We’ve moved!

As of today, we are moving from wordpress.com to my farm’s server.  Our new address will be http://www.silkcreekfarm.com/homesteadfreedom/

Moving to our farm’s server, we’ll have more control over how the page looks and be able to integrate it easier with our farm’s blog and page.

If you have subscribed to this page, please come over and resubscribe to our new page.  Also check out our farm blog at http://silkcreekfarm.com/farm-blog/

We look forward to seeing you over there.  I have a lot planned over the next year for the blog!

Bil

Fodder for thought!

I’ve been reading a lot lately about fodder.  The fodder I’m speaking about is sprouted grains that you can feed to your livestock and replace almost all grains that are fed to them.  There are systems that you can purchase that will grow the fodder for you.  One of the companies that builds them is located about 3 hours away from me.  They are called FodderFeeds out of Bend, Oregon.  I am more than certain their equipment is wonderful, and some day I would like to get one, but I’m just not sure if my animals will like it nor do I have the extra money right now to purchase even one of the small systems.  So, I thought I would start a small trial here at home and see if the chickens, alpacas, turkeys and cows will like it.  Then I’ll start thinking about it.  :)

So what you do is take whole grain, soak it and then spread it in trays and 7-9 days later you have sprouted grain that looks like grass.  Why is this important.  Well, take dry barley for instance.  Only about 30% is digestible.  You sprout it, and 7 days later it is 82% digestible and the protein had increased as well as many other nutrients for the animals.  For ruminants like alpacas and cows, this will still only be a supplement.  Pigs and chickens it could be their only feed beyond on what they get by grazing.  Here is a picture of what fodder looks like once it has been growing about 7 days.  The white layer is the roots that are 100% edible.  The brown is the sprouted grains and the green is the growth.  All, 100% edible.  This stuff is amazing.  Many people’s blogs I have read like to snack on it while it is growing and they say that it is really sweet.

So why am I doing this? Well, to be honest, first and foremost, to save money.  If I can take about 2 pounds of dry grain and get about 15 pounds of fodder to feed to the animals, everyday, this will save me not only on grain (I won’t buy any but to sprout) and I will be able to cut down on my hay purchase every year.  This year we spent over $1300 on hay just for the alpacas alone.  The second reason, and one of the main reasons I am moving on is the health of the animals.  This will give them a better feed throughout the year, even when we don’t have green pastures.  It will help our cow to give better milk, our alpacas to have better fleece, and our chickens to be healthier even longer.

So today I started our fodder experience.  I am going to try and sprout out 2 pounds of some wheat I had in the garage.  Here are some pictures from these first steps.

Here is the wheat we had.  As you can see, it is old, from 2004.  It has been sealed tight until I opened it today.

I weighed out 2 pounds of dry grain.

 

I rinsed it very well,  I wanted to get the chaff out and to make sure it was clean.

 

I was surprised how clean it was.  Not a speck of chaff.  I rinsed it 3-4 times and then filled it back up with water to about this height with water.

 

I then placed it in our pantry where it will keep a constant temperature and stay dark.  I’ll let it sit for 12 hours and then I’ll drain it and go on to step 2 of the process.

If you would like to continue to follow this project, follow along on my farm web page, Silk Creek Farm.

My wish is that I’ll be able to get a good system up an going here at home to get me started, and then I’ll start putting money in my savings account and start saving for a professional larger system that will grow with no problems because of outside temperature or any other issues.

 

 

Money in the Bank & Trust

If you’re a farmer and raise livestock, or you have a backyard farm, then feed or hay should be considered “Money in the Bank”!  We had our hay delivered today, and that is a picture of it stacked and ready to get us through the next 11-12 months.  Right now we have 4.5 tons of prime third cutting Eastern Oregon orchard grass hay.  It smells wonderful, and the animals LOVE it.  But one problem, HAY IS EXPENSIVE!  I’m guessing in other parts of the country where the summer rains just haven’t come, hay is getting close to cost prohibitive.  This year we are paying $280.oo/ton.  That is the most we have had to pay to get good hay.  We could purchase lesser quality hay and save some money, but then we would be hurting our animals.  It is hard to find the fine line between quality and price.  How do we make the decision?  We have found an expert to get us our hay, and we trust her and her knowledge.

I think this is the key to many items we have to purchase.  Trust!  You have to find someone that you trust.  Do you trust the person helping you at the car dealership when you are buying a new or used car?  Can you trust your realtor?  How about the guy you see every week at the grocery store in the produce section?  Do you trust what they are telling you and do you take their word for it.  This is one of the reasons we became “farmers”, trust.  We didn’t trust where our meat (beef, pork or poultry), eggs or dairy were coming from.  We decided to become the experts for ourselves, and we now raise our own meat and eggs, and within the year our own dairy products.

