And I’m back….

So I went AWOL again, I feel like life has just been weird and constantly full of mild anxiety. We had a horrible time with hubby’s work, my work has continued and we have lost some lovely elderly people (at work, not home, not covid, just end of life stuff) and covid has had my moods swinging like a flag in the wind!

We have continued to over pay the mortgage, pay down the credit card, then added more onto it (more on that later), put on weight and moved less, then started to think about food again and move more…

We made a veg bed and are slowly filling it with gravel, then will come the soil and I can plant plants, I have been infusing vodkas, fun! Hubby now has a new job starting in a month which will see our incomes decrease, and hopefully stress levels decrease. We have booked to go back to Florida in January, have no idea when the wedding we were meant to be going to in New York is going to be so thats on pause.

Little dog developed a lump and has been lame on his front leg, apparently a fatty lump and probable arthritic changes, can do an x ray but he is such a stresshead and treatment won’t change so not doing it. He has tramadol in the mornings, metacam in the evenings, and we continue on yumove. Big dog just seems to be getting so much older, makes me sad, love them both so much! We lost our last three rescue chickens- all different symptoms and vets with no clue over two months, and adopted two more, Florence and Gertrude. They seem pretty happy and healthy, and they lay eggs! From reading, I think that unfortunately ex battery chucks don’t tend to have long lives as they have been egg laying machines. Hopefully they had a lovely two years.

Phew, that is life for the last few months! I am feeling more positive at the moment, so I am hoping to come back and start boring you all! I am also thinking of dedicating part of this blog to my issues with weight as this is a huge part of my life and difficulites and can feel complex and isolating.

We will have some actual money based updates soon too!

Hope everyone is well 🙂

March Money Madness

I just wanted to use some alliteration there 🙂 It hasn’t been too mad.

I haven’t been able to logon to Tesco since December, very annoying, I try randomly and with everything going on in the world, am not going to ring up to check, presuming it is all linked to being moved over to Halifax. Hubby and I have been discussing stopping the overpayment with the current climate, including the uncertainty and fear around his job. Though as we are both earning this month, we decided that April should have the £250 OP still and we will play it by ear from there. We are hoping we can carry on as ‘normal’ if nothing changes financially.

I have made a guess that our mortgage should be around: £150,675 if I have paid £600 capital off a month, which I had paid previously when overpaying £250. I am happy with this, wish I knew precisely, but whatever!

We had to take a chicken to the vets and paid £56 for antibiotics and the consultation, sadly, despite treatment beautiful Echo passed away. We syringed her water and the antibiotic but she didnt make it. Blue, who was the first poorly one, got better really quick and is doing great, now Charlie is poorly. The vet wasn’t concerned it was anything contagious to other animals which is a relief and we are treating them all with antibiotics now. Today I will be collecting the dogs prescription then getting them filled, this will be an expensive day! Completely worth it though. £56 for the anti inflamatories and Desmopressin prescription, a further £123 for the prescription to be filled. Need to explore if we can get this cheaper somewhere else, plus they never have 90tablets in so I will have to go back again to collect the rest. What a pain in lockdown, plus I am working 12 hour shifts. Hopefully hubby might be able to go.

Hubby got a chimney sweep in- £70, he (hubby) has capped the chimney pots as birds then tried to nest in the clean chimneys! Got the caps for free, and some stone for the hearth for free. Paid for the fireboard which he has now installed. Unsure of the cost for this! Our current flue is too short, hubby’s dad left his spare outside their house, so when hubby was out with work he could collect it and not break any lockdown laws! This might mean that we can get the fire up and running! We are having issues with the underfloor heating, we think the boiler needs an expansion tank or something, can’t do anything in this situation though, plus the house is still heating just not well.

The shower downstairs has loose tiles which have been letting water in, so hubby has taken them off, this is another job that will need doing. We have been discussing re-doing the upstairs bathroom, getting rid of the downstairs shower and making a small utility area there instead. Luckily, even though the upstairs shower is crappy compared to downstairs, it is water tight and usable. The concrete floor in the lounge is loose in parts, so need to investigate this at some point. Possibly ouchies to the wallet all round!

This month we also paid hubby back what was owed from Florida, and have only had to pay for gas once. I have moved money across which includes £250 holiday, £150 that Aran had been paying on the old credit card that we have paid off, and then paid himself back with and finally £82 that we have saved by cancelling items during uber frugal jan! So we are moving money, the key is to keep it! Or keep saving to pay for all these things we keep finding wrong!haha. After all the bills go out tomorrow I will do a tilly tidy and work out whats left and what we may need to spend for the month.

In April, we may need two lots of gas, its hard to plan in advance as we don’t know what the weather will do! Got away with only one order in March, so we are probably very close to a new order! We will need to buy more raw dog food and treats, about £40 which lasts over a month, Council Tax will be going out again, boo!

Hoping April will bring the peak and decline of covid19, and some semblance of normality will begin to come back. I hope you and yours all safe 🙂

Chickens

In June 2018 we adopted 4 chickens through the British Hen Welfare Trust, they are just amazing! As they are mini dinosaurs- velociraptors- we named them Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo, from Jurassic Park World.

They all have their own characters, they run over to you when they are free ranging it in the garden. I understand this is for food, but I like to pretend that its because they love me! They fight off crows if needed and when Lady tries to pounce on their run- she is a little unsure still- they just peck her on the nose!

