We’re planting a pear, peach, apple and elderberry orchard this spring! Because why not. In a year (two years?) of unrest and insanity, why not plant an entire fruit orchard. We have a long-standing goal of expanding the perennial foods we grow and this’ll be our latest and largest undertaking.

Hard to believe this snow will one day melt…

In years past, we planted perennial blueberries, strawberries, currants, cherries and did major remediation work on our existing apple and plum trees. This’ll be our most ambitious perennial endeavor and it feels right. We want to establish a homestead that will bear fruit–quite literally–for our children and grandchildren. Of course they’ll probably all live in New York City and have no interest in farming, BUT they can come visit, right?!?

When planting a tree orchard, one orders baby trees! And so, last month we spent $430.38 on the following (all ordered from Fedco trees):

  • Keepsake Apple, 1, on Bud 118 semi-dwarfing stock — 1 × $30.25 = $30.25
  • Dabinett Cider Apple, 1, on standard stock — 1 × $30.25 = $30.25
  • Harrison Cider Apple, 1, on standard stock — 1 × $30.25 = $30.25
  • Kingston Black Cider Apple, 1, on standard stock — 1 × $30.25 = $30.25
  • Cabot Vermont European Pear, 1 — 1 × $31.75 = $31.75
  • Luscious European Pear, 1 — 1 × $31.75 = $31.75
  • McLaughlin European Pear, 1 — 1 × $31.75 = $31.75
  • Nova European Pear, 1 — 1 × $31.75 = $31.75
  • Patten European Pear, 1 — 1 × $31.75 = $31.75
  • Redhaven Peach, 1 — 1 × $30.25 = $30.25
  • Reliance Peach, 1 — 1 × $30.25 = $30.25
  • ‘Adams No. 1’ Elderberry, 1 — 1 × $18.00 = $18.00
  • ‘Nova’ Elderberry, 1 — 1 × $18.00 = $18.00
  • ‘Wyldewood’ Elderberry, 1 — 1 × $18.00 = $18.00
  • ‘York’ Elderberry, 1 — 1 × $18.00 = $18.00

The trees won’t arrive until late spring. I’ll keep you apprised of all orchard development activities in my This Month On The Homestead series as well as the planting of our…

Vegetable Seeds!

We ordered all of our vegetable seeds for the garden, which means it’ll be seed starting time soon. Hard to believe as we’re socked by snowstorm after snowstorm, but I’m led to believe it will one day melt and we will one day put plants in the dirt again.

The Dryer Is Fixed!

Cradling Littlewoods in the woods, in the snow

For everyone riveted by the saga of our broken dryer, wonder about my wet laundry no more for the dryer is resurrected! Thanks to my handy husband, $22 of knock-off dryer parts, and my strong arms, we are once again among the tumblers (affiliate link).

Quaint as it was to dry our king-sized sheets in front of the wood stove, I am really, really, really grateful to have a working dryer. We’re still waiting on the parts we ordered from the manufacturer, which might arrive sometime in… 2022?

The knock-off parts we bought are reported to “work for awhile,” so our assumption is that the pulley will snap again, but hopefully by then we’ll have the parts from the manufacturer. Then we can perform the ballet of hefting the dryer down from its perch atop the washer and Mr. Frugalwoods can take it apart for a third time. Good times!

Footed Jambos

For the second time in my five-year career as a parent, I bought new clothes for my kids. The first time was the purchase of SnowStopper mittens (an affiliate link that I HIGHLY recommend), the second time was last month and the purchase was: footed jammies.

Let me explain:

Kidwoods built this snow mountain then climbed atop it, as you do

After three years of disdaining and refusing (with vitriol) to wear footed jammies, Kidwoods decided a few months ago that she is DESPERATE to have footed jammies like her little sister. There were actual tears.

Did I have any footed jams in her size? NO because she spent the last three years telling us how much she hates them, so I stopped buying them at garage sales.

I never buy new clothes for our kids, but decided to make an exception because she was tragically trying to squeeze herself into too-tight footed jams. Carter’s had an after-Christmas sale and I bought 6 pairs for circa $6 each. She is in HEAVEN and now I have 6 pairs of 5T jambos for Littlewoods to grow into one day.

I probably could’ve found cheaper off-brand jammies, but I really love Carter’s jammies. Thanks to my cache of hand-me-downs and garage sale perusals, I’ve learned that not all fleecey jams are created equal.

