I am sure a lot of you are well aware that the dairy price forecast is not looking very good for next season with it likely to be closer to the $3 mark than $4-$5. This is a real international issue right now and although we can't do anything to influence it - we can do our best to survive it and I'm hoping I can give you some tips to do that.
Farming Mums is all about 'Supporting, Inspiring and Connecting' and it's time like these when we need to pull together more that ever - that includes those of us outside of the dairy industry as we all get inadvertently affected. (Grazers, Stock trucks, Meat works, Beef industry, Lack of conversions for fencers, builders etc)
- MENTAL HEALTH:
Firstly I want to touch on mental health as we become more aware of this each year and the quiet struggles within our farming communities. I urge you to talk to your neighbours, family, friends and your doctor - even if you know no one who is struggling and just ask them - What questions do we ask our friends, family and neighbours? What signs should we be looking for? What do they want to hear? Rural doctors are worth their weight in gold and know what is happening in the community. USE THEM!
Make sure to check out all the links on the FMNZ website that point to our MH providers and contacts. Each name has a click through link to their website and contact numbers. For Depression.org call - 0800 111 757 and check out the local Rural Support Trust in your area as they are a wealth of knowledge and never too far away (http://www.rural-support.org.nz/) Also pick up one of their brochures in your local rural doctors office for more information on what they can provide and help with.
Can you organise a monthly BBQ or Potluck dinner? Are you friendly with your local Farmlands and can ask them to help sponsor an evening get-together to get the family off the farm and out of the house? Do you know any one farming and living alone? They would probably love a batch of bikkies and a coffee! - Now is not the time to be shy!
- SAVING MONEY:
Are you asking - How do I live on a seemingly endless overdraft? How can I save money without starving ourselves or being deprived?
Here are some quick fire tips -
- Did you know you can save up to 66c/L by claiming back fuel used off road? (http://fuelrefunds.co.nz/)
- Have you got cats? Did you know that you can claim back their food by labeling them as 'Pest Control'?
- Do you use an office in your house for farm accounts and work? Have a chat to your accountant - is your office around 10% of your house? You can claim that back! (10% of power/rent/internet etc)
Let talk food
When is comes to feeding a household - Do you feel like you can cut back in some areas?
Here is an example I noticed lately - You pay 99c for a can of tomatoes right? Did you know that you can buy fresh tomatoes at Paknsave for $99c/kg right now! A can of 400g of Pams Tomatoes is only 60% tomatoes (plus water and tomato juice concentrate etc) You know that is only 240gm of tomatoes per can. So you are paying around 4x as much for a can of tomatoes as you would be for fresh 99c/kg tomatoes now they are perfectly in season.
So what can you do to save costs now? You can bottle or bag and freeze them for use later on in anything mince, pasta, pie or sauce related over winter when tomatoes are back to $12/kg - Sure they won't be slice-able for sandwiches but it's times like these we need to learn to eat what's in season. Other things you can do with fresh cheap tomatoes is semi dry them and preserve in oil, make tomato sauce, pasta sauces while the basil is growing, mix with garlic and onions and bottle. It could potentially save quite a bit as the year goes one
Are you using the mince, corned beef and stewing steak that is perishing in the bottom of your freezer? I hope you are as there are some fab meals down there wanting to see the light! The FMNZ recipe book will be out just in time for Mothers Day and ill have loads of tips and recipes for these 'unfavourable' cuts. It's time to get creative! (Check out a sneak peak of the FMNZ Recipe Book below!) There will also be a bunch of ideas of what you can make with vat milk!
As a worst case scenario, we have a lovely Reverend down here in South Canterbury who mentioned that they have a fund set up for food packages for those in need which could be something to think about if times get extremely tough.
On that note -
Time to talk gardening - particularly eating in season. Brassicas, can be grown year 'round as well as potatoes in the north. If you are keen to grow your own food - no time is too late. Check out this growing calendar to see what and when you can grow in your area - http://www.gardengrow.co.nz/ Yes it takes a little more work that popping to the supermarket but we're trying to save money huh? -
Think about it this way - Let one plant of everything you grow, go to seed so you can collect them each year and bring your input costs to almost nothing (especially if you are composting scraps too!) for example I brought $20 worth of garlic bulbs last winter while gave me 101 cloves, 96 germinated and 84 were pulled meaning they cost me 23c each and will go into tomatoes sauces and be used over the next year. I will be keeping 10 bulbs (100 cloves) aside and will replant them in mid winter meaning the following year each bulb will only have cost me 0.02 cents!
