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Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in Self Reliant Living Tips and Tricks' LiveJournal:

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
11:20 am
This is not the fun part.
I am procrastinating ... I need to "process" two chickens today.  Does anybody else find that euphemism kind of offensive?  It's just too far from the reality of shoving them head-first in a cone, cutting their little warm throats, plucking and eviscerating them.  Sorry, but it's just ...  part of the point of raising my own is the honesty of looking my meat supply in the face and acknowledging that they are killed for me to eat.  "Processing" is the opposite, it's maintaining the lie that the chicken in the fridge is unrelated to the chicken in the yard.

These two are being culled ... they weren't actually raised for meat, primarily.  One is a 2-year-old hen who has gone a little nuts.  Last year she was broody off and on, this year she won't leave the nest box (or lay any eggs!) for like, the past 2.5 months.  The other is a 1-year-old rooster.  I had planned to keep him, thinking he's a prize because he's never been aggressive to humans.  But the only other full-grown hen, a sweet 3-year-old Polish, turned up dead yesterday.  I found her with her foot caught in a string, she probably died of panic when she couldn't get free, and the danged rooster probably added to the stress by being his over-sexed self and she couldn't get away from him.  That leaves four 10-week-old pullets, one of which is a tiny little banty, I can't let them and the rooster out in the yard at the same time because he won't leave them alone.  It's going to be another month or more before I could put them together, and he still might hurt the littlest one even at her full size.  No, the rooster with just one un-receptive overly broody hen to play with will be a basket case.  So, he and the broody are going to the freezer and the pullets can move into the main coop.


Well, I guess I'd better get started.  :(
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009
7:44 am
A much needed update!

It has been a few months since my last post...Let's see if I can organize this somewhat...

     Of the first batch of chickens, only six survived.  They started getting over-crowded in the container they were in in the house, but it was still too chilly to move them outside...note to self: Next year, wait until at least April!  The hatching eggs were a wash.  We had problems keeping the incubator at temperature.  We ended up having four eggs hatch.  We did autopsies on the unhatched eggs.  There was one that had a fully developed chick, three that had embryos, and the remainder were duds; all of the ones that hatched made it to the freezer.  About two months ago, we bought seven more chicks--they are outside.  One died from that batch (drown in the water dish two days after going outside).

     All six of the Khaki Campbells made it.  We ended up with five females and one male.  I am going to try to Craig's List the four black female ducks and the male Rouen, since the Khakis are now producing eggs.  The whole bottom shelf of the fridge is filled with eggs, the sad thing is that we feed 2 or 3 dozen to the dogs every week, the neighbors buy eggs, and we eat them, and we still have a huge surplus.  When my plants in the garden get bigger, I plan on letting one or two of the ducks into it to help with pest control (and they fertilize as they go!).  

     The bottle lamb we got back in February died at four weeks old (bloat); this is a common occurance with bottle lambs.  We ended up getting a bred ewe (Sheepy) in March.  At the end of March, she lambed one female (Lamby).  After she had her, she didn't want anything to do with her.  Hubby and I had to milk Sheepy, then feed it to Lamby (Colostrum is important--helps with development and immune system).  After a week of that, we had Sheepy slaughtered, and just used milk replacement on Lamby--She's a little over two months now, and enjoys grazing in the yard. 
     We also picked up two ram lambs.  After we got them, we banded them.  The black sheep got butchered yesterday, and the white one will probably be butchered in two or three weeks.  I don't think that next year we will have sheep; I'm thinking more of rabbits, since I'm fairly confident they are less work.

Pygmy Goats
     I will never get these friggin things again!  A month after Pumpkin kidded, we were up to about a quart of milk per day from her, which would've kept up with my family...but these friggin things are destructive.  They killed my two peach trees (ate the bark off), and also killed most of my raspberry bushes (I got a few transplanted elsewhere).  Pumpkin, her kid, and Billie are gone now--sold on Craig's List and made into jerky.  Lucky kidded two weeks ago (a female), but they will both be outta here after the kid is weaned.  Just to reiterate, I think I'm going with rabbits next year! 

