Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fall onset

Fall is closing in here on the homestead, and the land is starting to go to sleep for the winter. Hasn't stopped my black and yellow garden spiders on the porch (named Thelma and Louise) from spinning webs and putting up egg cases and just generally doing their spider thing of keeping the flies and other pests down on the porch. Who needs those nasty fly strips when you have the girls?

As for the shop, it is ready for all the way through to Thanksgiving, and I am prepping for Christmas.

Etsy has done a huge favor to sellers by expanding categories from 15 to 20 we can use, so that means when I get far enough to need to be putting in the various types of decor (home, holiday, garden, and party), I'll have enough categories plus a couple left over.

I'm beat though. It's been a rough few weeks and I want a short nap before I have to pull together for the Just Over Broke that currently does most of the bill paying around here. Too many 9 1/2 hour shifts and six days last week just are killing the heck out of me.

But that is why I keep working on the shop. One day, it will be enough income to replace the Just Over Broke and I can quit. One step at a time, one sale a time, it gets me closer and closer to getting out of there. Go, me!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Shower update and a few other things

Well, it's been a bit insane again ... when is it NOT here? I sometimes think that when I can finally quit the plant, life is going to be boring, and then I laugh. BORING? With ten cats, and eventually adding other livestock, all the plants and trees and things for food and extra produce sales, the shop, and all the housework? BORING? You've got to be kidding me.

So, what's been going on lately?

I keep having minor depressive episodes and crying jags, because this last year has been such a struggle and it's not over quite yet. It's coming up fast on a year since I nearly lost Quentin to that awful pneumonia bout, and I can't help but think how much further along we would be if not for that. Seems like the last year, things have kind of just stagnated.

But then I look at the shop, which is essentially two of them. Thanks to Etsy allowing things in Pattern earlier this year that you can't sell on Etsy itself, I can add all kinds of things over time to the Pattern side. Currently, it's my jewelry and Mom's stuff. The Etsy shop itself is being limited to beads, charms, and Mom's stuff, with the likelihood later on down the road of adding party supplies/decor. At this point, I'm all about whatever sells to make a profit. That means in Pattern, adding other things for ladies gifts, including bath bombs, soaps, holiday decor (I can get my wholesale hands on a TON of Christmas ornaments, and since I loooove Christmas ....), spa gift sets, and possibly even things like cosmetic sets and fragrances, so a gal or her man can get inexpensive but lovely gifts for her(self).

The main products will still be jewelry, much of it handmade by me. I get a kick out of taking beads and charms and making something pretty from them. So that's that.

The plant has changed the attendance policy from 14 points (absences) and fired to six, and a one-year rolloff instead of 28-days-perfect-attendance worked off. You can bet people are quitting right and left as they find other jobs in other small manufactories around here. The company made a huge mistake with that. There is now talk of making it six days a week mandatory, and while it's just a rumor, the LAST rumor was the attendance policy change, and those of us there know what happened with THAT. Christ on a crouton.

So I'm working hard on the shops (officially one, as it's all managed with Etsy's seller admin, but technically two since I have so much stuff divided up), and hope and pray for better times ahead. Meanwhile, we are taking all the overtime and paying off or paying down everything we owe, fixing things in the cabin to be completed, and etc.

Shower update ...

We had to take the shower head on a hose off and put a regular small shower head on the end of the pipe. The long hose pulled too much water too fast and so it was a bust. The smaller, regular shower head doesn't get a full flow like it would under regular running water pressure, but the spigot allows us to control the flow and we get good pressure with a solid dribble that does the job. The water also stays hot longer and it's awesome to get a hot shower instead of a tepid one every weekend, and not have to hold a hose or make it a Navy shower to get the water to last for us both. He just turns off the spigot when he's done and then I turn it on for mine. Yeah, he goes first all the time ... he uses less water than I do and that way, I can just enjoy the heck out of it and run out what's left, which is usually at least half. We both get really clean and happy now, too! The shower bucket is AWESOME.

