The Hardest Part is Letting Go

I’ve heard so many times before that the hardest part is letting go. Letting go of a loved one that has passed, a relationship that has failed, or most recently — a chapter of life that is closing.

I’m officially done having babies. I thought I was ok with that decision until I heard my husband say it too. He said there wasn’t another in the cards for us and for whatever reason my heart broke. He was always the one pushing for one more and him giving up on that is hard for some ridiculous reason. I don’t know how to do anything other than to be a mom of young kids.

We started taking down baby stuff from the attic and selling it. My youngest starts preschool in the fall. The days of diapers are almost over. Things are changing and I’m not really sure what my role is anymore. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 7 years and now I’m not sure what to do now. My youngest will be in preschool 2 days a week, for 2.5 hours a day, so obviously I won’t be able to go back to working outside of the home, but the other 2 will be in school. I feel obsolete.

On its own, I would be able to handle that change and that emotion, but I feel like the world is really dumping on me right now. Like a lot of people in our area, we’re struggling financially. The jobs aren’t paying enough to keep up with the costs of housing, taxes, groceries, etc. Unfortunately, instead of leaving like a lot of people are doing, we’re just flailing around and trying to keep our heads above water. My husband hates “being the new guy” and he worries that he isn’t good at his job and a new employer will see that and just fire him. I hope this is the year he gets a raise to help, but after 6 years of not getting a raise, I’m thinking the odds are low. They know he’ll stay even if they don’t give him a raise.

So my question is this: What do you do when you’re really down in the dumps? I’m not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not seeing a silver lining. I’m just seeing struggle and isolation for me in the years ahead. I should mention that I’ve become a bit of an introvert since staying home with the kids and meeting new people is not easy for me anymore.

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Homesteading 101: Coyotes

coyote

My town has a coyote problem.Like lots of other towns in the U.S., we’re growing in population and confrontations with coyotes are becoming more common. As a homesteader, that’s an issue. Coyotes can kill chickens, hunt barn cats and destroy a garden in a single night.

So what do you do when the 4-legged fiends come knocking on your door? One controversial management method is to simply hunt them. If you’re not a hunter, there are plenty of hunters for hire that will take out coyotes in your area. Your state may also have resources for particularly troublesome coyotes that don’t know when to give up.

Not comfortable with killing them? Deter them. The goal is either to make your your yard unappealing or to make your neighbors’ yard more appealing than yours. You can do this with fencing. Chain link or deer fencing — something not so sturdy — is hard for them to climb. Bury your fencing about a foot deep and you’ll have a good coyote deterrent. You can also limit their food sources by securing your trash, locking up your livestock and making sure all pet food is put away and secured. That includes chicken food!

If there aren’t any easy meals on your property or if food is easier to find elsewhere, the coyotes will simply move along. Walk around your yard and make a list of all potential food sources, then remove or secure them to take away the coyotes’ food sources. After a day or 2, they’ll realize there’s no food to be found at your house and they’ll be forced to leave.

The Downside to Being Self-Employed

Have you ever dreamt of quitting your job and being your own boss? Don’t be so quick to turn in your resignation — there’s a little pitfall that few people talk about: Self-employment tax.

That’s right, the government taxes you for being self employed. Sort of.

When you work for someone else, you split your social security and medicare taxes with them 50/50. You pay 7.65% and they pay 7.65%. When you work for yourself, the entire burden falls on you.

Sure, you can deduct the bonus 7.65% from your income to reduce your personal income tax, but that’s not very comforting at tax time when the amount owed to the feds keeps ticking up.

We hear a lot of chatter in this country about job creation. How important small businesses are. Every small business starts with a single person and as a business of 1, I feel pretty darn discouraged at tax time when I see how much of my money is going to the government. You want to make jobs? How about if small businesses pay no tax until they make over $200,000/year regardless of where they conduct business? Many small businesses start at home and a lot of people — like me — don’t qualify for the home office deduction since we need to share spaces for other things.

The current tax-free business threshold is a mere $400/year. That’s not even going to cover half of the average 1-bedroom apartment rent in my area. Times have changed and inflation has happened, it’s time the government updates tax codes to encourage people rather than penalize them.

 

Barn Cats Update: Squirrels in the Shed

This is probably going to be the least exciting update ever made because we STILL haven’t seen the cats!

We know they’re still in there because they used the litter box and ate the food, but the little buggars are dead silent whenever we go in there. They aren’t using their shelter that the cat rescue provided for them, opting to sleep in the nooks and crannies of the piles of crap we have in there instead.