     The garden is doing wonderful--I should post some pics.  It's nice when the neighbors comment on how well it is doing.  We've got carrots, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, red, yellow and white onions, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, raddishes, brussel sprouts, chili peppers, and peas, as well as an herb garden.  I had some problems with getting the green beans started, though this morning they were all looking good (didn't make sence to me--usually I have no problem with beans, but always have problems with broccoli).  We've been having some problems with the wild rabbits, but I put some containers with vinegar out, and it has been helping to control them (keeps them out of the garden). 
     Due to the goat incident with the peach trees, I need to get some more trees planted back there.  It sucks I'll have to wait a few years for them to start producing (last year was the first year we got peaches), but there is nothing better than a fresh peach.
     The strawberry patch is doing well.  I ordered some more plants a few months ago, and used them for groundcover in the decorative gardens in the front of my house.  This year, we've been keeping up with the strawberries, so I haven't gotten to make jam yet...but those smoothies have been good!

How is everyone elses' stuff doing?
Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
2:30 am
This year it appears we will have a greater abundance of fruit from our few fruit trees. I am trying to plan ahead as to not let any go to waste!

We will have: apples, pears, plums, mulberries and peaches.

Care to share ideas? Particularly for the pears and plums.
Friday, January 1st, 2010
11:31 am
I meant to post this entry to this community yesterday, but forgot. So, here it is pasted with a couple of replies...

This entry is mostly directed to kai_schwandes since we are in the same state and this goes along with his business I think, but replies from anyone would be most welcome!

There are three plants we'd like for our yard that are native to this region.

1 - Morus alba pendula. We've been trying for one of these for a few years. The regular variety is abundant and does great but the weeping variety has its appeal.

2 - pawpaw.

3 - maypop.

Are you able to get any of these? If so, I'd love to know. Would be a good reason to get up to Asheville sooner then planned! And if you feel like recommending anything, feel free! Low maintenance, food bearing plants are desired.

Reply from Kai:

Morus Alba 'NUCLEAR BLAST' #3 container currently @ $ 28.00 (i would have to order)

Pawpaw: you are talking about Asimina triloba?

Maypop: you are talking about Passiflora incarnata?

what is your plant zone? soil conditions? water conditions? shade/sun?

thanks Kai

Reply from me:

Yes and yes! I couldn't remember the Latin names for those two earlier. Greg is really the plant person in this house, I'll ask him to answer the other questions later on. I hear the lawn mower running right now, I just awoke from a nap!

Reply from me:
Let's see, we aren't interested in the nuclear blast variety. Just the pendula, it's the fruit I'm after and the look that Greg likes. Otherwise, we'll probably do cuttings from the regular ones in the neighborhood.

We are in Zone 8

Soil is dark dirt. Can't figure out how else to explain it, but it is very good, organic, healthy soil. We have areas of full sun, partial sun/shade and a couple of areas of mostly shade. We have a very deep outlet ditch that always has water in it. Ground retains water well, but not excessively.

Don't knock yourself out over it though!
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
5:44 am
Keeping a backyard flock
I know at least one other member on here has backyard chickens.  I personally prefer ducks since they don't typically have as many poultry-related illnesses.  Since we are coming up on spring, I thought I'd go ahead and pick up a few more ducks so that I can keep my flock in rotation, and while I picked up some ducks, I also opted to get some Cornish cross chickens.  There are a lot of good resources online for starting up your own backyard flock, so I will spare you from reading it here.  The surprising thing is that it is not too expensive to start-up, considering the payback.

Brooder requirements:
I just used a rubbermaid tote that I had in the attic, so no cost there.
Waterer: $3.49--I purchased the kind that a mason jar screws in to (already had mason jar=free)
Feeder: $3.49--Same "mason jar" type as waterer
Feed: $7.99
Heat lamp and bulb: about $10

The ducks I got were Khaki Campells (supposedly the most prolific eggers of the duck world), and I went ahead and paid the extra $1 to have each of them sexed to give me a better chance of getting females (I use my ducks for eggs), bringing the total to $4.75 each at my local hatchery; I bought 5, and he gave me a freebie.

