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Monday, October 22, 2007

A Challenge For You . . .

Ethan and I are getting to the point where we would like to take a step and move from our house in town to a spot in the country. The last couple of years we have been watching the housing market in the area and crunching numbers. We have figured out that at best, we can afford a place that has has a nice amount of land but a small house or a place with not very much land but a little larger house. We haven't really seen anything come around in our price range with a nice amount of land and a large house.

So the question that has been bouncing around is how much land will we need to do some farming and what size of house will we want for comfortable living. Right now I feel like we are outgrowing the house we are in. We have 3 tiny bedrooms (one is serving as an office, one is our bedroom, and one is for Caleb and Hannah), a small living room/dining room area that has room for 2 chairs, a couch, and our table, and then the kitchen and bathroom of course. There is no garage, but there is a dungeon basement only used for storage although I really don't like to use it for that since mold grows well down there.

I have come to realize, however, that maybe the reason we feel like we are outgrowing our house is not so much because of us, but because of our stuff. Just so you know, I am far from a pack rat. I have often been accused of not having enough stuff and the house looking bare, yet the closets continue to fill to the brim with tubs of things to be stored.

With Christmas coming up, I am getting a bit worried about the inflow of gifts from gracious givers and how we will be able to work our new gifts into our house. So I am starting a project that seems to happen every year. I guess you could say I am rampaging through the house. During this time I purge the house of anything I can give away, throw away, or sell in order to make more room in our house for the boxes of new things that will appear come December.

So here is my challenge to you . . . a declutter challenge. To get started, just think about the older farm families (like my dad's) who lived in a 3 bedroom house with 11 kids and no basement. Consider the cost of all of that stuff that you really don't need - the stuff that takes up precious space causing so many people to think they need bigger houses and garages when really they just need less stuff. Think about the time wasted juggling worthless stuff around. Then think about what you can give away, throw away, or sell (we love e-bay!).

Here are the rules:

Set up three boxes/bags/containers in an out of the way spot. Label them give, throw, and sell. (Throw away things do not include day to day trash. It is things that you have actually been storing that can be thrown away.) Until Christmas, whenever you come across anything that fits in one of those categories, put it in it's appropriate container. Keep your eyes open as you walk around and every time you open a closet, drawer, or box. If you have time, start digging through storage areas too.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you find things to sort out of your house:

  • Would getting rid of this be more beneficial to me than keeping it? (Rather than selling it, is it tying up money that I need or could use elsewhere or is it taking up too much of my time shuffling it/dusting it?)
  • Was I surprised to see it or realize I had it?
  • Have I used it in the last year, or do I have specific plans to use it again? (Preferably within the next year, but there are exceptions.)
  • Can this be replaced easily for close to the amount I can sell it for or for very little if I give or throw it away?
  • Would this be more of a blessing to someone else than it is to me?

    Once you get going, do not look in the containers after you start putting things in them. In other words, don't second guess yourself. If you put it in, leave it in. After just a little while of doing this, I think you will be amazed at the sheer volume of stuff that you actually have in your house that you do not really need. I am every time I do this, and I do it at least once a year. I will warn you, however, that you might find many things that you have boughten and realize that maybe you shouldn't have. If they fall under the "clutter" category, still get rid of them even if it means you wasted money. I guarantee that if you do this activity often enough and after you toss enough of those kind of things, you will start to become wiser in how you spend your money.

    I will try to remember to post around Christmas time and let you know how much stuff I came up with, hopefully having a picture to show too. I would love it if you join me in the challenge and drop comments on how your boxes/bags/containers are filling up.

    My whole reason for doing this is to keep our house from being overcrowded with stuff that we don't need, and hopefully when the time comes for us to buy a place to do some farming in the country we will be able to look for a house to fit needs according to our family and not according to our stuff.

    (authors note: To see my results, click here.)

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    Joyce said...

    Hello, I am a farmer's wife for 38 years and I can still remember the first few years. We lived in a house with a fire place for heat. Now we live in a house my husband and daughters built 10 years ago. I came from town so I had to learn everything. I was so scared of a small pig that I ran from it. My father-in-law had a good laugh and then they spent a extra 30 min. getting a group of pigs from one pen to another. Now I raise the herd boar so he will be my friend when I am out in the sow herd feeding or sorting. Good luck and enjoy farming it is fun, can be hard, can be dirty, and can make all of you very happy and tell your husband I am so happy that a young man wants to become a farmer so maybe some day my husband will want to slow up a little. He was born and raised on a farm so he will hobby farm and raise just a small herd of sows and pigs.

    Walter Jeffries said...

    I would suggest going with the smaller house and the larger land. In time you can build more house but buying more land, especially adjoining land, is hard. Farming away from home, two lands as it were, is difficult and wastes time.

    As to how much land? That depends so much on what you do and your goals. We have a lot of land, most of which we do forestry on. It takes a lot of land to do forestry, maple sugaring, etc. On the other hand we have a smaller area of about 10 acres right around our home where we do our livestock farming (pigs, sheep, chickens), gardening and living.

    I would suggest land that has some woods so you can cut your own fuel. With a few acres of hardwood trees you can sustainably cut all the fuel you need to heat your home. Heating is a big cost for many people and a security you can provide yourself.


    Sugar Mountain Farm
    in the mountains of Vermont

    Blair Family. said...

    I know nothing about farming and land (although Dave would love to farm).

    However, I'm all about your challenge. Not right now but I'm sure I'll get to it before Christmas. I love the feeling after I declutter an area in my home. There's a few specific areas that definitely need some help.

    ~*~ Jennifer ~*~ said...

    Here is a link to the site I use to track this stuff. I do the "free" version (of course). But you can go all high tech if you want to.

    I can actually track the CITY and STATE or country where people view my blog from.

    You go there -- subscribe and pick a counter to see how many viewers you get, and THEN you will get a report every Saturday -- it gives all sort of info.

    The most important actually is HOW they find you... I believe.

    You can see the source -- so if someone is googling "naked baby" and find your site -- you may question it... but if they google "green beans in the fall" Hooray!! another reader.

    THEN -- you can find out their IP and block them, I think. I don't know how to yet -- I haven't had any weirdos google me yet.

    MOST of my readers -- come to me from other sites... like the HHE site, or some message boards that I'm on. OR from other blogs that I've left comments on. It's interesting to see...

    I've gotten one from Columbia IA... hmm... who is that? Columbia is so small -- I want to walk over there and find out who. LOL

    ~*~ Jennifer ~*~ said...

    Ugg... declutter?? you want me to organize??? So does my dear husband. I feel like you are ganging up on me. LOL

    Oh -- just kidding!! GREAT challenge... ::sigh:: maybe some day!!

    We ARE doing better b.t.w. Dr. just said, "Oh -- it's a virus... just drink lots of water and get some rest." Sure -- with a sore throat... ok... we will.

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