Urban Homesteading

Giveaway: Ax Skills for the Homestead & Wilderness Survival DVD

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Alex Leavens, a survival instructor in the Portland, Oregon area, asking if I would review his DVD, “Ax Skills for the Homestead & Wilderness Survival.”  He thought that my readers here might be interested in his DVD.  After checking out his website, OldFedCo.com, I agreed.

The Review:

I’ve never seen such a detailed “how-to” DVD.  Alex meticulously covers everything from safely handing an ax, chopping wood and making kindling, to sharpening your ax and replacing an ax handle.

I really loved how clear he was about safety.  The graduated 4-Her in me also couldn’t help but think that the instruction on the DVD would really help in the making of a blue ribbon, Grand Champion 4-H project.  I would be totally comfortable having Henry watch this DVD  because it is so thorough and emphasizes safety so well.  This is actually not that surprising though, since in his bio, Alex states he was an Eagle Scout.

I was totally impressed with Alex’s accuracy in splitting and reading wood.  Since it’s easy to impress a beginner, I brought Rick in to watch the DVD with me.  Rick has chopped a fair share of firewood.  He’s not an expert on axes, but he  knows a bit about sharpening tools and safety.  I wanted his point of view on the accuracy of the information presented in the DVD.

It was cool watching the chapters on sharpening and safety and hearing Rick pipe up with plenty of “Yep! That’s the way,” as well as having him tell me what he was learning as we watched.  I liked the chapters on hanging an ax (replacing the handle) because my grandpa gave Rick all of his old tools and this DVD will be a great reference tool on caring for and maintaining them.

It is obvious while watching the DVD that Alex really knows his stuff and is also passionate about teaching.  The DVD is extremely thorough.  There are great close-ups of what he’s doing to sharpen his ax, as well as shots from many different angles showing exactly what is happening and how to do it yourself.   It made me feel like I could choose and buy an ax, use it with confidence and maintain it myself.  Check out some of the clips of the DVD on Alex’s site for some examples to see what I mean.

The section on using an ax in the back country was really cool.  I liked seeing how he set himself up using what was in the woods to split wood, make kindling and make stakes.  He even shows you how to make an in-field sharpening station.  Plus, I loved that even in the woods, he was very consistent and followed all his own safety rules.

Alex makes sure to cover every aspect of one topic before moving to the next.  There is no rushing through anything, and the pace is good for a newbie.  The chapters on the DVD are organized in a logical way, and once you grasp a skill, it’s easy to skip forward on the DVD to the next skill if you are ready to do so.

In the end, while pressing the eject button on the DVD player, Rick commented that he was pretty happy to have a good reference tool on the shelf next time he needed it.  I’m excited to use some of the skills I learned about sharpening and maintaining hand tools on Vera, my grub hoe.

The Summary:

This DVD would be great for:

  • Beginners, new to homesteading and/or hand tools.
  • Those who want to add to their skill set, especially sharpening and maintaining their own tools.
  • People with a wood-burning stove or fireplace.
  • People with a giant wood pile.
  • Youth clubs like 4-H or scouts.
  • Homeschoolers interested in teaching traditional skills.
  • Survivalists, backpackers, hikers, hunters or others that spend time in the woods.
  • People interested in hand tools, restoring old tools, reusing instead of buying new, and/or geeking out with their grandpa’s hand-me-down tools.
  • People who are intimidated by using and maintaining an ax.

This DVD would not be good for:

  • Our great-grandparents who grew up learning these skills.
  • People who are into “more power” or using a chainsaw for everything.
  • People who want to do things quickly instead of correctly.

Disclosure: I received a free DVD from Alex to write this review.  The thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and my own.

The Giveaway:

In addition to being an authority on axes, Alex is a wilderness and survival expert.  He is a former backcountry ranger, firefighter, and survival guide.  He teaches classes in the Portland area, as well as offering ax sharpening services for locals.

