I Had a Life But My Job Ate It!
I saw this on a bumper sticker (online) the other day. That is how I feel right now. Randy and I are both worn out from lambing and working and in need of a serious vacation with an ocean involved or at least water and warmth of some sort. We will see if this happens in 2010 or not.
Here is a glance at my day and why I am screaming for life to slow down and allow me some downtime.
3:30 wake up to make bottles and head outside to feed bottle lambs and let the sheep out of the building
4:15 return inside to wash bottles, shower, and get ready for work
4:45 pack both our lunches and layout our morning and noon supplements
5:00 head out the door to work
5:45 arrive at work
6:00-4:30 work at a computer
5:15 arrive home, change, make bottles to feed bottle lambs
5:45 return inside to wash bottles, cook dinner (generally from scratch), and wash dishes (by hand) from breakfast and lunch
7:00 clean up after dinner, wash dishes (by hand), make coffee for the next morning, and dish up our lunches for the next day, and make bottles to feed bottle lambs
7:30 head out to lock up the sheep in their building and feed bottle lambs, this also includes any doctoring that needs done
8:00-8:30 return inside to wash bottles and get ready for bed
Midnight one of us heads out to check on our ewes to make sure no one is lambing or more specifically, having trouble lambing
Midnight-3:30 am Sleep
Then I get back up and do it all over again. This has been going on sine the last week in January and needless to say we are both exhausted and a little burned out. There is a little dim light at the end of the tunnel. It’s quite a ways away, but we will get there.
Spring is in the air and the warmer weather is already lifting our spirits. The thought of a garden right now is a little daunting, but hopefully I will get in the mood as the days continue to get longer and the weather continues to warm up.
I’m not whining! It may sound like I’m whining, but I truly love our life and our animals. That’s the part of our lives we do enjoy. It just tends to feel like we live at our jobs and have no time for our lives. We work twelve hours (including the commute), sleep 8 hours (if we’re lucky), and spend the other 20 preparing to leave our house and animals for the day and making up for the time we were away from our house and animals all day.
It may not seem like we are in self-sufficiency, environmental awareness, downshifting, or any of the things I’ve mention on the sidebar. However, this is all part of our attempt to become debt free and HUGE step toward all of these things. As soon as the debt is gone we hope to take our home off-grid or build an off-grid home. We will still have the expense of maintaining the equipment, but this will eliminate those electric and propane bills we despise so much.
We will get there. I have my moments where it seems impossible, too far away, and out of sight. Then I have days where it is just around the corner, and I can’t wait for it to all come together.
Here are a few things I think would help us cut costs in the meantime and free up even more money to put toward debt:
• Budget, I have set up a strict budget we HAVE to stick to in order to make this work. We will be allotted only so much cash money (credit cards for fuel only) for groceries, auto repairs and maintenance, vet and pet expenses, our farm expenses, and any other miscellaneous expenses. We will also set back money every month for those bills that come due once or twice a year; propane, auto insurance, and car tags and taxes.
• Dinners: one night a week will include eggs. These come from our chickens and are usually in great supply. We will also do one night a week soup or bean dish with salad. These are both not only easy meals, but also frugal meals.
• We are selling all the lambs born on our farm this spring and hopefully some of our yearling ewes. This will help our sheep pay for themselves throughout the rest of the year (hay, grain, protein tubs, and any other supplies needed).
• Cats: As of right now all eleven little darlings are in our pool house 4 days a week. As soon as Randy gets the cat door installed (hopefully this weekend) they will be outside kitties except at night. They can mouse instead of relying on cat food $$$.
• TV: We (as in I) watch very little TV. Once the season finales are over and summer is here, I want to get that whole setup unplugged to decrease the phantom load it is pulling 24/7.
• Utilities: I would like to unplug everything not in use, power down more, and possibly get a wood burning stove in our house to help our heating/propane expenses.
• Cook outside: in the summer this will be a lot easier. I have a solar oven I need to utilize, especially for bread baking. We will be grilling and cooking over our fire pit a lot more and eating cold foods (salad sandwiches, salads, cold rice and pasta dishes, etc.).
• Retirement: we’ve never been fully comfortable with the 401K/IRA retirement plan. We may decrease our input into these for the time being and use that money to pay off current debt.
• Land: we are still in hopes of owning land someday. We were convinced we needed 80 acres because that is the legal requirement to hunt your own land. We are now thinking we would do less than this and raise our own food and barter what we can’t raise instead of hunting.
• Pool: no idea if this is a possibility, but I would like to convert our pool pump to run off solar energy. This would be a good first step to converting our home.
• Well/Pump: second solar conversion possibility
•Limit our Kinesiology/Chiropractor visits: take a multi-vitamin, CLO, exercise and stretch (yoga), and make improvements to our diet
These are just some ideas of ways we can trim down our monthly expenses and work toward our goal of becoming debt free. We are estimating it will take us under 5 years to become completely debt free including our home. If we buy land it will take longer, but that may never happen. We have the usual bills: mortgage, student loans, home equity loan, etc. We have managed to pay off all our cars and intend to keep enough money in savings so we can pay cash the next time the need for one comes up.
I sometimes think of all the things I would have time to learn and do if I wasn’t at work all day long. I would spend more time with my animals for sure, but I would also love to learn better photography skills, learn to crochet, knit, sew, play the piano, and possibly learn a second language. These desires give me the drive I need to forge ahead and do without now so we can hopefully enjoy all of these things in the near future.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. I hope this encourages you to strive for simplicity and to become debt free. We will work very hard for the next few years and at times I may chime in here with less than encouraging words when the going gets tough, but I know it will be worth it for both Randy and I.
*Randy just called to say, “how about we ask if your mom will watch our animals and drive to the Grand Canyon for a few days. We can rent a cabin, hike, and just hang out there the whole time.” I’m there…just pick a date!