I researched a lot about the best homes, most practical homes and runs etc. I wanted to make sure that the Chickens wouldn’t become a time burden as we work full time and have the dogs as well. This led me to Omlet, they do plastic hen houses, this seemed practical as they won’t rot in the rainy welsh weather and they will be very easy to clean. The biggest barrier was cost, these are not cheap by any standard!

This led me to trawling ebay looking for a great deal, which was close enough to collect. I actually found the Omlet cube with a 1×3 metre run, and then a 2×2 metre walk in run, for £550 all in, which was an hour away. Expensive- yes, but not comparative to these items new! Another appeal is the fox proof claim, which I have seen videos demonstrating, but also both hubby and I actually like the look of the Omlet setup. Modern and nice, it is also green so blends a little more.

We created a swing, a box which we filled with extra soil for the art of mud bathing, and we got all the Omlet accessories for food and drinks from the folks selling the house and run we bought. I read up a little about chicken enrichment and hung up old CDs, the mud bath box was made from scrap wood we had as was the swing- which they have never used! I also chucked some plastic balls we used for a dog ball pit, just in case!

Initially we were too scared to let the girls have free range time, there are foxes in this area, I have enjoyed watching them! But after discussions, and the run starting to get muddy, we decided that we would do our best to keep them safe, but if the worst happened, I think they would have been happier to have that time out. They are hilarious, I love watching them run around, chasing bugs and scritching around. It has also meant we are paying less for food- which doesnt seem drastically expensive to us anyway- as they are getting a lot of sustanence from the land instead.

The girls came to us looking rough, with feathers missing, as they had been caged for the 18months they had lived so far. Now they look incredible, big fluffy, feathery girls! They are all individuals and funny, watching chickens is great! We donated £5 per chicken, absolute bargain! We get lots of eggs, its winter and we get at least two a day, but mostly, we just wanted to stop these beautiful birds from getting killed just because they are passed ‘optimum’ laying age.

If you are considering getting chickens, stop thinking and do it! We clean out the house once a week- the cube has pull out trays which collect all the poop so this is a five minute job. Water gets topped up once a week and refreshed once a week, grit and food topped up once a week- this all takes less than 20minutes! We have decided we will jet wash the whole thing in Spring this year, it doesn’t need it yet though and as it is plastic this will be very easy and quick!

We bought tarps to cover the top of the runs- one from Aldi has worked really well on the smaller run, but the other two tarps ripped off the walk in run, so we bought three Omlet tarps- so far they have weathered two Welsh storms, so at £90 not cheap but hopefully they will last a very long time. We also extended the run, that was £100, but again, I think it is money well spent! Another thing we spent £150 on, because I am lazy and it makes life easier, is an automatic door opener, it is the best thing ever! The girls are locked away safe when we get home and its dark, plus it means no early mornings on the weekends! Bonus!

I guess one thing about Chickens, is that they can be as expensive or cheap as you like, they are happy with minimum contact or lots of contact, perfect pets! Hubby wasn’t totally sure about chickens, but agreed as I was keen and he likes rescuing animals, he is totally smitten with them now!

Pets- at what cost?

If you have read any other posts in my blog, you may well have seen pictures of my two rescued furchildren. I love my dogs, I love all dogs, in fact, I am a self confessed animal lover! Having my dogs in my life feels like a non option, I have grown up with pet dogs, in both my seperate family homes we had two dogs (per household), as well as cats, horses and chickens.

I remember a few yeas ago, when I read through Mr Money Mustache’s blog post great-news-dog-ownership-is-optional, and I liked the fact he pointed out some of the realisms of dog ownership. Such as the fact people will adopt/buy a pet when they have little income, not taking into account the true cost of owning an animal. That true cost, covers the responsibility we have as dog/pet owners, this is covered by the five freedoms: The first part is Health– we should protect our pets from disease, illness and injury, and if they should become injured or unwell, we have to seek treatment. We should allow our pets to be natural in their behaviours, when looking at companionship as a freedom we should be considering if that animal is social and whether it should be kept alone or with others. Dietary needs- this includes preventing malnourishment and obesity as well as access to water. The last freedom is access to a suitable environment, this would include access to a shelter and a safe space to be, away from harm.

Pet ownership feels more complex these days, there are so many different opinions out in the world about how we should do things, how we should treat our pets and what we should feed them for example. It is a minefield! Do you buy pet insurance, is it worth the cost, what if your pet has health needs that would invalidate insurance, or the breed means an unfair hike in costs? Buying pets is a huge deal, I wont lie, I rescued my babies, I will always rescue and will never ‘buy’ a pet. This is personal to me and is part of my moral code, I will always advocate adoption! As it stands, my dad and stepmum have two rescued dogs, and my mum and stepdad have two bought dogs, I love both sets of parents and both sets of dogs. If people are to buy puppies, then I will heavily and wholeheartedly advocate for buying from a proper breeder. Always see both sets of parents, check that the breeder will/has vaccinated, ensure to the best of your abilities that they are not from a puppy farm. My mums Jack Russells are from a local breeder, whom we know well and in fact I am now related to via a marriage!

I guess the point of this post, is to highlight that pets are optional. You should take into consideration the cost of time and money that is needed to ensure that any pet has the best life it can, and the possible things in your life that will be impacted upon by this. As a sidenote, I think I will do a couple of blogs introducing my furchildren, I am a very proud parent who will gush about them at any time!