Did I mention generous?  Alex promised to give away a copy of the DVD to one lucky reader!   

To be entered into the contest, please post a wilderness or survival question in the comments here before midnight, MST on November 21, 2012If you are new reader here at The Lazy Homesteader, or have been lurking for a while, this is your chance to come out of the woodwork.

I’ll double your chances if you ‘Like’ Old Federal Ax Co. on Facebook and share this post with your friends (tag @The Lazy Homesteader or use one of the buttons at the bottom of this post).  Come back here to leave a second comment telling me that you did so. 

I’ll announce the winner in a separate post, so make sure to subscribe to the LazyHomesteader.com/feed or follow me by email or on Facebook/Twitter by using one of the buttons on the sidebar (above, right).

You have two weeks to enter and spread the word.  Ready, GO!

The giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to Alex and Old Federal Ax Co., and congrats to the winner!

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Categories: DIY, Giveaways, Hunting, Recommended Reading, Simple Living, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

Sticky Sweet & Oh So Good

Last week I posted about harvesting honey from our top-bar beehive for the first time.  Today, I have someone with more experience than me here to share with you about harvesting honey from a Langstroth hive. 

I’m happy to introduce you to Christine Faith, a backyard farmer in Colorado Springs.  Christine and her husband Ben raise fruit, vegetables, bees, chickens, ducks, and fish on their small urban farm. In addition, Christine has a new blog, Right to Thrive (www.righttothrive.org) where she hopes to educate others about backyard farming along the front range.

Sticky Sweet and Oh So Good

Fall is the time to harvest many things, but my personal favorite is honey. Fragrant, sticky, golden honey. Nothing is better than honey on fresh bread, to sweeten hot tea, or drizzled over fruit. I love to eat honey, and by luck or by design I am a backyard bee keeper in Colorado Springs.

In the City of Colorado Springs residents are allowed one honey bee hive per household, providing there are no restrictions that say otherwise (think HOA rules or exceptions for apartment buildings). I keep bees in a traditional Langstroth hive body, and practice natural bee keeping methods.

I provide the bees with supplemental food in the summer months when the nectar flow is low (reconstituted organic evaporated cane juice), and feed them pollen patties once a year in the early spring to help ensure they have enough protein in the hive to start ramping-up their numbers for spring.

I don’t use pesticides, antibiotics, or any other chemicals on the bees or anywhere else on the property. What our bees find down the road on someone else’s property though is anybody’s guess, which is why honey can never be labeled as organic. Even without the organic stamp I am big fan of honey, especially honey produced on our little backyard farm by our very special little partners.

I have been asked if removing honey in the fall hurts the bee’s chances of surviving the winter. When the harvest comes around the hive will have one or two honey supers on top of the main hive body. Honey supers are smaller hive bodies, with smaller frames than the “deep” supers where the bees live throughout all of the seasons. The honey supers go on in the spring and the bees start packing away honey.

The bees store honey in the top honey supers, as well as the bottom deep supers. The bottom supers can hold as much as 60 lbs. of honey per super, and in Colorado you always run two deeps through the winter. That means the bees should have 60 – 120 lbs. of honey for the winter, depending on the fullness of each deep super. More than enough honey is left in the hive for the bees to eat during the winter.

The actual removal of honey from a particular frame involves three steps. The first step is to remove the frame from the hive body you are working in. The second step is to use an uncapping knife to cut away the caps that keep the honey safely locked into the comb. The uncapping knife that we use is electric and gets hot, which helps to cut though the wax caps. The bees pack honey on both sides of the frame, so both sides need to be uncapped.

The third step is to place the frame into a honey extractor and to spin the extractor. The extractor is a centrifuge that spins in both directions (see picture below). You spin the honey extractor one way to remove honey on one side of the frame, and then you reverse direction to remove honey from the other side of the frame.

