I went to a local Farmer’s Market last weekend for the first time, just to browse and see what local farmers had to sell. While I was there, I began talking with a kind woman who was probably in her late 30’s and sitting behind a table with eggs and handmade soap for sale. She had introduced herself to me as Addy. I told her I was really interested in finding a dairy farmer who I could buy milk from.

Addy said, “Well… I have a milk cow. I’m just not allowed to sell the milk here since I’m not inspected or licensed and all that stuff. I bought the cow years ago because I have five kids, and I had to feed the whole bunch of them!” Excited at possibly finding a lead, I said, “Really?! Well, if you were to sell some, how much would you sell it for?” She told me that she actually does have a couple of people who buy it from her, and she sells to them for $4-$5 per gallon. Whew! A little too much for me! I thought (not knowing then what a good deal that actually is for fresh milk). I said, “Oh, okay.” I asked for her name and number, just in case, and then went on my way.

I kept thinking about her all day long, about how I’d really like to get some milk from her. Just not at that price. Then it occurred to me to work out a trade! But, what do I have to offer? After pondering it for a while, I decided I was going to offer to teach her about drug store couponing, so that she could get her toiletries for close to nothing in exchange for a gallon of milk every couple of weeks. I was very excited at the idea. Surely she would be interested in saving money on shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and stuff!

The next day I gave her a call. After reminding her who I was, I very enthusiastically offered, “I was wondering if you might be interested in bartering!” There was curiosity in Addy’s voice as she replied, “Sure! Whatcha got?” I shared with her my idea to teach her about couponing. When I was finished explaining she was silent for a moment, then said, “Well, I kinda have a system that I use. I only go shopping twice a year, once in January, and once in June. Each trip I spend $150 on stuff that I need to last me for the next six months.”

My jaw hit the floor. Did she just say $150 for 6 months?!

Suddenly forgetting my great plan in the interest of this new information, I gasped, “Oh my goodness! Are you serious?!” She went on detailing how she figured out how much flour, laundry soap, everything, that her family uses in 6 months, and budgets on that for her trip. She said she makes her own soap (a head to toe, hair and all, bar!), laundry detergent, dish soap, etc. As I listened in awe I finally said to her, “I need to be learning from you!”

In my astonishment I became filled with questions, and asked her tons of them, to which she graciously gave her answers. Toward the end of the conversation she told me that she is having to dry her milk cow up right now because it’s going to calve. But she offered me some blueberry bushes if I wanted them. Now, I had no idea what I would do with blueberry bushes, but I wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to see what other advice I could glean from this woman! I made plans to visit her a couple days later.

Now, I could go on and on about my 3 hour visit with this amazing Christian woman and her incredible family, but for the sake of time I will just list the things that I learned from her during that first visit about how she saves her family money…

They live in a humble single wide trailer, on 3 acres of land. All paid off.

They drive an older model van; completely paid for as well.

They have a garden, and raise all of their own vegetables.

They have tons of different fruit trees, bushes and plants; and several nut trees as well.

For meat, they raise their own cows, chickens, rabbits, pigs, a turkey (for Thanksgiving) and hunt for deer. Their first cows were a gift from some dairy farmer friends of theirs. It costs $.34/lb to butcher beef any way you want it.

They keep the rabbit fur to make mittens and other things.

She freezes, cans, or jellies all of the food that they produce.

She gets her milk from her cow, and makes her own dairy products, including some cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, and butter, among other things.

She never bought baby food.

They get their eggs from their chickens.

She doesn’t own a dryer. She line dries everything. And she only washes on Mondays (unless the weather says otherwise).

She buys her flour and grains straight from the mill. She says they are fresh, and much cheaper.

They have well water of course.

She only turns on the air conditioner three months out of the year: June, July and August.

For a heating system, they have a Water Stove. First I’d ever heard of one! It’s like a huge outdoor wood burning stove. It has coils inside that hold tons of water. There are two pipes which come out of it; one goes into the house, through a radiator, and heats the home. The other goes to the plumbing and supplies the home with hot water for dishes, laundry and baths. People bring them lumber and boxes for her to burn all the time.

No internet. No cable TV.

She makes a menu and plans 3 full meals a day. She said a typical meal would be: BBQ deer meat, green beans, potatoes, and a fresh apple pie. All made from scratch.

She buys all of her spices and cooking needs from an Amish store. She said they are much cheaper. For instance, a whole cup of cinnamon would cost just about $1.00. You buy by weight.

She bakes goods for about a week in Fall to sell at the Fair for her shopping money.

Her and her daughters collect cans whenever they find them, to recycle for about 10 cents apiece.

She uses herbs for medicinal needs. She showed me a few growing in her yard, for teething babies, and bee stings.

If they feel like having a Frosty from Wendy’s, they make one at home themselves. Though, they do treat themselves with a rare splurge of going out to eat occasionally.

She even recently purchased an old wood cookstove for cooking on. She hasn’t begun using it, and is still learning about how to heat it properly and such, but she is very excited about the idea, and having it available if she does ever need it.

As I left there, I realized just how ignorant I still really am about how to live frugally. This woman truly is an example of the Proverbs 31 woman we all should strive to be. I am filled with even more questions now, and I can’t wait for my next visit with this wonderful family.

What surprised me the most about Mrs. Addy was how she answered my question, “How did you learn all of this… from your Mother?” She said, “Oh, no. My mother fed me Pop Tarts and Spaghetti O’s growing up. I decided when I was 29 that I was going to get a milk cow and make my own milk, and it started from there.” She began asking around about how to do certain things, and found that the very elderly, 80-90 year old women at a nearby nursing home could tell her the neatest things. And she has just learned along the way.

What an inspiration! I honestly didn’t know people still knew how to do these things. I thought I was doing great clipping coupons and shopping sales, but I now realize there’s so much more to frugal living! I am so excited about what more I have to learn from this incredible woman and her family from Butterberry Farm!