Farm life and Semi-ER

Where are you and where are you going?
2Birds1Stone
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

One of my favorite reusable's is to use old socks as cleaning "gloves". I place it over my hand and use it to meticulously clean my bicycle.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 7:45 pm
One of my favourite reusable's is to use old socks as cleaning "gloves". I place it over my hand and use it to meticulously clean my bicycle.
I've read about this many times but for some reason I never use socks this way. Perhaps because DH wears his socks until they are holes with some string around. He has developed a method of wearing 2 pairs over one another so that 90% of his feet are covered :) Kids socks are turned into hair ribbons, though!

Moneywise things are running smoothly. We have managed to reign in our superfluous spending - we used to blow €400 a month on generic stuff, the last 3 months we averaged €206. Food is also down about €30 a month, intermitting fasting is as good for the wallet as it is for the waist line!

We are talking a lot about "later" these days. DH does not really like to think about the future, he is firmly lodged in the here and now, but I hope to get him interested a little by gently introducing the topic again and again. My interest in investing has further waned, I have to confess. There is so much negativity in the news and the blogosphere that I feel even more paralysed than a few months ago. I dutifully read all the posts in the "Money" section here to familiarize myself with the topic, but I don't seem to find the energy to devote more time to it. This is a running theme in my life - forcing myself to learn boring (to me, at least) stuff will not work. I inhale and retain information on a high level if it interests me, otherwise nope, can't sustain any studying.

I have some real estate schemes in mind, so at this point accumulating cash is what we will do. My main interest lies in getting our expenses down, so I will focus on that. Next spring we will give it a second try to make it work with one car. One of our cars is on its last legs, we will not put any more money into it. Here in Germany you can sell old broken cars easily to Polish or Hungarian car traders who will export them. In those countries there are less stringent laws on vehicle safety. This will be an adventure with my ISFP husband, who refuses to plan ahead more than a day... If it not works, we'll get another small car old car, but I'd like to try it at least.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

bigato wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:28 am
Funny, people being a bit afraid of me is also a theme on my life. Like at the job, for example, some people don't even dare to mention me when they are joking with everybody. I'm almost never the target, although i'd take it lightly and laugh together. Yesterday a sincere friend told me that I am very confident and that this intimidates people.
I used to think that I'm simply naturally bad ass. Watching my daughter growing up I'm getting the idea that it might be partly due to autism. I have been told that I'm coming across arrogant/aloof/cold... but I'm not! I'm spending a lot of time in my head, as does my daughter. While "away" she loses total control of her facial expressions and looks really mean/pissed off. You really think twice before approaching her! I wonder if this is the case with me as well and other people on the spectrum.

It would also explain the dominatrix thing ;) which I won't start as a side business anytime soon :)

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER - garden update

Post by horsewoman »

Winter is here and the days are very short. While I like the changing seasons in our neck of the woods I'm looking forward to March when the bleakness of January and February is over. We have (or rather DH has, my participation was done earlier in the planing stage) completed our new vegetable garden. This used to be the place where the former owners offloaded their cow manure - I have no idea why anyone would do that right in front of the entrance to the main house, but well, so it was.

We keep the horse manure behind the stables and used this pit in the middle of our yard for bonfires and our ash heap. I was of the opinion that an additional garden close to the kitchen (as opposed to our greenhouse, which is on the other end of the yard) would be a better use of this space. My husband came up with the idea to put in a wall to form a tunnel, so that we can care for the garden without bending down all the time - genius!
There are some stairs already, which made this an easy thing to incorporate. He filled it up with old wood, leaves and branches, manure and compost, and covered it with straw for the winter.
The whole thing is set up like a hugelkultur, for those who are interested:) The decomposing wood will provide nutrients for the soil for years. We use this method in our large raised bed and in my herb tub and see great results with it.
So far we used only stuff we had on hand for this project, which I like especially. We plan to plant beans, peppers, peas, lettuce, corn and a few other things in it next spring.

