Farm life and Semi-ER

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JWJones
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Location: Oregon
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by JWJones »

horsewoman wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:50 pm
It strikes me as kind of funny that being a seamstress is bringing so much work my way right now - everyone warned me not to learn that trade 25 years ago because it had no future.
We make soap, and business is booming, not only with individual buyers, but retail accounts as well. We have actually picked up several new retail accounts just since the pandemic began. The online store averages three orders per day. Talk about being in the right trade at the right time! It seems the ability to sew and make soap are cornerstones of civilized life. :P

7Wannabe5
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Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am
Location: Clinton River Watershed

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Lol- Many of the microbreweries/distillers in my neck of the woods very quickly repurposed themselves by pumping out alcohol based hand sanitizer instead of beverages.

horsewoman
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Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

The funniest thing happened - the owner of the tailor shop messaged me, completely appalled because she had just realized that I had not got my pay for the last three months. There was some hitch with the standing order at the bank. She asked why in heaven's name I did not say anything?! I sheepishly had to admit that I hadn't noticed it at all. It is a smallish amount (not quite €200 a month) and it really did not register with me. On the one hand this is funny because it just shows how little money matters to me at this point, but on the other hand it was a good reminder to pay more attention, to avoid being fleeced or losing money due to carelessness.

In other news, I have been on a rug-making binge the last few days, to use up more of my superfluous fabric stash. We have tiled and stone floors downstairs in most rooms, so rugs are important in this house for comfort. But we also have three dogs, so rugs need to be washed often! Bought rugs are in many cases too large or too heavy for the washing machine, so I prefer a larger amount of smaller rugs to larger ones. Making my own rugs is really the smart thing to do, even though my friend declared me crazy for taking on such exhausting projects. After all one can buy rag rugs cheaply... Yes, yes - I know.

The first carpet was really laborious to make because I had no experience. It has turned out a little floppy and I had to sew over it with the sewing machine to keep it together. It is not overly pretty, but it will serve well enough as a bath mat for our dingy little bathroom upstairs. Since it was my first rug I was fully expecting a lacklustre result and used only the ugliest fabrics I had on hand. If I can't stand to look at it after all the dogs will be happy to have it outside.

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The second one (destined for warming my feet under the desk in the living room) turned out much better. I chose three well matching fabrics for the braids, pulled the braids much tighter to avoid floppiness and watched a YouTube video on how to properly lace a braided rug.

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I have not tied it off yet because I've not decided whether to add a few rows or keep it like that. We will see after a few days of use what's best.
My old dog has already taken it for a test sleep and approves :)

The next rug I need a replacement for is in my kitchen, it gets really uncomfortable to prepare food standing on the tile floor and the old one is on its last prayers. (Also, none of us likes to wear indoor slippers!). This will be a braided rug as well, but with thinner braids, which makes it possible to link the rows with the sewing machine. Rugs really eat up a lot of fabric, and we get a real use out of them - this makes my inner renaissance woman very happy :)

7Wannabe5
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Very nice. I’ve always wanted to make one. Decades ago, I made a floppy little rug that just required tying short scraps into knots, but I can’t remember the pattern. I have breadth but very little depth in the realm of handicrafts.

ertyu
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Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by ertyu »

great improvement between rug 1 and 2! I actually really like how the colors worked out in rug 1, even though you said you used the ugliest fabric.

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Alice_AU
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Location: Sydney Australia

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Alice_AU »

@horsewoman, love the rugs! The improvement between first and second is huge. Makes me immediately regret that I’be been ruthlessly throwing away old tshirts - they might have been good for this too...