If you are going to be off-grid without running water for a while, a shower bucket is going to have to go on your must-have list at the top for a bit of "normal" convenience! It's WORTH the work, and it's inexpensive - it cost us about $50 all told for the parts, and took about an hour or so to put together. You will need a power drill and a spade bit for the hole in the side of the bucket for the pipe, but that's about it for power tools. The drill also comes in handy for the pilot hole for the heavy-duty hook to hang the double pulley on. A bit of metal pipe of some kind works wonders to crank that puppy into the hole, too. Simple physics involving a lever (the pipe) gets that hook seated in the hole really fast.

With that, it's 240AM here, and I have to finish up the last of the dishes and make some supper. Talk to you all soon!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Catching up and new shower

It's been a rather long year, almost.

This time last year, we had no idea things would be the way they are. So what happened, that I didn't want to talk about a few months back? What's kept me from blogging this year?

I'll make a long story as short as I can.

Last year, on the week before Halloween, Quentin got sick. Originally, he was diagnosed with severe gastroenteritis (stomach flu is what most folks call it). It wasn't. A week later, he was barely eating anything, had lost seven pounds, and looked like a walking cadaver. He's skinny enough anyhow that he doesn't have much body fat, so losing that weight made his eyes sink into his head.

At his week after checkup, his BP was only 80/60. The doctor that day, on Halloween, the day after his birthday, said we needed to shove him across the street to the ER. He didn't want to go. The doctor looked at him and said something I will never forget, "Dude, you're septic."

Three little words that told me my husband was dying in front of my eyes. So off we went to the ER, and his records had been shot over there already. Two bags of IV fluid and three different antibiotics through the IV were going inside of five minutes. TWO nurses. That alone told me this was bad.

He was in such awful shape, they brought the portable x-ray to his ER bay, because they didn't think he could stand up for a chest x-ray. Sometime later, the ER doctor was talking possibly shipping him to Branson for an infectious disease specialist there to handle things. He decided against it, but put hubby in the hospital for an overnight. The idea was to see if they could get things under some control that could be handled at home. If it didn't work, there would be surgery. Thankfully, it worked.

Diagnosis: right lower lung pneumonia, and  abscesses in both lower lungs. All were about 1 inch across. He was on sick leave for six weeks, with two antibiotics totaling 1300mg a DAY for the whole time. Then he got back to work, and got accused of something he didn't do from well before he got sick, and got fired.

In July, he was able to hire back to the plant. In the meantime, we nearly lost the house and land, and are still struggling to get back to our feet on everything. The doctor bills are going to collections, and we really don't care. I'm sending people snarky letters and trying to put them off until at least mid-January, when we'll be more sturdy on our feet, financially. Things are slowly but surely ticking along to get where we wanted to be a year ago. We saved the land and cabin, but it's been rough, and as I said, we are still struggling. We survived last winter with just the kero heater in the cabin and it not fully insulated, while he was home sick the whole time.

Thanks to how the plant fired him, he couldn't find steady work, which didn't help with the whole situation, and led to nearly losing it all as well. So you can understand why I haven't wanted to write. It was all just too painful, especially when you add in that the stress caused my BP to go sky-high, I ended up with three trips to the ER from work (two in an ambulance as it was so high I was on the verge of stroking out or having a heart attack), and me on two BP meds now. Just so much fun.

Maybe by spring, we will finally be caught up on everything, and paying off all the bills, and a small loan a friend gave us early this year to help us get through it all. I was so grateful to get the land guy and cabin people somewhat off our backs with that. It was still a huge struggle and continues to be, but we are slowly making it.

Altogether, there's about $9300 in hospital bills to be figured out how to pay them. It's going to be a long haul.

But we are also making a point of slowly but surely putting a little each week to fixing things up how we want. No more "We'll get to it eventually." Last year scared us both, and we are making a point of putting a bit out each week to piece by inch our way to getting things done. One piece of paneling, one tree, one piece of stovepipe, or one whatever a week, it's getting done.