The Cornish cross chicks were $1.49 each, I bought 10, he threw in an extra.

Lastly, I bought 1 dozen fertilized Cornish cross eggs at $4.75.  I found an incubator in my garage that hubby's dad had given us a few years ago (didn't know we had it until a few weeks ago), so I thought I'd give it a try. 

Total start-up: $68.37

The ducks I currently have in my backyard (the adults) are Rouens, and there are also four black ducks that I am unsure of their breed.  We have one drake, the other 11 are hens.  We have been getting 8-11 eggs per day consistantly the past two weeks.  We give them scrap vegetables as well as egg-layer feed ($9.97/bag, lasts 3 weeks).  To offset cost, we have also been selling a dozen eggs/week to two of our neighbors for $2/dozen ($4/week times three weeks=$12, offsetting the cost of the feed).  This gives us free eggs, and since we have so many eggs, we have been eating them more, which saves on our regular grocery bill.
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
7:55 am
Any ideas?
I am going to be putting in a rainwater collection system.  I have priced the plastic barrels at the local farm store, which already have a spiggot (about $60), I have also contacted a local winery to see if they give up their used wine barrels, since they are only allowed to use them once (they wanted $75), and I have been watching Craig's List, but have only been able to find metal barrels (which I am shying away from due to rust, and the possibilities of oil products previously being stored in them).  Does anyone have any ideas as to what could be used/where to find barrels suitable for rainwater collection?
Friday, February 6th, 2009
11:13 am
Random update...

Lamb Chop has been doing well...the first few days we had her, she drank about 1 oz. per hour.  Today, she's up to about two oz./hour.  We have been having a nice warm snap, so she has been spending daylight hours outside with the goats and ducks, but we've still been bringing her in at night.  Pumpkin (pregnant goat) has been quite edgy the past few days, ramming the other two goats (Lucky and Billie), and I've caught her (lightly) ramming Lamb Chop. 

I ordered five Khaki Campbell ducks as well as a few chickens and a white turkey from a somewhat-local hatchery; they should be ready for pick-up around the first of March.  The black ducks that we have don't seem to be producing, at least they don't have the bulging back end like the Rouens do.  We have consistently been getting five eggs per day the past few days. 

We bought a cheap pup-tent as a temporary shelter for when the chickens and turkey are feathered out enough to go outside.  They will be butchered when they are big enough, so we didn't feel as though it would be necessary to build another permanent structure.  The plan is to get at least three different batches of chickens--get a new batch when the first batch gets butchered, or slightly before.  This should be able to give us quite a bit of chicken in the freezer.

My goal was to have my tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and beans started indoors on the first of February.  Wal-Mart has not gotten their displays up yet, so I broke down and ordered from Burpee's (coupon code BX53 is good for $5 off a $30 order...use your Burpee's card to get free shipping).  By the end of the month, I hope to have the frames for the new gardens built, although weather pending, this may wait until the first week of March.  Aside from potatoes, I ordered everything that I planned to plant:

Onion sets
Peaches 'n Cream sweet corn
Green beans
Two types of lettuce
Two types of tomatoes (one early variety, one long-storage variety)
Hot peppers
Brussel Sprouts

I also saved back some butternut squash and pie pumpkin seeds from last fall.  What's everyone elses gardens going to consist of this year?
Monday, February 2nd, 2009
1:25 pm
A freebie...
A few weeks ago, I posted in my personal journal about having to go to my insurance company to get refunded for a towing expense (I know what you're thinking...damn women drivers...BUT my husband was driving, so, damn male drivers).  Anyway, my insurance agent loves talking about his personal life, which I don't much care for, but I don't have to deal with him too much.  He started talking about how he has a lot of sheep that are lambing (as most are this time of year), and that he had some triplets, and he typically gets rid of one of the triplets so that he doesn't have to bottle feed it.  I started talking to him more about this, and asked if I could buy one or two off of him, so he said the next one he has he'll give us a call.

