Good Bye to Pokeberry Hill...


Monday, September 7, 2009

Woodpeckers and Warblers, Saving Money on Paint and Dog Food..Groceries.. etc.

I've been seeing a red bellied woodpecker hanging about the red feeder and the trees nearest it the past couple days. He seems to be the same one that was here last spring feasting on suet. I guess I need to stock up my suet cages again. I know I have 2 cakes of it someplace..but.. where?? Need to go hunt it up, and start saving goodies to make more I think.

This morning there is a great deal of bird activity on Pokeberry Hill and in the Pokeberry Tree (as I like to call it.) One little pair of birds was gone before I could be certain what they were. I have my big old heavy thrift store binoculars right here, and I did grab them, but wasn't able to get a good view before they left. I am thinking they were some type of warbler. I saw some yellow and gray birds that were not shaped like the little gold finches that are normally here. I think perhaps they were pine warblers. That seems like a reasonable guess since Pokeberry Hill is surrounded by lovely pine trees.

I think I may also have seen a little vireo--but I am not at all sure. I do know one thing--when we bought this place I would sit outside and barely see a bird. They were in the thickets near the little stream at the bottom of our hill--so I could hear them. I began to build a garden and put my feeders up and thought--they will come. Well, they have certainly done that! There are enough birds here now on Pokeberry hill to rival our yard in Charlotte. I have not seen every species I saw there yet, but I have seen some that were not in our old yard so it evens out. :)

Money Saving on Pokeberry Hill:

We have been working on painting the house. I was thrilled that Lowes had a Labor Day Weekend rebate on the paint we are using. I am sending in a form to get back $5 for each 1 gallon can and $20 for each 5 gallon can. I think we'll end up with about $50 in savings. We may need more paint when we've used this- but at least we'll have saved on what we did buy. Hubby and sons have also been putting some trim around doors and windows outside--all the things that houses need! This place is getting a little nicer every day--but its sure been lots of those everydays. ;)

My Grocery Game shopping has been good at Harris Teeter. Yesterday my bill to feed 6 for a week was $157.55. A few of the items were from Food Lion--but mainly I shopped Harris Teeter. My sale and coupon savings were $167.55. In other words I paid less than half price for my groceries.

Some of what I bought will help me save money in other ways in the future.

I'll save on a restaurant meal I won't get:
I got some crab leg clusters for a fancy meal for only $2.99 per pound--a really big price cut! When we have them--it will be great! They are in the freezer. Now if I took our family out to eat in a restaurant it would be well over $100. We just don't do that. We cook. Usually when we go to Florida we will eat out a time or two with my Hubby's family, but even there we cook a meal or two and his Mom cooks too. I'm saving the crab legs I hope for when they come next. We'll have some tasty dishes with them and make it like a restaurant meal.

I save on lunches for working family members:
I saw that insulated lunch bags and sports bottles were on sale this weekend--I suppose because of kids going back to school. Well I picked up a few bags thus bringing my collection up to one nice lunch bag for everyone in the house. Two were only $1.00! The nicest one was $2.25. I also picked up sports bottles for similar prices. These will be useful for packing leftovers and drinks for those in the family that have jobs. Right now that is 3 out of 6 of us. The other 3 are still job hunting.

Leftovers make great lunches. I almost always make a little more than we need for a meal. Since most of the folks in the house are male and adult--they eat quite a lot. My budget for groceries is a target--of trying to spend '$25ish' per person for the week. I'm not too far off, and my grocery cart usually also includes things like toothpaste, shampoo, detergent, treats, etc. Because I keep a well stocked pantry and freezer our meals are varied and delicious for much less than they could be if shopped 'unarmed'.

I gave myself a little further incentive for saving money:

I made a plan that when I get my grocery receipts I will take half the amount saved and use it in any way I personally see fit. Last week 1/2 my savings when to help my son and his wife who are struggling financially. I popped it in a little homemade card that I sketched on. I had some pokeberry stems in a canning jar sitting here so I sketched that on the card in colored pencil. Inside the card I wrote a little note and put a check and some diaper coupons for baby Ruby.

The kids have been hit hard by the economy and medical bills and loss of income when baby Ruby came. They have had their condo on the market for many months and it appears it will end up in foreclosure, like so many in their area. Daughter in law is looking for a full time job, which I think grand-baby will not enjoy so much--but this is how things are. I want to help them but sometimes its hard to find extra money with all we have to do on this house--this way it was fun!

I have an even bigger savings this week and am pondering ways to use my half of it. I may consider opening a bank account just for this little bonus money. There are some things I have wanted to purchase but I also want to be able to 'give' when I like. I think my rule of thumb will be that the things I use the money for will either be for giving or for things that will eventually help me save more money or add value to our nest. Perhaps fruit? I would like to have a little vineyard/ orchard on pokeberry eventually--I could invest in plants--once I get the soil in better shape. Or a sausage maker attachment for my mixer maybe so I can make more homemade sausage--which was such a hit.

More money savings lately:

Recycling and Burning Rural Trash:
Well we are doing the recycle thing. We take the trash to the recycle center and so we do not pay for pick up at our house. This is fine. Its a weekly trip that is done in half an hour--from gathering up the trash and loading it in the car to dropping it off and getting back home. I can do this myself or Hubby or any of the kids. We burn paper and cardboard in our nice concrete block fire ring which our young house guest built for me.

