Farm life and Semi-ER

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Sclass
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Sclass » Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:24 pm

My mom raised chickens. They were a great garbage disposal system. I feel bad looking at all the scraps I toss out today. Eggs were awesome. I miss those yolks that stand up like spheres.

And I have really strong memories about the slaughter. It was hard on a five year olds eyes. I spoke to some friends about this during Ramadan. Halal goat had the same effect on them as kids.

Said between bites of mutton curry. :lol:

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:12 am

bigato wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:00 pm
It's not bad to have them around, they hunt spiders, scorpions and even small snakes. Did you know that they are more intelligent than dogs? They have a very elaborate social life when compared to other animals. Also, they love having the back of their heads scratched. If they learn how good it is, they will come ask you for more :)
The most dangerous animal in these parts is my dog, so I do not really need them as pest control :) The wildlife in Bavaria is very mild-mannered, fortunately. No scorpions, toxic spiders or dangerous snakes anywhere.
I like to have chicken around, but in winter it is really a lot of effort to feed and water them. I need to carry water to their shed and buy feed at the store (--> lugging around heavy sacks of grain). Totally acceptable when they produce eggs, but not so much when it turns out that one does not really need eggs for anything. It was nice while it lasted but I'll not be sad when our yard is no longer riddled with chicken poop!
Sclass wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:24 pm
My mom raised chickens. They were a great garbage disposal system. I feel bad looking at all the scraps I toss out today. Eggs were awesome. I miss those yolks that stand up like spheres.

And I have really strong memories about the slaughter. It was hard on a five year olds eyes. I spoke to some friends about this during Ramadan. Halal goat had the same effect on them as kids.

Said between bites of mutton curry. :lol:
My dogs have already volunteered for scraps disposal. They have wonderfully adapted to living in a vegetarian household and will fight about vegetable scraps like it is sausage. DH also has a elaborate compost heap project going which takes a lot of kitchen scraps.

My gran often slaughtered chicken and pigeons when I was a kid. The smell of chicken soup always takes me straight back to her backyard where she dunked the beheaded birds into buckets with hot water, plucking the feathers. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of chicken soup.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:14 am

Back to ER! I've been reading up on some investment lingo.

Mutual funds - I learned that there are different kinds (stocks, commodities, bond-based funds, mixed funds....)
In Germany about every investment site advises against investing in mutual funds for people like me. ETFs are the hot thing here it seems.

What I'm not completely clear at this point is how bonds and funds go together. I suppose on can buy individual bonds of a company or a government, or one can buy a fund that deals in bonds. I'm a little lost in translation here. It'll probably get clear as soon as I'm getting deeper into the topic.
Because of those uncertainties I'll stick to accumulating some cash until I know more.

I have some 3k in a real estate fund (Grundbesitz Europa) which I think is on a downwards trend for some time now (it was sold to us by a "financial adviser" 8 years ago or so, when we needed a place to park some money. I had more in it but pulled most of it out when we needed a larger sum for the farm). The fund has an asset-based fee/load of 5%, which google tells me is not so unusual in Germany. I need to find out if this fund is making sense at all. I don't need the 3k, so in theory I could let it sit until I'm old. OTOH it might earn more interest for me elsewhere.


REIT - these seem very attractive to me, but I've only skimmed the surface. This will be my next area of reading up.

Phew! This is almost as dry as learning book keeping in school...

bigato
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:07 am

A fund is a team managing your money. Bonds are lending that money directly.

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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by jacob » Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:49 am

When you read up on stuff, you should prioritize local (German) sources because of the tax consequences. For example the REIT tax-structure is particular to the US and Germany might (will likely) not recognize it which makes it null and void for your situation.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:14 am

I understand of course what a fund is, but was not entirely clear on the difference between bonds and stocks. In the meantime I hit on the brilliant notion of googling it, so now I know more ;)
bigato wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:07 am
A fund is a team managing your money. Bonds are lending that money directly.
But you can buy bonds individually or with a fund same as with stocks. At least in Germany there are "Anleihefonds" (Anleihe is German for bond), either with companies or the state pension fund.
jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:49 am
When you read up on stuff, you should prioritize local (German) sources because of the tax consequences. For example the REIT tax-structure is particular to the US and Germany might (will likely) not recognize it which makes it null and void for your situation.
Sure, that's why it's so "hard" (not really, I'm just whining because it's a little bit boring), trying to understand what you guys are talking about, then translating it into a German framework. But like with everything it gets easier after doing some groundwork.