Yesterday, he called.  We met him at his barn yesterday afternoon, where he had at least 150 head of sheep.  We followed him through the office area into where he had the lambing ewes, and he entered one of the cages, grabbed one of the new born lambs and gave it to us...I asked how much he wanted, to which he replied "Uhm...how about nothing?"  Free!  Granted, we have the cost and time of bottle-feeding it, but $50 in milk replacement is better than $130 for a yearling.  He also said that if he has any more that will need to be bottle fed, he will keep us in mind, one thing he did mention was possibly in the future, he could give us two bottle lambs, and we could raise them both until they are weaned, then give one back, which would work out for all of us.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
7:22 am
Low-cost meat
Meat can be an expensive part of our diets, and there are those of us (myself included) that will not turn vegan...There is just something about a good steak.  With New York Strips costing around $7/lb, this isn't a very cost-effective endulgence.  Not all of us have the option of raising our own cows, due to property size, but there are a few options we do have to cut the cost of those summer BBQs...

1. Miniature cattle.  When I first learned of these creatures, I was elated.  They grow to about 3 1/2' tall, and typically yield a greater live weight/finished product ratio than typical cows.  The downside is that these suckers can run anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 each, so it wouldn't be cost effective unless you were wanting to raise your own miniature cattle. 

2. Many small farmers sell their cattle at a local livestock auction.  The prices here fluctuate, but a full-grown moo-moo will generally run around $1,000, depending on the weight.  Butcher the cow yourself, and you have inexpensive beef.  The downside?  Freezer storage.

3.  Contact your local meat locker/butcher.  My local meat locker also acts as a go-between for sellers and buyers.  You may also have the option to buy a quarter or half of a cow, instead of buying the whole cow.  They will also typically have a list of other people who want to purchase a half or quarter, so even if they don't have someone selling, you and the other person(s) can go in on purchasing a cow from the livestock auction.  Butchers are also a good source to get a reference for someone to slaughter the animal if you are not comfortable doing it yourself. 

The last time we made a "bulk beef" purchase, we contacted the butcher and got a quarter.  It came out to about $2.39/lb of finished product (we had the butcher cut the steaks and grind the hamburger, adding to cost).  This isn't a wonderful deal for hamburger, but if you consider the cost of a T-bone, there is definately a cost savings...and it is definately the best beef I have ever had.  The hamburger was lean, and the steaks were melt-in-your-mouth juicy.  Since these cows are raised by smaller farmers, they aren't typically fed a lot of growth hormones, and are usually free-range...not like the stuff you buy in the store where the cow came from a concrete confinement area.  I definately will never go back to the store-bought stuff again.

Even if you are not wanting to purchase that large of a quantity of beef, local meat lockers typically sell fresh meat the same way that most stores do, and sometimes have package deals.  Our local locker price compares the local stores to make sure that they have the best deals in town. 
Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
7:52 am
Dented can stores

Have you ever wondered what happens to that can of green beans that you accidently drop and kick under the shelves in the store?  Many companies save up these dented cans, in addition to expired cereals, slightly damaged packaged food, etc. and sell to wholesalers, who then sell them in lots to smaller stores. 

In the past few years, "dented can stores" have been gaining in popularity.  I drove by one on a weekly basis for about five years, never knowing what it was.  One day I decided to stop...Brand-name cereals for $1/box.  Del Monte canned vegetables $0.10/can.  Kleenex 3-packs for $1.00, Starbucks coffee $1.50.  I was hooked.  I could go in, and average out about $10 for a banana box stuffed full of food.  Yeah, the cereal might be a week or so past the due date, but it's still sealed.  The canned goods have a dent, but as long as the can isn't bulging or click when you push on it (or of course, leaking), it's still good.  Boxes might have some of the packaging removed, but the bag inside is still sealed.  This is like the Goodwill of the food industry.

