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...............Two Chicks On A Farm......Our New Blog

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dig the well before you are thirsty. ~Chinese Proverb

Good Morning from Harmony Acres, USA.  I am so excited about spring which arrives on March 20th not too happy about daylight savings time (March 11th).  However, when I can work outside till 9 p.m. before it gets dark, then I will be happy, I think....

The weatherman says it's going to rain tonight, so today I am trying to get all the laundry, dishes, pet feeding dishes and anything else that requires more than a couple of gallons of water done.  Why? you ask.  Because when it rains here, we have very little drainage in our community and it can get a little dicey. You know what I mean?  I could put in drainage ditches but it has no place to go but across the fence on my neighbor.  Not a good idea.

Sorry! Once again, I am rambling.  What I want to share with you today is how we went from very uncomfortable to very comfortable financially digging our well one small shove full at a time.  In these uncertain times, it is absolutely essential that we be prepared for whatever economic climate we may experience. Over the past year, we have made many small changes that have really added up for us. 

These are the top 10 money savings tips for our home and our Simple Living lifestyle:

 1.  Beck and I are still couponing.  It has become a way of life and we love the challenge. If you are not couponing, you have missed the money boat! Our 3" coupon binder is now more full than empty and our freezer and pantry are also more full than empty.  Our checking and savings accounts are also more full than empty (not rich yet, but comfortable).  There are some weeks that I don't even have to leave home to purchase anything! We always save over half (usually a lot more, 78-86% is not unusual) on our grocery bill by using coupons and buying what is on sale. I love buying name brand cereal for 50 cents. Becky's speciality is Walgrens.  Even some of the checkers can't believe how little she pays! We also shop Dollar General using coupons.  Just wait til I plant my vegetable garden this year! Will save lots more and be able to "put food by".  How exciting is that?

 2.  Swagbucks is another way I earn a little money from home.  At this site, I can watch videos, do surveys, snag Swag Codes, play games, search the web and various other task to earn points. When we accumulate 450 swagbucks we receive a $5 credit from Amazon.  We chose this option because Maggie, who thinks she is a princess, eats two cartons of Cesar's (a little pricey for so little) a day plus dry dog food. We order it from Amazon (we are "prime" customers so there is free shipping and two day delivery) and using our Swagbuck credit brings the cost down to about $8 a month.

 3.  There is a timer on our hot water heater with a manual override that I rarely use. This one is huge! You wouldn't leave a kettle on the stove 24/7 just in case you decided you wanted a cup of tea would you? Think about it.  A tankless hot water heater is on my wish list. 

 4.  I only run  the dishwasher when it is full.  Our kitchen is about the size of a postage stamp so it must be kept tidy and clean.  Dirty dishes go directly into the dishwasher to wait for a full load.  We will be taking out a wall this spring to enlarge the kitchen.  Beck and I are both great cooks so we deserve a nice kitchen to work in.

 5.  I only wash a full load of laundry.  This is never a problem around here with pet bedding needing washing daily.

 6.  We only use those funny looking squiggly lights or L.E.D.  These produce enough light at a fraction of the cost that even someone as blind as me can see clearly.

 7.  Lights are off if no one is in the room. We also use power strips to turn off power to computers and T.V.'s when not in use.  An automatic strip (senses when appliance not being used and turns off automatically) is on my wish list too.

 8.  We visit our local library (often).  If we find a book we can't live without, we order it from Amazon (remember we get free shipping).

 9.  Using our WII, we watch Netflics on our T.V. for $7.99 a month instead of going to the movies (comes in real handy when there is nothing on but reruns).  Our popcorn was bought with a coupon so a box of three packages was less than a dollar. The soda pop was on sale 4 (12 packs) for $10 which is bout 21 cents a can.  And then there's the wow factor! I can watch it in my jammies with my dogs and cats in my lap.

10.  A programmable thermostat for our central heat and air (had to buy a new heat pump to replace our 1976 version of a central unit) that is set on 69 degrees in cold weather.  I can always put on more clothes as I need to or turn one burner on our natural gas stove.

Oh! Just one more thing. We have all our inside and outside pets fixed so we don't have to support multiple generations of animals.  Pushka was the latest to go see Stacey (Hubler Vet Clinic) and get a little snip snip.

We have so much food stored that there is no need to go out to eat unless we just want a little treat.

These are all things we bought with coupons and will use.  We have added a freezer which is almost full of meat that I bought at a "reduced for quick sale" price, brought home, repackaged and stored in freezer. Also, frozen veggies, pizzas, ham, turkey, bread, and on and on.  I won't even tell you how much toilet paper and shampoo we have.  Let's just say we'll be clean on top and bottom for many months.
Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise
~George Herbert

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. ~Maori Prover

The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun. Ralph Nader 
A side glance at the sun.

Hello from Harmony Acres!  It's a new year and another opportunity for me to get right what I messed up on last year.  Also, I will be exploring new territory for me in all things solar (with the help of my long suffering, dearly beloved, only brother, David).  I cannot believe the wonderfully creative "do it yourself" solar ideas that are out there.  Here is a link to just one of them:  BuildItSolar

This is the year Becky and I will greatly reduce our "carbon footprint" and keep a great deal of Beck's hard earned cash in our pocket instead of the electric company's.  I have always been willing to pay our electric bill with a minimum of fuss.  However, the line on my bill that says "power cost adjustment" really pisses me off.  I can just see some fat cat in a land far away living large on our dime (more like our dollars). Power Cost Adjustment my ---! It's just another way of saying "Hey, we haven't gouged you enough, so here's a little more". So we have to take it or go all American on them and create totally ingenious ways to do it ourselves.

Well, that's enough yackity yack, let's get down to business.  David is converting Becky's exercise bike into a power generator.  She is so excited!  Even if we only generate 1 kw (we anticipate much more) that will be one less we have to pay for. "A penny saved  is a penny earned."  Peddle power also will burn fat calories which seem to have settled in my tush.  Oh, well! One can't expect to be old, beautiful, slim and smart without plastic surgery, hair dye, alien body and brain transplant, can one?

 Found this pic on the web. This is our goal.  Becky peddles and I compute!
In the meantime, our central heat and air unit was on it's last leg (installed in 1976 when house was built) and gobbling up kilowatts like it was on steroids.  So we bit the bullet and bought a new heat pump ($5300 but the old duct work was still in excellent condition so it did not have to be replaced).  It immediately cut our electric usage dramatically.  However, much as I love having a warm bedroom now, when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, I still use one burner on my natural gas stove.  It gives me the kind of heat that I can back my tush up to. 
13HPX Heat Pump
I am also thinking about upgrading our old wood burning stove with something more clean burning and energy efficient.  Found a cool calculator to help me decide.  It will appear at the bottom of the page.
I saved the best news for last. We are going to be installing four solar panels to help offset the amount of electric we consume.  David will be doing this project in a couple of weeks.  Will show you the progress of this endeavor in pics.  He often visits and makes purchases from Missouri Wind and Solar.
I will keep you updated as we continue "going green"  but for now I need a Dr. Pepper and a cigarette so I can meditate.  Yes, yes, yes.  The Simple Life is a lifestyle that allows you to do more with less.  Life is good on so many levels.  My soul sings even when my back hurts.

Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul. 
~Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
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