REITs have been approved on the German market since 2007, with our own rules and tax regulations. It seems pretty straightforward, especially if one keeps the money in Germany.

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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:01 am

I'd say that you won't really "buy" bonds through a fund; instead you give your money to the fund to manage. You may happen to choose a fund which deals funds as part of their strategy, and thus you would be exposed to them. But the choosing and buying and selling and holding of bonds and when to do each of are all under the fund responsibility. How much of the fund is bonds, and what is their strategy, will vary from fund to fund. But I guess that by now you already understand this much.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:19 am

Not much happened on the investment learning front. The Google page on my mobile keeps showing me alarmist articles about loosing all my money, regardless of where I invest. I started to avoid scrolling through it, because I really do not need to be MORE uncertain about stocks and co.
But the main reason for not learning more is SUMMER - I really do not want to sit in front of a screen all day long when its gloriously sunny outside. Plus I'm out and about with my band every weekend for our summer gigs. That's the life!

We have decided to update our existing rented flat with some of the surplus money, to be able to charge more rent in the long run. The heating situation is not ideal, so spending some money on a modern wood pellet stove seems to be sensible. There is no central heating in any of our old buildings here, we heat both houses with individual wood stoves. So we can only take on renters who don't mind it to carry wood up to the first floor, and all the bother that comes with a regular wood stove. Our present renter is fine with it, but I think he'll not stay long-term, for personal reasons (He alluded to moving back to his home county a few times already).

The rest we will save up for the already mentioned remodel of our house, to create a second rented unit. All this fear mongering makes me really wary of investing in anything else than real estate. Especially since the space is sitting empty anyway.

And finally some numbers for the first half of the year:

Income: 27.415 €
Expenses: 24.155 €
Savings: 6550 € (we got a money present from my FIL that went into savings)

This is a savings rate of 23%. Not bad on two modest part-time incomes, but we'll get this further up. We're both committed.

My boss told me yesterday that we'll have performance review in September and that I will get a raise. Nice! I've also started to sell stuff on ebay and classified adds online, not so much for the money but to get clutter out of the house.

Pretty boring update, but at the moment I'm coasting through life with a cool drink (or a microphone) in hand, which suits me absolutely fine!

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:18 pm

Last weekend I squashed & broke my right middle finger. I learned some things...
1) don't sit on a flight case to close it without keeping track of your fingers.
2) people have a lot of funny things to say to someone with a HUGE middle finger.
3) you need your right hand for a lot of things!
4) my grocery budget is dependent on me being healthy.

My husband is to lazy to cook and since I was out of order the last few days we have been eating pre-made food (frozen pizza, ect.) or sandwiches all the time. My kid (and DH, too) is happy (junk food! yeah!) but my grocery budget is shot. I spend 285 € a month on average, today we are at 217 €, and there is a lot of August left!
The other reason for the high spending is my re-flux condition, I've finally found something that makes it better. There is a bottled water with a very high amount of hydrocarbonate that eases almost all my symptoms. I abhor the idea of bottled water but lately I've had reactions even when drinking regular tap water, so I'll gladly pay for the mineral water for the moment. Since I save a lot of money for over the counter medicine it is not so bad, but I'm thinking about taking the expense for the water (9€ for 12 bottles) out of my grocery budget and putting it into "health".
For some reason hydrocarbonate in pill form does not work, that would be less expensive.

Anyway, this situation has me slightly worried about my grocery/food system. It is too vulnerable, and I don't like that. I need to give it some thought how to prepare for situations like this.

bigato
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:35 pm

Have you considered that maybe the vulnerability is not so much on it depending on your manual labour, but instead it is related to the roles and relationships in your family?

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:01 pm

bigato wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:35 pm
Have you considered that maybe the vulnerability is not so much on it depending on your manual labour, but instead it is related to the roles and relationships in your family?
Yes of course it is, that is very clear to me! But since I'm the only one who is interested in eating healthy and frugally I need to come up with a system that works. Cooking/grocery shopping is my domain because he has an addiction to candy and pre-made/fast food (he'd live on frozen pizza and chocolate if left to himself!). I think his ADHD has something to do with it, he craves the quick "high" food with high sugar and fat gives him. He has zero impulse control when it comes to eating junk food. I fear he'll get diabetes soon and he is in this aspect a very bad role model for our daughter. Ironically he is thin as stick so I have very few points to argue, besides the diabetes...

