Frugal Living and Self-Sufficiency

I went to a local Farmer’s Market last weekend, just to browse, and see what local farmers had to sell. While I was there I began talking with a kind woman, probably in her late 30’s, sitting behind a table with eggs and handmade soap for sale. I told her I was really interested in finding a dairy farmer, who I could buy milk from. She said, “Well… I have a milk cow. I’m just now allowed to sell the milk here since I’m not inspected or licensed and all that stuff. I bought the cow years ago because I have five kids, and I had to feed the whole bunch of them!” I said, “Really?! Well, if you were to sell some, how much would you sell it for?” She told me that she actually does have a couple people who buy it from her, and she sells to them for $4-$5 per gallon. Whew! A little too much for me! I thought (not knowing then what a good deal that actually is). I said, “Oh, okay.” I asked for her name and number, just in case, and then went on my way.

I kept thinking about her all day long, about how I’d really like to get some milk from her. Just not at that price. Then it occurred to me, work out a trade! But, what do I have to offer? I began thinking, and I decided I was going to offer to teach her about CVSing, so that she could get her toiletries and things for close to nothing, in exchange for a gallon of milk every couple of weeks. I was very excited at the idea. Surely she would be interested in saving money on shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and stuff.

The next day, very enthusiastically I called her up. I said, “I was wondering if you might be interested in bartering.” She was excited when she said, “Sure! Whatcha got?” I told her about my idea. When I was finished explaining she was silent for a moment, then said, “Well, I kinda have a system that I use. I only go shopping twice a year, once in January, and once in June. Each trip I spend $150 on stuff that I need to last me for the next six months.” My jaw hit the floor. I was absolutely flabbergasted! Did she just say $150 for 6 months?! I blurted out, “Oh my goodness! Are you serious?!” She explained that she figured out how much flour, laundry soap, everything, that her family uses in 6 months, and budgets on that for her trip. She said she makes her own soap (a head to toe, hair and all, bar of soap!), laundry detergent, dish soap, etc. As I listened I said to her, “I need to be learning from you!” In my astonishment I became filled with questions, and asked her tons of them. Towards the end of the conversation she told me that she is having to dry her milk cow up right now because it’s going to have a baby. But she offered me some blueberry bushes if I wanted them. I made plans to visit her a couple days later.

Now, I could go on and on about my 3 hour visit with this incredible family, and this amazing Christian woman, but to keep it as short as possible, and interesting for you I will just name the things that I learned from her about how she saves her family money.

They live in a humble single wide trailer, on 3 acres of land.

They drive an older model van.

They have a garden, and raise all of their own vegetables.

They have tons of different fruit trees, bushes and plants.

For meat, they raise their own cows, chickens, rabbits, pigs, a turkey (for Thanksgiving) and hunt for deer. The cows are gifts from some dairy farmer friends of theirs. It costs $.34/lb to butcher beef any way you want it.

They keep the rabbit fur to make mittens and other things.

She freezes, cans, or jellies all of the food that they produce.

She gets her milk from her cow, and makes her own dairy products, including some cheeses, yogurt and ice cream, among other things.

She never bought baby food.

They get their eggs from their chickens.

She doesn’t own a dryer. She line dries everything. And she only washes on Mondays (unless the weather says otherwise).

She buys her flour and grains straight from the mill. She says they are fresh, and much cheaper.

They have well water of course.

She only turns on the air conditioner three months out of the year: June, July and August.

For a heating system, they have a Water Stove. First I’d ever heard of one! It’s like a huge wood burning stove. It has coils inside that hold tons of water. There are two pipes which come out of it; one goes into the house, through a car radiator, and heats the home. The other goes to the plumbing and supplies the home with hot water for dishes, laundry and baths. People bring them lumber and boxes to burn all the time.

No internet. No cable TV.

She makes a menu and plans 3 full meals a day. She said a typical meal would be: BBQ deer meat, green beans, potatoes, and a fresh apple pie. All made from scratch.

She buys all of her spices and cooking needs from an Amish store. She said they are much cheaper. For instance, a whole cup of cinnamon would cost just about $1.00. You buy by weight.

She bakes goods for about a week in Fall to sell at the Fair for her shopping money.

Her and her daughters collect cans when they find them, to recycle for about 10 cents per can.

She uses herbs for medicinal needs. She showed me a few growing in her yard, for teething babies, and bee stings.

If they feel like having a Frosty from Wendy’s, they make one at home themselves. Though, they do treat themselves with a rare splurge of going out to eat.

She was even recently given a wood stove for cooking on. She hasn’t begun using it, and is still learning about how to heat it properly and such, but she is very excited about the idea.

As I left there, I realized just how ignorant I still really am about how to live frugally. This woman truly is an example of the Proverbs 31 woman we all should strive to be. I am filled with even more questions now, and I can’t wait for my next visit with this wonderful family. What surprised me the most about Mrs. Adelia was when I asked her how she learned all of this, if it was from her Mother. She said, “Oh, no. My mother fed me Pop Tarts and Spaghetti O’s growing up. I decided when I was 29 that I was going to get a milk cow and make my own milk, and it started from there.” She began asking around about how to do certain things, and found that the very elderly, 80-90 year old women at a nearby nursing home could tell her the neatest things. And she has just learned along the way. What an inspiration! I honestly didn’t know people still knew how to do these things. I am excited about what more I have to learn.

by Kendra source

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Published in: on April 2, 2009 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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