Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Welcome to my world: Poverty Prepping!

Hello, everyone!  I'm a 51 year old mom and grandma.  We live in a part of the country that historically has a poor economy even when the rest of the nation is enjoying good times and low unemployment.  We have a 4-figure annual income that isn't even close to hitting 5-figures!  Yet we live quite comfortably.

Like most Americans we have too much "stuff", and we've learned not to fall into the trap of feeling deprived if we can't afford to keep buying "stuff".  Laughter is a big help.  When catalogs from places like Cabelas come in the mail, my husband smiles as he sits down to browse through it and says "Time to feed my discontent!" 

We've made an art form out of Poverty, and I'm sure many of you have too.  It doesn't take a lot of money to be comfortable and happy.  It's NICE to have a lot of money!  But we've never let the lack of it stop us from doing things, including stocking up on basic foods. 

We've also put the time and work into other ways to help ourselves, such as gardening and foraging.  It's a big help, because not only is it a hardship for us to spend money on groceries, it's even harder to buy healthy things like fresh fruits and vegetables.  The ones we grow ourselves, or pick in the woods, are free and they're organic.

When our kids were growing up we had very little money to spare, but our kids would have been shocked if someone had told them that not only were we poor, we were way below the poverty line.  We were always out walking and hiking, and having great conversations along the way.  We noticed the seasons, and the different stages of the plants in each season.  We saw wildlife and we saw people's pets.

We bought cheap bicycles and rode them all over the place because our car was broke down most of the time.  We bought cheap rafts from Wal-mart and floated all the rivers in our area.  We had cheap tents and sleeping bags, and found free places to camp and had a great time.  We looked at the stars as we sat around campfires, and jumped together at strange noises in the woods, then laughed at ourselves.

We made heavy use of books and videos from the library.  Our kids thought it was normal to watch documentaries on TV in the evening, on VHS because we never had cable or satelite TV.  They're grown up and have kids of their own, and still love documentaries, though nowdays they watch them on the History channel and National Geographic!

Our house was always full of love, laughter, and hugs, and those things are priceless!

Now the kids are grown and most of them have moved to town, where the jobs are.  My husband and I continue to live like we always have, and I'm finally getting the hang of cooking less at meals! 

We live in a log cabin on 20 acres of land in a forested, mountainous area.  Our place is paid for, and our only essential debt it the property taxes.  We must pay those, or we'll be homeless!  We also pay for phone/internet service, and liability-only car insurance.  We rarely drive the car, but when we do, it requires money for gas.  We use our bicycles a lot, even though we're 7 miles from the post office, where we get our mail, and the nearest small town.

We have a solar electric off-grid power system that we put together piece-meal over a few years, and we're very happy with it.  Over time I'll write more about that, in case anyone else wants to learn a cheap way to get freedom from big power bills.  We heat with firewood that we cut ourselves, so no heating bill.

We don't have a well, but we do have a spring-fed marsh and a rain water collection system.  We use that primarily for laundry, showers, dishes, and watering the garden.  Our drinking water is hauled from a public water tap in the town 7 miles away. 

We have boiled and filtered the rainwater on occasions when we couldn't get to town.  We've also pushed water jugs in a wheel barrel for almost a mile each way, in order to get drinking water from a neighbor.

Sounds like a hard life, huh?  No, not really.  We're out of the rat race, and you can't beat that!

Here's a few pictures for today's post, to start introducing you to our life.

 This is me chopping home-grown green onions and spreading them on a screen to dry.  I planted these from seed in an old bathtub.  Part of our poverty prepping plan is to dehydrate as much as we can from food we grew of foraged, and put it away to eat year round.  Most fruits and vegetables are dehydrated to save on canning costs.  What jars and lids we have or can afford are saved for things like meat, which must be pressure canned.

 Here I'm using a wooden pestle to grind dried eggs into a finer powder for the morning's breakfast.  Our chickens stop laying for a few months in winter, so in summer when we have extra eggs we whisk them like we're making scrambled eggs, and we dry them.  I line dehydrator trays with wax paper and pour the eggs onto them.  I can only use the dehydrator on sunny summer days when we get enough hours of solar charge to keep up with the electric demand of the dehydrator.  That's why I dry most things on screens in the open air.  But eggs dry faster using the electric dehydrator.  They look like peanut brittle without the peanuts when they're done drying.  Over the winter we make scrambled eggs or omelettes with them.  It's nice not to have to buy those white, watery eggs from the grocery store!

My husband and I like to do many things, including going on long-distance bicycle trips.  We also like hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and cross-country skiing.  There'll be more pictures of these later on.  You can buy used equipment very cheap, and after that it doesn't cost you anything to use it.  We chose these sports for that reason.  There are other things we'd like to do but can't afford to.  That doesn't keep us from enjoying the things we CAN do!

This blog is for YOU, too.  I have left it open for anyone to make comments, suggestions, or ask questions.  Jump on in and let's talk!


  1. I was wondering if you have a septic system?

    Drying food must also simplify life,reduced need for storage and less canning jars to clean and prep, plus no hot prepping during summer. Lisa

  2. I have just found this page, I am enjoying it very much! Keep up the great work.

  3. Susan: Oh my gosh I was heart broken when JJ was killed off in Kay's arms....

    Sorry wrong web blog...

    Welcome to my world of poverty, usually I just do with out I'm not quite as strong as an ox anymore to do all sorts of things.... Keep up the good work and we will see you in Wisconsin on your Speaking tour this year...

  4. lol, with friends like you, who needs...um, 'not'-friends? rotfl
    Looking forward to seeing you too! Wisconsin is definitely on the route. I read that as "oxymoron" instead of "ox anymore" and had a good laugh! I bet you're still doing more than you think you are, and more than you should be! :)


    1. I meant to put that comment as a reply to the post above it! Oh well!

  5. I just found this blog! I bought the ebook from Kindle and was hoping beyond hope there would be contact information so I could ask questions. There was! I'm starting with the first post and working my way forward.

    Thanks for the blog!