Another interesting type of store I have found are grocery re-packers.  These places will purchase 1,000 lb. bags of flour, sugar, noodles, dried beans, etc. at low, bulk pricing, and repackage into more "family friendly" sizes, and keep the cost down.  Granted, the packaging doesn't look as nice as it might in the store, but nutritionally, it's the same.  Personally, I like to keep at least 60 lbs. of flour on hand at all times, and with the property I currently have, growing wheat is not an option, so these re-packers are a good alternative for me.

Typically at dented can stores, they will have a lot of some items, and few, if any of others, just depending on what they were able to get that time around.  I have found that buying at least a three month supply of what they do have in stock helps keep my grocery bill down quite a bit.  The one closest to me re-stocks every two weeks, so every two weeks, I go in and buy a large supply of the items they do have in stock.  After about two months, I had a supply of every non-parishable item I could think of, and now I am just at the replenish stage of keeping a minimum of three months worth of stuff on hand.  Since there are items that they don't get in, I do end up having to go to the grocery store, but my monthly grocery store bill is only about $50/month (primarily butter, dog food, coffee creamer, milk, and cheese).

If you have an Amish community near by, they will typically have a dented can store from my experience.  The one I currently go to is ran by the people that deliver the groceries to the near-by Amish stores that saw an opportunity to make some more money.  So, if you see a store that says "dented can," "discount grocery," or something similar, it might be worth your time to check out.

Monday, January 19th, 2009
1:35 pm
Creeping Charlie / Ground Ivy
The "weed" I questioned about yesterday, appears very very much to be "creeping Charlie" also known as ground ivy.


Neat info:

" Creeping charlie's medicinal qualities have been known since at least the days of ancient Greece and Rome. Galen, for instance, recommended creeping charlie for inflamed eyes, and English herbalist, John Gerard (1545-1607) recommends ground ivy for ringing in the ears, according to Botanical.com, "A Modern Herbal." The same source reports the medicinal properties of ground ivy as being "diuretic, astringent, tonic and gently stimulant. Useful in kidney diseases and for indigestion."

Never is it wise, however, to ingest any plant, medicinal or otherwise, without first becoming thoroughly informed about its properties"


"you may be unaware that it is only a particular part of the plant that can safely be ingested -- whether as an herbal remedy, a food, or a drink."
6:44 am
Personal Update
We have been consistantly getting two eggs per day out of the ducks now (have not yet checked this morning).  We hung a light in the duck coop on Saturday that we turn on when we put the ducks away in the evening, and turn off at 9:00pm to encourage more egg production. 
x-posted to personal journal:
We were up to 10 eggs in the fridge on Sunday, so I made 3 into deviled eggs, and we had six for lunch (I left an extra in case hubby broke one while cooking).  Just about everything I read said that duck eggs basically weren't good (the yoke is gross, the whites are rubbery, etc.).  After I made the deviled eggs, I gave one to my daughter, not telling her it was from a duck...and she couldn't tell the difference.  The yoke was a little different, but if I didn't know, I wouldn't have guessed it wasn't chicken.  Hubby cooked them sunny-side-up for lunch...in comparison to a chicken egg, the whites tasted a little different, and the yokes were a little muted...If I hadn't known, I wouldn't have noticed I don't think.

We almost got two bottle lambs on Saturday; we were planning on waiting until late February-early March to get a lamb, but I found two on Craig's List, but I did the math, and it would be cheaper to get them at the livestock auction...so I guess they will wait.

