Get Out! Take a Break Already!

I don’t “need” anything from town, so I’ll probably get in trouble with impulse purchases but hey, his idea right?

Remember to take time for yourself, this time of year can be brutal on the mind, body and soul. I’m waking every day with new aches and pains and I know a lot of it stems from being cooped up in the house so much with little sunlight and frigid temperatures. Symptoms may be magnified by any other upheaval in your life, in my case, there’s been a couple of bumps that amount to a mountain.

We tore out our kitchen down to the siding. Why we chose the middle of winter to do this, I have not a clue. I have a hole in the side of my house, because when you tear into a 119-year-old house you find damaged areas that need replaced. We get to the point where we’re down to studs and outside siding and of course the giant hole and guess what happens… We get an ice storm where my husband slips and lands on concrete steps breaking multiple ribs. Like we didn’t have a big enough party going on.

Our daughter came and helped board up the hole in the side of the house, lucky for us she’s good at carpentry work even though her real job is as a LMT. Here we are with our house boarded up, plastic sheeting separating our dining room from our gutted kitchen and a make-shift kitchen set up in the dining room. Let’s talk about the dining room. Where to start? The dining room was gutted as well but in it’s finishing stages. Sheet rocked, taped, sub floor down, basically ready for finish work and flooring. We must be crazy but when I want something done, I want it done.

The husband took 3 days off of work, much to my dismay. He has broken ribs for cripes’ sake, he should have taken a couple of weeks off! He is one tough man, I’ll give him that. I’ve been insisting he take my pickup to work, it’s a newer F-150 that drives like a car, as opposed to his old ’82 F-250 that resembles our kitchen. I won’t drive it unless it’s a dire emergency, but he loves it for work. It runs great with a brand-new engine, but that is where the “nice” stops.

You probably wonder where I’m going with this random rambling and how it relates to taking care of yourself. I’ve been cooped up in this house for 2 weeks taking care of an injured man and then without a vehicle. I love being home without distractions, but this time of the year is hard on me anyway since the kids have all grown and left the nest. My husband is a smart man, this morning he surprised me by taking his old beat up truck to work and instructed me that I was to get out of the house today, even if all I did was drive to the post office. That’s what got me to thinking, have I been a pain to live with? After careful consideration I decided that the answer is, YES.

Today will be ME day. I’m going to shower, do my hair for a change, put on some mascara and hit the town. Look out Wal-Mart, here I come!! This is harder than I thought, do I want to drive for an hour to hit up Wal-Mart? I do not, but I probably should make myself get out anyway, for his sake and mine. I don’t “need” anything from town, so I’ll probably get in trouble with impulse purchases but hey, his idea right?

~ Jane

Backyard Girls aka: Chickens

… a rooster in town is a bad idea and I think you can imagine why.

I grew up on a small farm so of course I know a considerable amount about Chickens. Growing up I didn’t like them but now that I’m older, it has almost become an obsession. I don’t have chickens at the moment for these reasons… First, I live in town. Albeit a rural town where believe it or not, a lot of people do have chickens in their backyards. Secondly, I did have chickens and it went sour. When the neighbor knocks on your door furiously to tell you that your chickens are tearing up their flower beds, something has gone wrong. Third, a rooster in town is a bad idea and I think you can imagine why. And lastly, I don’t have adequate accommodations for chickens… yet.

I’ve been doing some research into backyard chickens and different styles of coops and yards. I’m leaning toward a small coop and a run that is basically a “tunnel” that runs around the yard wherever you want. In my thinking, I’ll make mine to run around the perimeter of the yard and garden areas to cut down on the bugs. The coop will be small yet large enough to house 6-12 chickens and will have outside doors for egg collection. One thing I want to make sure of is ease of cleaning. I’m still researching that but I’m thinking a raised coop with a wire floor that I can cover in straw. I figure I can change out the straw when necessary and anything else will drop through for easy raking. We’ll see where that goes after I do a little more research. Coop with outdoor yard and tunnel yards. I think that’s the way to go.

I would like to be able to accommodate 6-12 chickens, strictly for personal use. I’d love to have some acreage for a larger operation but right now, I’m good with going small. Laying hens are my focus first then I might add some meat hens to the mix for something different. I never liked butchering chickens growing up because the smell was horrid, I know now that skinning is the way to go. My goal this year is to begin the process of becoming non-dependent on the grocery store as much as possible. We’ll talk about my garden in another post at a later date, but soon. I’m getting excited about planning that too.

Back to chickens. They say chicks start laying eggs at 5-6 months old and commercially they keep them for 1-2 years but will continue laying for 5-7 depending on care and environment. The older they get the slower production. There’s a lot to consider when choosing what breed to get and I’m still unsure what I’ll go with. It will probably be decided by what my local feed store has in stock when spring rolls around. Living in a rural area choices are limited. Right now I need to concentrate my efforts to their habitat, so I’m ready when the time comes.

I need to get back to planning! Have a great day and thanks for reading!

~ Jane

Detour in Progress…Focus on Being Prepared!

Storing food in Mylar bags is easier than you think and you can make your packages in a variety of sizes.