The honey extractor can hold several frames at once; honey is extracted from multiple frames at the same time. Once the frame has been spun out completely it is placed back in the honey super and left near the hive for the bees to clean-out and recapture any bits of honey they would like to store in the deep supers. When the bees have finished cleaning the honey super frames the supers are wrapped and stored for the following spring.

This year we harvested 35 lbs. of honey from our backyard hive. For reference, a standard quart mason jar will hold three pounds of honey, so we harvested nearly 12 quart jars. Considering that in the spring our hive swarmed, twice, we were quite pleased with this amount. The most to expect from a Langstroth style hive in a single season is 60lbs., and conditions must be near perfect to achieve this amount of honey.

We have been keeping bees for three years now, and this is the first full harvest we have pulled. As you learn from keeping bees, the production of honey and other hive products (pollen, propolis, wax, and royal jelly) are at times secondary to the additional benefits the bees bring.

Bees perform the critical role of garden and orchard pollination; this activity allows fruits and vegetables to “set fruit.” Bees also invite you to sit and watch them. Sitting near the hive and watching the bees come and go has a calming effect, much like watching fish in a fish tank. A dear friend of mine once stated that there is no way she could ever have a hive as she is certain she would never get anything done. Whenever she comes for a visit we take a walk back to the hive where we will both stand and stare, transfixed at the tiny little airport that houses thousands of little bee planes. They are completely fascinating.

Generally folks have a fear of stinging insects. While I have been stung by my bees (twice in three years), in both cases it was my fault and not the fault of the bee. My hive is gentle and calm. They allow me to check in on them without donning a bee veil or other protective gear. I am able to remove the top lid, and remove and inspect individual frames bare-handed; it seems that the bees could care less.

Considering the enormous contributions that bees make to a landscape, the gifts they bring to bear in the hive, and the marvel of glimpsing into their world, I can think of no reason to not keep honey bees (barring of course an allergy to bees). These unparalleled little workers will bring productivity to your garden, goodies to your pantry, and enjoyment to your life. I can’t imagine not having them as part of the farm. If one day you decide to get a hive of your own I think you’ll find honey bees every bit as amazing as I do.

All photographs on this page Copyright 2012 B. Jack . All Rights Reserved.

Thanks, Christine for the awesome overview and photos!  Make sure to check out what else Christine is doing at righttothrive.org

Categories: Beekeeping | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

First Harvest

A note before reading this: we are total beginners at beekeeping.  We got into this like everything else we do around here; we jumped in with both feet and are learning as we go.  We have a mentor-friend who knows more about bees than us (he caught this swarm for us), but he keeps a Langstroth hive, which is different from keeping top bar hives.  So our method is based on what we’ve read about.  Smart people would take a class or something.

A few weeks ago, we decided to open up the beehive and check on the ladies before the winter really kicked in here.  We were happy to see that they had built comb throughout the entire hive and, by the looks of things, will have plenty of honey to get them through the winter.

I really didn’t have much time to devote to the bees this summer, so we were unsurprised (but disappointed) to learn that they built all that comb diagonally across the bars.  With top bar hives, the idea is that the bees will build straight comb, one on each bar, and you will be able to pull up one bar at a time.  When I checked them this spring, we saw the cross-combing then, but it was minor and I just didn’t have time to get in there and correct it.

Removing the Comb from the Hive

The first couple of bars we lifted broke some combs, which is not unusual.  After you get the first bar out, typically you can use a top-bar-hive-tool to cut along the sides of the hive, and hopefully not break any more comb.  However, with cross-comb, all the bars get joined together by the beeswax, making it much harder not to break comb.

I decided to go ahead and harvest the honey from the first bars I pulled.  I was really excited to see how full the hive was.

In the picture below, I am holding two bars together and there are five or six separate combs diagonally across the bar.  The cross combing is no longer minor, and we will have a lot of work ahead of us this summer to get the bees back on the straight and narrow, so to speak.  Lesson learned.