Leftovers for Pets:
Whenever I make chicken or meat I gather all the bones and pick them mostly clean. I use the nicer meat scraps in other meals--salads, soups, stir fries, etc. The bones go in zip style freezer bags in the freezer that are labeled Chicken or Pork, etc. When I have time I use them to make homemade stock, then I make soup. :) The nastier bits of meat and fat go into a little ice cream container in the fridge. It is labeled "Mojo" and we use it to supplement the dry dog food that we feed our puppy.

Mojo is just about 70 pounds now at a little over 6 months old. He is doing very well! He's healthy and naughty as a puppy ought to be.

He eats a pretty cheap store brand of dog food instead of the much pricier puppy chow. We did check all the nutrients and ingredients on various product labels, and decided the minuscule difference between the cheap dog food and the pricier puppy chow could easily be made up by supplementing with leftover bits of food scraps. He's been getting this diet for about half his life now and is thriving.

Now folks can make their own minds up about this--I for one have never been one to believe everything she is told--especially by 'experts'. I just have to think for myself and so I do. To me, my old Polish Gramma who started her family during the depression was a better expert than most now living.

Unless your pets have 'touchy' digestive systems, I personally see no wrong in using leftover people food to supplement their diet. There are some who feed their dogs all raw foods and I have no argument with them either, this just fits my budget better. Some dogs can't stomach leftovers. I suggest if you want to feed leftovers begin with a small amount and put it in the bowl only. We never feed Mojo or give him treats outside of his twice a day meals in his dish. He always eats AFTER we eat and only in his own bowl. Chew bones are allowed however--those aren't in the bowl.

I remember my Gramma's shock when she found out my folks, who were struggling to feed 5 children at the time, went to the store and bought dog food. She had never seen such a thing in her 90 plus years! When she was a girl, her dog lived under the porch and lived entirely on leftovers and so far as she remembers lived a long happy life. Of course back then, dogs were dogs.

Yes, the vet gave us different advice. He recommended a name brand of puppy chow.

That said,--What makes the vet an expert on this? Where does the vets info come from? Paid studies and corporate sales people--duh. Who funds the studies and how accurate are they? How wide spread is the information?

There is no 'leftover food lobby' that does studies to support using leftovers or funds vets in any way shape or form. In other words--if leftovers are in fact OK for some dogs-- nobody will ever prove it and no vet will ever get any kind of support or kick back from a leftover salesperson.Leftover Lobbyists will never fund veterinary schools or text books. Why? There's no money in it-- duh.

Using cheap dog food bad or good? Well I can't say--but I do know that many of the dogs who were made sick or died from the contaminated pet foods from China were eating brands that were quite pricey and well touted by vets. My in-laws dog sickened and died during that scandal time and she ate a pricey brand that was on the list of contaminated feeds. Nuf said.

My birds currently are also on an inexpensive seed mix supplemented by leftovers. Parrots like to play with food, so seeds alone would never be entertaining enough for them. I often give them bits of food we had for dinner. Lately they have enjoyed small chunks of sweet corn, cut up grapes and peppers, bread ends, celery sticks and carrot bits. Eventually I hope to have a bird food garden--but right now the soil is so poor still that it will have to wait until I have more garden space that is improved.

Well, this is it for today. I have lots to do here in Pokeberry Hill. :) Today I am working outside mostly. A bit of weeding, a bit of yard cleaning, a bit of trim painting.. and some organizing. :)fun!


  1. About dog food: look for a statement on the bag about Association of Animal Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) feeding trials. Something like "Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that XYZ Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for (growth and) maintenance of dogs." At the very least, the manufacturer should indicate that the food has been formulated to meet AAFCO guidelines. Don't feed something that doesn't have a similar statement, or it might not be nutritionally complete.

  2. My dog handles a little people food just fine, generally, and I have a little chihuahua. She was started out in life on Purina food, and I kept her on it. She is perfect weight, happy, energetic...tht is proof enough for me!

  3. The store brand dry dog food we chose does indeed comply with AAFCO. However--I would still look at the actual ingredients list and the nutritional analyses because AAFCO is a bare minimum standard.

  4. Our first basset hound got inexpensive grocery store food as we were young and without much money - he lived to 12 years - very old for his breed. The basset we got after we lost him got a more premium food due in part to our finances and in part to his allergies. He lived to 15 1/2 years old - ancient for his breed. I don't think the food had as much to do with their longevity perhaps as did their quality of life and genetics. They received good veterinary care, exercise, playtime and most of all, they were deeply loved. They were a part of our "pack" and knew that they would always have a home with us. They were both "used" pups that others didn't want to deal with... Our good fortune!!

    I will say that switching to a senior food was necessary with the first dog and it gave him some extra zip as he aged. The second dog had the zip all along - he had a heart so big - even when his rear legs were paralyzed and he could not walk, he still wagged his tail! He never gave up and we miss him so much...

  5. I do think diet matters--but like you--I think there are other factors--genetics, general feeling of well being, care, etc.. that also matter greatly.

    We treat Mojo like a pack member too--always conscious of that. But we also want to make sure he knows he's not pack leader. He's kind of ambitious. LOL.. so we have to remind him of his rules quite a bit. ;)