We’ve had pairs from Old Navy, Kohls, and unknown places and they’re not as soft or as thick and the zippers aren’t as durable (a crucial feature since my kids dress themselves and really wrench those zippers up… ). And now you know the tale of the footed jambo escapade. (affiliate links)

Witches! (in book form)

At the start of the pandemic, I abandoned my previous nighttime reading material (non-fiction slop about politics, current events, and financial matters) in favor of decidedly other-worldly fiction. When the world descended into the SciFi/horror genre, I needed to escape. And so, I read my way through Philippa Gregory’s series on the queens of Tudor (and pre-Tudor) England, a 15-book saga of historical fiction that’s delightful, diverting and easy to read (affiliate link).

Having finished that series, I needed a new not-related-to-real-life literary escape and my friend RG recommended Deborah Harkness’ Discovery of Witches series (affiliate link). I’m halfway through the first book and it is A+, top-notch, diverting, fluffy, delightful. There are witches, there are vampires, they are at Oxford University, there is lots of tea being drunk, manuscripts being pored over and it is just what I need right now.

Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Mr. Frugalwoods and I use a free online service called Personal Capital to keep track of our money: our spending, our net worth, our investments, our retirement–everything!

My kitchen window view (and yes, these are my “winter” decorations, not to be confused with my “Christmas” decorations. Listen, everyone needs a hobby.

Tracking expenses is one of the best–and easiest–ways to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it. If you’d like to know more about how Personal Capital works, check out my full write-up.

Without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a must, folks. No excuses. Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for us to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth.

If you’re not tracking your expenses in an organized fashion, you might consider trying Personal CapitalHere’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital (note: these Personal Capital links are affiliate links). 

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

Mr. Frugalwoods and I purchase everything we possibly can with credit cards because:

  1. It’s easier to track expenses. No guesswork over where a random $20 bill went; it all shows up in our monthly expense report from Personal Capital. I spend less money because I KNOW I’m going to see every expense listed at the end of each month. .
  2. We get rewards. Credit card rewards are a simple way to get something for nothing. Through the cards we use, Mr. FW and I get cash back as well as hotel and airline points just for buying stuff we were going to buy anyway.
  3. We build our credit. Since Mr. FW and I don’t carry debt other than our mortgage, having several credit cards open for many years helps our credit scores. It’s a dirty myth that carrying a balance on your credit card helps your credit score–IT DOES NOT. Paying your cards off IN FULL every month and keeping them open for many years does help your score.
Littlewoods wields a mean snow shovel

For more on my credit card strategy, check out The Frugalwoods Guide to a Simple, Yet Rewarding, Credit Card Experience. I also wrote this guide on how to find the best credit card for you.

If you want a simple cash back credit card, here are a few good options that don’t have annual fees:

1) The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card:

  • This one’s good because it offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There are no categories to keep track of, you just get a straightforward 1.5% cash back on everything you buy. Nice, easy, and fee-free!
  • What this means is that if you spend, for example, $1,000 on this card in a month, you’ll get $15 back.
  • Plus, if you spend $500 in the first three months of having this card, you’ll get $200.

2) The Chase Freedom Unlimited:

  • Also offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases–with no categories or restrictions–which makes it super simple to use.
  • You can earn up to 5% cash back in specific categories as well, which makes it really attractive to folks who track their spending carefully.
  • This card also offers you $200 if you spend $500 in the first three months of having it.

3) The Citi® Double Cash Card:

  • Gives you a total of 2% cash back (1% at the time of purchase and 1% when you pay your credit card bill).
  • This is a really good cash back percentage and it means that if you spent, for example, $2,000 on this card in a month, you’d get $40 back, just for using the card! Not bad.
  • I also like this card because there are no categories for purchases–anything you buy with the card is eligible for the 2% cash back, which makes is super simple to use.
The many hats–and teensy mask–of Littlewoods

If you’re more interested in travel rewards, a lot of people love the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The best way to find a credit card that’ll work for you is to search for it yourself; I have a guide to help you do just that: The Best Credit Cards (and Credit Card Rewards)!

Huge caveat to credit card usage: you MUST pay your credit card bills in full every single month, with no exceptions. If you’re concerned about your ability to do this, or think using credit cards might prompt you to spend more, then stick with a debit card or cash. But if you have no problem paying that bill in full every month? I recommend you credit card away, my friend! (note: the credit card links are affiliate links).

