Anyone that has read the About section of this blog site is aware of my early exposure to learning how to get by on limited resources (make something out of next to nothing). Economic necessity is an effective motivator for implementing the prudent practices of avoiding most commercially processed foods and to attempt to “go green” with some tangible assets acquisitions. Following that frugal line of thought, I personally find it hard to spend time and money traveling to a business where you pay to “workout.” It tickles me to see vehicles bunched together near a gym’s entrance; when people could get even more exercise by parking at the far end of the lot. In fairness, gym parking behavior is likely due the habit of always trying to park close to business entrances in order to save time and maybe to help avoid getting wet, hot or cold. At any rate work is at the root of working out; so routinely breaking a sweat performing equity building tasks is likely to provide comparable good health benefits.
After putting the 50th post on the Pork & Beef Express I paused to evaluate how this blog site was being perceived. The majority of the feedback, that I was able to collect, came from family and friends who say I’m spending way too much time learning about, preparing and consuming red meat. Admittedly, they have reasonable cause for concern because I was born with a pretty serious heart defect (tetralogy of fallot), so can therefore ill afford to follow chronically unhealthy lifestyles. The amusing part begins when I tell those concerned people that a vascular surgeon recently informed me that my arteries are “pristine.” At those times I usually receive looks of disbelief, but in fact that assessment was given in November of 2014. Some of the reason for such a counterintuitive occurrence has to do with everyone’s system being a little different. However, I do routinely make a conscience effort to eat healthy, meat or otherwise. Yes, I often tout the palatability increasing virtues of intramuscular fat in raw meat cuts and about 20% fat in raw ground products, but the majority of fats in fresh meat products render off during cooking. A moderate amount of well distributed fat works its moisture retention and species specific flavoring magic; then is largely gone. In the instance of browned ground meat, I like to chill the drippings then remove solidified fat from the remaining water-soluble protein, vitamin and mineral rich broth. Adding that broth to soups etc. is a wise nutritional, and frugal practice. But, I do steer clear of emulsion type meat products (wieners and bologna being the most common examples) because all fat is encapsulated prior to initial cooking. Fat remains in emulsion type products even upon reheating. I also avoid aged, fermented and ripened meat products because the breaking down of meat proteins into amino acids and the long term oxidation of fat, both yield some potentially harmful substances who’s routine consumption is ill advised. Further, some dry-cured and fermented sausages are uncooked when sold as ready to eat products; most formulated fat remains when they are served. I have never liked organ meats, I try to limit sugar consumption and enjoy eating most types of vegetables. Avoiding canned or otherwise commercially processed convenience foods is a good practice for monitoring/limiting salt intake. One’s diet is nothing more than what they routinely eat. Burning off the same amount of calories as what are consumed is another big part of the healthy living picture.
Unfortunately, unless you’re a professional athlete, most decent paying modern professions are sedentary in nature. And to further complicate things, longtime strenuous and/or repetitive motion professions tend to ware out nerve connections and joints in some people by the time they reach their mid to upper fifties. Chronically poor air quality such as in some factory environments can also be detrimental. I believe a good balance of physical activity can be achieved when one works a non physical job then routinely and moderately exert themselves at building sweat equity in their home during some of their free time. As my second oldest brother once told me: It’s what you do after work that makes a difference in the long run. The most common hindrance to the above scenario is a lack of construction skills, followed by lack of forward progress, leading to frustration that can then cause reduced motivation to finish what is started. The antidote is to ask lots of questions before starting and to be willing to redo whatever you mess up while learning. Since the cost of most types of construction is about half labor, one can afford to buy more materials when they ruin some while going through the learning curve. When in my late 20’s and early 30’s I was lucky to have worked for a plumbing company, and later to have my Union Carpenter trained younger brother assist me in building a home. By cutting out the general contractor (about 10% of construction costs) and by doing the majority of the work ourselves I was able to build up equity. I did however have to stop working in meats for 8 months to build the house and to later find a new job, because the supermarket I had been working for would not grant me an unpaid leave of absence. During the home building process I paid my brother and myself from construction loan draws. Another neat thing about building sweat equity is that under the current U.S. income tax code profit realized form the sale of one’s primary residence, up to a fairly high limit, is not an income tax liability.
After the construction of our home was completed we were out of money and had 3 children to raise. At that time I turned to the most prevalent building material on earth, stone. 2 of my brothers had dry-washes on their properties where I could pick up well weathered laying stone for the taking. Part-time gathering, hauling and laying of stone is great exercise that takes months or even years to do on fairly big projects. Out-of-pocket costs consisted primarily of reasonably priced sand, gravel and Portland cement. And, it’s hard to do a bad looking job of laying stone. During initial home construction we poured footers across the front of the house and for wing retaining walls in the back; so those exterior areas were ready to rock.
A barrel full of sand makes a good stone working station. An old snow saucer makes a good weather proof lid for the drum.
After eventually completing house connecting stone projects I turned to what I thought to be some desirable stone yard projects.
Pavers below were salvaged for free from a neighbor taking out an old patio.
These cobblestones were purchase form a local building material salvage yard. I hand picked them and loaded them into cardboard combs that were delivered to us by rolling the loaded combos of a flatbed truck.
During the winter months, and more so as I got older and became less active, I turned to furniture refinishing. Pictured is the back and the front of up-cycled door project. 3 old doors were used.
Healthy diet & exercise lifestyles can coexist with frugal equity building activities. Nothing works until we do and there ain’t nothing to it but to do it.