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Meatballs and minestrone soup

December 14th, 2009 at 08:21 pm

Thank you, pinchthatpenny, for the meatball receipe:
http://pinchthatpenny.savingadvice.com/2009/12/11/december-11-12-eats-with-awesome-meatbal_55769/#comments

I tried it today, and boy, were they good. I think next time I'll only use one egg, though, because they were pretty running when I was putting them on the pan.

For some reason, I wanted to make those, and I wanted minestrone soup as well. So, I looked up a couple different minestrone soup recipes and kind of mixed them together. I cooked the meatballs, then took half of them and minced them up to put in the soup. I'll put the recipe I used on my sidebar. DH and I both liked it, though it only cooked for about 30 minutes. I'm going to keep it simmering until we go to bed, and hopefully it will be even better for tomorrow.

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Had a nice surprise last week. Big storm came through, so my boss told me I could work from home for two days, Tues and Wed. We planned what I would work on, I had a couple projects to do, and I made sure to work hard on them so this experiment won't be a bad experience for my boss. I got a lot done, and he was happy with it. I think, after a few more months, I'm going to ask if I could work from home 1 day a week or 1 day every couple of weeks. I think he really likes what I am doing, but I don't think they have a policy for doing that. I've only been there 4 months, but they are really happy with my work.

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I've been trying to work on my sister's wedding invitations, but I am having a hard time doing it. I could do mine, because I knew what I wanted. But I don't know her taste, so I'm kind of floundering. I'll try to get more of that done in the next few days. Dear Sis, don't read this: I am going to print one out and actually send it to her in the mail so it is kind of a surprise when she gets it.

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Found out that the calf sale is in Salina on Tues, Jan 5. DH called the manager of the sale barn, and it seemed like the manager remembered our calves from last year, which is a huge surprise. Last year he stopped the sale to point out how good our calves are, but there has to be hundreds of thousands of calves go through there every year, so for him to remember us is kind of a big deal. It may be that the auctioneer just holds out a few more seconds, asks for one more bid, anything, and it could mean a lot more money. Hope our calves impress again like they did last year.

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Got paid for another laptop, so another $200 towards the snowball this month, I had a $50 check from a credit card, and other bills were less than expected, so I'll have $850 to send to the house this month. (Snowball is $370, so I added another $480 this month). I got $100 in cash as a Christmas bonus from work, and I have some cash from our hunters renting out the pheasant hunting rights on our property (I think $305 left) but I've been slowly giving that to DH because he likes cash. I've been giving him about $50 a week for groceries, gas, misc other stuff. I have one more laptop to get paid for.

I also have been doing a lot better job in my gas/food/misc check book. I was dipping into the cushion quite a bit when I was still paying the truck loan. I get paid every two weeks, and deposit $600 in there every paycheck. I have about $650 of buffer in the account, and I got down to -$631 at one point! Two weeks later I pulled it up to -$201, er, then it went back down to $242, and now, after a few months, I'm at +$139 as of the last pay check. Today, it is at $445, all presents are done, and pay day is Thursday! I'll need to pay $340 to work for gas for the month (I have a gas card that gives me $.05 off a gallon, but I charge it - no interest - and have to pay it by the end of the month), but I should be able to sweep extra money into my snowball from now on.

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I took back some batteries I had bought to Alco. I bought D batteries, but the hot shot takes C batteries. Then, I got the last presents I needed to get, with a 20% off coupon! One shirt I got was originally $50, marked down to $10, then 20% off is $8! I got another shirt, some candies, and a DVD. Everything else I got I ordered from Amazon...and learned a lesson there. Not everything sold on Amazon is shipped from Amazon. Those things, even if you are over $25, cost shipping. An expensive lesson. I bought some glow-in-the-dark fingernail polish for my sister, and the $3.95 polish had $7.00 in shipping! yikes! I didn't catch it until after I okayed the transaction.

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Need to work on my net worth statement. I don't know why, but in order to complete the IRA to Roth IRA transaction, they need all that info. Doesn't make sense. I mean, if I had a negative net worth and not enough income, they wouldn't do it? I have to get that done tonight so I can send it in tomorrow. I'm anxious to see if it all works out like I hope it will.

went to the doctor...

November 30th, 2009 at 10:11 pm

and the news is disappointing but hopeful. My aunt sent me a book about the St. Paul VI Institute in Omaha and how they treat women's infertility. It was a good book, but I couldn't drive to Omaha for checkups as they suggested. But, it turns out that there is a doctor in Salina that has been trained their way, and I met with her last week.