To harvest honey comb from a top bar hive, you have to cut the comb off.  This honey is going into a food-grade bucket lined with a mesh bag, both of which we bought at our local apiary supply store for this purpose.

Side Note:  Notice the holes in my jeans?  Yeah, well the bees did too.  Smart people would not wear holey jeans to harvest honey.  Smart people (Rick) may have even told me this before I did it.  But I didn’t listen.  Normally our bees are fairly mellow.  Yeah, not so much when you are stealing their stash.  Also – like a dumb-dumb, I didn’t think about the bucket being knee-height.  I only got about eight stings thanks to Rick shouting at me to run away.  Apparently even the most docile bees (which ours aren’t to begin with) will get pissed with you rob them.  Another lesson learned.

Because of the holey jeans, I ran into the front yard, hands over knees, where Rick helped brush away any persistent bees.  Then I changed my pants in the garage and decided that was enough honey to take for the day.  I went back in whole jeans to close the hive back up and retrieve my bucket.  So this first harvest was a small one.

Removing the Honey from the Comb

A few bees followed the bucket of honey everywhere until I hid it in the garage.  Once the bees were finally off to other things, I took the bucket in the house.

Once inside, I took the comb out of the bucket and put it into a bowl.  Unlike traditional bee keeping, you can’t use an extractor to remove honey from comb built on a top bar.  I used a kitchen knife to chop up the honey comb as much as possible so the honey could pour out.

Then I put it all back in the mesh bag, back in the bucket.  I left it in a warm place to drain for a couple of hours.

Here is what the chopped comb looked like before and after the straining:

The next morning (to give the bees time to simmer down from the robbery), I took the empty comb, bowl and bag outside to the bee hive for the bees to pick over and reclaim any left-over honey.  They were all over that.  Sort of a peace-offering, in my opinion.

I left the empty beeswax overnight and retrieved it early in the morning before the bees were out.  The bees had pretty much completely cleaned it.  I rinsed the wax and plan to melt it into a candle or something crafty later.

Finally, I put the honey into clean jars.  I used half-pints, hoping to make gifts of a few.

Each jar ended up holding about half a pound of honey.  I ended up completely filling six jars, and nearly filling a seventh.  So, for two broken bars of comb, I harvested nearly 3.5 pounds of honey.

Can I just say that I am really excited for the flow next spring?  I’m anticipating a full harvest (and a do-over on the cross-comb thing).

Oh – and the honey tastes delicious!

Categories: Beekeeping | Tags: , , , , , | 19 Comments

No Spend October: Wrap Up

So… weeks three and four.  Let’s just say that No Spend month has been a very revealing project for me.

The month did not really go as I planned, but we still spent a lot less than we would have otherwise.

We spent $257.85 on groceries these last two weeks.  Add to that a tank of gas ($46.02), the pumpkin patch outing ($60) and favor’s for H’s birthday party ($14.44) and we spent $378.31 in two weeks.

Total spending this month so far: $624.62

My original budget was $335.  So we blew it by $289.62. 

I’m really bummed that I couldn’t manage to stick to our original budget.  I don’t know whether I just set the bar too high for us, or I just… lacked the self-control.

Besides going over out budget though, I have one major disappointment: I didn’t save anything.

WHY?

Because last month, our spending was so out of control, that all this no spending has done was allow us to catch up.  While we did blow the budget out of the water, we still spent about $700 less than we do in a typical month.  Because of No Spend Month, we’ve gotten well caught up and in a great place to rebuild that savings account and for the holidays.

Overall, the project was a success.  Next time I think I’ll set more realistic goals.  In the mean time, we’ve hit the reset button on spending, so that next time we attempt a no spend month, we can really sock that money away.

Did you attempt no spend month?  Have you saved anything?

Categories: Simple Living, Thrift | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

2012 DBG Urban Homestead Tour – Part III

I’m excited to show off the last three stops we were able to get on during last month’s Denver Botanic Garden’s Urban Homestead Tour.  These three homesteads were in the heart of the city.