He eats the healthy stuff without (much) complaint as long as I'm the one cooking it. When I'm at work he cooks for lunch pasta with ready made sauce (either bought or canned by me), or a stir fry. But that's it. Whenever he is out and about he'll buy stacks of frozen pizza and white bread, blowing my food budget. And of course our daughter gets recalcitrant because she wants to eat pizza, too. We do not fight much but this a constant point of dissent in our marriage. I try to teach my daughter how to cook properly, but otherwise I'm on my own in this regard.

bigato
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:32 pm

Yeah, that's a hard fight. I can definitely relate to him, I dread so much the work of preparing food. When I was married, I'd do anything to not have to deal with it. On the other side, I worry enough about my health and finances that nowadays I can't see any other option better than cooking at home. But I have no clue what to do about the dynamics though :(

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figmenter
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by figmenter » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:23 am

I wonder why you call it "my food budget". Maybe make your husband responsible and see how this affects his choices.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:02 am

figmenter wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:23 am
I wonder why you call it "my food budget". Maybe make your husband responsible and see how this affects his choices.
On a farm you need to divide the labor/responsibilities in a pretty strict way, otherwise you will a) not get anything done and b) fight all the time who has to do what. From an efficiency standpoint it makes sense to allot tasks regarding to skills/interest.
My husband is a hard worker, has a tremendous physical strength and the endurance to see taxing physical tasks through.
I love to make lists, plans and pinch pennies. Furthermore I like to cook. So it makes sense that the food budget is mine to manage.

What happens if I make it his responsibility I have seen the last ten days - he spends an ridiculous amount of money on frozen convenience food or take-out. DH has very little interest in money or saving, and since we have at the moment so and so many thousand Euros in our checking account he figures there is no need to save all the time. He is ab ISFP and lives very much in the here and now. Combine that with an addiction to junk food and it spells disaster.
bigato wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:32 pm
Yeah, that's a hard fight. I can definitely relate to him, I dread so much the work of preparing food. When I was married, I'd do anything to not have to deal with it. On the other side, I worry enough about my health and finances that nowadays I can't see any other option better than cooking at home. But I have no clue what to do about the dynamics though :(
There is no real alternative to cooking at home. I think I need to get smarter about having home cooked meals in the freezer. Plus some boxed stuff that I can make even when not 100% healthy to avoid his going shopping.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:23 am

Not much happening at the moment in regards to investing. I'm totally stumped with the whole negative interest thing that is happening. My news feed is swamped with articles about how the "German saver" is robbed of his money, pleas to Angela Merkel to "save our savings" and that the only way to invest which won't loose you money is real estate. Apparently a lot of Germans have large-ish/huge sums of cash sitting in checking accounts with no idea what to do with it. It seems to be true for me and most people in my family. So I'll wait and see how that whole thing is going to turn out.

On a happier note - since we are now completely loan free we bumped up our savings rate from a 25% average to around 45%. Very nice! We should be able to keep this up for the next 4 years (afterwards a relatively large junk of income will fall away since the state funded promotion for our solar power has a time limit.) Enough time to work out how to replace either the income or reduce costs.

My worries about my food budget have been largely unfunded (which is of course often the way with worries). I was able to tide over the last two weeks of the month with "shelf-cooking" - i.e. making do mostly with pantry stuff, so I went only 15 € over my maximum account.

I've been recording our expenses for almost 2 years now and looking back, I realized a few things:
- a lot of the gadget purchases (used PC, used digital cam, action cam) have been pretty unnecessary. We hardly use these things. Even though most was bought used, it was money needlessly spent.
- I got rid of my amazon shopping habit almost completely and replaced it with buying stuff used (see above).
- I have a large category of "stuff" (over 400 € this year) where I did not take note what the bought items were --> it makes sense to be more detailed here, considering the insights I'm gaining.
- I was shocked how much I spend on clothing (43 €/month on average). A lot of our stuff is free hand-me-downs, but our autistic daughter is very particular when it comes to shoes and underwear (fit, not style). I'd rather purchase the stuff she can wear without having meltdowns instead of fighting all the time with her. She outgrows shoes at an alarming pace, but this must naturally slow down in the next few years. DH spend 20€ on a couple of new shirts on sale, because DD was embarrassed to be seen with him in his holey old shirts. That's all of his clothes spending in 2019 so far. "Hobo" style is a lot less expensive compared to "boho-style!!!) ;)
- My performance clothes are another item in this category. I'm always on the lookout for used clothes that fit my stage persona, but it is difficult. Since I get photographed a lot on stage I do not feel comfortable with wearing the same stuff over and over. So when I see something in a store or online that fits the bill I get it, mostly when things are on sale. It is a non-essential expense but one I'm mostly OK with, considering that by now I have a nice stock of outfits assembled. But I can do better in this regard.
- we spent 75 €/month on average on travel/day trips so far - not a lot compared to most families, but still more as I'd have estimated.