Image

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

We've had some pretty dramatic sunrises this week. The sky was painted in hues of purple, red and gold. A perfect backdrop to the Alps. It was really beautiful and it made driving to work at this time almost a treat. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to slightly longer days and more natural light.

Semi-ER goes swimmingly. We are living mostly on one of our PT income plus some of the proceeds from our solar unit. The rest is socked away to fund my planned real estate scheme.
My husband has developed some interest in cooking, and we prepare lots of food together, which is nice. We are eating lots of lentils these days :) Today he made a salad with green lentils, white beans, white cabbage and endive. I fried patties made of oats (the left-over pulp from making oat milk), lentils, carrots and celery. Super delicious!
jacob wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 10:14 am
I'd like to see people trying to resell their stuff going through the process of listing, sending, dealing with flaky craigslisters, ... just to understand how much harder it is to get rid of things in today's marketplace than it is to acquire them. This might curb the enthusiasm for buying stuff because it sparked joy in the store.
This has been true for me. I'm not one to recklessly put stuff in the dumpster, but I have enough space to store everything that is no longer used or kaput. In the last few months I've sold some stuff and the hassle of dealing with said flaky craigslisters has definitely taught me a lesson not to get any more stuff (even if it is free). What is so difficult about using salutations and write in full sentences? Last price?! Tell last price! I'd rather sell an item for less to someone who is polite instead of those obnoxious "last price" people. Seriously!

I think I'm getting better with giving away stuff as well thanks to my recent adventures with selling. This does not come easy to me but at a certain point it is simply not worth the bother of listing stuff if it either sits ignored or you have to deal with rude people.

That being said, I made almost 400 € this week by selling a no longer played instrument plus a huge doll house that has been collecting dust for years. The impetus to sell the instrument was an idea of getting a used synthesizer that caught my eye but in the end I did not buy it. I've really learned my lesson, it seems!

I did splurge however and got new ice hockey skates. I have been torturing myself for years with my old skates (bought at the tender age of 16) because I was too cheap to buy new ones. The rumor that feet get larger with pregnancy is definitely true in my case. It was not a total loss because my daughter can now wear my old ones.

jacob
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by jacob »

I think you mean "final price"? Those bargaineers also annoy the @#$@# out of me but I understand it's cultural. In some cultures, it would be an insult not to haggle. In others (like mine), it's an imposition. My usual solution is to add 10% to my listing price and then offer 10% off if they ask. It's stupid, but it satisfies a human need. I've also had people asking for a discount AND if I could deliver to them 50km away. Sorry, I'm not that desperate. Methinks those people who are unable to type in complete sentences are smartphone people. In any case, I have a system that prevents me from investing too much planning around flakes.

I'm still guilty of "if it's free, it's for me". Poor people take in stray pets. I take in semi-broken appliances and the likes under the presumption that I'll fix it someday. I actually have a cuckoo clock from Schwartzwaelder Uhren sitting right next to me to remind me.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@jacob - yes you are right, "final price" would be the correct translation, OTOH they write it wrong in German all the time (it should be "letzter Preis?" but it is invariably "letzte Preis?") so maybe it is fitting after all. Mhhh, I never thought about the fact that haggling depends on culture. Since the most persistent hagglers seem to have trouble with the German language I suppose they hail from other countries. This is a downside of being a stay-at-home, I was never really exposed to cultures that differ greatly from mine. The last few listings where "fixed price" with a reasonable amount and I sold them quickly, so I guess this is the route I'll take in the future.

