Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is It Worth It? Raising Chickens For Eggs

Our family is blessed to live near the city of Atlanta and enjoy all the benefits that come from being residents of such a cosmopolitan city. We are also blessed because many of the suburbs of Atlanta have kept to their agricultural roots. A half hour to an hour drive from the city among strip malls and subdivisions are horse ranches, corn fields and wooded areas. In essence we enjoy the best of both worlds.

A few weeks ago we got an invitation by one of our dear friends and neighbors to go to the East Alabama Poultry and Goat Auction. This family lives outside of a subdivision and have a bit of land so they raise chickens and have many times provided us with delicious eggs laid by their own hens. In case you are wondering, oh yes, these eggs from their homegrown, organically fed, free range chickens do have a wonderful robust flavor that tastes markedly better than your run of the mill store bought eggs. To be honest we have never consider raising our own chicken for eggs but our family of four eats a lot of eggs. So this gave us a chance to look at raising chickens first hand and determine for ourselves: Is it worth it?

On our day trip the the auction we met a family who, since the economic downturn eliminated many construction jobs, has been living chiefly from raising and breeding chickens. Well we learned that there are a great variety of different breeds of chickens and just like dogs, rare breeds are worth more. Frankly I was surprised at how beautiful some of these birds were but how about buying and raising some chicken for their eggs?

Is it worth it? Not for us. Frankly the up front cost is quite high. You have to buy the birds, feed and have the room to contain them or build a chicken coop. Also we don’t even have a dog so caring for animals would be a huge learning curve for us. It just seemed like the amount of time you have to spend caring for chickens is more than we have to spend. Of course, for the family that lives on a rural block of land, has the initial investment of the coop and who has the room to breed and then sell the eggs, it may potentially be worth it.

It is was amazing to be able to step out of our comfort zone for a day and spend some time learning about something brand new but I think we’ll continue paying for the convenience of getting organic eggs at the grocery.

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His POV: Free Comic Book Day – Saturday May 1

Had to borrow the spotlight from mom today and remind everyone that Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday!

We have two boys and superheroes are a huge part of our day to day lives. From Super Hero Squad on TV to Buzz Lightyear on their underwear for boys it is all about superheroes.

Take a moment to take your boys to Free Comic Book Day! Comic books are not cheap and for one day there is a great selection of book you can walk away for free just by visiting your local comic book store. If you visit their website you can preview the great selection of books you can get for free! This is a great way to inspire the love of reading.

Visit to find a participating store near you and find out more about this AWESOME event! (Free Comic Book Day is not a sponsor of Affluent Pauper. We gush because we genuinely love this event ... well at least dad does.)

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Is It Worth it? – Making Your Own Strawberry Jam

If you have been blessed with kids you know that Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches aren’t just an easy go to meal that you are sure the kids will eat but really a staple in the weekly menu. It is surprising how may jars of jam you can go through with two kids. So a couple of times of year a group of moms get together and we go to a local farm and go strawberry picking. For $10 you are provided a small bucket and can fill it overflowing with beautiful, fresh, ripe strawberries. This year we decided to all get together a preserve our bounty by making jars of strawberry jam.

For those who were wondering here is the recipe pulled straight from the farm’s website:

Cooked Jam
5 cups crushed berries (2qts)
7 cups (3lbs) sugar
1 box powdered fruit pectin
1/2 tsp of butter (not necessary, but I like to use it as it prevents froth)
Stir powdered pectin into the berries. Bring berries, pectin and butter to a rolling boil (meaning, when you stir it, it doesn't stop boiling) and stir in the sugar all at one. Again, bring the mixture back to a rolling boil (it might take 4 or 5 minutes to get it back to that rapid rolling boil) and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and fill jars. After the jars are sealed, we put them in a canner (I got mine on ebay for $15) and boil the jar in hot water for 5 minutes. This will ensure a tight seal, so that you can store the jars in your pantry for the rest of the year.
If you don't have a canner, you can use the following recipe:

Freezer Jam
2 cups crushed berries (1qt)
4 cups sugar (1 ¾ lb)
¾ cup water
1 box powdered fruit pectin
Add sugar to fruit and stir well. In a saucepan boil ¾ cup of water and the fruit pectin for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the hot pectin and water to the fruit and continue stirring for 3 minutes. Put in containers. Let stand 24 hours and store in freezer. When you need jam, you can take it out of the freezer and store it in the fridge for a week or so.