Cash Back Earned This Month: $47.57

The silver lining to our spending is our cash back credit card. We earn 2% cash back on every purchase made with our Fidelity Rewards Visa and this month, we spent $2,378.56 on that card, which netted us $47.57. 

Not a lot of money perhaps, but it’s money we earned for buying stuff we were going to buy anyway! This is why I love cash back credit card rewards–they’re the simplest way to earn something for nothing.

Yes, We Only Paid $24.87 for Cell Phone Service (for two phones)

Jumping off their play structure into the snow because why not?

Our cell phone service line item is not a typ0 (although that certainly is). We really and truly only paid $24.87 for both of our phones (that’s $12.44 per person for those of you into division). How is such trickery possible?!? We use the MVNO Ting (affiliate link). What’s an MVNO? Glad you asked because I was going to tell you anyway: It’s a cell phone service re-seller.

MVNOs are the TJ Maxx of the cell phone service world–it’s the same service, but A LOT cheaper. If you’re not already using an MVNO, switching to one is an easy, slam-dunk, do-it-right-away way to save money every single month of every single year forever and ever amen. More here: My Frugal Cell Phone Service Trick: How I Pay $10.65 A Month*

*the amount we pay fluctuates every month because it’s calibrated to what we use. Imagine that! We only pay for what we use! Will wonders ever cease.

Expense Report FAQs

  • Want to know how we manage the rest of our money? Check out How We Manage Our Money: Behind The Scenes of The Frugalwoods Family Accounts.
  • Don’t you have a rental property? Yes! We own a rental property (formerly known as our first house) in Cambridge, MA, which I discuss here.
  • Why do I share our expenses? To give you a sense of how we spend our money in a values-based manner. Your spending will differ from ours and there’s no “one right way” to spend and no “perfect” budget.
  • Are we the most frugal frugal people on earth? Absolutely not. My hope is that by being transparent about our spending, you might gain insights into your own spending and be inspired to take proactive control of your money.
  • Wondering where to start with managing your money? Take my free, 31-day Uber Frugal Month Challenge. If you’re interested in other things I love, check out Frugalwoods Recommends.
  • Why don’t you buy everything locally? We do our best to support our local community and buy as much of our food as possible directly from our farmer neighbors. Our town doesn’t have any stores, so we rely on online ordering and big box stores for necessities. The closest stores are 45 minutes away and Mr. FW goes once a month to stock up on what we can’t get from our neighbors or online.

But Mrs. Frugalwoods, Don’t You Pay For X, Y, Or Even Z???

Wondering about common expenses you don’t see listed below?

If you’re wondering about anything else, feel free to ask in the comments section!

Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent in January:

Item Amount Notes
VT Mortgage $1,392.86
Annual Home Insurance (through Vermont Mutual) $727.00 The annual cost of coverage for our VT homestead: house, barn, outbuildings, and 66 acres of land
Groceries $589.68 Includes meat and flour purchased from our neighbors
Fruit trees $430.38 See the list above!
6 Months of Car Insurance for two vehicles $225.40 Six months of car insurance through Geico for our 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Toyota Tundra. This is low because:

  • We shopped around.
  • We’re both accident and ticket-free.
  • We live in a rural area and don’t have daily commutes.
  • Most importantly: we don’t carry comprehensive insurance because we could easily replace both of our cars (in full with cash) if we needed to.
  • We carry the maximum in liability coverage because we feel that, with healthcare costs as they are, the risk of a large liability claim is one we don’t want to self-insure against.

More about our approach here.

Household Supplies $194.07 The thrilling stuff of life, including: dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, shampoo, dental floss, toothbrush head replacements, craft supplies for the kids, and more.
Vegetable seeds $155.43 I’ll do a full rundown of what we’re growing this year in an upcoming This Month On The Homestead installment.
Craft Beer $102.06 For our at-home craft beer tasting dates.
Gas for cars $77.44
Utilities: Internet $72.00
Witches! (in book form) $49.25 My latest book series obsession: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (affiliate link).
Footed Jammies (6 pairs) $39.78 6 pairs of footed, fleece 5T jammies from Carter’s for my formerly footed jam hater, Kidwoods (affiliate link).
Temperature Sensors $30.74 Two temperature sensors with probe for freezer alarm usage. Since we store a lot of food in our deep freeze, we got these sensors to let us know if the freezer ever stops working.
Cell phone service for two phones $24.87 This is so cheap because we use an MVNO called Ting (affiliate link).