You need to trust who you are working with, but for me, it’s most important if you trust yourself first.  There were a few times when me and my wife were first married that we didn’t trust ourselves when we didn’t feel good about a certain purchase or insurance.  We went against what we felt was right because we didn’t want to hurt the person we sort of knew.  That ended hurting us financially.  We purchased insurance products that made us no money and only made our “friend” money.  We’ve learned to trust ourselves first.

TRUST YOURSELF first and then you can know if you can trust others!

The reason our hay is money in the bank is because we will now not have to pay to feed our animals this year.  It is paid for and we’ll get a return out of it.  If we feed our female animals well, we’ll get healthy babies that we can sell, we’ll get a brand new baby cow and then we’ll start getting milk, and then from this hay, we’ll have milk, eggs, cheese, butter, ice cream, fiber from our alpacas to sell and we’ll make money from the babies we can sell.  That is money well spent!

What a phone call will do!

The last two days, my lunch hours have been busy with making phone calls trying to get some information and trying to save us some money.  Ok, that’s an overstatement, my lunches really were not that busy, but I got a lot done!

Let me give you a little bit of history about our financial situation between me and my wife.  When we were married (20 years ago next month!), I took care of our finances.  Well, let me say I was in charge of our finances and I did a TERRIBLE job.  Think about the worst case scenario, and I was about 2 months away from that.  At that point, in comes my savior, my wife!  She took over the finances at that point (just over 15 years ago) and we have been good ever since.  Now if you ask my wife if we’ve been good ever since she will say “NO!”.  I just say we were good because I stopped worrying about money and let my wife take over everything.  She would talk about money and I would hear the words, but really didn’t understand.  It was causing her stress and I could see that but she was doing better than I ever did, so no need to worry.

Now, over the last 15 years, we’ve purchased three different homes (because of moves), we have a rental, we run a small farm, our bills are paid, and she has done an amazing job with keeping us going every month.  Yes, we have debt, but we thought that is what we were suppose to have.  Take out the mortgages, our debt is big but it isn’t HUGE (but BIG).  Last year my wife asked me to take over the finances again and I said sure, then ignored it.  Well, she helped me to not ignore it in June.  She told me that in July, I was taking over with her helping me and we’d do it together (which I should have been doing for the last 15 years).  We’ve decided to fight this debt together, we’ve both read Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” and we agree with most of what he states and are on a path to getting there.

So, with our new found drive, I’ve been making some phone calls  to see how I can save us some money each month.  Here’s a list of some of the ways we are going to save with about 30 minutes worth of phone calls over the last two lunches.

  1. a 5 min phone call that lowered our CenturyLink bill from over $100/month to $65/month and we are getting better internet with it and have more phone features than we did before.
  2. a 3 min phone call to one of our credit cards to have our interest rate lowered 2% points.
  3. a 3 min phone call to the hospital (where I had surgery this summer) to get bill and found out our bill is around $150 instead of the $29,000!  (thanks insurance!)
  4. 5 min call and 2 min online form to have extra money stopped from being taken out of my check for retirement (still have employer money going in each month) to put towards our debt snowball and then once that is paid off it will go back to our retirement monthly.
  5. Two 5 min calls (had to find info and call back) to credit union and we have a 3.99% interest rate on a new card for transfers.  Will be paying off 18.99% Discover card and have it in a $3.99% rate with a CU we trust.
  6. 5 min call to MetLife to close out an old account that we are not using (and haven’t done anything with in 9 years) so we can control it better where we want it.

So, six (ok, 7 since I didn’t have all the info needed when I call the CU) phone calls and I’ve save us well over $500/month on payments or lowering our debt.  I think it’s been a pretty productive two days of lunches.

How have you saved money with a phone call?

Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Taken by Yousif Waleed

Well, I just got off the phone with Meyer Hatchery and ordered turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Meyer Hatchery is not a local farm where I’ll go pick up a turkey around Thanksgiving, they are a great hatchery out of Ohio that will be sending us 15 day old turkeys in about 2 weeks.  I have ordered from Meyer Hatchery many times before, and they have healthy birds and great service.

Now you may be asking why I categorized this post as “Debt & Homesteading” and not just “Homesteading”.  Well, one of the reasons we moved to our farm 4 years ago was to become more self sufficient not only by raising and growing our own food, but also financially.  We will not be eating 15 turkeys for Thanksgiving (I do like turkey, but not that much!).  We purchase more turkeys every year and then raise the surplus and sell them to people who want a good, pasture/grass raised turkey that is given the opportunity to live a normal life without having to be raised in a poultry house with no sun or nature.  We don’t make a lot of money off of the turkeys, but we make enough to pay for the feed, the processing, and then a little extra for our time each day to make sure the turkeys are well taken care of (about an hour a day).