So, was it worth the trouble?

Filling our buckets took less than a half an hour on a Friday morning and was a fun activity for the kids. Yes, making the jam and sealing it in mason jars probably took a couple of hours worth of work but we made an evening of it and it was great fun.

From the 5 buckets of strawberries we picked, we used about 3 of them for jam. We yielded 40 jars of jam in varying sizes totalling 320 oz of jam.
A jar of generic, store bought jam will cost around $2.49 for 18oz (13.8c per oz). You might be able to get it cheaper than that, but any cheaper and you usually get preservatives and coloring to go with it. So, 320 0z of store bought jam would cost $44.16. With $30 of berries, $7.45 of pectin and $3.87 of sugar, our total was $41.32. If you're new to jam making, you would have to add in the initial investment of the cost of jars, but I was able to snag some from a friend at no cost and we'll be able to use the jars for years to come.

The cost comes out essentially the same - so was it worth it? Absolutely!

The #1 reason for me is taste. Once you've had home made jam, you'll find that your trained palate finds it difficult to go back to the store bought stuff.

#2 - I don't want to get all holistic, but it's the love that goes in to each and every jar. There's something extraordinarily gratifying about hand picking the berries from a local field, crushing them and going through the cooking and jarring process and then serving the wonderful gourmet end result to your family. They're also great as gifts. You'd probably never show up to a friend's house with a jar of Kroger jam, but home made jam... ah... that's another story!

#3 - You're encouraging local farming and business. It's great to have a huge strawberry field here in our own community. If no one supported it, the operation would close down and it's entirely possible that yet another Walmart would pop up in it's place.

#4 - The kids get to appreciate where food comes from. No, it doesn't just magically appear at the supermarket!

#5 - It's a fun social event. Sure, you could sit down and watch a movie, but dinner and a "jamming" session - a fun way to share a Friday night.

If you get a chance give it try. You may find that you love it too.

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Necessity is the Mother of Invention

In tough times we are all looking for ways to save money. Our family is no different. We have discovered that sometimes sacrificing a bit of convenience is worth it in order to save a bit of coin. For instance in the past we have posted about making your own bread, and where to get money saving coupons to keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket.

In the past few weeks we have had the opportunity to experience first hand a few different ways that we could potentially save some money by doing some things ourselves rather than paying someone to do it for us. We went to a chicken auction and investigated raising poultry for the eggs, making our own strawberry jam, growing our own vegetables on our deck, and even cutting own hair. For each of these we have had to ask ourselves a question: “Is it worth the trouble?”

In the next week we will post what we discovered about all of these but we would love to hear from you.

Let us know what you are doing to save money in these tough times that you may not have considered doing in the past. Send it to perhaps we will post your comment as a guest post on We look forward to hearing your great ideas.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tax Day Freebies

Nothing to take the edge off last minute filing with free coffee, donuts, ice cream, cupcakes and a massage!

Free brewed coffee at Starbucks all day when you bring your own reusable travel mug.

One free slice of ice cream pizza at Maggie Moos at participating locations from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Free taco at Taco Del Mar.

Two free bite-sized cupcakes at Cinnabon from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at participating mall locations. These look yummy!

Get a free hydromassage at Hydromassage mall locations Thursday through Sunday at participating locations. Probably a good idea to make an appointment on this one!

Chick-fil-A - Many chains are having a freebie on tax day, but it depends on each store. Call your local store to see what promo they're running.

Not freebies, but worth noting...

IHOP is offering free dinner for one child age 12 or younger with each adult meal purchased from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. during April

You can buy one dinner and get one free at Boston Market Thursday thru Sunday with coupon. Not valid with certain meal deals.

Get a free donut with any coffee purchase at Dunkin Donuts. Associated Press mentioned this, but I can't find a link so you may want to check with your local store.

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