Friday, February 25, 2011

Canada or Bust

It's getting late and we are about half way done the packing. Looks like it will be either a late night or  an early morning.

Got the Uhaul and have a crew coming at 9 am for the loading.

I'm not sure if we really thought this through. I hear it's -33 C in Canada. Even the polar bears don't like that weather.

I hope duck lake road is kind to us tomorrow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

House in a mess

Here is what our house looks like now.
That's the good view.

Here's one small side of the garage.

Ringo and Sally like to paint. Ringo wondered if he could sell his paintings. What do you think? Anyone want to pay a dollar for these masterpieces?

I'm pretty sure we met our goal of getting rid of a third of all our stuff. We'll see if it fits in a 26 foot size Uhaul.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Storm's a Comin'

Wouldn't you know it. We've planned this big move for weeks now and the weatherman picked this weekend to get to -19 C and snowing.
I planned originally to pack up Friday night and take off Saturday morning but Milly convinced me we don't want our things stuffed in the Uhaul when the temperature can reach such drastically low levels.

I need to call all my moving buddies to reschedule to 9 am Saturday morning. Leave a comment here if you don't need me to call and can make it at that time.

We have rented a storage unit up north and have found good homes for our couches and piano until we have a place of our own. I guess we are staying with Greybeard and Dancing Queen for a while until they kick us out.

I have taken three days off next week so we can get all of our business done. We found out our car only needs to be exported from the US. It doesn't need to go through the Provincial inspection rigamarole we did last time we did this silly international move.

Ringo says he's ready to do some farm work. The girls are happy to be close to their Grandmas.

Two more days and counting.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Four little piggies

We've had a couple of field trips over the past few weeks. We ran across the four little pigs and took a picture of them. I never knew pigs actually smile but these silly ones did.

I hope to give a full report tomorrow on our adventures as it is Presidents Day (Family day for you Canucks).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I hear that train a coming

After much debate and discussion we have decided to get this adventure started ASAP. Yikes!!! What are we doing? We told our landlords we are moving out February 26th so we have a week and a half to close up shop on our life in Montana and make arrangements for our new life in Canada.

Milly thinks we haven't really thought things thru and for once I agree. We have nothing ready on our land and will probably be at the mercy of Greybeard and Dancing Queen for the next month or so. But at least we are one step closer to our final destination.

Our kids have told us more than once that they don't want to live in a yurt which we are fully investigating. We actually have an appointment to visit a lady that has a working yurt tomorrow morning. I doubt it will come to much but we are bound and determined to be on the land as soon as we can.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I have no time!!!

Anyone else feel like they have no time to do anything?

Over the past four years I have had practically no time that wasn't already called for. It's mostly my fault. After moving to Montana we kept our rental place up in Canada thinking it wouldn't be that bad to be three hours away since the unit was mostly self sufficient. We even did one better. After seeing the real estate market sky rocket up we decided to buy another place just because...I was going to make a bunch of excuses but will leave it at we bought another rental place three hours away. Disaster really. Lost a bunch of money but worse yet lost a bunch of time.

What ensued was about twenty trips to Canada every year to deal with rental house business. Not to mention time spent dealing with evictions, rental collection, maintenance issues, fights with Milly about business tactics, etc. Poor Ringo has crossed the border so many times the border guards started giving him suckers and calling him by name.

On top of the rental places I've taught night classes at the local college every Tuesday and Thursday night, have been fairly active in my church and have worked the normal day job.

Something had to change.

One night I nonchalantly picked up a get out of debt type book that Milly had picked up at the library and started to skim the book. I couldn't put it down. Something deep down told me we had to get out of debt. The book is called "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey and the ideas that came from reading that book changed my life. No longer did I like debt and think it was a tool to build wealth. I started to see the house of cards we had built around us. In my schooling I'd learned debt was good up to a point and I wanted to believe it but I knew if I lost my job we were fried.

Over time we decided the only way we could pull ourselves out of the mess we created was to sell our rental places, sell our house and possibly build a smaller house on the only thing we didn't sell, our land. We sold the rental places this past year as well as our primary residence. I've also stopped teaching at nights and we are planning our move fairly soon. The smaller house is still to be built.

But in this process something amazing has happened. I have time to do what I want at night and on the weekends. Our business dealings outside of my normal job is minimal. We get way less mail and phone calls. So much so I'm not sure anyone really knows where we are. It feels like we are in hiding almost. Ha. I'm OK with it for the time being.

So instead of driving to Canada to get suckers from our favorite border patrol guys I get to spend my time writing silly blogs and making up silly names for my in laws.

