House

Lately I’ve been getting into tiny house blogs. Watching people build tiny houses that fit on trailers is totally fascinating. I think it appeals to me because it’s kind of like having an adult fort, something about cramming yourself into 150 or so square feet just screams adventure. I’d like to think I could live in 150 square feet since it has been a dream of mine to live out of our VW bus since we bought it 3 years ago but in my heart I know with an overly large husband and 2 pesty dogs it would be impossible. My new dream house is a more reasonable 500 square feet courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny homes

Its super cute with the following floor plan:

The bedroom in the back would become a pimped out mudroom with a dog grooming sink, laundry and access to the bathroom. The whole room would be floor to ceiling linoleum with a floor drain so I could just spray the room clean. My solution to the dirt the comes with living on a farm (on a plus note, Jack says the grooming sink would also be awesome for beer making purposes…).

If the property we buy comes with a house we will make use of it, less wasteful that way but if not I really want this house. Jack is pretty handy so I know we could build it.  Sigh, just dreaming….

Dog food

So yesterday I had a small freak out when I discovered the very expensive and supposedly high quality dog treats (duck jerky) I had been feeding my dogs were made in China and causing deaths. I remember the scandal in 2007 where pet food was made with contaminated ingredients from China and I decided to research all the products I fed my pets. Even those claiming to be made in the USA had ingredients imported from China. China has a demonstrated history of exporting substandard and dangerous things to the US and this latest incident pushed me over the edge. I would be devastated if anything should happen to my babies so I decided to go China free. Finding such a pet food is no easy matter because even the high end dog foods rarely make their own food and therefore really have no idea what goes into it. And an article I read stated that even if the main ingredients are not from China the supplements are. I naively believed that if you didn’t buy the cheap crap that you were buying safe food.  My online research led me to Orijen which makes their own food and promises that none of their ingredients ever come from China. They have their own philosophy about dog nutrition and philosophies usually equal expensive. This case is no different, I just bought a 28 lb bag for 90 bucks! Holy crap…. But if that is what it takes to keep my pups healthy and poison free than so be it. I also decided I was going to make duck jerky for them at home. I know that for people with pets and kids it is often difficult to divide limited resources between them and that many people with kids couldn’t afford to feed their dogs such expensive dog food, but I’m just glad that we have that ability. I’m glad that I don’t have to decide between buying diapers and dog food.  Hopefully this food brings them a long and healthy life because when they pass away I will have 2 beagle shaped holes in my soul.

One year ago

One year ago I had my last negative beta, from my donor cycle. At the time I didn’t know that we would end up walking away from fertility treatments and I would end up on the childfree path. In the months that followed we struggled to find the mental, physical and emotional reserves to jump back on the treatment wagon but it never happened and we began to entertain the thought of moving on from fertility treatment. In April we made it official and I resumed birth control so I could regulate my hormones (I hadn’t had any spontaneous pregnancy hopes for a long time). I realized that I still wanted children but was now unwilling to do what I needed to do to get them.

When we stepped away from fertility treatments I found that the rest of my life was horribly out of balance, I had neglected my career, my finances, my relationships (especially with my mother and nephews), my marriage and sex life, my house and my hobbies. I was now a one dimensional person who only cared about/talked about/read about infertility. I even stopped seeing my friends because infertility was all I could talk about and I assumed they were getting tired of it. With the help of my husband I began to try and rebuild my life but I often found myself feeling adrift and directionless. It was almost as if the person I was prior to my infertility had disappeared. The problem was worsened by the bout of depression I suffered after making our decision official in April.

It hasn’t been easy crawling out of the hole I managed to dig myself during treatment but I am doing it and making progress every day. Even when I have wondered what the point of it all was, I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.  The last few months especially things have been getting easier and I have felt the old me waking up. Most days I really appreciate my life just the way it is. If you had asked me what childfree life was like a year ago I would have told you it was full of sadness and longing, that you would never be able to be truly happy and that you would just be going through the motions until you died. THANK GOD I was wrong. Now that the grieving is winding down I am full of excitement for the future. I cant wait to see what the next year brings.

The Self Sufficiency Diet

My husband and I have been following a mediterranean diet since the early part of the year. I noticed that the diet did lead to an increase in satiety and overall energy (there was some weight loss too). My husband was pre-diabetic but with following this diet and exercise he reversed his condition. Sounds like an overall win right? Well the tricky part is that some key parts of our diet aren’t self sufficiency compatible.

