Saturday, September 15, 2012

Taking Stock

summer squash from my garden
Well prodded by a readers comment (thanks for that, Nancy!) I am reminded I need to update a few things on this page.

This has been a terrible hot dry summer and even tho we finally got some monsoon rains, it wasn't nearly enough and my place didn't always get any even when it was raining by the bucket load just 2 miles away.

But the last few mornings have been much cooler and there is a taste of fall in the air. Fall in Arizona means wanting the heater in the morning and the cooler in the afternoon. Many summer crops, like the beans and squashes are still going strong, but I am making room where I can and seeding in the fall and winter crops. Gardening in the winter is much easier than in the summer and costs almost nothing once things get going. I've been going over my wish lists and gardening records and thinking about what I want to do next year.

The kitchen cupboards, Oct 2009
In 2009 I had a very large successful garden and did a lot of canning and pickling. This year the garden was a bit smaller and not as prolific and I have not canned much of anything. I decided this year to try and eat fresh from the garden each day, rather than do a lot of preserving. Some of the food in the picture, especially the pickles were still in the cupboard this summer. They have either been eaten or dumped as the quality deteriorates a lot after a year.

However, when the weather cools off I will probably can some jars of bean soup, potato soup, chili and chicken stock. These are great convenience foods that make life a little easier on hectic days.

The garden has been producing over 100 pounds of vegetables a month during June, July and August. With all the winter squashes September's totals could top 200, but I'll have to wait and see. 

Now I'm sure you are wanting to know a bit where I've gotten concerning the grocery budget, eh? Well I think I'm doing pretty good, actually. In July I spent $148.22 and in August I spent $149.08. In analyzing what I'm buying it breaks down into basically meat, dairy, fruit and marinated olives.

I can't do much about the dairy situation until I am able to retire from my regular job so I can once again have dairy goats. I have been finding wonderful deals on pork and stocked up a bit, but the meat category should come way down next month as I will have several ducks to put in the freezer. There may be a couple of young chickens to join them by December, depending on whether or not they are actually roosters. The marinated olives with feta are something I eat a small amount of nearly everyday; they replace regular salad dressing on my salads. I am on the look out for something similar to replace this with, as it is about $10 a pound and I usually go through three or four pounds a month. Right now I can't do much about the cost of fruit, except to stock up when ever I can when things are on sale, as the garden doesn't make much fruit yet.

In other financial areas things are going well, the line of credit on my house is nearly paid off and then I will only have my land payment and regular bills to pay. If you've joined me recently, I use a software program called YNAB or You Need A Budget. You can read about my experience with this software here. I've also written a bit about getting out of debt using YNAB here.

Now I have been spending money this summer, but not frivolously. I have been using it to set up infrastructure for the future; to make my future more independent of political and corporate situations and natural disasters. I am expanding the garden area, building up a poultry flock that will provide me with meat, eggs, and income through the sale of young birds and eggs. I am hoping next summer to be able to add pigs to the mix and or some meat goats. Which order I do things in totally depends on what falls in my lap first.

Right at the moment the poultry enterprise is running in the red, as there are a large number of young birds that won't pay for themselves until next summer. Also this is molting season for the hens and they don't lay well when they are molting. From 6 hens I'm only getting 1-3 eggs a day. But the younger girls should begin laying any time now, then I will have eggs to sell and they will begin to pay back the investment. By this time next year the poultry operation should actually be a money maker.