Sometimes I feel as if I blink and then find that the calendar has jumped ahead several days. I mean, it was February 5th and then *** Blink *** it’s suddenly February 14th. Valentines Day. I hope each of you has the type of Valentine’s Day that is most special to you.
We are spending Valentine’s Day the way we always spend Fridays. There’s a quote that I often come across that says, “Create a life you don’t need a vacation from,” which is what we began to seriously do when we moved north to our beloved little home in our beautiful Enchanted Forest. We show our love to each other through everyday activities and I really don’t feel the need for romantic dinners or getaways. Of course, it’s fun to do those things sometimes, but it’s because we enjoy each other’s company. I love spending time with EJ whether we eat at a restaurant, go on a rock-hounding (or other type of) adventure, run errands, or simply spend time at home together.
Besides, after committing to a “No Spend November, December, and January,” we are now into a “No Spend February.” We are trying to pay off some bills so we are pinching pennies so hard that they are passing out from the pain. When possible, we are making items instead of buying them. For example, we ran out of suet for the wild birds so last weekend I learned how to make homemade suet from ingredients I already had at home. I make homemade granola and EJ makes homemade bread every week so we don’t have to buy it. We post a grocery list of items we need to the kitchen door but then we ask ourselves, “What items on this list are absolutely essential and which can we put off buying?” We buy items when they are on sale and shop at Goodwill for clothes. When possible, EJ stops at a store on his way to or from work so we don’t have to make extra trips. Yesterday he went to Blains Farm & Fleet on his way to work to buy cat food, which we were almost out of. The cat food was on sale and we bought it with money we made selling my chickens’ eggs. On his way home from work in the wee hours of the morning, EJ stopped at Meijers to buy oatmeal and carrots, spending only $8. We give kitchen scraps to the chickens or put them in our compost pile so we don’t have much trash. Every week or two we take our trash right to the waste company rather than pay extra for curbside service. It saves us a ton of money.
We’ve had a lot of financial setbacks in recent years–JJ’s medical bills, moving, EJ losing his job last year. Just when we think we can breathe a bit, our medical insurance costs went up a bit and EJ’s company said “No more overtime.” Not having extra money forces us to be creative, and that’s not such a bad thing. Although we have to forego some things, it’s kind of a challenge to try to be as frugal as we possibly can, and we both have a good attitude about it. So…no romantic dinners at a restaurant, but it’s really fun cooking together in the kitchen. And we’ve seen God’s provision, such as our neighbor, whom we had never met before, deciding to regularly snowblow our driveway for us and refusing to be paid for his gas and time. This is the second year he’s cleared our driveway for us. Or having my chickens begin laying eggs earlier than expected this year, which brings in a little extra money. Or selling one of my crocheted items. I’m thankful that even though we don’t often have extra, but we’ve always had enough. We’ve never been hungry or unable to pay a bill.
My chickens are regularly laying eggs now, so I contacted my regular egg customers to let them know. I had wondered if they would have found other sources for eggs over the winter. Chickens can be sort of forced to keep laying eggs during the winter by keeping lights on in the coop, but we’ve read that they actually live longer if allowed a hiatus so there’s no eggs until the chickens are laying. My customers were eager to get back to buying our eggs, and both told me how much tastier our chickens’ eggs are than the ones from the store. One of my very compassionate customers told me that she had bought eggs once at another place this winter, but she wasn’t impressed by their setup so she didn’t buy from them again. She loves how we care for our chickens, which is important to her.
I’m still trying to figure out how to keep the outdoor cats’ food from being eaten by the chickens. I’ve been putting on top of one of the raised beds for them, hoping the chickens won’t find it, but also putting a bowl of food on the front porch in case they do. So far the chickens haven’t found the bowl in the garden, but a few days ago I saw a cat eating from it. The cat isn’t ours. I also occasionally see a Blue Jay eating from the front porch bowl. So apparently we feed cats, chickens, wild birds, and strange cats our cat food. I think that trying to keep the cat food for the cats might be a hopeless endeavor. I’m not giving up yet, though. I’m still thinking.
Usually the deer run off if I go outside, even if I’m in the back yard and they are in the front yard. However, yesterday afternoon when I came inside from stealing our chickens’ eggs, I saw SEVEN deer in the front yard. They were a bit nervous, but they settle right down when they saw me sit in my chair by the window. Our cat Millie often hangs out on the front porch–to eat and to get lovings. Most of the deer ignore her, but one deer keeps trying to warn her off by stomping its foot. Even if I can’t see Millie, I can always tell where she is because the deer is looking at her as he warns her. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. I actually got it on video yesterday: