120: RAQ #8 – who should cook dinner, the future, death on the homestead, competitive frugal living, and buying baby chicks
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It’s another random audience questions podcast episode (and blog post) where I pull five questions from my giant mason jar of topics you’ve sent in. Today I answer your questions about: who should cook dinner, a teen worried about the future, death on the homestead, competition in frugal living, and buying baby chicks. As always is the case with these random audience questions episodes, the podcast episode is more in depth than the blog post.
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1. Who should make supper?
“I know you’re an at home mom and have always been an at home mom, whether that’s stay-at-home or homeschooling or work-from-home. I’m also a stay-at-home mom with three kids, ages 5, 3, and 13 months. My husband, like yours, works outside the home. What I’m honestly wondering is this: do you and your husband ever fight about who makes supper? I get that my husband is gone working all day but it’s not like I’m sitting on the couch doing nothing. He’s never come out and said ‘Woman, where’s my supper?’ but I still feel like he’s (big sigh, okay, I guess I’ll make something to eat…)” — Traycee
Here’s my two cents about stay at home anything, couple-hood, and food:
Marriage, or relationships in general, are about teamwork. Teamwork when in the midst of having little kids is a special kind of team work. Here’s the thing to realize: both your life and your husband’s life can be busy at the same time in different ways. It’s not a competition. The making supper question really comes down to who is it just the slightest bit easier for that day.
If you take out the emotion and the exhaustion and the assumptions about what the other person is feeling, it’s kind of like this—the available options are a) you’re at home (and busy) but you’re at home and the kitchen is within your reach so you make something for supper. Or b) your (busy) husband grabs take out or something to cook upon arrival back home because that’s what’s within his reach.
And this is where I make people mad sometimes. It would be like him driving past the oil change place on his way home from work, getting home, and telling you that you need to take the car in to get an oil change.
You’d be like, “dude… seriously? You were right there…”
I’m not saying it’s your job because you’re a beaten down woman. I’m not saying you have to be the one to make supper because it’s what society expects. I ain’t about ‘dat life. I’m saying the person who should make supper is the person it’s most convenient for. And I’d expect the same if your situation was reversed: you working outside the home and your husband being a stay at home/work from home dad.
My answer here also assumes that the person working outside the home is not expecting a five course meal from someone who is sobbing in the middle of the living room floor because they can hardly remember to put on pants.
Tips that can make this easier?
- Plan meals that make sense for where you are in life
- Use a slow cooker/Instant Pot
- Cereal for supper is okay
- Realize that the stress of “he’s frustrated that there’s nothing to eat when he gets home” could be you projecting that on him. Maybe it’s been a long day at work and he’s just frustrated.
- Communication. Life with littles is crazy and insane.
2. Teen worried about future.
“I have a 16 year old daughter who has no ambition for the future because she says the world is on fire so “how am I supposed to know what to do with my life? What’s the point?” Have your kids dealt with this at all?” – Kelly
This is totally a thing. It’s been a topic here in our home, and I’ve heard from several parents who have kids in that upper high school/early college age range that it’s an issue in theirs.
We have to be careful how we talk about the world. If your kid is hearing gloom and doom out there and then in their own house they are hearing doom and gloom, it’s kind of hard for them to counteract that with anything positive about their plans and goals for the future.
Admit that things might be a dumpster fire, but you still have to have a loose plan. Relate that to your life. Things you’re unsure of. Share some of your goals and plans for your future and be honest about how the current political/social/financial/whatever climate is affecting (or not affecting) how you go about those things.
Lastly, remind them that what they decide doesn’t have to be a forever thing. Kids at age 18 are so bogged down with that what do you want to do with your life question. Decide right now! Oh, you don’t know? Oh, you don’t have a big flashy thing you want to jump into? Don’t you care about your future? Consider focusing on some short term goals instead that can work into several different long term goals.
3. Does death on the farm ever get easier to deal with?
“Does death on the farm ever get easier to deal with? My wife is really struggling with some goat kids we just lost.” – Kurt
If you have a homestead with animals, death is definitely part of your experience. I don’t know that it ever becomes something that doesn’t bother you, but I do think part of the reason it’s more difficult for us is that really we’re pretty sheltered from death in modern day life. We’re not generally worried about 7 of our 12 kids dying, and we generally know that if we get sick we can go to the doc and get medicine or treatment or surgery. When it comes to food, the majority of people get their meat or animal products from a store so they don’t even see the animal side of it.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being sad or upset or angry that an animal on your homestead died unexpectedly. I think it’s okay to feel those emotions. I feel like part of the reason people struggle is because they think they’re supposed to be all tough because they’re a homesteader. And there are people within the homesteading community who sort of perpetuate this belief. Like, we just don’t talk about the fact that our favorite mama goat died or that we have to put down our favorite horse or our favorite hen was dead in the coop this morning.
