25 September 2007

Is it really free?

One of the only classes I ever got a B in while going to college was Economics. The whole concept of opportunity cost always perplexed me. But as I've gotten older and had more life experience, the idea of opportunity cost is becoming clearer to me.

A couple weeks ago the phone rang. It was one of those surveys. The gal wanted to know if anyone in the household smoked, or had allergies, and what kind of vacuum we have. And that I was entered in the weekly drawing.

Then last week, the phone rang again and it was someone telling me that I had won the drawing! My prize was a set of kitchen knives and a free vacation for 2 adults and 2 kids. The catch? I had to let a guy come over for an hour and give me a sales pitch for an air cleaner.

While the renovation is making this house dirtier than ever and I'm doing my best to keep up with the dirt, the thought of sitting for an hour listening to someone try to convince me to part with my money for something I don't have room for that will surely cost something to maintain.

I told the lady on the phone that I wasn't interested.

I wonder how many people turn down their prizes? Some people will take anything that's free, even if they have no need for it nor a place to store it. Other people don't value their time. While I don't profess to be someone who doesn't procrastinate, I certainly know that I don't want to listen to an hour of sales pitch only to decline the offer.

Then this morning on Frugal Hacks, Kim posted a free offer for pearls from Overstock.com. It turns out that you actually have to sign up for the email notification club from Overstock. I happen to own a strand of pearls already that my parents gave me when I graduated from college. So, since I don't need another strand of pearls, and I'd just delete every email that Overstock ever sent me, I didn't sign up. Just because it was free, it doesn't mean it comes without a cost. If I needed a gift for someone or I really liked ordering from Overstock.com, then maybe this would have been a great deal. But for me, trying to cram 6 people and a dog into 1400 square feet in the midst of a remodel, the last thing I need is more stuff to do and more stuff to take care of.

I've noticed that when I don't see the sales flyers from places like Target, I don't see things that I "need" as often. When I'm living my day-to-day life and I notice we're short on tissues, I write it on the shopping list on the fridge. Then, if I happen to be shopping and find a sale on tissue, I stock up. If we run out before I find a sale, I buy one box at a time until I find a better deal. It's dollar-cost-averaging.

Frugal living doesn't just mean finding the cheapest price on anything and everything. It's about deciding what you really need and what you can live without. I can live without a new strand of pearls, and I can live without a set of kitchen knives. I like the knives I have, thank you very much.

24 September 2007

And my heart skipped a beat

Late last night I went outside with a bucket of food scraps to dump in the chicken coop. I noticed that the water was empty but since it was night, I resolved to go out early in the morning and fill the water up.

This morning about 7:00, I heard a chicken making a racket outside. Often after they lay an egg, they cluck and cluck until I go out and give them some encouragement (Good chicken! Thanks for laying an egg!), but they will often make a racket if they are out of water. Some neighbors of ours once ignored an early-morning chicken racket and went outside to discover that the coop door had been left open and all the chickens had been eaten by raccoons. Since I knew they were out of water, I dragged my bum out of bed. In the back of my mind, I was worried that a raccoon was out there terrorizing them. Just yesterday two chickens had squeezed out of the tiny hole in the chicken wire where the water dish is. I turned on the hose and went around to the coop. I filled the water bucket, fed them, and then counted. And counted again. Checked the roost and the egg boxes and counted again. We were short a chicken. It was Midnight, a Black Star who lays brown eggs. I started looking around for her remains. I was sure that if she was out, that raccoons would have gotten her for sure. Frugalboy came out and I told him she was missing. We looked over near the addition, and there she was! Strutting around, oblivious to the fact that she had nearly met her demise. The dog was out with us. Tawny is an excellent chicken herder. Unlike Border Collies or Cattle dogs (heelers), she doesn't nip at what she's trying to herd. She can usually round up the chickens and send them back to their coop without even touching them. For a while the chickens were trained to head back to the coop if they even saw the dog outside. I haven't let the chickens out at all this summer though, to preserve the harvest in the garden, so Midnight was out of the habit of heading home when she saw the dog. Instead of going back to the coop, she hid in a juniper bush. I was able to pick her up and carry her back to the coop.

I made an attempt to secure the water dish in the opening of the chicken wire and I hope that no more chickens try to escape. These hens are kind of like pets. They all have names, and to think of losing one made me panic just a little!

Which brings me to my dilemma. We got 5 chicks last spring to replace a few of the older hens. Ideally, I'd have 6 or 7 chickens, maybe 8, but not 10. It is too many eggs for us to eat without getting tired of eggs. I haven't decided which older chickens will be the first to go, because they all seem to be laying. In the meantime, I'm feeding 10 chickens. we've been going through about 100 pounds of feed in a little over a month. I am sure that it is more expensive than buying eggs. I don't keep track of egg production, nor do I raise chickens to save money on eggs. I raise them more for the self-sufficiency aspect. But to spend $20 a month of chicken feed seems to be a little expensive! Right now I feed them Purina Layena because it has the calcium in it to help the shells be hard. A lot of commercial feeds don't provide the calcium so you have to supplement with oyster shells or something else. When I raised chickens for meat, the man who did our processing recommended that I drive to a farm town about an hour away to their local grain mill and buy what was called 4H pig feed. The mill blends it especially for the local 4H kids and it was just a mix of wheat and corn with a protein content of 17%. We mixed the pig feed with the meat grower ration and it lowered our feed cost for raising the birds. It slowed their growth down enough that we could put off processing for a week or so. I also think it made the chickens taste better than the year before. It is much cheaper (almost half the price) and comes in 100 lb sacks. I guess I need to do some research and find out if I can feed that pig ration to the laying hens as long as I throw in some calcium. Anyone have some experience and could you offer advice?

16 September 2007


Here's a picture of before, and here is after.
Sewing table, mostly clean

It's not perfect, but every time I walk by, I want to sit down and sew.

10 September 2007

I've been tagged...

by Lena.


What is his name?


How long have you been together?
almost 12 years, married almost 11

How long did you date?
just under a year

How old is he?

Who eats more?

Who said I love you first?
Honestly, I can't remember!

Who is taller?
He is.

Who sings better?

Who is smarter?
I am pretty dang smart but he is smarter

Whose temper is worse?

Who does the laundry?

Who does the dishes?

Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?

Who pays the bills?
Both of us do

Who mows the lawn?
usually him

Who cooks dinner?

Who drives when you are together?
Usually him

Who is more stubborn?
Me Him me

Who is the first to admit when they are wrong?

Whose parents do you see the most?

Who kissed who first?
He kissed me

Who asked who out?
It's kind of a complicated story, so I don't know.

Who proposed?

Who is more sensitive?

Who has more friends?
Probably me, but he has more "old friends" from the past. I have lost touch with most people

Who has more siblings?
me, I have 4 and he has 3

Who wears the pants in the family?
We share things pretty equally but he's the big bad boss

I don't know if anyone reads my blog who hasn't already been tagged, so considered yourself tagged if you read this, then comment so I can come read yours.