Toni and Dennis Kuper shared their wonderful coop with visitors.  Two years ago, Toni asked for chickens for Mother’s Day, and Dennis built the coop for her.   It is adorable and efficient.

I love how they designed it to store their chicken care supplies right inside.  It is adjacent to their dog run under a stand of shady trees in their beautiful back yard.  They have an annual chicken party for friends and coworkers in their yard.

The Kuper’s yard is mostly shaded, but they have a lovely garden carved out in the only sunshine near the garage.  I especially love the four-bin compost operation.

Our next stop took us into the Park Hill area, where we got to check out Michael Murphy’s coop and gardens.  The first thing we saw was squash and cukes inter-planted with flowers in his front yard.

The side and back yard held lovely raised beds with some great whimsy.  I love the brightly painted stakes and bird houses.

Murph made his coop primarily of recycled/re-purposed materials, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

There are two dogloos inside the chicken run.  But I just can’t describe what I thought when Murph showed us how he set them up for the neighbor kids to gather eggs.  See for yourself…

The igloos are on giant lazy-susans, and inside each dogloo is two coolers/nest boxes.

The hens both lay and roost in the coolers.  The system is warm in the winter and easy to keep clean.

The coolers just slide out for egg collection or cleaning.

I love the engineering behind this coop and how much fun it is.

The last stop I wanted to share was literally packed full of growing things.  The Blackett’s were the only homesteaders on the tour with a yard smaller than ours.

Driving up, you can see they had food growing in the hell strip between the sidewalk and the street.  A lot of people refuse to plant here, but I love that they have turned it into a garden.

We walked down the side yard where the Blackett’s keep their chickens and compost bin.

The little red coop is built from scrap wood, left over from a previous project.

The side yard gives way to an entire back yard garden.  I mean, the entire yard.  There was no grass anywhere – just a path between all the food growing.

Diane was on the back porch, generously giving out samples of honey from her top bar beehive.  The hive was at the very back of their lot, next to the garage, under the grape-vine.

I was very inspired by Diane’s garden.  Rick and I had been feeling a little jealous about all the space that many of the homesteaders had.  But Diane was growing more food than we were, in less space.  It was very encouraging.

Diane blogs about her garden, bees, chickens and homesteading at City Garden Bliss.  She has many more beautiful photos of her garden and covers topics like spinning, knitting, gleaning, and sewing as well as gardening, bee, and chicken keeping.

Thank you for letting me share the stops we went to at this year’s urban homestead tour.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I can’t wait until next year!  This was so fun for our whole family.

Make sure to check out the photos of the other stops in Part I and Part II.

Categories: Beekeeping, Chickens, Community, Garden, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

No Spend October: Week Two

WHEW!   I think I need someone to talk me off the edge!  This No Spend thing is hard.

While Erica is up there in Washington not spending, I’m here in Denver struggling.  For some reason, I’ve found this challenge to be much more… um, challenging than I expected it to be.  The only reason I can think of is that my habits have gotten quite relaxed and pinching pennies has become painful for me again.

The Good: Rick stuck to his budget for the hair cut, and we got into the football game for only $10 instead of the twelve I budgeted for.  We had to use cash for the game of course, so we pulled a twenty.  Rick used $7 of that for bread at the bakery.

I used card stock, scrapbook supplies and envelopes that I already had around here to assemble invitations for H’s birthday party.  I only made four of them; one for each of his grandparents and great-grandparents, and one for me to keep.  The rest of the guest list got email invitations.  Total cost was zero (well, three stamps, but I already had those).

The Bad: Originally, I had hoped for wiggle room in the grocery store budget.  Unfortunately, we ran out of toilet paper.  And, C got a diaper rash which pushed me to use disposables for a few days.  We also use disposable diapers at night, so we needed more of those too.  Yeah… that’s twenty bucks down the crapper.  Seriously?  Two-thirds of my grocery budget for poop?