I read on a lot of other PF blogs about getting side jobs, well, one of my side jobs is right here at my home.  We raise chickens for eggs and meat, turkeys and we are raising a cow that we are planning on selling milk shares later on, all to help us become more independent and self sufficient.  With our farm, I don’t have time to go deliver pizza’s or take another job away from home.  I do have time to do some extra work on the farm to help make a little bit more money to help us reach our goals.
What are you doing to help supplement your income?

“7 Steps to Paying off Debt” Infographic

As I was checking my Mint.com account to see if there was anything that I didn’t know about (I’ll talk about mint.com later, but it’s a great way for me to get an overview of my accounts and what is happening in them).  I came across a good post on the Mint.com blog, MintLife. Today they posted a very simple infographic detailing seven steps to paying off debt.  None of them are so amazing that they’ll make you go “WOW!!!”, but as I looked over them I kept going “Why am I not doing this?” which is the biggest question, why has it taken me so long to figure out these easy steps.  Julia knew them, I just wasn’t there to help out doing them.  Time for me to step up and help out and help get this done!

Here is the infographic (it is a little wide for my blog, so click on it or the link above to go to the web page).

Snowball vs. Interest vs. Emotional Debt Reduction

As I’ve been reading over the last few weeks about debt reduction, I’ve come across three main theories of how to reduce your debt.

  1. Snowball
  2. Interest
  3. Emotional

I thought I would talk about these fairly quickly today and see if anybody is actually reading and willing to post what they like about one over another.  Then in a later post I’ll talk about what I am planning on doing.

Snowball

The snowball plan is fairly simple and straight forward.  I’ve heard about this for years, we just have never put it in to play (our bad!).  What the idea is, is you list out all your debts.  You then order them from lowest amount owed to most amount owed.  You pay the minimum on each debt, and put any extra money you have each month to the debt that has the lowest amount owed.  That will help pay off the lowest debt first and quickest.  This is to help give you confidence that you can pay off debt.  Once that first debt is paid off, you will have extra money the next month (money that you had been using to pay off the lowest debt).  You take 100% of that money and put it towards paying off the next debt.  Once you pay off that debt, you move all the money to the next one and so on until all of your debts are paid off.  Like a snowball rolling down a hill, your payments grow in size as it keeps rolling.

Interest

The interest plan is exactly like the snowball (and in reality, the Emotional is as well).  The difference here is you don’t list your debts by lowest owed to highest owed, you list them by HIGHEST Interest rate to LOWEST interest rate.  That way you pay off your highest interest rate first and then slowly pay down your lower cards.

Emotional

This final plan I call Emotional.  I first read about it over on Baker’s Man vs. Debt and he calls it a Debt Tsunami.  You still list out all your debts in order, and then you look at each individual debt and see which ones would really, EMOTIONALLY feel the best to get out of the way first!  Go over and read a much better post about the Debt Tsunami.  This is a great way to get rid of debts you may feel really bad about or a company that just doesn’t give you the customer service you need.  Sometimes it might be linked to Interest rate, sometimes it won’t.  You may want to get a school loan out of the way ASAP!  You have to decide what is the best way for your debts to go away.

There is a site that lets you put in your debts, your payments and the interest rate, and it will let you look at how your debts will disappear with the Snowball vs. the Interest plan.  It doesn’t have the ability to do an Emotional plan, but someday maybe it will.  :)  http://www.whatsthecost.com/snowball.aspx?country=us

I took our personal debts* (not counting mortgages) and entered them in to the calculator and I thought I would share the differences.

Personal Snowball

It will take you 40 months to pay off these debts if you snowball correctly. During that time, you’ll pay $3,569.00 in interest.

Personal Interest

It will take you 40 months to pay off these debts if you snowball correctly. During that time, you’ll pay $3,475.00 in interest.

Now as you can see, it will take us EXACTLY the same amount of time for the snowball and the interest plan.  With the interest plan, we would pay about $94 less in interest.  I haven’t decided which of the three plans will work the best for us, I’m still trying to look at the Emotional plan and see if any of the debts are most emotional for us.

Do you follow any certain plans?  Do you look at your debts a certain way.  Let me know!

*Unlike other sites, I won’t be sharing our personal debt here on the blog.  I’ll share percentages, and other non-specific numbers, but not the total numbers.  I just don’t think that helps anyone. 

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