So the project last weekend (we didn't schedule any for this weekend, we were just too pooped from the work week) was a shower bucket for us instead of constantly using shower bags, which wear out in a few months. I got the idea a while back from another homesteading blog I read where they did similar. So I'm going to spend the rest of this post telling you about our shower bucket!

 This is the supplies we got, in the bucket. We got a bit more CPVC pipe than required, in case of mistakes. It's pulleys, thread sealer tape, pipe, attachments, and pipe glue.

The stuff all laid out. We changed the one pulley for a double pulley later on.

Drilling the hole in the side of the bucket to screw the end of the pipe into for the drain.

Putting pieces into the hole.

The end of the pipe screwed into the side of the bucket.

Outside of the drain.

Checking for leaks on the porch.

On the top left, you can see the drain from the Aquatainer we brought out to fill the bucket. It made that so much easier. We used a couple of gallons to make sure there would be no leaks under pressure.

The rope and pulley on the handle, and the full pipe is done. The little bit of blue at the end of the pipe you can see is a spigot so we can control the flow.

Adding the hot water!!

Watching for leaks. Nope, not a drop. Unlike the shower bag.

The double pulley and 2x4 he put in to hold it. There's a big hook there for the pulley, so we can just take it all down when done and keep the cats from playing with the pulley. The pipe is part of the frame from the Ozark Trails shower cabana we use for the "bathroom."

Adding some cold water, the hot water was HOT! The hose is from the pipe to the handheld shower head. We had to take that off in the long run as it wouldn't let us control the flow properly. It was sure nice when we got it right though, even if it was a stream and not a sprinkle, since I could just stand under it and not have to hold a hose!

The finished setup of the pipe with the 45 degree elbow to point the water flow onto us. Works awesome!

When we tried it with the hose, we had to put the showerhead in the bucket for hoisting, because it pulled down too much. Here, the bucket is starting to go up in the air. The pulleys made it easy.

The finished shower bucket on the shower shelf that had previously been used for the shower bag. Push the shower cabana back in place in front of it, and the pipe goes right through the back window into the cabana and the water flows onto us. It was AWESOME. (Did I mention that already? Heehee.)

Next project after finishing tires on the truck as they are trying to have babies, is to start on the wood stove!

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 23, 2017

Thought the fridge was busted after I washed it out earlier today. Turns out the darn thing was just off for too long and had somehow moved too close to the wall. Add in all the stuff we threw out and burned in the burn barrel and you get a pretty empty fridge with no room for air circulation behind it.

Once hubby moved the thing out a mere INCH from the wall, poof - cold freaking air in the thing in mere moments, and the outside started cooling off, too. I was getting a bit worried when the outside was getting rather warm, and we both were certain we were going to need a new fridge and quick, which, of course, we can't afford since we're just getting back on our feet financially.

But the fridge did need to be washed ... OMG. Since the temp control got bumped a bit ago and we didn't notice right off, the thing was leaving stuff warm. Couldn't figure it out for a few days, so we lost some stuff, but since most of our stuff in the summer is non-perishable and what will go bad we get fresh and use in a day or so, because of the heat and our power coming only from the gennie right now, we got off lucky. Lost a bit of raw chicken, some eggs, and a bit of sausage, and a couple of his frozen meal things. Oh yeah and a couple bottles of dairy-based salad dressings that we hardly use anyhow.

Going to start shopping amazon for those little packets of things like ketchup, mayo, and the like, because even if it's a pain to open a bunch of them, it's safer in the warmer weather since nobody's home that much. I need to find my butter bells for butter and cheese. Also as it's warm weather, we don't get much in the way of fresh meat, we do a lot of canned. Also need to find a pressure canner...again, likely amazon. It's where I got my last one, which is in Mom's basement, and which likely is no good after eight years, lol. It's sad that I forgot it when I came to Arkansas, but I honestly didn't expect it to be more than a mini-vacation with a bit of job-hunting for fun. Never expected to actually get a job, let alone everything else that's happened down here!

Think I may have to start doing things like canned hash again as midweek dinner, plus do things like chicken and tuna salad for lunches - just enough to use up that day and call it done for that batch.

