Tiny House Homesteading

have the courage to dream

Month: June 2017

Finding Balance

We are often told that finding balance in our lives is important. I couldn’t agree more, but I have found that balance looks very different than what I use to think it was. I use to think we give a little bit of what we have to all of the things that are important, but if we do that then we run out of resources before we can get to everything. We have to make choices to find balance and this requires focus and sacrifice.

We have a finite amount of time and resources.

Occasionally I hear a story about someone who has so much money they don’t know how to spend it all, but that seems to be the exception, definitely not the rule. And even if the resources for a person were unlimited, they would still be bound by the same time restrictions that we all have. Most of us have a finite amount of time and resources.

This is important because when we talk about finding balance we have to acknowledge that balance doesn’t mean we equally give our time and resources to the people and things we love. Rather it means that we have to choose what resource we give and how much we give to each person and each project. It means that we find a way to focus on one thing at a time.

Balance requires focus.

In order to have balance in our lives we can’t have our attention so divided that we are spread thin. This leads to stress, frustrations, and anxiety. Yes it is possible to spend time with your children while you are working on a project. In fact not only is it possible, but it is important. When we work with them we are teaching our children that we love them and that they can work hard and accomplish a goal. But balance requires that we also teach them other things like love, charity, and faith. Although it is possible to teach a lot of these things while we are working along side them, if we only spend time with our children then we are working then we lose that balance that we are seeking. Balance also means that we have to walk away from daily chores and play with our children.

Balance requires sacrifices.

When it comes to finances balance means that we have to allocate a limited amount of funds for an unlimited amount of costs, and in order to do that we have to make sacrifices. We have to choose how to spend the money we have and what to give up. We have to work hard to compensate for the things we can’t buy which often requires sacrificing time. We have to be creative and intentional. However being creative often requires giving up time for other things.  We have to pick what projects to work on because we can’t work on them all, and we can’t work on them all at once. We have to decide what we will work on and when we will work on it. This all requires that we sacrifice projects and time with people we value.

How then do we find balance.

When we understand that balance requires focus and sacrifice we can then find a way to truly have balance in our lives. At the point when we see things as they are we have to step back and look at the whole picture. We need to look at our long term goals in order find and have balance in our lives.

My long term goals look like this:

Raise my children with love and teach them.
Serve God and his children.
Strengthen my marriage.
Build a home business.
Build our homestead.
Play with my family.
(Not necessarily in this order)

It is easy to get focused on just one of these goals and allocate all my time and resources to accomplishing just one of these. That is why it is so important that to find my balance I look at the big picture.

When I look at my long term goals, then I have to look at my time and resources. I take out my calendar, and I first put on it the things that I can’t change. Then I hard things that are occasional but necessary. But what is important is that when I decide what to do and how to spend my resources I look at the entire list. If I don’t have things that are important to me on the list then I will run out of time and resources before I can put those important things into my life. The truth is that I will run out of time and resources and I will have to make sacrifices. In order to find balance I have to make sacrifices but I also have to make sure that I am seeing what is important.

Balance requires charity.

If we only have time for ourselves than we missed the point entirely. When our list of to dos is super long and our resources time and energy is spent we become exhausted both spiritually and mentally. In order to keep from wearing out we must find time to serve others. Charity rejuvenates us. Charity lifts our spirits. Charity heals us. Charity helps us to find our focus again and look at the whole picture again.

For me balance requires God.

This last part is probably the most important in my life. I already know that I don’t have enough time and resources, and to find balance I have to pray for help and guidance in both making choices about priorities and in reaching my goals. I know that God loves me and he wants me to succeed. Because I know this I ask him for help. When he doesn’t give me resources he gives me patience, understanding, and love. He helps me to see that what I have and what I can do is enough if I put him first.

 

An Upgrade For the Cayuga Ducks

Sometimes when we build things there is a plan that is made months in advance. Other times we build based on what is available. This is the case with our Cayuga ducks. We had an area where we could raise our Cayuga ducks, and all we needed to do was add a fence to keep them in. We knew from the beginning that at some point they would actually be able to fly over the small fence we built, but it was necessary to put up the fence until we were able to do more.

This is the original space for the Cayuga ducks which they have out grown.

Our Cayuga ducks haven’t started flying yet, but the water container they used needed to be upgraded to a bigger container. We already had the bigger container (which was a small kiddie pool), but it was half the size of their living area and there was no place to dump it. Since we dump and wash out their water daily this was a big problem. The first time I tried to dump it I ended up flooding their living space. Well ducks do like water and it was a hot day, but we definitely needed to make some changes if this was going to be a daily problem.

