We Are Deep In the Heart of Texas

Nomadic seasons of farming adventures with nature thrown in to include; a pinch of family, snippets of friends, counting our blessings, paying IT forward, home school, and the spicy things I decide to rant about.







Sunday, January 29, 2012

Little Boys & Puppies

These two go together like fries and ketchup doncha think?  Zephyr and Roux spend their days running from one end of the house to the other.  Roux is a mighty 3.5 lbs now, tackles toes which invade her territory, and barks at the ghosts in our home. (Well at least I don't see what she is looking at.)
She is still small enough to take naps in my desk drawer which, just cracks me up.
Now for our year in review; we no longer have goats or pigs.  What we did not sell or giveaway found their way into our deep freezer.  Yes, we eat goat ( to include only castrated or really young male kids).  It just was begining to cost more to keep them as pets than to be able to feed, breed, and sell the goats due to the constant hunt for quality hay, grasses, and supplement feed.  This was true of the pigs as well, no one wants to pay what it actually costs to raise a pig to maturity especially since we do not give our animals feed with antiboditics and other chemicals.  

We are still raising chickens, turkeys, and guinea fowl.  With all the snakes about; keeping birds is the best way to warn of impending reptile visitors.  It never fails, if there are birds in your yard -- be it chickens or wild birds; they will let you know if there is a snake near.  All you have to do is watch the birds; if you see them swooping about one area in your yard, on a fence constantly moving and fussing then you have a snake near.  I have no idea other than the explanation of our dire drought as to why so many snakes in 2011 but, 2012 will be about the same with the La Nina weather pattern.  During spring to late summer, I was constantly finding a snake or two each week; luckily only a few were rattlesnakes.

Any gardening this year will be strictly container due to La Nina.  Our water well is all we have; we can not have a large garden.  Kinda sad but, just a country fact in deep, HAWTER THAN HADES Texas.

The boys and I are still homeschooling.  It was the best decision we ever made as a family.  We made the choice of working mostly from workbooks instead of buying from Sonlight this year.  The cost is the biggest factor but, also because Sonlight is a literature based program.  Saenz's dyslexia makes it tough for a reading based curriculum and I had to modify the lessons plans to better match his learning style.  Zephyr on the other hand is really taking to reading Dick and Jane books I found on eBay; I could not afford the originals but found reprints. 

It is funny, both our boys are learning mathematics at a faster pace. Since being at 3rd grade level in April 2010, Saenz is soaring with me into pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry.  Zephyr has been learning his times tables before learning to actually read as a first grader.  I make sure each of them understand the use of budgeting and definitely the power of couponing.  I think they learn math more quickly because I have a knack for numbers so I am a better teacher in mathematics.

This year has been economically tough on our older sons.  We sold Sid our farm truck for work since he needed it for his construction, plumbing job at Lackland AFB.  Junior on the other hand has just been having a tough decade with the break up of his marriage and becoming a single parent to Sarah.  His car basically died on him; with no way of getting to work without the kindess of others; we made the decision to give him my 31 year old Volvo.  I miss having a working vehicle but, that is what you do for family; you scarifice.

Lets see what else can I tell ya'll?  In November, we were surprised when my mom and dad, Jerry, (Stinky Toes) drove up our drive way towing my first vehicle, Bubba Junior behind them.  I bought Bubba a small Ford Ranger in 1995, can you believe it has less than 100K miles on it?  Well back in 2002, we were assigned to rotate overseas to Portugal; we dropped Bubba off at my mom's house and there Bubba sat.  It was quiet a shock to see my mom and dad; they only stayed long enough to see our home, drop off the truck, talk to the boys, and then said their goodbyes on their way back home in Alabama.  Again, that family scarifice; what a wonderful gift. Thanks Mom and Stinky Toes!

Now hubby, Saenz, and our other sons are working to get Little Bubba running again.  I think this is a wonderful way for Saenz to learn mechanics and eventually it will become his first vehicle.  LOL! Yes, I have a tendancy to hold on to things for a long time.  Heck, my livingroom television was purchased in 2000 and until it dies will continue to stay just where it is. Any way, that is basically it for our year; I haven't had the time to write as much as I had been. 

I miss all of ya'll and will be popping in to check on my cyber neighbors real soon!
Take care,
Mal

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Meet Roux, She Came to Us on Friday

She is part Dashund and Chihuahua.  She weighs less than a full soda can and has just tiny little milk teeth which she uses on our ear lobes or finger tips.   Right now she is sleeping wrapped in an old towel in my desk drawer as I type.  LOL That won't last long but, I forgot how much work babies are to have in the house.  I need to nap when she naps eh?
 Babies can sleep any where?
On Saenz 
 In an Easter basket.
She sleeps every where and at a moments notice.  We have no idea how big she is going to be when full grown.  I don't think that matters; she is a full fledged family member now.