When it comes to "free stuff" my mother-in-law is the bane of my existence. She has a house stuffed full of fascinating old things (I love old things! Which she is aware of, naturally) that she wants to get rid of. So she takes it all to our place, and persuades me that I absolutely NEED this charming hat, or this oh so useful pan or that pretty little carpet... This has been going on for years but lately I have put a stop to it. The psychological strain of not being able to get rid of things has gotten too much. She is a little bit miffed, but she'll get over it, I hope.

sumac
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER - garden update

Post by sumac »

horsewoman wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 5:36 am
My husband came up with the idea to put in a wall to form a tunnel, so that we can care for the garden without bending down all the time - genius!
There are some stairs already, which made this an easy thing to incorporate. He filled it up with old wood, leaves and branches, manure and compost, and covered it with straw for the winter.
The whole thing is set up like a hugelkultur, for those who are interested:) The decomposing wood will provide nutrients for the soil for years.
The garden looks great! Looks like a pretty user-friendly setup compared to some other variations I've seen. I've wondered about whether this could work in a small commercial setting like the farm I work at, which has a lot of woody material that needs to be cleared anyway from around the deer fence. (And the water table is extremely high, so even with shallow raised beds there can be waterlogging issues in spring and fall.)

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER - garden update

Post by horsewoman »

sumac wrote:
Sat Dec 21, 2019 2:35 am
The garden looks great! Looks like a pretty user-friendly setup compared to some other variations I've seen. I've wondered about whether this could work in a small commercial setting like the farm I work at, which has a lot of woody material that needs to be cleared anyway from around the deer fence. (And the water table is extremely high, so even with shallow raised beds there can be waterlogging issues in spring and fall.)
Well, we are very excited for spring to try the set up :) I don't know if a hugelkulur would help with waterlogging, but here is the wikipedia link for further reading up on it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCgelkultur

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Happy new year everyone! We survived another New Year's Eve without any casualties - no small feat considering how many animals we have to keep save for the fireworks. The fireworks getting a little less compared to ten years ago, but I'm constantly amazed how much money people blow into the sky each year, for "tradition". Stupid³, if you ask me.

Anyway, I just finished off my 2019 spreadsheet, so without further ado, some numbers.

We earned roughly €54000 last year with 2 PT Jobs and various side hustles (mainly our solar unit and playing music). We are a household with 2 adults, 1 teen, 3 dogs, 2 cats and 4 horses.

Expenses in % - rounded up/down for convenience and in categories - I keep a more detailed tally with subcategories.
1. 25 % Expenses for our solar unit (loan, insurance, taxes) *
2. 22 % COL (Food, entertainment, clothes, instruments, health, gifts, travel)
3. 14% Housing (house is paid off, so running costs incl. taxes, insurance, internet, phones)
4. 10% Mobility (2 paid off cars, inc. insurance, maintenance, gas)
5. 9,5% Income Tax
6. 9% Animals & farm (feed, insurance, farm vehicles, fees, maintenance)
7. 6% Private school - tuition & school bus
8. 3,5 % insurance (legal, life and accident insurance)

This makes a savings rate about 28% for 2019. 2020 will be a lot higher because the costs for our solar unit are significantly lower now (*) - the loan is paid off so for the next few years we will rake in the money big time for selling power to our provider, until our contract runs out.
All in all I'm happy with those numbers. We could reduce costs in some areas, but a lot of expenses will go down naturally the next few years (private school finished, some of our senior animals dying, not replacing vehicles).
Keeping food costs down (8% of our income in 2019) will be a focus plus getting gratuitous spending lower (10% in 2019 - gadgets, instruments, clothes,...). I want to put more effort into getting rid of stuff, and source needed things either used or free, or do without.
To this end I fine-tuned how I will record spending in 2020 in the "gratuitous" category, to identify money leaks easier and for more accountability.

"Spending Money as a Failure of Imagination" - this concept Jacob mentioned in the "get rich slowly"- article so much resonates with me, and I really want to get better in this regard. Solving problems without money makes me extremely happy, but I have to be constantly on my guard not to fall into consumer behaviour. I can definitely do better, if only I pay attention.
https://www.getrichslowly.org/early-retirement-extreme/

Thanks for reading and to anyone who left comments in my journal. I find it very helpful to get feedback to my meanderings :) Joining this forum has been extremely beneficial, I have learned a lot of interesting things and concepts here!

