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It's been awhile

March 5th, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Well, I just realized the last time I blogged was Jan 31. A lot has happened in the past month.

I got laid off on Feb 9. Because there were 2300 people laid off the Friday before (I got laid off on Monday because I didn't work on Fridays) we are technically still employed for 2 months...we just don't have to show up. I will get paid my normal salary until April, with my last normal paycheck on April 23. The next week, April 30, we will get our severance pay. I'll get 4 weeks of severance pay (the minimum they were giving, although I'd been there 8 years. I had hoped for 8 weeks) and 3 weeks of vacation that I hadn't used.

We sold calves on Feb 10, and really got a good price for them. We had 42 of our own to sell and 27 that we had with Dad (so only get 1/3 of them). The calves looked great. DH had been feeding them grain, hay and distillers grain (which has lots of protein) and they looked slick! We had a pen of 9 that averaged 833 pounds, and in my humble opinion, were the best looking ones in the whole sale. We had some very big, good looking heifers and steers, and the owner of the sale barn even stopped the sale to point out how good they looked. That added a few dollars to the price per hundred! Even though we had to truck them about 50 miles (instead of going to the sale barn 15 miles away) it was so worth it.

That money came in just in time. From that, we paid the swather payment ($12,318), the cattle loan ($6070) and the line of credit ($12,827). We paid for the protein tubs ($400), the Coop bill ($1554) and sent $1150 to the credit card.

We were denied our cattle loan from the bank I have been using. We thought the lay off was coming, and had hoped to get this loan done before that happened, but we got denied. Instead, we went to the bank DH has used all his life, and even though I am laid off, we still got the loan. So, the week after the layoff, we bought 41 more cows and 19 more heifers. That means we are up to 123 cows that were VERY pregnant. We consolidated all of our farm loans into one loan with this bank, and dropped our interest rate from 7.75% to 6.5%. We also changed the loan payments from one in April, one in October and one in November to only one bigger one in February.

That means our big payments this coming year are:
$9,900 in June (land)
$2,500 in August (land)
$9,900 in December (land)
$25,000 in February 2010 (cattle, tractor, baler, etc)
$12,318 in March 2010 (swather)

We got our taxes done and don't have to pay any income taxes. That means we are getting back $13,399 in federal and $4,485 for state. I know, I know, that is horrible. I had no idea we would have so much depreciation and expenses. It turns out my plan would have worked this year, to transfer money from the IRA to a Roth IRA and not have to pay any income tax on it...the perfect plan had I thought of it in 2008, not in January 2009. This year, I am so going to do that, if it take $5000 a year to get it moved over.

I am going to save $12,400 of the refund for the next two big payments, which leaves $5484. I don't know what to do with that. Save it, because my paychecks end in two months? Pay the credit card and use the card later if I can't find a job? Still deciding on that.

Speaking of credit cards, the one I have been concentrating on is down to $7173 at 9.24%. I transferred $2000 from the highest rate card (13.24%) to a 0% interest card (that is the limit), and have another at 9.99%. I have called them every couple of weeks to see if they can drop the rate, and they say no. But I have one card that is offering 11.24%, no balance transfer fee, and I have a $22000 limit, and the 9.99% card is offering either 1% interest for 6 months or 6% interest for 2 years on transfers, but I only have $4000 of room on that card. My plan is to transfer all of the 9.99% card to the 11.24% card and then, once that is complete, transfer all the 13.24% card to the 6% card. Lots of gyrations, but worth it.

Still plugging away at the $7173 card. I just decided, right now, to transfer another $200 that was left over from the calf check (which puts me down to $52 in that account, but we shouldn't be using that account for anything. Leaving the buffer there in case DH forgets) I also just balanced my gas-and-food checkbook and have $218.68 left over from last pay period that needs to go on it. I would do it now, but the website is down.

The week after I got laid off, I got the bill for my skiing accident two years ago. $1200 ish. I called the ambulance company and asked if they would settle for anything less and that I had just gotten laid off. They sent me paperwork to fill out and I'm going to send in my 1040 as well as what they requested so they can see that we only had $18,000 in AGI last year.

So what have I been doing for the past month? Helping cows calve. To quote Prissy in Gone With the Wind, "Ah doan know nuthin' 'bout bringin' babies" but let me tell you, I'm learning. I have learned that looking across the pasture at a cow with her tail up does not necessarily mean she is in labor. It could mean she is pooping. But, if she holds it out at a funny angle and gets up and down repeatedly and is away from other cows, it means the baby is coming. We have been giving them a few hours at that point, and most of them have the calves within an hour without our help. We have had two we have had to help. One was last Sunday. The calves are supposed to come out front feet first, with the head resting on the upper arms, like Superman flying. But this calf had one foot sticking out the back and the head and other foot down in the cow's abdomen with the head twisted. DH had to push the calf back in and get the bottom leg back up and the head twisted back around, and we finally got it out. Poor thing had died before it was born, though. We had a calf that I had been bottle feeding (because it's mother didn't have enough milk for it), so we went and got that calf and got the scent of the dead calf on it and put it up to the mother and the mother thought it was hers. So, I don't have to bottle feed that calf any more because it has a new mom now.