Hope ya'll are having a wonderful weekend.  Will be back for more farm updates coming soon since we have been downsizing quiet a bit.

Take care,
Mal

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Never Realized Just How Much

I would hurt.  Last year when Banjo was killed right in front of me; I was ached all the way down the core of my being.  He was basically my baby.  I had a premonition about going outside with him and just felt something awful was going to happen no amount of tears, screams, or calling him to me stopped the event.  It took me three days after he was killed to get any sleep, a full month to stop expecting him at the door but, I still look for him as soon as I step on the back porch.  I loved him as much as I miss Toad (a stray I raised from bottle while stationed in Greece).  Some pets just have a way of working their magic on your heart.

This morning our son called to tell us of a possible puppy in need of a home.  Of course, I jumped at the chance because I am ready to love another pet again.  I am chalking that need up to Banjo because, he brought much joy in our lives.  So say a little prayer that our family will soon be blessed with a fur baby.
She is six weeks old and very adorable.  We here are all crossing fingers and feathers in anticipation of this lovely little creature's arrival. 

Thanks Sid & Patricia, she will be well loved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Okay, Have Ya'll Been Looking Taxes?

I know I have! I have been knee deep in reading on the IRS.gov and organizing our own reciepts.  No major changes so far this year (2011) though, I believe many changes will be implemented with killing some 'deductions' and 'credits' on individual family' tax bills in or after 2012.  Like the child tax credit will go away or be cut in half for those with children under 17.  I will let ya'll know if I find any major rehauls of the tax code as I discover them.

Who knows with the dragging of congressional feet in the attempts of getting President Obama kicked out of office.  It has been stated since he won the election in 2008 the WHOLE GOAL of Republicans was to make him a one term president. I find this incredible because our leaders were hired to work for their constituents.  Instead Republicans block all attempts Obama tries even if it was a Republican goal. 

Now this pisses in my cheerios because I have long voted for Republicans as a Libertarian minded person. I believe folks can stand on their own feet for the most part but, firmly support Social Security for those over 62.  I also believe in Medicaid for children, the aged, and those with disablities who can not work.  Sure there are those who need a hand up when losing a job  or some other event in the event of medical necessity but, it should not take 2 years to find a job.  I do not believe in permanent welfare for those 'choosing' to pump out children.  I also do not believe minimum wage is what the economy (the rest of us) should advocate tossing those on public assistance onto low paying jobs as a solution.

http://documentaryheaven.com/occupy-movie/
http://www.occupythemovie.net/

For my new friend Moonqueenfashions,  I have a book for you if interested.  It is called 'Nickel and Dimed,' by Barbara Ehrenreich just email me for details. 

I know of your displeasure of seeing folks whom you feel are gaming the system of entitlements or government hand outs. Personally, I too know of a couple of people who have used those gov programs to live without putting in a honest days work.  It chaps my arse too.  However, I have to let that angst go, press on, and teach my sons about the need to support themselves & plan for their future. 

For the 2 or 3 people who 'game' the system; I believe there are 100s who really want to work and do what is necessary to support themselves and family.  I also have a stinking suspicion that the deck is stacked to keep the general populace ignorant, quiet, out of touch with their leaders and too busy to notice the mayhem swirling over them.  Who has time in this busy world to question the non-sense spoon-fed by media outlets? 

Next point,

All I do know is, the squeaky wheel gets oiled first.  Those who are protesting in the Occupy movements have the right idea.  They are just demanding their government listen to them.  I do not agree with some of the ideals protestors espouse but, I do believe in their rights to assemble to get their voices heard without being violently peppered sprayed or deadly force used on unarmed citizens.  I have looked at my belief system and ideology; it is the soldier in me that will consistently defend those whom my inner voice says is weaker and needs support.

I am my brothers' keeper. 

This is what I teach my sons and will continue to do so.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

To Answer Moonqueenfashions

Hello Gentle Readers,


I am hoping all is well after the Christmas holiday season.  We have been busy here and are now just getting back into our homeschool groove.  So this morning, I came to check in on those who I follow during our vacation.  To find a commentator who asked questions.  This to me is a blessing because she allows me to further explain my rationale.  Thanks Moonqueenfashions for allowing me to opportunity to reach a more diverse audience.