Thanks Dave Ramsey.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Local food

When I was a kid we bought food from our neighbors. Occasionally we sold food (eggs) to our neighbors. I remember as a kid driving out to the Hutterite colony for potatoes and carrots. I also remember running up the road to deliver a dozen eggs for a quarter to our neighbor.

***Side Story. I almost died on the top of our chicken coop when I was a kid. Elvis (see directory of who's who on the simple farm) was burning grass on a mildly windy day in Alberta. (Mildly probably meant it was around 50 km per hour.) The fire got out of hand and Elvis headed down to the house for water. Shorty insisted he come back and get me off the coop before he went for the hose. Good thing as the coop was burned up and most of the back acre of grass before he came back with the hose. With no coop however, that was the end our of chicken days.***

The main reason we liked buying food from people we knew was because it was cheaper than buying the same products at the grocery store. In the olden days grocery stores used to buy most of their produce from local farmers so if you could cut out the middleman there was a bit of savings to be had.

Milly and I seek out local food as often as we can. We haven't been to a grocery store (besides Costco) for many months. The other day I went into Smiths to buy something and I thought how strange it felt to be in an actual grocery store.

Why do we buy local food? At first it was because Milly was convinced grocery type food was making us ugly. Just kidding, she thought it was making us sick. I grudgingly went along as any skeptical husband would. But after the first taste of real carrots, beats, squash, and potatoes I was sold. It is amazing the difference in quality pulling carrots out of the ground compared to the woody, bland, gross, grocery store counterfeits. I'm not as good at researching the health hazards of pesticides as Milly is but I can tell what tastes good. I was shocked last week when I drank some skim milk at Greybeard and Dancing Queen's place. I saw them take off the seal so knew they didn't spike the milk with milk powder like they used to. But I almost spit out the gross milk powdery junk I was tasting. I swear regular grocery store milk tastes like milk powder now.

What is local food? To me local food is any food that is grown by people I know. I don't care if it's three hours away. If I can drive there and see who is producing my food that is local enough for me. Some people have a limit on how far away they'd consider local but as long as it's not coming from some industrial farm down south somewhere I'm OK with it.

Is local food cheaper? No way. Not even close. Let me describe a few reasons why.

After Milly did her normal thousand hour research project (she researches everything and she's a chemistry person on top of it all) on chemicals and food, we turned from a normal grocery going lifestyle to seeking out food in the back woods of Montana. We now travel three hours round trip for milk, eggs, and beef every other week to a farm that grows the food just like we would if we were so talented.

***Side Story. One of my more popular stories is how I get my underground, black market, raw milk contraband. Raw milk is illegal in MT. Medical marijuana is OK but raw milk is going too far. Our raw milk supplier is very cautious in supplying the goods. Last year we met them at a farmers market half way to their farm to exchange the goods. I backed up my car behind their stall, opened the trunk and secretly they passed over the goods into my cooler. I didn't have enough room in the cooler for all the milk so they sent their cooler home with me so no one would see what we were transporting. I felt like a criminal hiding my secret supply of...milk. I'm glad I didn't get stopped by the Five-0 and have to explain my goods.***

It is also unrealistic to expect a small time farmer to compete with the vast industrial farm setups.

Where do we get local food? We frequent the farmers market weekly in the summer and often meet our suppliers during the week at their farm to check things out and get the good stuff before they bring it to market. We also started a small square foot garden but it was only 6 feet by 12 feet so doesn't supply all of our needs.

We have also found varying suppliers of food around our area. We found a wheat lady peddling her product out front of Lowe's and she's become our wheat supplier of choice. She's a little eccentric and almost lost me when she started describing chewing her wheat sprouts like a cow chews her cud but Milly convinced me this is what normal hippies do.

So if you haven't guessed from the above we spend a lot more on food now than we ever did before. But the quality of food is so much better it is worth the added expense. But if you consider we buy very little processed food and hardly ever go out to eat the price of food almost evens out. And we have gotten a whole lot better looking. Ha, just kidding again. But we are seriously way more healthy than ever before. Our kids haven't been sick in two years and they used to be sick every week.

So back to my original thought. I asked Greybeard and Dancing Queen why they bought local food: The eggs are bigger. So they think it's cheaper to buy the food from a neighbor.

At the very least we should be willing to pay the same amount as what things cost in the grocery store. And if you consider the difference in quality the price should be somewhat higher. Heck, I'm willing to drive three hours for milk and pay three times as much as grocery store milk.

You've ruined me Milly.