Jin+Guice
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Jin+Guice »

@horsewoman: Happy New Year! I really enjoy reading your journal and am impressed by your permaculture and mending skills. That JLF quote really resonated with me as well.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by classical_Liberal »

Your cash flow is so much different than the average consumers. I mean, you report a savings rate, but everything is mixed together. You pay for instruments, but make money playing them. You pay for solar, but make money selling the excess. Etc.

Your situation is the definition of semi-ERE, IMO. Like, you're ERE but not FI and maintain a positive cashflow through your activities. Even though I don't want the farm life, I do want to replicate what you do, somehow. A great example to us all.

Happy New Year!

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@j+g, my permaculture skills lie mostly in managing to stay happily married to a my gardening husband, but considering the high rate of divorce that's a probably an achievement as well! :)

@c_l I'm very glad to hear that my contributions to this forum are useful to some people. It is certainly possible to get on this track without a farm, because a considerable amount of effort goes into maintaining the farm. If we applied this resources elsewhere, semi-ER would still be doable.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Jin+Guice »

horsewoman wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 5:08 pm
my permaculture skills lie mostly in managing to stay happily married to a my gardening husband
I'm pretty sure this is beyond my skill set.

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@J+G I'm pretty proud of that one myself :)

A few minor stumbles this week. Most annoyingly I can no longer find the vegan curd soap I was using for my DIY detergent in any shop. Seems that the brand discontinued it. I will have to order a larger amount online, the upside to this is that I can look for a soap that is made without palm oil. I try to avoid online shopping as much as possible these days but in that case it is the best solution.

Furthermore, my daughter talked me into buying school lunches. She needs lunch twice a week and so far I have prepared something for her to take along, mostly leftovers in a thermos. She complains that all her class mates get the lunch in the cafeteria, and kids that bring their own can not sit in the same area where the bought lunch is consumed. I understand that it is not a nice feeling for a teenager to be so left out. So we compromised that she gets school lunch once a week, on the day when most of here friends eat in the cafeteria. The other day she'll take lunch from home, since only a part of her class has lessons in the afternoon. It's not terribly expensive - €3,50 for soup, a vegetarian main dish and dessert. It is prepared daily fresh on the premises and the food is sourced locally, and mostly organic. Technically a good deal, but it's the principle I suppose. Well, she has not chosen this lifestyle but was born to frugal parents, and I don't want her to resent us. She has been an extremely cheap child so far, with very moderate material wants, so I guess this is reasonable. Social inclusion is important at that age after all (yes I'm aware that I'm looking for reasons to justify it to myself, thank you very much).

But we scored an ERE success as well! Inspired by my recent sales my husband has been bitten by the Craigslist bug as well - he is selling a lot of stuff that has been rotting around the farm for ages. He is pretty much a "Luddite", apart from a basic tablet he has zero personal electronics. I set him up with the app of the German equivalent of Craigslist, which makes it easy even for someone slightly "technologically challenged" to take photos, upload stuff and answer messages. He made €450 last week, pretty neat!

We are also on the lookout for a new wood splitter, having sold off the old one. It was not overly safe and not strong enough for our needs. It came with the farm but never was a good fit. After messing around with this terrible thing for over a decade it is time for an upgrade. I took a leaf out of the ERE book and recommended that we get a more expensive one with a well known brand name, so that we can resell it for a good price should we change our heating system. We are prowling the used market at the moment, hopefully something will come up. In the meantime we have plenty of split wood, and need to clear the storage areas anyway for maintenance of the ground beneath, so it is not urgent.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by classical_Liberal »

I think the decision to spend a few Euros for the daughters lunch is a great one, ERE or not!