MVNOs resell wireless service at discounted rates (but it’s the same service).

MVNOs are the TJ Maxx of cell phone service. If you’re not using an MVNOcheck out this post to see if you can make the switch. The savings are tremendous.

Diesel for tractor $24.19
Utilities: Electricity $23.20 We have solar, which I wrote about here. This is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
Dryer parts $22.22 As discussed last month, here are the knockoff dryer parts, which are currently working fabulously! (affiliate link)
Prescription medications $10.00 Online pharmacy for the win!
Total: $4,190.57

How was your January?

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    1. I was thinking the same thing! We want to plant fruit trees but we practically have to barricade anything like that here or the deer will feast. I’m always looking for tips from other homesteaders on this struggle. Is a dog the best solution? We are huge dog lovers (Great Danes in our suburban place) but need to put more fencing around the perimeter of our property. LGD’s seem like a good protector but wondering if a nice lab (who would come inside) might also thwart the deer?

      1. As the owner of a dog who loves to chase deer–I personally think fencing is a better solution. You only need to protect the trees while they are getting established for the first couple of years, and a fence is 24/7. The dog isn’t always outside (though she certainly would be happy sniffing around all day long out there!)

      2. Yep! We bought some netting second-hand last summer and we made round cages to protect our plum and cherry trees when they were babies, which we’ll be able to repurpose in the new orchard.

      3. I have a Great Dane at our rural, deer-ridden house. I think he helps, because our garden gets attacked later than other gardens in our area (we don’t usually see evidence of munching until Sept) but he isn’t fool-proof. He also doesn’t live outside. He likes to spend as much time as possible out there but it’s a cold climate. We do get lots of jokes about how he looks like a weird deer when he goes running around the neighborhood though!

    2. yes! A farm hound or even two would be an excellent addition and for any dog, a life in actual dog paradise. A life with a present-mostly, loving family, with trails to run around on and all manner of exciting things to do would be the life of dreams for so many Good Boys and Girls.

      Come on Mrs Frugalwoods. Your audience has spoken (3 of us have, same thing), you need a dog or two.

    3. I love it!!!! So true. But I say: “You go girl!!” My Dad, on his little 5 acres, in Northern Neck Virginia got to the point where he didn’t have a tree if it didn’t bear fruit. He had apples, pears, peaches, and fig (a personal favorite because it was ripe in August when I could visit). And yup, lots of deer.

  1. I Love how you do this every month! Do they have foot jammies for grown ups?! Would be the best! Snow is coming here as well this weekend! (The Netherlands) Also i did the uber frugal month and saved! Thank you!

    1. We ordered from a wide range of places this year, I’ll do a full rundown in my next This Month On The Homestead!

  2. Congratulations on future orchard!! It is always a joyful and hopeful thing to plant a tree and who could not use a little more joy and hope? 😊

  3. Carter footed PJs were my favorite too long ago when my kids (now in their 30’s) were little. $6 dollars was probably the full price back then. I remember my husband finding Carter footies for a dollar! Score. He called me from the store (on their phone, nobody had cell phones back then) to tell me and ask how many to get. He said, “One problem….they are Bart Simpson”. I said, “That’s okay, they don’t know who The Simpsons are.” We didn’t consider The Simpson’s an appropriate preschool/toddler show and watched very little TV anyway. My husband brought them home and pulled them out of the bag and my 2 1/2 year old shouts, “BART!!!!”. Apparently we weren’t in control of knowledge gained from others at preschool!

  4. You can dry sheets right on your bed – sounds ridiculous but it works. Just put the fitted sheet and top sheet on in the morning, by night they’ll be all dry (even in the winter).

    We live in Boston and hardly ever use the dryer…air drying works find for our family of 3.

    1. I just finished my 4th time through the series. Isn’t it wonderful? I love the characters and feel like I am visiting old friends every time I reread the books. That’s probably why I have come back to them twice again during the pandemic.

  5. your photos are so fun. i really liked the winter decorations and while i feel like i have snow here in nebraska, you so have more

  6. Last year was our fruit planting extravaganza – we only have an acre, but found places for 5 apples and 2 crabs, 10 blueberries, a strawberry patch (and a 30×50 garden patch). If you ever need more trees, I can’t recommend Walden Heights (here in VT) high enough. We bought 2 trees from them several years ago for our old house, and they did fabulously (even though we moved right as the first tree produces its first few apples). The owner is amazing to work with, one of our new trees had a minor scratch in its bark and he sent me a replacement tree free of cost “so we wouldn’t be behind if the tree doesn’t make it.” I’ve also learned a ton from the book The Holistic Orchardist.