"Okay, so I do agree with most of your post. I have two questions. 1) Do you consider people who spend aggregiously without consideration of what they are doing not at fault for their own poverty (i.e. people who run up massive credit card debt on non-essentials, buy a house way bigger than they need in an area they really can't afford, have to have a new car, won't buy used or generic anything, etc)? 2) Were you really complaining about making almost $40k with free housing, $300 a month for food and free medical care..PLUS a second income? Those benefits, based on what I pay for a house payment, utilities and health insurance (alone I might add), would equal almost $14,000 a year. That's a low estimate as I live very frugally, have a low house payment and only pay for one person for medical care (i.e. the benefits you are actually receiving for a family in that area may total to even more than $14k). Which brings your salary to nearly $60k or over. Some career teachers don't make that and they have to have one or two college degrees depending on the state. I have two college degrees and would never make that at my current job without becoming management or working here for 15 to 20 years. So yah, consider the less fortunate indeed. My parents fed, clothed, and housed two kids and themselves on less than $25k a year and we always had a car, tv etc. It's all in how much you are willing to live smart with what you have. I'm not saying there aren't a lot of unforutnate people, particularly people who become poor through forced unemployment or long-term illness, but there are a lot more that think they deserve to live outside of their means. Just because people on the tube have fur and diamonds, drive fancy cars, etc doesn't mean we are suffering if we don't have that life. At some point people forgot about the basics of getting by and started worrying about keeping up with the Jones. by Moonqueenfashions."


Moonqueenfashions,


1. No Ma'am, I do believe in personally responsibility especially fiscal. I do know from the experience of buying our first home at the ripe age of 39, the process is set up to confuse / bind people who are not ‘educated’ properly in personal finance, budgeting, and legal terminology to fail on their mortgages. For example; when my husband and I set out to buy this house our own lenders told us we could afford a house over 300k or calculate the mortgage payment to equal roughly 35% of our current income -- this made my head spin.

This is just not feasible because there are many factors our lenders did not figure in: we were moving, I was retiring, Hubby was not going to be employed, the lack of jobs in our immediate area we had purchased in, the upkeep of a home, the repairs needed to be done in the home, the repairs needed on the property of our home, and transportation to work when we found a job.

See, this is where lenders do not properly counsel first time buyers; a mortgage should not be anymore than 20-25% of a families' income because of factors such as I mentioned. We bought our home as a foreclosure that had been on the market empty for five years.  Fortunately, I told the lenders to calculate our net income to less than third of what we were earning back in 2005 to get a more accurate picture of our financial ability to meet our obligations.  Also, I knew if all came to worse my retirement check would at least cover the mortgage, insurances, car payment, credit card bill (at the time), and electricity as our basics.  Plus I know how to shop, plan, and use coupons effectively for food. 

2. Secondly, I was not complaining about my salary; I was merely stating numbers. What folks do not realize is at the time, our daughter had suffered a stroke on her 13th birthday and we had accumulated some debt not covered by the military health system. We had to float some debts on a credit just to get through the process of moving her from a remote hospital from Portugal to Germany and then to Washington DC. Then we also had to cover expenses not paid by the military to move our family on such short notice. We were able to emergency housing on base because of our daughter’s medical needs and hubby found a job luckily six months after we relocated.

I am forever grateful to the US Air Force and the medical personnel because without them; she would have died. We were lucky to only be 15K give or take in debt by the time she was able to get stable enough to be in physical, educational rehab, and back to semi-normal. There would have been no way she would have survived in the civilian sector with our limited income because her medical care would have cost us millions with repeated surgeries, air ambulance, rehab, and like.


3. All I am saying is; folks are desperate out there. There are people who spend unwisely or on foolish things. Those folks will always exist because they were not taught better or frankly they don’t give a shit. The world is a different place than when your parents brought your family up and the opportunities are much different for the working poor – middle class. For example, student loans will be the next bubble to hurt the US economy and I am expecting this burst to come in 2012 or 13 just like the housing dive back in 2008 to now. There is no way students will do as well as their families’ did because of accrued debt from student loans. There was a time when education was affordable or nearly free and those days are almost over. Without a degree, job experience, and lots of luck many of those students will be paying on those loans until their death. Student loans are the one area that will follow a person to the grave with accrued interest just rolling over and over.


4. I came from the back ground of a single parent struggling to make ends meet in south California and she worked two jobs. I later helped her by turning over my own paycheck when I turned 15 -- yep I started early.  There were many times we had nearly bare cupboards. I am one of the fortunate ones who had a mother drill into me about not spending what you don’t have. Yet, she got into financial disarray over my sister’s medical bills by the time I left to be on my own. Because I had seen her worry; I made it a point to learn about budgeting once I joined the Air Force.

I currently do not own any diamonds or furs (it is way too hot for them here) but, I have multiple degrees which do not matter. Why do the degrees not matter? Simple, there are no jobs around here for 100 miles that pay more than $10 an hour and we have decided to use my talents to home school our sons. So, that is a win – win situation and outcome in my book.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions. Mal

So how are ya'lls slices of heaven?