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

The last week was pretty hellish at work, our little company is crumbling due to serious issues between the two CEOs. It remains to be seen if I still have a job in three months time. I'm not worried about the money aspect but I very much liked the work, so that's a bummer. It looks like I'll be kept on by one of the two, but right now nothing is certain. Avoiding getting sucked into the drama is my main concern at this point.
Whenever I'm stressed I'll try to spend some alone time at our brook. It's my favourite place in the world, and frankly the main reason I agreed to buy this rickety pile of a farm over a decade ago.
We've had a very wet spring and summer so far, so I was not much down at my little island of peace. Turns out, the place where I usually park my beach lounger was totally overrun by Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and stinging nettles! Those two have formed an unholy coalition to keep me out, but I got to work with thick work gloves, clearing some of this jungle... I got stung a lot, but I valiantly persevered :)

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Next time I come down I can hide in a field of stinging nettles from the world. Very appealing at the moment!

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Relaxing after a job well done :) Now everything is right again with the world, at least for a while!

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ertyu
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by ertyu »

This looks so peaceful thank you for sharing these pictures

Alphaville
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Alphaville »

wow, that is beautiful

Frita
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Frita »

I am sorry to hear about the unnecessary drama at your work. Hopefully, things can resolve quicker rather than months later with your position still intact and the working environment not permanently damaged.

Nothing like kicking back after some physical work, it looks lovely!

horsewoman
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Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@bigato - yes they are indeed edible, there is a recipe called "nettle spinach". My MIL made some a few years ago, it was not a hit with us, I'm afraid. But maybe, now that I have my fancy-shmancy Kitchenaid blender, I might give it a whirl myself!

@frita it looks like I will keep my job, plus I might be able to switch permanently to home office after the company is restructured, which I'd like very much. The boss who likes to keep me on is very supportive and tries her best to keep me out of the drama, so it is not really good, but not as bad as it could be. All the things I like in a small company can very easily turn bad, it seems!

Frita
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Frita »

Yea to keeping your job, getting to work from home in the near future, and having a boss who watches your back! It is too bad about the drama because such things seem to be fixable, especially in a small organization.

horsewoman
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Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Today I'm a little bit naughty - the first time I'm writing a post during working hours! Things are winding down here at the office and I have very little to do until the company breaks up completely and I'll start anew with one of my current two bosses next month.
bigato wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:05 pm
Do you mean this stinging nettles? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urtica_dioica
It's edible! So much free food!
DH made a tasty dish yesterday with the nettles - spaghetti with roasted sunflower seeds and nettles, fried in a pan with olive oil. It was very good! DJH says it reminded him for some reason of the fish dishes he ate in Indonesia, and I thought it smelled like our favourite Asian restaurant.
One nice side effect of my pretty strict intermittent fasting is that DH has picked up some of the cooking, which used to be firmly my domain. But ever since I started fasting, I skip so many meals that I have lost much of my drive to cook at all. If anyone reading this is on the fence about IF – do it! It is the greatest thing! I follow the 16/8 method – at the beginning I had my last meal of the day at 18:00 and breakfast at 10:00, but while I consistently lost weight it was a tad difficult to maintain the break. I always got cravings for sweets around 20:00 and often caved in. These days my last meal is around 15:30 and breakfast at 9:00 – for me this is very easy to maintain (no cravings at all) and I’m still losing weight. I was never overweight but there have been some well-padded areas around my middle region, they are melting away like crazy!
Additionally to the weight loss I can manage my severe silent reflux + histamine intolerance pretty well this way without taking any meds. I’m totally sold and can’t see myself ever going back to eating all day.

In farm news, we are battling a huge patch of thistles on our pasture. A few years ago, there was a severe flooding in our area and ever since the thistles are thriving on the flooded meadow. We assume that some seeds got transported by the water onto our lands. Those things are mean! Even with full gear (which is not pleasant at all in the height of summer!) one gets scratched up pretty badly while pulling the roots up. But since it is important to get them out before they bloom, DH (and me a little bit helping) has been diligently working away a few hours each day, and the end is in sight - at least the tall ones will be gone. There will be surely countless small ones that are hidden in the tall grass, so this will be a long-time effort.
This meadow was earmarked for making hay this year but because of the thistle-explosion we reconsidered that. The meadow is on pretty wet ground (between two bodies of water) so it takes forever for the hay to get dry in best circumstances, and the thistles would make that even worse. So the horses will graze on that meadow and we will mow another one. Making hay is such a psychological stress each year (will it dry fast enough? Will it rain? Will we be able to get it into the barn before an inevitable thunderstorm?.), but our pitiful herd of 3,5 horses cannot eat all that much grass, so it is necessary.