    Incidentally, we were going to plant elderberry this year, I figured it was too much to tackle everything on our wish list the first year… and then I discovered wild elderberry growing right in our hedgerow!

    I hope your soil is less rocky than ours, because digging all the planting holes last year just about did me in 😉

  7. 100% with you on Carter’s for kids. Anytime I can’t source something secondhand and need to buy clothes for my daughter, which is rare, I buy Carter’s. The quality can’t be matched. And their clothes are also so much easier to get a baby into than any other brand. I recently ended up eternally delighted when I acquired six footed sleepers from our Buy Nothing group and they were all from Carter’s!

    Also, I loved Phillipa Gregory’s series! And agree that having a fantasy world (or several) to escape to these days is great. I feel it’s imperative for one to have a couch book, a bedtime book, a ” waiting at the doctor’s office” book, a bathroom book, a kitchen book, a “my kid fell asleep in her stroller” book …

    1. “I feel it’s imperative for one to have a couch book, a bedtime book, a ” waiting at the doctor’s office” book, a bathroom book, a kitchen book, a “my kid fell asleep in her stroller” book …” Love this! 😆 Seems I’m not the only one reading several books simultaneously.

  8. Congrats on expanding the orchard! Hope you guys explored local options too. As a fellow VTer with an orchard, I had great luck with a local tree farm that had varieties proven successful here. Prices were in line with what you guys paid. Gotta to support our neighbors!

    1. Yeah, our preference is always to buy locally when possible, but we weren’t able to find what we wanted locally this time.

      1. As a fellow Vermonter, I would submit that perhaps the reason that you weren’t able to find what you wanted locally is that some of the varieties you purchased may not make it through their 3rd or 4th winter. Unless you are in the Champlain Valley, peach trees don’t last after one super-cold winter. Next time, try East Hill Farm in Plainfield, run by Nico Rubin. He has great plants, stands by them, and only sells what grows here in Vermont.

    1. Yes, deer will eat the leaves and even the bark! Very easy to lose your saplings to hungry deer before they get a chance to be established.

    2. Yep! We bought some netting second-hand last summer and we made round cages to protect our plum and cherry trees when they were babies, which we’ll be able to repurpose in the new orchard.

      1. Mrs Frugalwoods,

        Thanks for always sharing. I wonder if Personal Capital would work with Australian banks or is there an Australian equivalent?

        1. last time I tried to use them, it said they don’t do australia 🙁
          but these days most apps for the banks have an expenses section so that you can track things better even across your various accounts – with that bank

  9. Good luck growing the fruit trees! I’m excited to hear how it works. I have tried to grow a few wee trees, and I think I put them in the ground before they were big enough.

    Thanks for the book suggestion. I really enjoyed Phillipa Gregory’s books.

  10. We just bought some apple trees too! Not a full orchard like yours, but two trees for the two of us. We wanted to plant them last year when we moved in, but it was too late to order. The best time to plant a tree is now!

  11. Congratulations on your orchard plans! I can’t speak to the other fruits, but Red Haven peaches are much prized in the Lake Erie area of northern Ohio. For good reason – they are delicious!

  12. No Cherry trees?
    We planted a whole orchard last autumn, but mainly Apples and cherries. …. And a big deer and rabbit proof fence around it.

    Picked out first apples from it this summer. Quite impressive.

  13. I am so glad you started A Discovery of Witches. The whole series is fantastic and keeps getting better and better as you move through the books. I love how Diana and Matthew continue to grow. I love love love this series. I am so happy you have found them.

  14. Yikes our home insurance is double yours for a 1200sq ft home, 1 stall attached garage. Any insight on that one? Our car insurance is already competitive.

    1. Insurance prices are extremely variable depending on a multitude of factors. It’s not really apples-to-apples when you are comparing with someone else in a different location, different type of house, etc. Your best bet is to go to a local independent insurance agent who can quote you with several different companies at one time to see which option is the best for your particular situation.

  15. As the mother of 2 daughters as well, all my diligent saving and keeping of hand-me-downs, didn’t prepare me for a 2nd child who wanted different things. Like Dresses only Dresses all summer long. It has been a balance, but when you have the means it is ok to spend it on things that do make life easier and embrace their individuality.

