we don't get paid very often anyway.  However, we know that the time is here and that it is likely to be permanent if we want to keep the jobs we currently  have.  Our current plan is to keep those jobs, if possible, and also work towards a profitable farm on our land.

There is a lot of work to be done before we can plant our first crop this April.  Our goal is to either accomplish one small task each day or work for an hour towards a larger task.  Eventually, more time will have to be spent, but for now we are going to make some small steps towards our large goal.  I am going to journal our experience here.

For the last few days, we have been researching and ordering bees. MrLivingOurWay has prior experience with bees because his dad is a beekeeper and lives several hours away from us.  However, he has not been on the purchasing end of things until now.  We just ordered the bees a couple of days ago and were surprised that we had to order so early.  We almost missed out!  Had a friend not clued me in, we might not have gotten bees this year at all.  By the time we got around to looking, many places were almost sold out.

Last night we ordered the hives and other things we need.  I feel better about having everything ordered because I'm afraid that we might put off ordering the hives for too long and end up with no place to put the bees.  These little critters are too expensive to set free once they get here!

I've been working in our personal vegetable garden.  This week, I planted garlic, kale, and Swiss chard. Cabbage is already in the garden. Some sources say we are too early for our greens.  We'll have to wait and see.

Today, MrLivingOurWay is going to get a part from his backhoe fixed.  Without this important part, we will have a hard time converting our field of stumps into farmland.  Luckily, it's been several years since we had our trees cut and many of them are rotting on their own so they are easy to just push over and plow under.  Then, it will be on to the next step of adding the right nutrients to the soil.