This morning, I went to take the dogs out, and when I turned the porch light on, the inverter started squealing at me...basically no battery charge.  It has been cloudy here the past few days, and apparently the solar panels haven't been keeping up...Dern it.
Thursday, January 15th, 2009
6:39 am
Another gardening/recycling tip
So, per a previous post, I have been saving my toilet paper and paper towel rolls for the purpose of making starter pots...then I came across this webpage: http://www.geocities.com/newspaperpots/
In the US, most newspapers use soy-based black ink (I recommend not using colored ink newspaper), which is safe for the seedlings, and can also be later transferred into the garden.  We get a local advertisement printed like newspaper once per week, and every week when I'm done with it, I just fold the paper into the pots.  When it is time for me to start my vegetables, I should have enough pots made.
Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
7:46 am
My husband and I have kept chickens over the last several years of various breeds. The flock is down to two boys now (we placed a bunch and also had a bad run-in with an irresponsible neighbors dog) Rambo is a silver laced Sebright that came to us when someone found him starving in a ditch. He has a crooked beak, the other boy is the "baby" but around 6-7 months old. He was the last of the offspring. He's at a good age to butcher and I very much want to overcome my issues with this and learn the skill. I was thinking to ask someone in my area that does it for themselves if I could bring him over and do it with them on their property; so they could teach me and I can overcome my issues of not doing it at home since my yard is pretty much on full display to the town.

THEN - I would really like to start over with a new flock. They live in a little two-story children's playhouse. Next time I want to make a large run that comes off of one of their windows. The door would be for us to go in and out. I'd like to go back to bantams only so the flock could be a bit larger for the space we have (I'd say no more then ten though) Would love a heritage/rare breed, but also one that is dual purpose. Obviously a bantam won't produce the same volume of eggs and meat, but that's okay. It's just the two of us. Plus we may never get ourselves to butcher; but I think we should. Silkies appeal to me; calm, easy, they don't seem to feel the need to wander really, really far, they're broody so if we wanted/needed to breed them it should be easy. But, they are not a heritage breed.


EDIT - I have been in contact with the American Livestock Breeds Conservatory, they are even based in NC (where I live) She suggested Nankins and knows of a flock a couple of hours away that may need a new home. They are an ancient breed, status is critical which is the highest status of endangerment, tame/docile personality, broody, larger eggs. I think it sounds perfect :)

By the way - I love your idea for this community. Very nice; appeals to me very much!
Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
11:57 am
Our first egg
Two weeks ago, we purchased 17 full-grown ducks.  We ended up butchering four of the males, keeping 1 male and 11 females (may thin them out later, we'll see).  We were starting to get antsy for them to lay an egg, although we know that the egg laying typically slows down (if not stops) during the winter...but still, every morning when I would let them out of their coop and every night when I put them back in, I would check.  This morning, there was one egg greeting me when I checked the nesting boxes.  I was excited...Now we aren't sure if we should split it up between the three of us and eat it or have it bronzed (LOL).
Monday, January 12th, 2009
9:07 am
Making a resolution
Since I've been on this self-sufficiency kick, and getting my bills lower at the same time, I have been finding ways to cut out some of my "junk" bills.  Internet?  Have to keep it since  I work primarily from home and the vast majority of my communications are through email.  Have to keep all three phone lines (regular phone, internet phone, and fax line)...I write those off on taxes, anyway.  Have to keep the cell phone for the same reason.
Which brought me to my garbage bill.  I think that if I give myself two months to adjust, I should be able to completely get rid of it...It's only $12/month, but I think I can get rid of it.  Over the weekend, I tried to mentally keep track of everything that went into the garbage...most of it was paper (shred and put into compost).  For plastics or metal, there is a recycling station in town that is free to use.  The only thing I really had to think on was bones (gotta have my steak).  I do have a very strong grinder out in the garage...and my husband said there is no reason why we wouldn't be able to hammer the bones into smaller chunks to feed into the grinder, then just put it in the driveway (gravel).  I will be posting my progress periodically.  The goal is to completely get rid of my garbage service within two months.
Thursday, January 8th, 2009
7:44 am
Negotiating bills

Terms on credit cards are negotiable.  In a recent "hair up my ass" quest, I called each of my credit card carriers in an attempt to get my interest rates cut, or something, to make me feel like an appreciated customer.  It worked for the most part.  It just takes some time, some sucking up, and good negotiation skills.  I know, the best way out of credit card debt is to never get into it...but being young and stupid, I racked up my fair share. 

