Ahh sweet income tax time…where we get to jump through government hoops to retrieve that lost pay we have loaned to the government all year as a loan on our ability to work for someone else. What joy O.o
We haven’t filed yet. DH’s company holds out until the absolute last second to mail, via U.S. Postal Service, those precious accounting slips of a year’s worth of taxable income on their books under our name. Funny they choose snail mail for this when every other contact during the year, pay stubs, paperwork, and all else, is sent electronically. Not so funny I suppose…it certainly keeps that company income in their pockets a bit longer than if they emailed those papers we all wait so eagerly for.
I have my end of the 3-ring tax circus set up and ready to go. All farm purchases and sales, gains and losses of livestock, equipment purchases, maintenance amounts, and such are duly listed; livestock and the working, LGD vet bills, feed, etc are jotted down; work purchase such as clothing, boots, tools, fees and such are tallied. I always
torment tease our accountant by adding in all homeschooling expenses, new curriculum and software, field trip costs, everyday supplies like paper and pencils and highlighters…to which she smiles and rolls her eyes at my hopeful effort. I present a full and lengthy list, including everything I can think of that went into the operation and maintenance of this homestead and DHs work venue throughout the year, and she takes what she can use and ignores the rest. We deduct until it starts to decline any refund potential and play the government game hoping to get a little of that free loan returned to us.
It’s aggravating, really. But I suppose that’s another soapbox, for another time. Don’t want to bite the hand that owes me my refund right? LOL
Around the Homestead:
As always with this refund time of year, there are homestead plans being hashed out, pantry lists being made and stock inventory for the coming year. There are repairs in mind, fencing plans as always, the usual restocking of pantry and larder with fresh meats and dry goods, clothing needs to attend to, school materials to restock…always a list of something waiting in the wings with a homestead and large family. Some things remain on the list as the year progresses, ticked off as their time comes, but other items simply lend themselves to the bulk funds of tax time better. Take the top of the list currently…
I need a couple building put up for goat usage. The back wall of the barn is in sorry repair. Roof beams and supports are growing more rotted daily and will soon present an issue for not only storage, but for the animals safety as well. I’m thinking quick and relatively inexpensive carports (I can spend $1000 and get 2 the size I need). Just 2 will give us ample space for ‘barn’ usage in the field, and can be easily out into place by even me, despite my serious lack of construction skills. They can be closed in with a variety of materials, so I can still have the ‘barn look’ out here.
My next hopeful on the list is a tiller for the tractor itself. I have hunted all over trying to find one I can simply rent, but seems that is not a rentable kind of item around these parts. I have regular tillers, both a front tine and a rear tine, but they simply do not do much in this clay muck out here. I need more power and arm strength than I have on my own. Once the area is tilled up, I can maintain throughout the year with the regular tillers more easily. It’s just that getting started point that causes the issues. I’ve hillbilly’d it in the past, turning the tines downward on my box blade attachment and using it as a combination tiller and disc, but that isn’t as good a solution either, and maintaining during the year with the tiller is more difficult. It’s time for some big guns around here, and a tiller for the tractor fits the bill. If I’m lucky, that will put me at around $3000 total between carports/materials and the tiller. I’m definitely open to the idea of finding one I can rent…or a neighbor I can hire who has a tiller already…but I’m not expecting that option, so purchasing will most likely be it.
We need to get a batch of new chicks in this year as well. Time to start retiring the old girls who have slowed down on egg production. The brooder we built a few years ago needs replaced. It served to grow 50 chicks up to their new home in the run, then it served as ‘brooder’ for some baby goats as we separated them from the main herd before entering the big pasture. It even served to play hospital ward for a batch of kittens, as well as a sick pup needing a place of his own for a while. It has pretty much been used-up at this point…Bo, the bull calf, spent a lot of time playing in it, bringing its demise to a close finally. Time to scrap what’s left and repurpose those bits, then rebuild for new chicks.
In the Pantry:
Next on the list, and this one tends to be on-going all year even though the main purchases are tax time, is the Mega Shopping list and pantry stocking for the coming year. I’ve got a few posts here on the original mega shopping we did several years back, and our usual restock/pantry list (see the tab at the top of the page). I’m always making changes to the list, but essentially it stays close to the same. Basics are basics you know :)
I have the usual stuff planned…4 cases/160# of chicken from our first Zaycon Foods order of the year, then another 4 case batch later in the year when they come back through again. We have ordered a couple years now and have been very impressed with the quality, as well as the size of the individual breast portions. I cut back on our amount last year and we ran out before they came though again, so I’m back to planning the 160# at a time. We have a great source for fresh beef and pork locally, so I’ve only ordered the chicken breast portions from Zaycon. I do have friends who have ordered their ground beef and have been pleased with the quality as well.
From our local butcher, I will order at 200# of stew chunks, 200# of ground, and 200# of sausage mix again. We canned up our last order for pantry storage, keeping about 50# done up in 2# packs in the deep freeze, and that seemed to work well for our usual needs. I will also get a few chuck roasts (we get them cut 9-12#) and 20# of bacon (wrapped in 1# packs, used when I make meatloaf). We don’t buy meats from the grocery store, though I will get a few turkey hams and some turkey bacon, as well as some IQF fish filets there. I’ve had some quite nasty meats come from the grocery store and it’s definitely tainted my interest. We bought that whole steer last year and it was awful…such a nasty, strong flavor to it. No idea what the issue was…most likely an intact bull and not the steer we believed we were getting…but that has skewed my idea of going that route again for at least a while. I’m content to stick with our local butcher, Jeff Rickman. The prices are only a bit higher than say, Wal-Mart or the local family-owned grocer, and I trust them, which makes it all worth while to me. All in all, I believe the total meat purchases will be around $2400. Obviously not an all-at-once expenditure usually, but part of the all-year plan. Unless I can rent that tiller…then I’ll pop for all the meat at once :-)
The dry goods portion includes staples like flour, old fashioned oats, beans, rice, etc. These are all 50# bags, or larger if I can get them. Our most common bean usage here is pinto and navy/great northern. I buy several bags of 15-bean mix, as well as black-eye peas, and fill a 5 gallon bucket each. Flour is high gluten/bread and Prairie Gold wheat. If Dewey ends up working up north again, I’ll send my order with him to pick up at our friends Mennonite shop as their prices are easily half of what I can find it for locally here. Sugar is raw sugar, maybe a yearly total of 100# white, and then honey or baking molasses. I’m planning to order the raw sugar and molasses from Golden Barrel in 5 gallon pails, plus I’ll order the 5 gallon pail of coconut oil there as well. My only drawback with that is, while the prices are excellent, I have to double that to get it shipped :( It’s getting pricier for me to locate local raw honey and molasses, in quarts only, than to simply order a 5 gallon pail though. We use a lot of molasses here, in most baked goods replacing the sugars. I prefer honey if I can find a good price, but molasses works great for us. I need a Tennessee source for molasses hint hint someone…
I also stock up on things like real butter (also getting pricier in my area), chicken and beef dry base, tomato base (in the ethnic foods section), dried/minced garlic, onions, bell peppers (I prefer doing these up myself), bulk yeast (we easily go though 8-10# yearly. I buy and freeze the vac-sealed packs). I tend to buy things like cans of Rotel, plain cut-up tomatoes, tomato juice because I haven’t had a decent garden and we use a lot of these things. I stock as many large, #10 cans of things as I can…mushrooms, beans, peas, mixed soup veggies, chili beans, etc. I stock up on baking powder, the big bags of baking soda, coffee packs and cans, vanilla (I use 1 1/2 gal a year), ACV and white vinegar (several gals yearly between us and the livestock), pumpkin when I can find it (we usually just can up a bunch of sweet potatoes and use them in lieu of pumpkin).
And the everyday things like toilet paper (8 cases mol, from Sam’s Club yearly), toothpaste, shampoo, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, dishsoap (12 large yearly), laundry soap makings (Fels Naptha, Zote, Ivory bars, washing soda, Borax, EOs for scent…), box matches, etc. Plus I want to stock up on the herbal and EO medicine cabinet this year.
Obviously that’s not an all-inclusive listing of our typical stock-up, but off the top of my head that’s a big start. We will take inventory here and plan accordingly for needs. I plan to get back to the menu planning of the basic list at least, so we always have staples for the most common meals here. And with that tiller I can knock down the buy list by simply producing many of the things on-site. I’ll definitely share along the way if anyone is interested :-)
In the Sewing Basket:
Clothing makes up a big part of my sewing needs list all year here. Even with 4 olders out of the house for the most part, there are still 5 at home who need clothed. Pants and shirts for the boys are always in need, dresses and skirts for the girls (though they aren’t quite as rough on them as they boys), and my own dress and skirt needs. I’ve farmed out a lot of sewing this past year to a friend in Tennessee, especially the boys needs (in almost 15 years of sewing the boys pants, I still put their pockets in wrong every.single.time. LOL). I have allowed skirts and shirts, with simple aprons for the girls in the past few years, and even some jeans for fishing and some of our hikes through heavy timber. The boys have grown so much over the last year, I have brand new broadfalls that they never got a chance to wear before out-growing them. Might be time to switch completely over to store-bought denims for them.
We have a new baby coming in a few months, and a wedding next year, so there is plenty of sewing in the works for those. I’ve got a list of baby items I’d like to sew and knit up, quilts to work on for next winter, wedding ideas I’d like to try out and so much more. Then there’s the everyday things I always have in the works…dishcloths for us and gifts, knitted/crocheted hats and headbands a lady in town sells for us (planning some new things for spring and summer for her as well). The yarn and fabric basket is never empty here. There are always scrap projects being worked on and long-term ideas being planned out.
In the School Room:
Still plodding ahead, waiting on the wet winter to move out so we can get some hiking and open-air schooling in before the temps chase our weak little summer selves indoors again. It’s been so wet, we haven’t had much chance for our long hikes, or good in-nature nature study this season. We miss it! Maybe we will get the back deck built yet this year and we can put it into use as a school room. I am looking forward to getting the windows in place in that long-awaited addition, and get our cookstove and kitchen/school room all set up and in use. A new space always gets the spirit renewed and inspiration rolling.
With Matthew now working with Dewey on his job, his schooling is shifting to being a Dad project now. He works Monday-Thursday, with both paying work and his schooling. I set him up with a bullet list of must-accomplish weekly assignments so I know he’s moving ahead as he works all day. I’m hoping he will finish his required studies to graduate next spring, but with work hours changing as he goes, it could be late summer/early fall. No matter…he will be finished either way. We aren’t hung up on dates around here with our schooling.
That will be 4 down, 5 to go!
My recent visit back home up north brought us some new school books, namely some interesting looking textbook science items. Not that we use a lot of textbooks for science, but as reference as guides they work pretty well. We can limit a few bunny trails if we have a set plan of a text to follow.
Oh who am I kidding…we bunny trail regardless. It’s just our nature I guess.
I am still planning some Switched-on-Schoolhouse subjects for a couple of children here. Starting with just math and moving from there if it works well. I should start looking ahead to next school season soon, too. I know…crazy talk when we haven’t finished this season yet right? Well, the next Term season will bring us into the Civil War, and that isn’t a study you can just roll into without planning a few things out. We have a huge amount of sites between Tennessee and Mississippi we can utilize for field trips and day studies. Plus the selection of resources for lapbooks, projects, and reading is quite large. No way we can do them all, so I need to plan and prepare for the best along the way. Working the Civil War through an entire year means we can do quite a few though.
If anyone has any favorite resources, project ideas, great reads, about topics surrounding the Civil War, please do share!