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How I’m Saving Money in My New Life in Rural Vermont

I don’t think I’m alone when I say: I’m looking to save some dough. Along with other good capitalists of this nation, up until this economic crisis I’ve wasted a lot of money on things I don’t need. (Maybe I was depressed about the fact I turned the radio down every time I heard Bush’s voice–now I turn it up for Barack.) A friend of mine always says it costs you ten dollars for every block you walk down in New York City, because there are so many things to tempt you. Well, when I lived there, I spent every last dollar on crap. Then, in a packing fiasco on my way outta Dodge, I threw it all out. So now I own very few things (a mustard colored dresser, a favorite t-shirt, long underwear, sweaters with holes in the armpits, ghost-like garments from my corporate past stuffed way in the back of my dresser…) and financially, I’m starting at zero. It’s an interesting position to be in, though. I have almost nothing to spend, and a whole new life. I do have a little bit of debt, but I’m pretending it doesn’t exist for the time being. Money, money, money. I hate thinking about it, and can’t stop thinking about it. My question is: how do I manage what I make? How do I stay above water, when the whole world is drowning in debt? Is this boring to talk about? It sounds like NPR, but such is life. (For more interesting musings on money and the state of the world, check out Slow Money and How the Rich Are Destroying The Earth.) One thing (of many) that’s different about my life here in rural Vermont: I almost never go out to eat, and if I do, it’s for some grand occasion like I got a job, someone got their masters in something, or my mother’s in town. I rarely cooked in New York, mostly because I felt like no one had enough time to sit down with me, and my kitchen was miniscule and practically in my bedroom. There was too much take-out in the surrounding area, and I was too depressed at the end of each day working in a concrete tower to consider anything but take-out, or cereal. But here, when there’s a snowstorm and nothing in the fridge, nobody’s calling Dominos. I like it. Another thing I’m doing to save money: I’m growing my own food. I ordered my seeds last night, a lot of seeds, and it only cost $63.15! With hard work and good weather, I’m going to save a lot of green come summer. Here’s what I ordered: Provider bush green beans (top-seller at Fedco), Vermont Cranberry beans (speckled dry beans for soups and stews), Hopi Blue Flour corn (dry, for cornmeal), Cross Country cucumbers (for pickling), Eight Ball zucchini (the size of pool balls!), Lumina pumpkin (for carving and selling), Jaune du Doubs carrots (yellow guys), Sugarsnax carrots (long and orange), Cherry Belle radishes (smooth, small and red), White Egg turnip (sweet, for mashing or raw), Parris Island Cos romaine lettuce, Mesclun Mix lettuce, Bright Lights swiss chard (multi-colored, for chard pie), Arnica Chamissonis (yellow flowering herb for bruises), Sweet basil, German Chamomile, Purple Coneflower Echinacea (herb for immune system), Vincenza Blue Lavender, White Yarrow (white flowers for allergies, cold and flu), Stuttgarter Onion Sets, Yellow Moon Dutch Shallots, French Fingerling potatoes, Gold Rush potatoes, All Blue potatoes…and more. Some we’re getting in plant form (tomatoes and artichokes.) Now that I’m saving money on food, I have to start saving for something else. Mud season looms in my mind like a monster eating away at my tires and hankering to kill me. I want Muck Boots. I desire Muck Boots. I can think only of Muck Boots (and saving money.) But I want Muck Boots for my walk up the driveway when my car gets sucked into the void. I can’t afford these fancy rubber boots, but I need Muck Boots, right? Those ugly duck looking boots impervious to all forms of goo? It seems that way, and here’s why I think so: This Sunday, I went to the annual Pancake Bash of a well-known family in the area. Every year they gather all their friends (many of whom came to Vermont during the Back to the Land movement in the 70s–artists, carpenters, teachers, farmers, foresters, herb goddesses, etc.) and kick off the sugaring season by devouring all the syrup they have left over from the past year. The pancakes were epic, the syrup delicious. Mason jars brimming with the stuff–along with some apple juice from their business, Honest to Goodness–were lined along the counters. The house was octagonal, built halfway into the earth, and awesome. [I’ve seen a couple houses like these in Vermont so far, and for more, check out: The Earth Sheltered House.] And there were tons of people. I haven’t seen this many people in one place all winter (except the local high school girls’ championship basketball game at the famous “Aud” in Barre.) The sunny, warmish morning marked the unofficial beginning of the sugaring season, and a breath of fresh air after way too many months of solitude. Everyone was talking about sugaring; how many buckets they have up, and how many taps on how many trees. There were heaps of melting snow outside but people were talking sap and springtime and–even further away–summer soccer leagues. (Of course, it’s blizzarding out today. Welcome to Vermont.) After a while, we realized it was time to go; one of our friends needed help hitching up a young Belgian workhorse to his sugaring sled. We bid our goodbyes, and made our way to the exit, first going to the bathroom (a hole in the ground with no flush, a canister of sawdust placed adjacent, with a gorgeous view out the window.) Upstairs in the mudroom, however, all hell had broken loose. There were Muck Boots everywhere! All different shapes and sizes, greens and browns and darker greens and browns. Muck Boots as far as the eye could see! Glorious Muck Boots, but no one could find their own pair. Every single person and their child at the Pancake Bash must have worn Muck Boots to the party. Except for me. So I’m saving up.

Green Fundamentalists: I’m Talking to YOU

Here’s what really amazes me. The self satisfied complacency of those who have deemed themselves politically sound, and businessally ethical, and morally resoundingly liberally spot on. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say I’m queen of the internet world when it comes to morality. I do believe using pesticides is gross, and I […] Read More..

The Raven: Mythical Creature, or Chicken Killer?

Q: Is farming ever cut and dry? A: Only when you’re haying. Apart from this dumb joke I made up, farming is not quite as simple as it sounds. I thought, for example, that raising my own meat would be easy. You know: just buy the little chicks, make sure they don’t die, feed them […] Read More..

I Don’t Want To Burn My Bra, But AAARGH!

This weekend I sat on the sidelines of the men’s soccer game. It was a big deal, and many people were there, young and old–despite the fact that it’s a pick-up league in a small town. I went sheepishly, in my dorky tie-dyed t-shirt and muck boots, to cheer my boyfriend on. I sat there, […] Read More..

Farm Update: Chicks, Piglets, Morels, and More…

It’s been nearly five months since I moved to rural Vermont from New York City–and my life has changed exponentially. Radically. Ridiculously. Healthily. Happily…so far. And I’m not trying to jinx anything. But I just celebrated my 24th birthday and I can’t believe the gift I got, the very thing I wanted, and the very […] Read More..

Biking, Lobstering and Urban Gardening: in Boston!

It was with a heavy heart I left the farm for my birthday weekend, and I looked longingly through my rearview mirror as I left for work on Friday. How could I miss the few precious days of Vermont spring? My weekend. MY WEEKEND! I wanted to sit on the porch and read. I wanted […] Read More..