I got an email the other day from a woman who was featured here on Inspiring Homesteads back in June. It was a rough day for me. I was worried about this site. I have big dreams for The 104 Homestead and I can feel swamped from time to time. Some days I wonder if all my hard work is worth it. I wonder if I truly am teaching people to homestead no matter where they live or what their circumstances are. The day I received this email was one of those days where I was questioning my purpose.
Not any more. If this were the only email I ever received in my writing experience, it would be enough for me. I had tears in my eyes reading it and promptly replied. It opened up a great discussion between us and we email frequently now. This woman inspires me. I am in awe of her perseverance and I believe you will be too.
See A Single Mom’s Story (Part 1 of Andrea’s Story)
I wanted to give you an update about things.
I thought I was getting my head above water. After my heart attack last year and being a single mom, I was left with a ton of medical bills. I have insurance, but I still have to pay some which had made our tight budget even tighter.
If it wasn’t for my garden and trying to go back to the basics, I would probably completely under the financial boat. Some things in my garden did well but some things not so well. I bought some peaches from the local orchard and canned my first peaches ever. My 15-year-old daughter loved them so much she consumed all 12 jars the summer. I would come home from work and find empty jars. I found that I was able to save more bananas and strawberries by freezing them, especially the bananas that started turning brown because the kids wouldn’t eat them. I found myself trying to cut down food waste as much as possible, and I’ve started composting.
I thought my summer was going well then my doctor discovered I’m losing blood somewhere. So I’m scheduled for more testing. They believe all the blood thinners I’m on since the heart attack has caused a bleeding ulcer. But I have cut down on a lot of my medicines by eating more home-grown stuff. This helps financially. I read an article by Don’t Waste the Crumbs about going 30 days without spending money. So I decided to try this as much as possible.
All of this prepared me for the disaster that has happened. I was sitting at the kitchen table and heard a noise. I thought it was one if my son’s toys. Nope. It was water leaking from the ceiling. Great, our plumbing runs through the attic. Call a plumber, but it’s not the plumbing. It’s the central air conditioning. I live in central Texas and with my medical problems I can’t handle the heat. Therefore I need to have air conditioning during the hottest weather. I am trying to condition myself to go without and I can withstand some heat if there is a breeze. But the days with scorching heat and little wind makes me very sick. So I call the air conditioning people. They fix the problem that caused the water but the ceiling was so wet it collapsed. Now a huge hole is in the ceiling. We have plastic over hole until I can get it fixed. But the a/c people discovered bigger problems. Those cute little squirrels we see have made their home in my attic. They have caused lots if damage including chewing the insulation off some of the electric wires. Bare wires in the attic is a fire hazard. Thank The Lord my uncle is an electrician and I can work out a payment plan. But I’ve had to pay the plumber to come out and pay the a/c people an outrageous amount of money for an hour’s work and a hole in ceiling.
To sum things up, I have no extra money for much of anything. Once I would have panicked, but this homestead mindset has helped me prepare for this. I have a fall garden started. I don’t know how it will do but anything is better than nothing. I already had the seeds trying to plant in Spring but I never knew you could plant them in fall. I live in central Texas and have read Eliot Coleman’s “Four Season’s harvest”. I figured if he could grow food in Maine in winter that I could grow it in Texas too. I was reading about Refashionista.net which led to my next problem. My 5-year-old son needs jeans for the cooler months. I don’t have the money to buy them. My daughter is 15 and has jeans she outgrew a couple of years ago. I have sewing patterns, sewing machine, and elastic scavenged from various things. Why can’t I make his jeans myself? I usually have to alter his clothes anyway.
Besides the help that gardening has provided, food is our main problem. Most of my bills are fairly fixed. Our grocery bill is the only thing that is totally flexible. I try to use coupons for things like toilet paper and stuff, but I’ve started cutting everything I can. Toothpaste has become a baking soda mixture with powdered stevia and spearmint which I grew, dried and crushed. We look at things differently. Do we really need it? Can be substitute it? Cooking has taken on a challenge. I have to get creative and make things from scratch. Plus I am trying to eat a lot healthier. I find that coupons are mostly for processed stuff and the processed food is what contributed to my health issues. I grew up on processed food. I would rather my kids eat a cantaloupe that was $1.50 than a bag of Doritos that cost $2.98. I bake cookies, muffins, and bread.
But it’s the mindset that you have that makes a difference. You have to think differently. The homesteader doesn’t think like everyone else. I have a clothes dryer and I live in a Texas. I don’t have a clothes line but I have clothes hangers, clothes pins and cup hooks. I put the cup hooks in the porch and hang the clothes out there on hangers from the hooks. I don’t throw up my hands and say I don’t have a clothes line so I have to use the dryer. I use it on large items but most things I hang. I found a way to do it until I get the money for a clothes line. I realize that a 100 years ago people on a homestead couldn’t just give up or whine. Even though I am in town, I am trying to have that mindset. I understand my grandmothers use it up, recycle it, and make do attitude. I have various pickle and mayonnaise jars sitting around filled with things. They are perfectly good glass jars that have found a second use instead to going into the trash.
Your website has helped me a lot and pointed me to others that have given me the information that has been beneficial. Without this knowledge I would be at the bottom of a financial lake instead of keeping my head above water.