Very interesting! I'm very pleased how much benefit I'm getting out of my spread sheet. It is a lot of work to maintain it, but obviously worth it!

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:53 am

I love September! It's my favorite month (weather wise). A few disjointed thoughts:

In the last weeks I've given working more hours a try (4 mornings, 8-13) and I do not like it at all. Luckily I negotiated a trial period before committing to more hours, because it became clear to me that 15-16 hours is my sweet spot. I'd rather have more time than more money. My bosses are very understanding and we are looking now into hiring an additional person for one or two mornings a week to manage the work load. My husband joked that "I'm getting a secretary" - which is funny considering that I'm the secretary :)

We have started to actively look for boarding horses again. Considering the many painful (and expensive) lessons we have learned while having 10 boarding horses at once we are going to be picky, so it may take a while. At the moment I'm leaning towards 2 boarding horses, preferably by a pair of owners who amuse themselves and don't wan't to spend a lot of time with us. This was a major hassle in the last years, we were reduced to hiding in our own house so that the horse owners would leave us alone. I don't want to make a real income with that venture (too much stress) but it wold be nice to offset the cost of our own horses (200 € month on average running expenses for the 4 of them).

The fruit harvest is pretty paltry this year, due to drought. This is the second year in a row with very little rain and our fruit trees are suffering. There is fruit but it is rotting on the branches before it gets ripe. So sad! We've had a decent harvest with blackberrys (turned into jam) and pears (soon to be canned purée). No peaches, plums, apricots and apples this year :/

DH planted tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse, and they did well. The vegetables / herbs outside did not well, very few beans and peppers. Usually I grow enough herbs to tide my over the winter with dried goods, but this year I've often did not even have enough fresh herbs for cooking. This whole climate change business is really worrisome. If someone had told me 10 years ago that water would be scarce in Bavaria, I'd have not believed it. a few communities have banned the watering of lawn (which I salute!) and I know some families whose well has dried up. We get our drinking water from the community but not everyone out here is connected to the public water supply. Unfortunately most people do not realize how dire the situation already is...

We have been very good with curtailing unnecessary spending this month so far. Our young horse is now old enough for serious training, so most our our free time is spent outside with the horses, without wasting money (I realize the irony that I'm considering a horse "free entertainment").
Sorting our spending in categories has been a healthy shock for me, same as the realization that most of my purchases this year have not given me any lasting happiness.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:58 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:12 am

@horsewoman: I think these are my weakest arguments because, as Jacob points out, due to interest, a non-investor will always work more. Stronger arguments are yet to come though...

Also, I'm interested in your particular situation, if you don't mind sharing. How long have you worked part-time for? Do you have any savings? Any investments? What do you do with the extra time?
Sometimes I think it does not matter what arguments I bring to the table, my brother will never "get" my lifestyle. It doesn't matter in the end because we like each other so much that we are able to have disagreements without damage to our relationship. But it was very interesting reading through the responses in Jin+Guices journal!

To answer your questions @Jin+: I dropped out of FT when I've had a baby in 2008. Here in Germany you get around one year state funded maternity leave with around 60 or 70 % (I don't remember perfectly) of your last salary, so it makes very much sense for women to work FT before having a child/children! (BTW fathers can claim this time off as well, either share the year with their spouse/GF or stay home with the child full time. Very few guys do this, though. My brother would have liked to but he felt it would hurt his career. Sad stuff!)