The shop is climbing nicely in number of items ... I'm aiming to hit my fee threshold on or just after Thursday this month of $25 so I can go to the next higher threshold of $50 for the automatic payment of fees. The more items I can cram in the store without having to worry about fees, the better. I've been wanting to do it for ages, but with him sick and out of work, it was temporarily impossible. Now it's not, so I can do a bit of expanding, which should help with more sales!

Add in the new lack of restrictions on what you can list on Pattern only, and I have me a BUSINESS growing!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I didn't realize ...

I hadn't posted since MARCH!

Things were just that dicey around here and I didn't want to post anything. No good mood to write or anything. Lots of months of being scared ... more on that somewhat later after some things are taken care of.

Meanwhile ....

I think God decided to cook Arkansas. It's just that hot here. Temps in the 90s, heat indices in the low 100s, and every time rain is forecast these last two weeks, it fizzles. I'm almost glad most days that my regular day job is in a chicken plant, so I work in a cool environment!

Still, there are new things going up in the shop almost daily. I say almost because Wal-Mart no longer carries those neat little USB cooling fans for laptops, so my poor computer keeps wanting to get hot if I use it before work in the daytime. (I work second shift. Crappy hours, but lots of overtime to help with homestead bills as we get things started out.)

Right now, dinner is cooking, I'm adding a few listings and editing others, and tomorrow, while hubby works on things around here, where there is no air conditioning except what breeze blows through the windows and the fans, I'm heading to McDonald's to work on the shop, hijack the free wifi, and soak up some cool.

Now, you're probably asking why we have no a/c if we live in such a hot area. We are off-grid homesteaders. This means we are not connected to the power and water grids like most folks. We generate our own power (currently with a generator, soon to switch to solar and wind as time and money allow), and haul in water until we get a well drilled. So, no air conditioning, and there still won't be after we have the solar and wind systems in, because we'd have to have a HUGE system in, and that gets pretty pricey after a bit, even to run a small a/c unit.

For now, dinner is near ready and I'm hungry. Time for food and more shop stuff!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

There's going to be some changes around here

Assuming things work out and we get to keep our land, which I am hoping against all hope we can, things are going to get weird. Hubby is getting ready to go to trucker school, which means he'll be gone for three weeks, home for a few days, and then off driving for 3 to 3-1/2 weeks at a time and home for 3-4 days. I will have so much peace and quiet, I'll get sick of it. But it's for a good cause - he can make more money trucking than working at any of the plants here, and that will help us out tremendously.

So things are going to get weird, but in a good way. Before you ask, yes, the tears have already started on my end, and he's not even gone for probably 2-3 weeks yet. Yes, in spite of the fact that he can be a jerk at times. I already miss him. What a life.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Horrible news

We may lose our homestead.

Long story short, with Quentin having gotten sick last year and losing his job and all that's happened, we are behind on the land and cabin. Cabin people understand and are working with us. The land guy, however ... is threatening to evict us off the land for being four months behind. I tried to talk to him yesterday and his big thing is, "Trying to pay me doesn't pay the bank." Well, I hate to break the news to him, but if he tosses us off here, it still won't pay the bank.

I have a possible source of help, not guaranteed, through work, but no idea until late next week if they will help or not. I'm trying to raise some money on my own to get us back on track. If you could, share the gofundme link to help me raise at least some of what we need to get back on our feet with the land. We're working on it, but with having to get him a vehicle to get back and forth to his job (and thus quit driving my car to death), and having to put a couple tires on the car, and him having been sick for so long and then off work, and the bank mucking about with the deposited checks ("We have to hold it for five business days because even though it's a pre-printed payroll check, it might be fraudulent!"), and his job boogering up his direct deposit twice (they keep losing the paperwork), we're in a bind. I hate to beg, but if you can help even just by sharing, please do. We are in a desperate situation here and I need to come up with $300 minimum to give the land guy by tomorrow the 24th in order to get him off our backs long enough to start getting back on track.

Thanks, all. Hugs, love, and blessings. No matter what, we will be ok.

Help save our home!