Basically, they treat the woman's entire body and not just her ovaries. They don't throw birth control pills at you and don't throw clomid at you. They try to get your body healthy, measure estrogen, progesterone and other hormones on a regular schedule, teach you to recognize your fertility markers and encourage you to eat healthy (low carbs in my case because of PCOS) and exercise. I don't think I have ovulated in the past two months, and I have been charting my basal body temperature, and it has been mostly below 97'. (The lowest number on the chart is 97', so that was a clue that something was wrong.) I think it might be thyroid, especially since at my first appointment from when I was pregnant the doctor circled the thyroid numbers, but didn't say anything else about it. (That shocked this new doctor. She said the thyroid can be very instrumental in getting and staying pregnant.) I feel a lot more comfortable with this doctor and my specific problems compared to my previous doctor that didn't even know that metformin can be prescribed for PCOS, and who had to call another doctor after my miscarriage to discover she should have had me on progesterone the entire time.

So, either PCOS and thyroid problems are making me gain weight, or my weight gain is exacerbating my PCOS and thyroid problems. So, we get to lose weight.

GAH! It seems like an impossible battle. But, if I don't do it, I won't be a mom. It is that simple. So, a lot of hard work is in front of me.

I started the diet today, since my last Thanksgiving thing was yesterday. Doing Atkins, which has worked for me in the past, but is really hard to stay on. I need to work on proceeding up the levels instead of staying on the induction phase forever and then stopping cold turkey. Made a yummy italian salad dressing from scratch to put on my salad tonight and DH made steak. Leftovers for tomorrow!

I played in an alumni basketball game for our high school on Saturday and played a little paintball on Sunday. Today I worked out using an old VHS tape I was going to throw out. It is a Power 90 tape I had from back when I was in college. It used to be so EASY (I was used to working out 3 hours a day for basketball, so I didn't even break a sweat then) and now it was terribly hard. I am looking forward to getting to level 2 because he is kind of annoying on the tape in level 1 Smile

I went in for a blood test on Friday, but haven't heard the results yet.

I have an appointment on Tuesday to meet with the person who is going to teach me the Creighton Model Fertility Care System (charting your mucus) to tell when you are ovulating. It will also give an indication of how your hormone levels are doing. It is very interesting. We have so much information we can get about our bodies if only we know how to read it!

I really think it is a shame that medicine has shifted towards the pill for PCOS and IVF and other non-natural remedies for infertility. Many doctors I have gone to don't actually know much about a woman's cycle, or don't want to follow up to see if you can regulate it any other way. The message seems to be "acne? take the pill. PMS? take the pill. PCOS? take the pill. athlete's foot? take the pill." I mean, goodness, it is not the panacea to all female problems. In fact, I think it may mask some problems, and be treating the symptoms, not the problems.

I don't know what all this is going to cost out of pocket. She is treating PCOS, so it should be covered by insurance, but I don't know about the Creighton Model teacher. Probably not.

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In money news, I have figured out my debt snow ball (can't remember if I blogged about this yet, but too lazy to look). Tomorrow the last payment for the ambulance ride from 3 years ago will be paid. My debt snowball is currently $335 (pickup, table and Bandit surgery), so I was able to send the entire $320.50 that was left with no problem. Add the normal ambulance payment of $36 and the new snowball is $370. (I like round numbers. So sue me.)

Next is the house. We owe about $1300 on it, but we aren't really on a set schedule to pay it off as it is private contract. DH would like to pay the entire thing off by the end of the year, but I can't send that much out of the bill bucket. We would have to sell something. We are selling calves in January, so maybe we will use some of that money to pay it off. But, if it comes out of the bill bucket, I'll be able to for sure send $565 on Jan 1, maybe $10 more, depending on the electric bill. That puts the house pay off by March 1 at a minimum. Of course, that won't grow the snowball because we hadn't been making regular payments (with the previous owner's blessing, by the way) but another debt will be gone.

One bad thing is that our smallest debts are also the lowest interest rates, and even though I know in my head that paying off highest interest rates first makes more money sense, I think I need to follow a system. DR seems to be a good one, so there you go. The next debt is a credit card with $1477 currently on it at 0% interest, then student loan of $2590 at 3.125% interest. I should get through these by the end of next year.

I guess there are my goals for 2010:
1. pay off house
2. pay off capital one
3. pay off student loan

That is all the further out I'm going to project, except that my preliminary numbers show I can get us out of all of our non-farm debt in 3.5 years (though technically, all the credit card debt did come from farm purchases. it just feels differently than a bank loan, though.)