The second one we have had to help was tonight. I had noticed it away from the herd around 3:30 and by 7:00 it hadn't had it yet, so we got it in and in the chute and DH reached in to see what was going on. It was coming backwards...the back feet were in the birth canal. So, he started pulling, and the only problem was that the cow would push, the feet would come out, but then it would slip back in and she couldn't make any progress. So, he really just had to hold the feet so it wouldn't slip back in and she did the rest of the work. The calf was born alive and tried to get up about a minute after it was born. It should be fine. Kind of icky right then (all slimy and wet), but they are so cute the next day.

We are putting ear tags in them right away and moving them to different pastures within a few days. That way we can keep track of the ones that have not calved yet and give them extra attention. The oldest cows and the heifers are in a pasture where DH can feed them extra protein, and the middle aged cows are in a different pasture where they get the kind of standard amount of protein. So, after a few days, we go catch the calves with a 4-wheeler and a trailer, DH holds the calves, I drive, and the cow follows. Works pretty well, except we have a few cows that we won't try that with, or she will end up on the trailer with DH!

So, I have been very busy helping DH. But, I know I have to find another job. That is frustrating. As I've said before, nothing around here. I got an offer for $17 an hour, (before I was making $45), and had another interview that I didn't get. I don't know what I am going to do, but I have to get something. I love being around here and around DH all the time, but that just won't work money wise.

Oh shoot, I was going to call a cousin of mine tonight that has a dairy to see if he has any baby calves for sale. I think I am going to buy about 10 calves to bottle feed. If we bottle feed them for about a month (morning and night), we can then put them on "milk pellets" and then grain, and in about 6 months, sell them at around 500 pounds. If I don't get a job for a month, I will have them on grain and DH can handle that (he said I can do it, but the bottle feeding will be my responsibility). If I get a job right away, we can just sell them. I'll try to remember to call him tomorrow.

Last thing, our puppy got hurt a few weeks ago. He fell out of the back of the pickup and broke his leg. The vet told us he needed surgery to put a pin in, and for $1000 he would do the surgery, the recovery, and then after a month take the pin back out. That is lots of money I swore I would never pay for a dog, but we did it. He has been at the vet's for over a week now, and we saw him today. Everyone at the vet loves him, and whenever anyone goes in the room he is in, his tail wags and wags. I got to walk him for a few minutes today. The pin goes out his leg and out his rump, and it is really weird. The skin and muscles are not tight around the pin, so it looks like he has a hole in his butt cheek. They said they will evaluate him on Saturday and we might be able to bring him home, but he won't be able to do anything except stay in the back room and lay down. Only go outside to "evacuate" (i.e., relieve himself). After a month, the pin comes out, and a few weeks after that, he should be able to start running.

I'll try to keep the blogging thing up more, but man, this farming thing is exhausting! I also think I haven't blogged because I was embarrassed about being laid off. But, that is water under the bridge, now, and I can't feel bad about it. Just get back up on my feet and move forward!

8 Responses to “It's been awhile”

  1. homebody Says:

    Don't be embarrassed it could happen to any of us at any time. Reading your post brought back happy memories of bottle feeding 2 baby calves we had when I was a child, and then as young adults with a baby and one on the way, watching our milk goat give birth. Good times....

    Hang in there!

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    I'm exhausted reading about all of your activity too. Good luck with farming and the job search!

  3. MICLASON Says:

    Nothing to be embarrassed about... times are tough!
    Something better will come out of all this, you'll see!
    Frown about the calf... If I had to help any animal give birth, I'll probably freeze, then faint! (I wouldn't know WHAT to do and I'll probably have a panic attack just thinking about all the things I could do wrong!)LOL!
    We went to an agricultural fair the other day, and Ale got to see cows and calfs "up close" (as opposed to> from the car window)... she was actually afraid of the cows! ...didn't want to pet the piglets, either, but that was because the momma was soooo big, she was intimidated.

  4. boomeyers Says:

    You do have a job, till you find a paying job. Helping your husband is so important and I'm sure he appreciates it. Enjoy it while you can and good luck on the job hunt!

  5. cptacek Says:

    Oh, yes, he really appreciates it. In fact, my FIL said, as soon as he found out I was laid off, "that's good it happened now so you can help with calving season."

    I say that we doubled the herd (because we owned 63 cows before) but we only calved out 45 last year, as Dad had the rest. That means the work of calving them out really has tripled!

  6. ceejay74 Says:

    Don't feel bad, I know so many people who've been laid off and they're all smart, good people. Glad you've been at least getting to spend some time with your husband. I'm sure you'll find another job soon.

  7. dmontngrey Says:

    Wow, VERY interesting things going on with the cows! Thanks for the story about the one you bottle fed replacing the one who had died. It's just amazing that worked out well for all. Smile Sure does sound like you are busy!

  8. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Lots of smart, hard working people getting laid off - it's nothing to be embarrassed about. Your company is really treating it's laid off workers well.

    you sound like you've been busy even without job hunting. Good luck on finding something else soon.

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