We’ve seen social media. We’ve seen people who come out and say their best hen got taken by a fox, and then the conversation that follows in the comments like, “well, that’s part of homesteading.” I mean, yeah. It is. But maybe “sorry for your loss” would be a more human response?
It’s hard to lose animals. We work hard at homesteading and give it our all. I would say that if it didn’t bother you a little, you’re not someone who should be taking care of another life.
4. Competing about frugal living?
“I know you and your family live pretty frugally. And I know you wrote a book about frugal living. I haven’t read it yet, and maybe this is answered in there, but probably not because this seems like maybe it’s just a me thing. Have you ever dealt with a person who, when you say you got something for your house or your farm or your kids for X amount of dollars and you’re super happy about that, they have to tell you how a) you could have found that cheaper at XYZ or b) you really don’t even need it at all? I am someone who is learning to live more frugally because of life changes in 2020 and I’m pretty darn proud of myself when I’m able to score a deal on something I wanted or needed. I have a family member who makes me feel like crap for the deals I have actually found. Have you dealt with that in your life? You’re probably just going to say “stop talking to those people” but… how do you do that when it’s a family member who you see all the time?” – BethAnn
Here is what I’ve learned, and it’s kind of counterintuitive: you can be snobby about having a lot of money and spending a lot of money, but you can also be just as snobby about not having a lot of money and not spending a lot of money.
Some people feel their awesomeness comes from how much money they have available to spend. Some people feel their awesomeness comes from how cheap they can get by. It’s a thing that people latch on to that is a bigger psychology discussion than what I’m going to get in to here.
Suffice to say, congrats on scoring some deals and taking the bull by the horns to institute some changes! If there is someone in your life who wants to rain on that parade, grab an umbrella. Which is to say, you’ve got a couple options of how to deal with those conversations:
- Stop telling that particular person what you spent on XYZ
- If the family member says, “you could have found that cheaper at ABC” respond, “fabulous, Karen. Thanks for the tip.” (Then change the subject.)
There will always be people who want to jab that hot poker in your side, and if they realize that it makes you really uncomfortable, there are people who will just continue to do it for that reason alone. And that’s really more about them than it is about you. Make it a non-issue and talk about something else.
5. How many chicks to order?
“How do I know how many chicks to order? I see people who have five chickens and they’re happy and I see people who have 40 and they’re happy. We want to have chickens for eggs and I have space for a lot of chickens but my wife keeps telling me I need to figure out how many I actually need and not to go overboard crazy. So is there a way to figure out a number that makes sense? I don’t want to be the person that moved to the country and only got three chickens and gets laughed at but I also don’t want people pointing at my yard of 100 chickens and thinking I’m nuts. I hear people talking about not getting enough eggs and then others (who have a similar amount of birds) talking about having so many eggs they don’t know what to do with them. Please help, farmish girl Amy.” -Brent
Chicken math generally refers to the fact that you start with one and then you have ten and then you have 60. But really there is a way to sort of figure out how many you need, which may be different than what you want. But the thing to realize is that chickens are part of nature and so they’re not a set in stone kind of math problem. The reason that you have friends with say, 12 chickens who aren’t getting enough eggs and friends with 12 chickens that have too many eggs to deal with is because nature happens. There are many variables that go into it.
The first thing you need to do is figure out how many eggs you need. Do you eat a lot of eggs? Do you do a lot baking? Do you have family and friends who would like to get eggs from you? Do you want to sell chicken eggs? Do you have a market for that where you live, or are you in the middle of a bunch of other people who already have their own chickens?
Next figure out what kinds of chickens you want. There are chickens who lay an egg almost everyday. There are chickens that lay a couple eggs a week. There are vast differences between breeds when it comes to how many eggs you can expect to get.
Once you’ve decided on breeds and how many eggs you need, use good ol’ math to figure out how many chickens of those breeds you need to make that amount of eggs happen. And realize this is only an estimation.
But also realize that if you have 12 hens who each lay an egg 5 days a week, that’s 60 eggs, or five dozen eggs a week. And five dozen the next week. And five dozen the next week.
Also understand your numbers of chickens can grow because oh, cute chicken, and maybe we just need a couple more — if they are hens, you’re going to get more eggs.
Account for changes in season and light and molting and illness or the fox , so maybe grab a couple more chickens than you think you need.
We have 14 hens here and we’ve got eggs coming out of our ears. We eat a lot of eggs and I do a lot of baking, but 14 hens is more than sufficient for what we need. But everyone’s situation is different. They way you can figure out how many chickens you need is by being honest about what your situation is.
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