The Solution

I realized that I needed to increase their living space while at the same time finding a new space for their water so we could dump it daily. My daughter and I examined the current place and tried to come up with a new solution. All of our solutions involved moving the ducks to the back side of their current place and enclosing that. The biggest problem with that was we would be losing the protection from the weather and would need to build an new covered enclosure for them. The second problem was that it would be roughly the same size as the first space, so we wouldn’t be giving them more space. However, we would be able to dump the water daily without flooding their living space.

I called my husband to talk it over with him because he was temporarily out of town on business. I really hoped he might have some ideas. He immediately understood the problem and said, “Okay put a hole in the back of their coop.”

Why didn’t I think of that? Oh well, as long as someone was smart enough to think of it; it doesn’t matter if it was me.  So today we cut a hole in the back of their covered enclosure and then we added fencing to enclose a new area. This doubled the size of their living space while keeping a covered space for bad weather. It also allowed me to do something that I wanted to do. It allowed me to take their water out of their covered space. I didn’t want water in their sleeping space so this was a great solution.  Having damp flooring really isn’t a big deal in the hot summer months, but in the winter months wet bedding could be deadly.

Fix it up, wear it out, make it do. or do without! 

Before we go to the store and buy anything for a project the first thing that we do when we need to make changes is go on a walk-about. We walk around our property and take note of what resources that we have that we might be able to use for our project. When we did this we found two pallets that we thought would work on enclose the west and the north sides. The south and east side were already part of the duck coop. We also found  some fencing that we would be able to use to cover the bottom half of the pallet on the west side to keep the ducks contained. On the north side we just cut old 2x4s that we also had and filled in the holes of the pallet to make a semi-solid wall.

I am super happy that we were able to come up with a solutions for our ducks and to stay within our budget (which was actually $0).

Sunflowers and Mice

Last year I tried a few different things to get my sunflowers up and growing without the mice eating them every time they came out of the ground. You can read about some of my attempts here.

This year I planted sunflowers again, and I knew that I needed to try something new. I knew that I was planting my sunflowers in an area where there are mice. However I wanted to plant them in this particular space because it was partially blocked from the harsh winds we get here. In actuality it is common to get winds that are 20-40mph quite often.

I have lots of sunflower seeds and lots of determination, so I decided to go ahead and plant the seeds in the area that I knew had problems with mice. I also want to add that I have been told that if I can get the plants big enough then the mice won’t bother them anymore. So my solution only needed to protect the plants temporarily.

I used cans to temporarily protect the sunflower plants while they were little.

When I first planted the sunflowers I planted 25 seeds and I had 3 metal cans that I put around some of the seeds. I cut the top and bottom off the cans and stuck them about 1/2 inch into the dirt to provide a barrier between the mice and the sunflowers. Those cans protected the seeds as they grew. However I still had quite a few seeds that I had planted that weren’t protected by the cans. As I saw more of the plants break through the soil, I added cans around those plants to protect them.

 

Unfortunately the mice did discover where I was planting the sunflowers, and we found evidence of seeds they dug up and ate. The good news is that they didn’t touch the plants that were in the cans. I did want more sunflowers though, so I decided to plant seeds one more time. This time I again put the cans where the seeds were instead of waiting for them to grow to the surface to add cans. I am happy to report that the cans seem to be protecting these sunflowers from the mice until they can get big enough for the mice to ignore them.

I got this idea when some friends of mine told me they they knew a lady who used this method to protect her plants from the strong wind we get while the plants were still young and through spring which is an especially windy season for us. So although I used this method to protect from mice, it has also been used to protect young plants temporarily from strong winds.

 

My Green Thumb

Many years ago I planted my first garden. It was a complete failure.  Then I planted my second garden. FAIL! A few years past and I tried again, fail. I can’t grow anything I resigned.  I have a black thumb not a green thumb I would declare, and I wasn’t alone. I ran into a lot of people who had resigned themselves to the title of “having a black thumb.”

Ironically, when we moved to the desert where the ground was clay and only the toughest plants survive I finally found my green thumb.

What I discovered, however, was that I had failed before because I was treating my plants like objects and not like the living organisms that they are. If I took care of my children, the way I did my plants in the beginning, they would have died too. I had the attitude that if I put plants in the ground and watered them then that was enough. I think I was just a little lazy.  Every time I hear people talk about someone who has a green thumb they talk about how much they love to spend time in the yard or the garden, and that is actually the secret.

 

Plants are living. They aren’t objects.  They need a good home, food, and water. Plus they need to be checked on often to make sure they are okay. You have to keep them safe from danger. They are subject to predators,  freezing,  baking, and wind. If they get sick or diseases you need to nourish them back to good health. Plants need us to check on them daily to see how they are doing and to take care of them.

I found my green thumb when I learned that green thumbs aren’t accidental,  they are earned. Plants aren’t objects, they are living and need to be taken care of. Neglect is the biggest enemy. I still have a lot to learn, and I still lose plants. However now I spend more time with them, and I have a better success rate. How did I get my green thumb? I feel in love with my garden.