I still feel like we’re making progress though as they finally took the cat toys in there and played with them. Surely that means they’re getting more comfortable, right? I hope that at some point they let us see them.

In fact, because my husband wasn’t home when they were brought in, he’s starting to think they don’t exist. He said this morning that there probably aren’t any cats at all and that I’m just feeding the squirrels in the shed. He’s now referring to them exclusively as “the squirrels in the shed”.

Barn Cats: Natural Mouse Control

I intended to write this post complete with a picture or 2 of the newest members of our homestead — a couple of barn cats. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen them since they were relocated, last night.

We got the cats from a local animal rescue. They were being cared for by an older person that had moved and was no longer able to feed them. They’re about 6 months old and litter mates. They were fixed, vetted and deemed suitable for placement in an outdoor/barn type of environment only. We have been looking into natural ways to control the rodent population in our area and barn cats seemed like a good idea.

The rescue set them up with an insulated shelter inside of one of our sheds. We’re supposed to keep them confined for 4-6 weeks before letting them out to do their thing. They were brought over last night and set up. I went to check on them this morning and found that they had used the litter box several times over the night, but they didn’t touch their moist food (now frozen) and their water had froze solid as well. I replaced the water and cleaned the litter box. Then I left a small pile of toys and left — I did not see the cats. A little while later I went back to check and see if they had moved the toys. I figured that would be a sign that they were alive and well. The toys were not moved.

Panicked, I started looking around outside the shed. It’s amazing how many animals lurk in our yard at night. It certainly makes me not want to go backyard camping anytime soon!!

So hopefully the cats were just hiding and they didn’t find some way of escaping. Only time will tell, but I hope to find more evidence of their survival in the litter box tomorrow.

Up, Up and Away! Actually, Not Really.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but we’ve been house hunting for almost a year now. We have a house, but it’s getting too small for our growing family. We made some bad decisions early on and bought a house that we outgrew within the first year of our marriage… added on and outgrew it again.

So now we have a house that we’ve paid WAY too much for that we’ve outgrown twice. Good times. It doesn’t have the type of storage we need or want (basement) and because of the shape of the lot, we can’t add a garage. That’s all second to the fact that it is short 1 bedroom for the kids. I know that kids can share rooms and all that, but my 2 girls are like polar opposites. One is a morning lark, the other is a night owl. One is a neat freak, the other doesn’t care. They hate sharing a room and I hate all the fights.

On top of all that, we’re having some structural issues with our house. The middle is sinking. The husband went under to investigate and found that the dirt is washing out from under one of the footings. Google blames it on the dry winter, I blame it on the A-hole that built next door, filled in a small pond and graded his lot to drain basically into our crawl space. It floods EVERY year now and there’s nothing we can really do about it that won’t bankrupt us. I called the town when he was building and lets just say he greased the right palms because literally nobody cared. Not the building inspector, not the conservation chairman. Nobody.

We’re really hoping to move, but I just don’t see how it’s possible. Our budget isn’t spectacular for this area. More like below average. We make too much to be considered poor enough to qualify for special programs, but we don’t make enough to buy a house that’s dry, level and not in a terribly unsafe neighborhood. We’d like to stay on a decent amount of land, but apparently anything on acreage costs big money… unless we currently own it, then the land is actually not valuable at all and doesn’t increase the value of the home. Go figure.

The oldest child is in school now and the middle child starts next year so we kind of feel like this is our chance. We could probably sell our home easily enough if we fix the structural issue, but then we’d be homeless. Literally. Rents near here or closer to my husband’s job are more than our mortgage right now and there’s nothing on the market to buy. We’re sort of stuck. Has anyone been in this position before? Where you need to unload a house with some issues — but at a fair price — and buy a new house in a seller’s market? Our realtor really wants to get our house listed ASAP, but I’m not worried about selling. I’m worried about finding something new that we can afford that meets our needs. I don’t want to move again in a couple of years. I feel so defeated.

Earn FREE Amazon Gift Cards using Swagbucks!

If you haven’t heard, there’s a site called Swagbucks where you can earn FREE Amazon gift cards for searching the web, taking surveys, watching videos and doing short tasks. You can earn as quickly as you like, or you can just use it as your search engine to let your points accumulate over time. I just redeemed points for another $25 Amazon gift card, so I thought it was a great time to post a reminder about this fantastic site.

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If you use my referral link to say thanks for telling you about Swagbucks, I’ll get a little bonus when you sign up. 🙂