When I started this blog, and I know it’s been sporadic at best, I said I was going to write about whatever random thoughts came to mind. That is still true but I’d like to focus more on getting ready for an emergency or disaster, “prepping” if you will. I want to start from the beginning, which is essentially where I am right now. I’ll be sharing what I’ve found, where I’ve found it, techniques I’ve discovered and organization tips. That is my goal anyway.

What I have collected at this point amounts to a random supply of freeze-dried foods some of which I picked up at Wal-Mart in the Augason Farms section, and some of which I have gotten from Thrive Foods over the internet, through the mail. I know other companies out there like Wise Food Storage and Mountain House exist, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. We’ve also purchased large bags of beans and rice from Cash & Carry that we’ve sealed in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and placed in food grade 5-gallon buckets.

Let’s talk about the ones I have gotten to. Both Augason Farms and Thrive life have good flavor and texture as far as freeze-dried food goes but I’ve found that, once opened, Thrive Life food doesn’t last as long as they say it will. You will need to use it up within a month or so to keep the freshness. I ended up having to throw a couple of cans out after about 2.5 months. Augason Farms has a great vegetable stew blend that can be modified to create other meals by adding bouillon, meat, pasta, etc. We like to use it on a normal day because it’s quick and easy.

I found this handy food calculator on line and I’ve used it in the past as a guide. Here is another one that looks similar but includes a bit more information. Punch in the number of people in your family and hit calculate, simple. The Food Guys break it down more, the amount of vegetables and fruits. I will probably use both calculators in combination. The packaging of your foods should tell you how much a serving size is and go from there.

Storing food in Mylar bags is easier than you think and you can make your packages in a variety of sizes. I’ll include a couple of links to sites that sell them and the oxygen absorbers at the end. All you have to do is dump your dried beans, rice, pasta, etc. into the bags, toss in the oxygen absorbers, suck out the air and seal. We used a small shop vac that we purchased for this purpose. The size of your bag will decide the number and/or size of oxygen absorber(s) you use. To seal, we used a straightening iron and DONE. Here are the links to the Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. We actually got ours at Crazy Mikes, a little hole in the wall emergency supply store across the border. Check around, you might have something similar near you. Or on Amazon

Keep tuned, more to come! FYI: Featured picture is of my pantry in 2011 when we very first started collecting food. 😉

~ Jane

Habit or Addiction?

We have a concert coming up in a week and a half, I’m interested to see if I will even want a beer. If I do, I’ll have one.

Day 12 of no beer. I thought it would be harder than it has been. I haven’t even wanted a beer or even thought about it much. When I do think about it, it’s not a craving or need, it’s more of “a beer sounds good”, but I don’t have to have one. I have beer in the house, not in the fridge, but in the house. I didn’t “quit” drinking beer, I like beer. It was a mutual discussion between my husband and I that if we put our “beer money” in a jar, we’d have more money for our vacation to Hawaii in September, and we would be more apt to lose a few pounds before then as well.

I won’t lie, sometimes I wondered if I was addicted to beer. It was something we did together at the end of the day. Crack open an ice-cold beverage and talk about the day. Every day. It never affected my relationships or employment, or his. We always enjoyed the evenings with a beer or two. Now that I’ve not had a beer in almost 2 weeks, I can plainly see that it as more of a habit than an addiction. We replaced the beer with tea, and we still discuss the day as usual and the world didn’t come to a grinding halt because we now drink tea instead of beer.

I don’t feel that much different now than I did a couple of weeks ago. I sleep better because I don’t have to get up to pee in the middle of the night anymore, but, that is the only difference I have noticed so far. I haven’t lost any weight, disappointed but that wasn’t my ultimate goal anyway. My ultimate goal was the $$ and trust me that is way more enticing than holding a beer in my hand at the end of the day. Which, reminds me… I haven’t put any money in the jar yet! I’ll need to remember to get an extra $20 from the ATM when I go to town this afternoon.

We have a concert coming up in a week and a half, I’m interested to see if I will even want a beer. If I do, I’ll have one.

~ Jane


Yes, this is plug for Le-Vel. 😉

I’ve been Thriving for 2.5 years now and I have never felt better. We aren’t supposed to make medical claims but I’m telling you, I was on the verge of medication for high cholesterol and hypertension and within 8 months I was in normal ranges. coincidence? Maybe but I highly doubt that.

Fast forward to July 13th (Friday, July 13th) when I had to have major emergency surgery with an expected 4-6 month recovery time. Here we are 2.5 months into it and the doctors are moderately surprised at my progress thus far. Again, Coincidence? Maybe but…

Yesterdays follow-up doctor appointment was a real upper for me not only to find out I’m healing faster than anticipated but because my surgery was finally explained to me in detail with diagrams and models and I feel lucky to be alive!! I knew I could have died, so I already felt lucky to be alive, but actually seeing what went wrong and what they had to do to fix it was both frightening and amazing.

I guess this wasn’t just a plug for Le-Vel it was a plug for doctors who do their jobs with extraordinary skill as well. ❤