  16. Do you read physical books, on an e-reader, or audio books? My favorite format is ink-on-paper, but my Kindle has its place.
    What are the girls’ favorite stories?

  17. Love A Discovery of Witches! I made a Sundance account to watch the show then canceled before the free trial ended. Once you finish these I recommend a Court of Thornes and Roses or a book a just read a preview copy of Of Wicked Blood!

  18. Your winter decorations and the view out your window are just beautiful! I’m Aussie and where I live we don’t get snow, I’m pretty sure it has been more than 10 years since I’ve seen snow!

  19. Excited to see what you do with the elderberries! We have a bunch of them that were planted as a naturalization project on our property about 10 years ago. (with a mix of non-fruit trees including oaks, maples, pine, spruce and cedar). It was an average of $1/per tree. The elderberries thrived! I made jam some years and some years the birds get to them before I can get around to it. We added Saskatoon berries this year from the same program.

    Good luck!

  20. If you like historical books, The Wolf Hall trilogy by Hilary Mantel is excellent. Set in the Tudor era. CJ Samson writes a mystery series set in Tudor England that is excellent.

  21. We live in Australia we have nectarines peaches blueberries strawberries figs almonds apricots. We are in summer, at the moment we have tomatoes cucumbers eggplant Basil capsicum chilly. In the herb garden we have parsley oregano chives rosemary dill

  22. Please relate to the Toddler Ennui that their adoring public misses their take on homestead life if we don’t hear from them every single month. Their adoring public is enthralled by the Toddlers opinions and unrepentant attitudes.

  23. I love that you have bought more fruits trees. I also love that you make time to read. I have 2 young children too and it’s one thing i want to do more of- that and exercise. Do you ever want a third?

    1. She shares a lot about her life, but I don’t think that gives readers the right to ask very intrusive questions. Reproduction/family planning choices are private concerns!

  24. Would you be willing to share which online pharmacy you use? And any tips on transferring prescriptions? I’ve been thinking about doing the same. 🙂

    1. I use the pharmacy that our health insurance contracts with. I was able to sign up for it through our online health insurance portal, so hopefully yours will have a similar option!

  25. I find your posts so intriguing! I live in the suburbs and have a passionate interest about frugal living. I love seeing pictures of your family w day to day real life activities! I love picking cherries and apples at local orchards and I find your gardens really impressive even tho we dont have a garden a however support local farmers markets. I guess the point is that even tho we are all different , we can enjoy this difference and learn from others. Thank you for sharing your monthly journey

  26. That’s a great book series! I loved it. When you’re done (if you’re looking for more), I HIGHLY recommend Sara Donati’s Wilderness Series and the subsequent Waverly Place series. They are amazing. Not supernatural, but historical fiction with smart, strong women.

  27. So exciting on the fruit trees, we have the same plan for our farm. Just curious, have you looked at what your conservation department has to offer in the way of trees? Here in Missouri they offer a great selection, at AMAZING prices. Plus, they often have grants for perennial agriculture.

    On a different note, what do you all do for internet?I’m jealous of your phone bill, but we’re stuck with Verizon for phone and internet as I can’t handle satellite any longer. Have you found a good, affordable, rural option?

    1. We have verizon prepaid unlimited minutes, text, and 5g data each and pay $54 and change for 2 phones. We get their top loyalty discount and auto pay discount.

  28. My parents were horrified when I was trying to find elder trees, as they are considered a weed here in New Zealand. (I had been reading a lot of English books, & wanted to try making Elderflower Champagne, & Elderberry Cordial.) We could only ever spot them from a distance, never close enough to reach. Then one day we found we had a self-sown tree growing in our compost heap, & as time went on realised that it was an Elder! It rapidly grew to an enormous size, & every year we are able to make lots of champagne & cordial – & would be able to make a lot more, except it is very hard to source lemons at the same time as the brief flowering period. (The berries can always be frozen, some for adding to a mixed jam, but the flowers must be used straight away.) I love the champagne, & the berries are very good for dealing with ‘flu. You are in for a lot of fun; I shall follow your progress with much interest!

  29. Score, my library has both of those book series in ebook form!

    And I’m totally jealous of your home insurance. Ours is twice as much for one house on a half acre.