We need to pluck raspberries this week as well, but DH is so fed up with thorns in any shape that I`ll do that alone. The joys of farming 😊

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

My spreadsheet is done for the first half of the year, we spent on average €2650 a month for 3 people (including €220 monthly fee for private school), 3.5 horses, 3 medium-sized dogs and 2 cats. Not too bad, if I may say so myself.

Also included is €133 a month for the wood splitter we bought in January for €4800. So far I did not split up large purchases over more years, but since it comes up here all the time I'll give it a whirl. Indeed, I know that I'm supposed to do it and how to do it (business accounting background) but I never feel like bothering with all that stuff in my private records. Just to be contrary I did not appreciate the wood splitter over 6 years like it is advised in the charts for tax reasons, but used 3 years. We will use this thing for the next 20 years probably, and I'm not keen on dragging the monthly amount along for years in my spreadsheet.

Anyway, the wood splitter was the only larger purchase this year - apart from my kitchen aid blender, but this was only €320, so I put it in full.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Today I've had my first day in my home office! How delightfully efficient it is - I woke up without an alarm, dressed, brushed my teeth, grabbed a bottle of water and got to work.
My family and all my indoor pets dropped by for short visits, so I had actually more social interaction than at a regular morning at the office. But I was very productive all in all, and since I didn't leave the house it feels as if I wasn't at work at all.
I'm sure some downsides will emerge after a while, but I think I'm very well suited for working from home. I'll have to go into the office now and then until end of September, since the dismantling/reorganisation of the company goes slowly due to legal stuff. Afterwards it's home office all the time.

Two weeks ago we've had a live gig with my band, that was nice even though it was of course a little tense with everyone keeping all restrictions and stuff in mind. Unfortunately infections are picking up again in Germany, so I suppose this will have been our last gig this year. We'll see! Considering the devastating side effects of the virus I'd rather not have anyone get infected at one of our concerts. It's sad if we can't play but not the end of the world.

We're eating lots of produce from our garden, cucumbers, salads, beans and tons of herbs. The tomatoes are still green, but we'll have a few ripe ones soon. I've harvested green beans and raspberries for the freezer, and the blackberries will soon be ripe for picking. My MIL has lots of currant bushes, the currants are in the freezer as well. The mixed berries yield a delicious jelly.

I've recently read somewhere (maybe here on the forum?) that one can make jelly from crabapple fruit. We have had such a tree for years but since the fruit is pretty inedible raw I never thought of processing it. But our sort is so bitter, even the horses leave the tiny apples alone (they sell their soul for any kind of apples usually!). So I'm not sure about crabapple jelly...

Frita
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Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Frita »

Live music?! I am so jealous. Hopefully, you can continue.

We have many crabapples around here. They do make okay jelly, just lots of sugar. A pinch of salt and flavoring (vanilla or cinnamon) would also help with the bitterness. They have natural pectin so you can cook it down. Some people around here make crabapple applesauce with sugar. (We try to not eat a lot of sugar. When processing regular apples, I use none.). Happy cooking!

WingsOnFire
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Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:24 pm
Location: Finland

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by WingsOnFire »

I've made pancakes / crepes with nettles, they are very good! We eat them with lingonberry jam here. The same as spinach crepes. You can also make nettle soup. Crabapple jelly sounds interesting :)

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

The crab-apple jelly project has been shelved for the time being, since I took stock of the jam I still have in my cupboard from last year. There is still plenty and all the berries in the freezer will yield enough.