Last week, I mentioned that I forgot to budget for buying chicken feed.  Because our co-op is so far away, we buy eight weeks of feed at one time.  That was $60 that we did not include in our original budget.

The Ugly: My grocery receipt contained toilet paper, diapers, milk, butter, 1 can of coconut milk, cornmeal, and cheese.  Rick got home, burst out laughing and asked where the fruit was.  I didn’t feel bad, he stole three dollars cash from the money we pulled out for the football game and spent it this week.  He won’t tell me on what, so I’m pretty sure it was candy or, more likely, a pastry.  I’m insanely jealous over that three dollars.  I’m coveting the pastry.

Oh, and then he tells me that he’s in charge of breakfast for his Friday morning meeting, and his company is buying breakfast burritos from my favorite place.  I think I hate him.

What did we spend this week?

$  50.42 on Groceries (and a damn pastry)
$  36.00 on Gas
$  60.00 on Chicken feed
$  30.00 on Rick’s hair cut
$  10.00 on Entertainment (the football game)
$186.42 total this week

Plus last week: $59.89

Total spent so far: $246.31

That leaves $88.69 for the month.  Ouch.

I am worried.  I don’t think we can make it.  I’m really debating about transferring the chicken food money from our savings account and not counting it in the month’s budget, but I don’t know if that’s cheating or not.

As it stands, we have just over half the month to get by on a quarter of the month’s budget.  If I add that sixty back in, we’re looking at 44% of the budget left for the next two and a half weeks.  My goal was to save $1000 this month, so that’s really just robbing Peter to pay Paul, right?

I’m totally open to suggestions on salvaging this project.  Thoughts?  Ideas?

Categories: Simple Living, Thrift | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

2012 DBG Urban Homestead Tour – Part II

The next two stops on the Denver Botanic Gardens Urban Homestead Tour that I want to share were two of my favorites.

Lori in Aurora was growing a great variety of vegetables.  In the circle in her front drive way she had many varieties of winter squash, summer squash, cucumbers and melons.   She was very generous and gave us two good sized spaghetti squash to take home.

In her back yard, she was growing in raised beds.

Her kale and tomatoes were fantastic, and we exchanged tips on season extension and overwintering greens.

But Lori had something completely different up her sleeves.  Aeroponic gardening.  Her website explains this a lot better than I can, but basically you can grow a large amount a vegetables in a very small space in about half the time as traditional in-ground gardening.

Above is a newly planted tower garden.  It holds water in the reservoir at the bottom.  The water is pumped through the tower which both waters and oxygenates the plants.  It can be plugged in to a regular outlet or converted to solar.

Below you can see water pumping through the tower.  We lifted the lid at the very top of a full-grown tower to see.

This tower was planted July 27th.  The photo was taken September 22nd.  Look at the size of that melon in only 8 weeks!

This would be an incredible option for those wanting to grow a sizable garden in a very small space (apartment dwellers, perhaps).  Also great for those who can’t do a lot of bending.  It is all grown vertically – the tower stands about five feet tall and is on rollers.

This tower is growing greens in the heat of the summer, a tomato plant, cucumbers and heirloom watermelon all in an area of 2.5 x 2.5 feet.  The towers are a bit spendy, but they do use water and space very efficiently, and the company offers payment plans.  This was the second planting of the summer for Lori and her family in this tower.

Check out Lori’s website for more info on aeroponic growing:  DenverTowerGarden.com

Where Lori’s gardens are so compact, Brenda and David Zserdin’s garden is completely opposite.

Up in old Lakewood, the Zserdin’s are growing on a half-acre, a very eclectic and sprawling mini-Eden.   Their little white coop houses 24 chickens, a mix of Bantams and full-size hens and roosters.