Since I'm a pretty "high-energy-individual" childcare alone could not fulfill me for more than a few months. So I started a business from home (sewing and selling the stuff online). We've had a few boarding horses on our farm since around 2006, and since I was a stay-at-home-mom I started to take over more work from DH and we gradually upped the number of boarding horses. So from 2010 to 2018 I worked around 30 h/week from home with fluctuating income.
Somewhere along the way I lost interest in my sewing business, so I wrapped it up around 2017. We gave up our horse business in 2018 and I looked for an office PT job, which I found pretty quickly. Now I work 15 h/week, which seems to be my sweet spot. I'm really happy with my situation and hope to work there many hears. DH works 10 h/week in a well paying job. Compared to most people on this forum we make not much money from our salaried work, but we have some other income streams + the PT jobs come with health insurance.

My ample free time I filled mostly with music - took up an instrument and did some intense work on my vocal skills. Being able to put in one or two hours a day for practice enabled my to get into 2 top-notch bands even though I started out aged 29 in music. This would have never been possible with FT work, so I'm really glad things have turned out this way, and I even made a decent amount of money with music for a few years.

Regarding savings/investments - I seem to have done the most important thing in my 20s on that front - choosing a partner that has similar values with money. My husband is the least materially minded person I know. He has some impulse spending problems, but luckily only around food so it will not kill us financially - particularity since he full acknowledges that I'm more money-savvy, so he defers to my judgement with most money-related things. We saved like fiends while working FT, paid off our old farm (with his parents help) in 15 years, and did most renovation projects with reclaimed material and mostly without outside help. At this point we have saved some cash (1 year of expenses) and have some moderate pension funds, but our largest asset is our farm. We bought it very cheap and could sell it now any time for around 450.000 € - properties like ours are a hot commodity because so many people have horses hereabouts! We have discussed it - should we fall on hard times because we can no longer work PT we're fully prepared either to drastically reduce costs or to sell/rent the farm out and live very cheaply. So I'm somewhat sanguine about our future, but I am testing the waters with investing a little (ETFs at this point).

I fully admit that we're super privileged - DH comes from a very comfortable upper middle-class background with extremely generous parents, while I'm from a hardcore frugal DIY family - so we're putting his parents generosity to the best account by not squandering it!

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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by bigato » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:42 am

It sounds like a resilient situation indeed, congrats on all the hard work that led you to this position. Unrelated to that, I don't remember you mentioning growing food, which you probably do, don't you? How much of your consumption do you grow?

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:07 am

@bigato thanks, we're really ridiculously happy with our situation. All the hard work paid off!

Re: food growing - we do grow some food, but nowhere near enough to call us in any way self-sufficient. There is a small green house on our property (gotten second hand and free from my great aunt who got to old to keep it up!), a huge raised bed and I'm in charge of an old bathtub with herbs.
We also grow some beans, potatoes, green peppers, zucchini and a few stalks of corn around our garden and pond. Typically there are tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse. Most of which we eat straight as they ripe, some of it gets canned/frozen. The amounts are easily managed due to the short growing season here.

Right now we are in the process of turning a part of our garden into a fenced-in vegetable garden. There is a furrow / dent in the middle of our court yard where the previous owners used to load off the cow manure (these days manure is kept outside of the courtyard!). We reworked it into a round hole in the ground (like a pool!), which we now are filling up with wood, leaves and compost (like a "hugelkultur" in permaculture). This will be a great garden in a few years. The fence is for our dogs - they love vegetables and would eat everything!

We produce all the compost needed for our gardening endeavors with horse manure and "green waste". This is pretty neat!

Furthermore we have a plethora of fruit trees, but unfortunately most of them struggle with the rapidly changing climate. Harvests getting worse each year :(

I say "we" but actually my husband does most of this. I don't have the temperament for gardening :) He is a vegetable gardener by trade and works part-time in a plant nursery (which is also a facility for mentally/physically disabled people, he is looking after those people and works alongside with them). We get a lot of not-perfect-produce, that would have been thrown away, which is the reason that we have not a full-fledged food production at home. I try to can/freeze/process a lot of it, but I'm still learning and have a lot of discouraging setbacks in this area. I learn by doing, since my mother was never into preserving. So I prefer to grow only as much food as we can eat while fresh, it is so sad to have things go bad after all this work. But my yields are getting better each year!

Jin+Guice
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Jin+Guice » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:13 am

@horsewoman: Thanks for the reply. I think we have a lot of similarities. 15h/ week is also my sweet spot. What type of office job do you have and how did you find it?

I also fill most of my free time with music. What did you do to improve your vocal skills?

I'm also struggling with gardening and investing. Good luck on these fronts :) !

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