Credit cards #1 & 2 (same bank)-were not able to lower my interest rate, although they did waive one year of "account maintenance fees".  While I was on the phone with them, I asked if they could remove some old late charges (at $20 a pop), for a total savings of $178, and they reimbursed the interest that was racked up from the late fees as well.

Credit card #3-waived the monthly maintenance fee for three months, for a total savings of $20.85.

Jewelry Store card #1-Was able to sweet talk them into taking off the card insurance, since I had the card for a few years without any hiccups in payment (savings of $40/month), and the lady also made it retro-active for three months ($120 credit) and credited back the interest from the $120. 

Jewelry Store card #2-I was able to extend out the no payments (and more importantly) no interest.  It had been initially set up for 12 months, but I was at month 10...A little flirting, and viola, I get 12 months back.

Jewelry Store card #3-(yes, I like my jewelry) Card initially had 3 years, no payments but racked up interest.  By negotiating, I was able to change the terms from the no payments with interest to "payments, no interest" by putting a 10% down payment on the original balance, and setting up payment terms to pay the balance off within 1 year. 

Credit card #4-would not work with me, so I cancelled the account, saving the yearly maintenance fee.  After I got my next statement, since my account was no longer active, my rate got dropped to 4.9% APR...if they would've done that in the first place, I would've kept it open.

For the most part, if you threaten to cancel your card, they will try to keep you as a customer.  If they don't try to keep you, go ahead and cancel the card; we don't need them, anyway. 

I have Dish Network, and have been a Dish Network subscriber for about 3-4 years.  My hubby watches Fox News, which is only available on the more expensive package.  We were paying almost $70/month.  I went on to DirecTv's webpage, and saw they had a better deal, although I really didn't want the hassle of switching...so I called Dish Network, and without much squabbling, was able to reduce my monthly rate to the DirecTv introductory price for one year...total savings?  $30/month.

In short, companies want our money, and would rather give us their services at a reduced rate than see us go to the competition.  I thought it would be embarrassing at first to "jew" down my bills, but after the first one, I started getting cocky about it...If you decide to do this, don't be afraid of requesting to talk to their supervisors, and don't be afraid of cancelling your account.  There are always other options out there. 
Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
1:39 pm
Recycling opportunity
I am going to start a garden again this year, since I have some extra time on my hands.  I came across a recycling opportunity.  Use old toilet paper/paper towel cardboard rolls (instead of the plastic cups) to start your seedlings in.  They can be transplanted right into the garden when frost is no longer a danger.  It's much cheaper than the bio-degradable cups sold in the store, and most of us use TP or PT anyway.
6:37 am
Laundry Detergent Recipe
Here is a laundry detergent recipe that I have that works wonders (this soap got dried blood out of hubby's pants):

2  Gallons of hot water
1  Bar of soap, grated
1  Cup baking soda (if you have it available in your area, washing soda can be substituted)
1  Cup Borax

Put about two quarts of water in a sauce pot, add grated bar soap, baking soda (or washing soda), and Borax, and heat until soap is melted and baking (or washing) soda and Borax is completely dissolved.  Put remaining water in a bucket or sealable storage container.  Add the cooked mixture and stir until incorporated.  Use 1/2 cup of the solution instead of traditional laundry detergent.  Mixture will need to be re-stirred prior to each use, as it can clump up. 

This recipe costs about $1 to make each batch, depending on the kind of bar soap you decide to use (I splurged and got the Hypo-Allergenic Pure & Natural Almond Oil and Cherry Blossom, which raised the cost to about $2.50/batch). 

I haven't tried this one yet, but I will when I start hanging my clothes outside this summer:
Fabric Softener:

2  Cups baking soda
4  Cups hot water
2  Cups WHITE vinegar

Dissolve the baking soda into the hot (almost boiling) water. 
Add white vinegar.
After solution is done fizzing, store in a 1 gallon jug. 
Add 1/4 cup of mixture to the final rinse cycle. 

The place I obtained this recipe swore that it did not leave clothes smelling like vinegar.  You can also add essential oil for fragrance if you choose. 
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