If you can't grow your own - try to shop at locally supplied and grown orchards - it will be cheaper, fresher and less likely to have been sprayed.
Have you heard of Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce? Lyn Webster is a member of FMNZ and has a huge amount of knowledge and ideas that can be tapped in to for saving money. Everything from Menstrual cups to budgeting and her MAKE courses (http://pigtitsandparsleysauce.co.nz/)
No matter how often you go shopping - you can spend an evening planning meals. I personally spend a Saturday or Sunday evening (usually sitting in bed) scribbling out a menu for the week to help keep me on track while shopping the following day. It really helps lessen the last minute stress each day of trying to come up with something creative for dinner, it allows you to get meat out the day before and if you have a free half hour during the day you can prep veggies or meat ahead of time. It also gives you a chance to think of breakfasts and lunches so you don't run out aswell.
No - I don't mean clothes or goodies, FOOD! Do you have the option of shopping online where you live? Delivery is a bonus as it will save you driving into town but even if not - click and collect! Save yourself the temptations of the shelves and buy what you need - based on menu plans - not what you want right there in the moment. It will help you bypass the pretty packets and cheeky 'specials' - You know those specials in pretty packets that still aren't as good as the bargains on the bottom shelf?
Foraging and Adventures
Now is a great time of the year to think about foraging! Old apple trees on the side of roads, old railways, old orchards where houses once were - go hunting. Take the kids out on an adventure and check local rivers, forests, bush or even scrub on the farm for blackberries! They are everywhere right now and although can be a bit spiky - provide a delicious reward that can easily be frozen and used year round in desserts, in cereal, on porridge in the middle of winter of in crumbles. Wee tip - Once picked, soak them in water for 5 minutes to let any bugs come out to avoid any nasty suprises. There are also Elderberries a lot many many rural roadsides right now so don't be afraid to pick them and use them in the same ways - even make an old fashioned health tonic with them! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambucus)
Apples can be stewed or sliced then frozen or bottled, or make cider if you're feeling ambitious!
Now is a great time to review your regular bills. Is the bank taking too many account fees? Can you consolidate some loans into one to save on interest and get a good rate with a new bank? Review your power bill! (www.whatsmynumber.org.nz) Is there a better cell phone plan you could be using? (Especially if you have no reception on the farm) Is your home phone and broadband as good as it could be? You shouldn't be paying more that $100 a month combined these days. Could you get a better insurance deal somewhere? One that lugs all types in together for a better rate?
Here is an idea as to how I plan my own personal budgets and online bank accounts- not taking into account farm costs. Knowing what you are truly spending could make a huge difference - track every outgoing cost for a week or longer and see where you can make some cuts. Note the 'Holiday Acct' for 8 months of the year is called the 'Christmas Account' to help with buying presents over Nov-Dec.
Each account seen here on the right has an automatic payment going into it based largely on the budget to the left - It goes OUT on pay day!
A huge tip here is you need to be honest with yourself. Keep a spending diary for a week or two to identify how much you are spending on the odd coffee or snack while doing town jobs (majorly guilty of that here)
Don't forget to set goals. This season may not mean any savings or lavish holidays but do still try to put $10-$20 aside a week if you can to go towards a little weekend get away (Cabin in a camping ground for the whole family often works out the cheapest) Going back to mental health above - this can really make or break a harsh winter or a low time - and it need not cost a fortune!
This isn't easy when you are restricted to a tight milking platform but I think the lack of diversity and putting all eggs in one basket has caused a lot of trouble. Do you have some manuka trees in some lanes on the property where you could put beehives? Do you have room and time to raise some chaser bull, beef x calves this coming season? Do you have room for some sheep to graze around some steep areas or tree lanes? Did you know ewe milk is bringing in over 3 times as much /KgMS than cows? DO you have an interest in angora goats? Ostriches? or can you afford to plant an acre in Peonies? Saffron? release some truffle spores in some oak trees?
It's time to think out side the box - get your thinking cap on.
I really hope you can take at least one idea away from here and try to save yourself a little money to make the upcoming season a little more bearable. My fingers are crossed that it doesn't fall any lower or that it improves.
If you have any subjects you would like us to cover or find more out about we'd love to hear them and would look into doing a 'Part 2'
P.S. You don't NEED Sky TV.
Best Wishes Ladies xx