  30. As usual, I loved the photos. The many hatted little one is adorable and hilarious. Your kitchen window lighting is just beautiful. It reminds me of a tradition in Norway. They have beautifully shaped lamps or light fixtures in their windows as the winter days are very dark their. I was delighted and fascinated by them when we traveled there in 2018. Thank you for sharing your reading materials. I too, feel the need to read books that will simply entertain me. Now that I no longer obsessively read the NYT, since DT has left the presidential office.

  31. Love footed jammies. I used to use them as an extra layer for playing in the snow. Shirt, pants and socks in first layer. Then footed jammies. Snowsuit, boots, hat and gloves last. I used to do this because my son would scream if snow got into his boots or under his snowpants.

  32. Hi. I’m a farmers wife from South Africa. I love your blog!! I absolutely love how you all are living off grid!
    Fruit trees are a wonderful long term investment. I have planted 1 orange and 1 naartjie tree. hoping to add more soon.

    Your view from your kitchen window is amazing!! I am so jealous. We do not get any snow where we live.

  33. I suggest the Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch – made me want to travel London (had been there multiple times before Brexit) by bike/boat/walking even more.
    My eldederberries, inherited with the old house, proliferate like crazy – so be aware or happy 😉

  34. I really like your explanation regarding your car insurance – which is something I also agree with: Don’t self-insure in the case of an accident and face the potentially heavy liability suits. I also carry the highest coverage possible. In some way, that also helps me stay calm and peaceful.

    Good luck on your journey!


  35. Do any of those fruit trees need male and female versions to cross pollinate for production? I one day want a homestead but all this plant stuff gets to be a lot of research.

  36. I’m a city girl so of course I don’t really know but I thought you had to buy two of each fruit tree, a male and a female version so they could pollinate. Is that not true?

    1. Biology major here – the majority of fruit trees have both sets of reproductive parts, so there aren’t really male and female trees in most cases. But you are right in that many fruit trees don’t self-pollinate, and may need more than one in close proximity in order to bear fruit. You can, however, find self-pollinating varieties. 😊 Hope that helps!

    2. Apples, pears, and elderberry have “perfect” (male & female parts in the same flower) flowers, but are almost always self-incompatible (just as you shouldn’t have kids by your brother, these plants have invested in mechanisms to keep themselves from pollinating themselves, so as to reduce inbreading). All will bear fruit, but not alone. Peaches will often bear more fruit with genetic diversity, but can pollinate themselves. Kiwi (not on her list), some wild strawberries, most Schisandras, and some wild-type American persimmons have separate male and female plants (“dioecious”). You can get around self-incompatibility even if you lack acreage. If a neighbor has a related tree (e.g. crabapples are pretty common in the northern USA, and will pollinate apples), the bees will take care of this. If not, you can graft different varieties together (may require attentive pruning to keep the more vigorous one from completely taking over, so this is probably best for espaliered trees, which will have to be carefully pruned anyway). Apples & pears are pretty easy to graft, even though I often end up anointing them with my blood. You can also try shoving multiple trees in the same big hole, as Dave Wilson Nursery recommends. That is a pretty common treatment for things like elders and American or Amerasian plums that tend to form thickets if left alone.

  37. I was so excited to see you are reading Discovery of Witches. I’ve started watching TV program on Sky1 (UK) currently on Season 2 and absolutely love it. So I wanted to buy the books as well. Thanks to you I have now ordered it. By the way long time reader here, I’ve came across your website few month after you started blogging. Absolutely love everything you do and have adopted lots of suggestions along the way. I’m older and with teen kids but found a lot of your ideas very relevant. I’m working towards FIRE and will be a while before I achieve but thanks to you I know how to stretch my money further and live rich life without feeling deprived. I’ve never commented before – Frugalwoods family you rock.

  38. Awesome tree assortment! We planted four last year, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that we’ll have a sample of fruit this fall. I just started your book, and I’m so glad that I did! I followed your blog (religiously) in our early married days, but I’d forgotten all about it until I stumbled across your book on my library’s website. My first thought was “hey, I know her!!” 😂 And incidentally, I’m in a much more homestead-y situation now, so I look forward to seeing what you’re up to these days. Thanks for your writing – both thought-provoking and entertaining!

  39. I endorse the footie jammies. Our family of two boys was so excited when they expanded their size range up to size 12. Nothing better on cold floors.

  40. Just wanted to say that I finished the Discovery of Witches and LOVED it! Such a fun subject and brings all the good “old world” feels! Who doesn’t love a vampire and witch story…this one is top notch! Just reserved the 2nd book from the library and am super excited to dig in! Thank you for the recommendation!

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