I've just updated my spreadsheet for July, in 2020 we are averaging 2700 EURO a month in expenses so far for our motley crew of humans and animals.
Next month I'll transition into full-time home office, which means even less money for gas. We have been on and off talking about reducing to one car, but in the end it is not so much money compared to the convenience the second car affords us. I suppose it will rather be the case that we will stay on 2 cars when our daughter starts to drive in a few years, as opposed to getting a third one, which is quite normal hereabouts (every person in the family has a dedicated car).

I realized that I have not looked into our checking accounts for 6 weeks, since I last updated my spreadsheet. Keeping it consistently for 2 years now has really done away with all the anxieties I had regarding the future (which I mentioned at the start of my journal). Especially if one has multiple income streams it is not so easy to keep track of all the flows in ones head, so writing it down was and is very therapeutic.
It kind of feels that money is solved. The current Wheaton level discussions in various journals have got me thinking if I went up somewhat? It has been feeling different for a few months now. I used to stress a lot about the future and money and now I simply don't. Money washes in, money flows out and every month a nice little pile of leftovers stays back on our accounts. Some goes into ETFs and the rest stays in cash, for the possible purchase of a house/flat to rent out in the future. We have zero debt and live (in our humble opinion) like kings. If someone gave me a million Euros the only thing I'd purchase is an electric harp, there is nothing otherwise I'd like to have that I don't own or do that I can't do now.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by classical_Liberal »

@horsewoman
You're living the life you want and the income flows in excess naturally from activities you enjoy. If push comes to shove you have varied income sources that could be tapped into more, and you have the ability to maintain a more self-sufficient life. This is semi-ERE dreamland, IMO.

horsewoman
Posts: 523
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@c_l it certainly feels that way :)

Tales from the jungle gym

Almost a year ago we've had a bad bark-beetle infestation in our woods. There were over 30 trees affected, most of them larger spruce trees. Unfortunately the whole of Germany and Bavaria in particular has been hit hard by bark-beetles (due to non-native spruce tree monoculture, this tree is not well suited to the dry climate of the last decade), so the price for wood is low and it is hard to get rid of it in a timely manner.

A few days ago the guy who owns the wood lot next to ours called us that even more trees are affected. Our woodlands are unfortunately around 11 miles (18 km) away from our farm, so we are not there constantly.
The last time we engaged the service of a wood processing company, since 30 trees are not manageable with our equipment and available manpower (mainly DH!). It was necessary but we didn't like it. Apart from the expensive bill (it eats up most of the proceeds from the wood) it is hard on the land. The huge and heavy machines destroy the ground and everything in their wake.
This time around DH cut down 16 trees so far. It is back-breaking work but manageable just so.

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While felling the affected spruce trees a pine got damaged, so DH had to cut it down as well. The tree trunks have been pulled away but the branches and the brush wood needs to be cleared. The trees mostly fell into a neighbours' lot (ours is a very narrow rectangle at this part), and due to the overabundance of wood no one is interested in taking the brush wood for wood chips. Until recently it was enough to make huge piles of brush wood and people would be happy to pick it up, these days everyone is saying "no, thanks". So we have to manually pull the smaller branches into our wood and spread it over the floor. It is hard work but good fertilizer. The larger branches are processed for firewood, which we actually don't need, but there is no other way to gt rid of it. Due to forest laws and the beetles we can't leave the larger branches in the wood lot.
(Fun fact - I had to look up the German word for "brush wood" to translate it, for I actually never used anything but the Bavarian word all my life :lol: It has been said that my English is better than my High German, which might actually be true :lol: I'm such a country bumpkin!)


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My husband sorts the trunks for transport with the tractor, while I have been clearing off the brush wood. We only have one large enough trailer so there is a lot of driving to and fro involved.

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There are still a few days of hard work ahead of us. Fortunately my husbands cousin comes to stay with us for a few weeks, and he'll help. Hopefully we'll get rid of the wood without too much hassle and a small profit for our labours.
I try to see it as a good thing, we get fire wood and a good work out :) The whole situation is pretty sad, but we have to deal with the fact that those before thought it a good idea to destroy the typical lush German forests and plant spruce monoculture.

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