Vaikeasti
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Vaikeasti »

Love reading your journal! You're living my SOs dream.
I'm really impressed by your loving consideration for your child while still not giving up your values.

niemand
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Location: Woop Woop, Australia

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by niemand »

horsewoman wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:35 pm
A friend gave me a basket of nashi pears, very delicious! They look like apples and are super juicy. I saved some seeds to try to grow such a tree. My gardener husband was really happy since this was the first time in history that I showed an actual interest in fruit trees (we have really a lot of fruit trees, mostly with fruit that does not really taste well! Or is wormy...). He instantly offered to buy such a tree for me, but in the spirit of the ERE principles, I want to try to grow our own from the seeds! Or get an offshoot of my friends tree, in case there are some.
Nashi pears are yummy.

If you want to grow them yourself you need to have a self-pollinating tree or have a combo of at least two trees that cross-pollinate. Otherwise: no fruit. This site shows which varieties pollinate each other: https://www.daleysfruit.com.au/fruit%20pages/nashi.htm

I recently mulched my self-pollinating nashi tree as it doesn't fit my goal of having a drought-resistant garden. If I lived in your climate zone I'd have them, no question.

I like your journal btw :)

horsewoman
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@niemand: thanks for the reply! The seed did not sprout, as my husband predicted. I don't know if WANT 3 of those trees! My friend says his tree has so much fruit every year that they don't know what to with it, and it is not large. He knows more people who own such trees and they all seem to have large yields in our climate. One is enough, probably. So I will ask my MIL to gift me such a tree for my birthday, that will make her happy, and me too :) She loves to plant fruit trees, but her own garden is not very large.

Apparently you can plant a nashi pear tree next to a regular pear tree for pollination. We do have 3 different pear treas in and around our yard, but I need to check with my husband what kind they are.
oldbeyond wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:56 am
There's also a lot of permaculture/urban farming resources that seem like good examples of L6 and beyond (I guess I can tell because they seem inspiring?). For example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5iJYVnw4ns
I re-read the yields & flows thread (like the ERE book, this can be read several times and still yield - pun intended - insights!) and found this nugget. This guy, Richard Perkins, is a first rate farming-nerd-ninja. Very admirable how he combines the time-old vocation of being a farmer with collecting tight data, science and business skills. Personally we do not strive to make a business out of our farm, but after watching some of his videos I'm reconsidering my decisions to give up hen keeping. I was already wavering due to the distressing amount of food scraps piling up since all but one of our hens died of old age. The poor bird does her best but she seems to prefer the half-digested oats the horses poop out. Since we don't eat meat and very few eggs we could probably not keep a large enough flock to make a difference to our top soil. But they do eat the larvae in the paddock which turns into nasty horse-tormenting bugs. Plus our manure piles are definitely getting larger since no more hens are scratching around in them. So they had been doing their part in keeping the amount of manure more manageable. In the end taking a break from keeping hens yielded some valuable insights. I'm more prepared to deal with the downsides/hassle of keeping them since I can now appreciate more what they accomplish. We got chicken first thing when we moved to the farm, so I took their contributions for granted. Seems like we'll shop for some hens as soon as our old lady goes to rest. I'm not sure what's better, to leaver her alone (she seems perfectly happy) for the few more months she'll probably live or to get her some company (plus the added stress of a new flock, which will finish her probably off). I need to consult more experienced chicken owners on this.

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Alice_AU
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Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Alice_AU »

Hi @horsewoman, your life-on-the-farm stories are very interesting to read. I think I would love to do just that in retirement if I get to that point one day - grow fruit trees and keep chickens. I, however, would totally eat both the chickens and the eggs, love the eggs! If, on the other hand, you don’t want to - maybe you could sell them, or arrange a swap with your neighbours where you supply eggs and they give you something else? Also as I know from my mum who’s into fancy and heirloom chicken breeds, fertilised eggs and young birds also can be sold.

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