Inside the coop is a tree-branch roost that runs the length of the whole left-hand wall.  On the right are nest boxes, feed and water and space to store supplies.  The Zserdin’s had to give this coop a little TLC to make it warm enough for the winter by adding insulation and heat lamps.

It’s easy to see that Brenda and David’s birds are spoiled and happy.

H and E quickly found a friend in the Zserdin’s son, who also happened to be wearing a cape that day.  They ran off to play while we toured the homestead.

Their garden is just amazing.  Lots of re-purposed materials for garden structures as well as fun decorative elements make it a joy to walk through.

I loved the pole beans growing on actual poles and walking over wooden planks, past the cukes and melons trellised on old pallet wood.

Vegetables were planted in a tractor tire, old tubs and in the ground.  We wound our way through the tomatoes to the grape vines at the back of the garden.

Rick was quick to spot the Three Sisters planting among the extensive culinary and medicinal herbs that Brenda has growing.

I was in love with the compost bin set-up they had.

Brenda and I found a lot of common ground talking about chickens, homeschooling and preserving the harvest by canning and freezing.  David and Rick hit it off too, talking wood cutting, home brewing and whatever else men talk about while their women are off discussing the merits of sand for litter in the chicken area.

David and Brenda work from home doing an embroidery and screen printing business, Flutterby Designs, as well as homeschool their children.  The Zserdin’s were very gracious hosts.  They chatted and offered snacks and drinks and made us feel completely at home, like old friends.  We exchanged phone numbers and email and are excited to count them as new ones.

Later this week, I’ll show you the last three stops that we were able to get to on the tour.  In the mean time, make sure to explore the photos I posted in Part I.

Categories: Chickens, Community, Garden, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

No Spend October: Week One

Ok, so I had planned on doing this wrap-up on Monday, but since NWEdible is doing wrap-ups on Fridays, I thought I better bust it out.

Budgets are hard. 

I’m usually a pretty good budgeter, but in this short first week, I realized I missed a few items in the budget for the month.

Considerations I skipped:

  • Our chicken feed co-op went out of business in September and we didn’t get any food at the end of the month as planned.  We found a new co-op, but they are in North Boulder, so we had planned to make a large feed purchase this weekend.  I completely forgot to include money for this in our budget.
  • Halloween.  The boys already have costumes, but C didn’t.  Luckily, I came up with something for her (and Rick and I) that won’t cost me much, if anything.
  • Halloween (again).  My sister is coming to town and we have a tradition of visiting haunted houses.  They are totally expensive and frivolous.  I found a Group*n for our favorite one though, and it will be the one and only this year.  $15 not budgeted.  I know.  Bad, bad, bad.
  • H’s birthday.  His birthday is November 1, so I was thinking November.  Not thinking about invitations, etc, that will have to go out this month.  We’ll see what I come up with on this one.
  • Hunting.  We planned the hunting for the year in November, but Rick got offered an opportunity to go with a co-worker at the end of the month.  The license money is already taken care of (he had it set aside months ago), but we didn’t factor gas money for an extra trip.  Another item we’ll have to see how it plays out.

Enough blathering on about things I forgot to account for.

I did have some success this week.  I went to a kids’ resale shop to look for shoes for H.  I also took some clothes to sell with me.  After what they bought, I was able to get H some shoes and the store paid me $4.76.  WOOHOO!  E also badly needed new pajamas.  All the ones he had were waaaay too short.  Like belly-sticking-out-of-his-shirt too short.  So I used that savings to buy him new pjs.  They were $16.26.  I deducted the $4.76 from that, so we did really well in the clothing budget category.

What did I spend this week?

Grocery store:  $33.36
Clothing:           $11.53
Entertainment: $15.00
Total:               $59.89

That means that there is $275.11 left in my budget for the month.

I know.  The haunted house.  It’ll be a toughie to make up.  And I’m feeling guilty for buying it.

What about you?

How are you doing with your budget?  What successes or challenges did you meet in your first week?

Categories: Simple Living, Thrift | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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