Key parts of the mediterranean diet are olive oil, nuts, fish, less animal products (meat, eggs, dairy) whole grains, and overall mostly vegetarian. I think with some creativity we can make substitutions that remain true to the principles (ie substituting olive oil for sunflower oil we grow and make ourselves) but some areas will be tougher to maintain. Fish is going to be a problem, we would be dependent on what we could catch in the wild (unless we wanted to farm fish) and another big problem is grain. Grain takes up so much more space than potatoes to produce the same amount of calories. Potatoes are the much more practical choice for self sufficiency but I’m not really in the habit of eating them, my go to starch of choice is whole wheat pasta. Thankfully Jack grew up pretty poor and potatoes were his main diet growing up. Potatoes have a bad rap in the modern world but are actually quite nutritious and its possible to lower their glycemic index significantly by serving them with fats and protein. (I have a whole post in store about how awesome the potato is) So my goal is to get used to eating a lot more potatoes as any grain we grow will likely be reserved for beer making.

Another big clash that my current diet plan has with self sufficiency is that it overlooks the humble chicken. While we don’t plan on raising any meat animals and plan on remaining mostly vegetarian the chicken is kind of a self sufficiency cornerstone. They are easy to raise, they don’t need much space, and they produce eggs which are a high quality source of protein. The mediterranean diet only recommends poultry and poultry products once or twice a week and we would likely be eating them more often (especially when it came time to cull the roosters). I know that grass fed animal products are more healthy for you (more omega 3’s vs Omega 6’s etc) so hopefully we could figure out a “grass fed” chicken situation. Besides we need something to make up for eating less fish.

So I think Im going to try to adopt a self sufficiency diet with a Mediterranean bent. My current goal is to eat more potatoes and eggs and less pasta. We have been fishing this summer and have been enjoying wild caught catfish and trout so I think we will keep that up and try and have fish we catch ourselves account for more of our fish consumption..uh oh… guess we have to take up ice fishing.. brrrrr…

Doggy Mind Games

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She looks so precious and innocent right? Well she is also apparently a master manipulator. Most of the time she can get what she wants by pointing her BBBE (Big Brown Beagle Eyes) at me and looking so sad but occasionally she still doesn’t get what she wants and I must be punished. Yesterday I had the audacity to clean the upholstery on her couch and kept her locked in the kitchen until it was dry. Miss Willow was not pleased… That night she wouldn’t have anything to so with me at all. Normally she is all about snuggling with her mom but last night she was all over my husband. I know this was to punish me because she normally barely tolerates him and she was snuggling up a storm with him, also she kept looking at me to make sure I was watching. I told her that her games wouldn’t work but as the night wore on with my husband and puppy snuggled happily on the other end of the couch and my lap getting colder and colder, I snapped. She broke me, I begged her to come back to me and told her I’d never shampoo her couch again. Damn dogs…

The Good Life

The Good Life or Good Neighbors (in the U.S) is a show that was originally aired on the BBC in the mid 70’s. Its about a couple in their late 30’s early 40’s (without children and from watching the show they are child free not by choice) who decide to quit the rat race and pursue a self sufficient life in their upper class suburb, much to the chagrin of their posh next door neighbors. My husband introduced me to the show a year or so ago and it has become my favorite show of all time. I want to do that, to quit the rat race and try and become self sufficient. The title of the blog, The 5 Year Plan is in reference to the plan we implemented at the beginning of 2013 to achieve that goal.

I briefly considered attempting to do what the Goods did, achieving self sufficiency in the suburbs but I really want to move out to the middle of nowhere. Thus the plan for the family compound began to take place, I don’t want to be completely alone and I have always been close with my family. My sister and parents are signed on and we want about 60 acres in the Willamette Valley to call home.  I picked the Willamette Valley because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have always longed to return and it has the perfect growing conditions for what I am interested in (berries, hops, etc). Right now we are in the pay down debt/save money/realign careers/fix up houses to sell phase of the plan and the goal just seems so far away. We achieved a huge part of the plan by selling our rental house this year and I am making good progress on my masters degree (to lead to a telecommuting job) but I need to do more to keep my eye on the prize. Luckily I came across this article http://homestead.org/BonnieLavigne/Countdown/ToTheCountry.htm which is a good way to feel like I am making progress toward my goal. I particularly want to focus on getting more physically fit (ie focusing on strength training and flexibility) and learning useful skills. Its hard right now because school is taking up a lot of free time but I also need to work on time management so I can accomplish more.  I think I am going to start including more posts detailing how I am preparing for the Good Life on this blog.