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I have been wanting to get a preliminary estimate of our taxes finished so I can convert my rollover IRA (from my old 401k) to a Roth IRA this year. I want to roll over enough to keep us in the 15% tax bracket, and not get in the 25% bracket, as I see taxes going up and up and up in the future. We may look back at 15% with longing and nostalgia. Hell, we may look back at 28% with nostalgia. I learned tonight that I will have more wiggle room than I thought. We bought about 60 cows cows this year, and I can section 179 as many as I need to bring the income level down to 15%. I didn't know if I had to do all or nothing, but a friend of mine who does farm taxes said I could do a specific dollar amount, not even a whole cow! So, figuring we didn't pay any taxes last year, lost my $92,000 job, I was on unemployment for 6 months, and my new job is only $60,000, AND having $72,000 of wiggle room from the cows, I think I can safely move $20,000 from IRA to Roth IRA. I still want to go through the receipts and do a better check, but if I don't get to it in the next week, I'll have my adviser pull the trigger. I can always recharacterize it next year before I submit my return, so the only risk is not doing enough, I suppose.

Thank you Nex-Tech Wireless

November 10th, 2009 at 08:51 pm

Months ago, we switched our phones from Alltel to Nex-Tech. They had better service and were cheaper. We got free (adequate) phones, a $50 sign up bonus and $200 per line we switched. So, $400 total. This went to pay off the early termination fee that Alltel gave us for quitting that contract early. It is a good deal, but if we break the Nextech contract within 2 years, we have to pay back that $200 per phone AND pay another $200 per phone. So, they really got ya once you sign up.

We got on a promotional plan, which was 1000 daytime minutes, 1000 text messages and 1000 night/weekend minutes. Since April, the highest bill has been $83.59, and the lowest bill was $64.14. Except this month...$329.41!!! I about crapped myself. I called Nex-tech and said something must be wrong, because we had never had that high of a bill. I called Friday, and the guy then couldn't make any changes because his supervisor wasn't there, but he did say that he would investigate which real plan (vs. promotional plan) would be better for us, and he could retroactively apply it to this bill. We would just have to keep that plan for 3 months before we could change it again. The customer service guy took my number on Friday and made a point to call me back today.

He told us to go with the Nationwide 1300 plan, which is unlimited Nights and Weekends, unlimited Mobile to Mobile (which means any Nex-Tech or Kansas Alltel phone...and hardly anyone around here has any other cell phone except those. My brothers and sisters in KC are the exception, but I text my brother, rarely talk to one sister, and talk to the other alot. Come to think of it, I think that Nex-Tech has an agreement with Sprint, so all calls to Sprint are considered Mobile to Mobile as well, so they would be free, meaning KC family would be free too!), 1300 anytime minutes, 10 free calling circle, and $.35 per minute outside the coverage area...meaning outside of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado or Missouri. Any calls when I am at work, or on the way home for about 20 minutes, will count towards the 1300 minutes, because that is in the "nationwide" part, not the "in coverage" part. That plan will be $62.46! A savings of $261.95. I couldn't believe that they would do this retroactively!

Kudos to you, Nex-Tech. I was ready to beg and plead, and if that didn't work, just suck it up because I did sign the contract, but you made things very very easy.
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Well, we have had a productive two weeks. Two weeks ago, we had beans to cut, wheat to plant, milo to plant, cows to move home, bales to move, feed to bale, and calves to wean. DH had to help our landlord with his wheat, his soybeans and his milo as well.

Well, as of today, we got the beans cut, the milo cut, the wheat planted, and the calves half weaned. The landlord's wheat is planted, his soybeans are cut and I think his milo is almost cut.

It has been a stressful two weeks. Er, and I didn't help matters by getting mad that DH was helping the landlord and other neighbors instead of doing our work (in my mind). I think that I have a legitimate beef about that, but I think I had better get used to it because that is just how he is. He would give you the shirt off of his back, let you take his pickup and walk, and give you the food off his plate...and nice though that is, sometimes it is a little much, especially when I am the one juggling bills and trying to make sure that we pay all of our obligations. If your beans are still in the field, it is a little hard to sell them to pay bills.

I say we have the calves half weaned, because we do it a little different than most people. Most people get the cows and calves in, sort the calves off, let the cows out in the pasture, move the calves a few miles away and put some grain out for the calves. The cows stand around mooing looking for the calves, the calves stand around mooing looking for mama, and after about 3 days (with both cow and calve hoarse from effort and exhausted trying to find each other) they finally give up calves start eating. The calves have a high chance to get sick at this time, because they are constantly roaming the pen, aren't drinking water, aren't eating anything, and bawl something awful.

We use something called "Quiet Wean". They are little plastic yellow nose flaps that you put into the nostrils of the calves. It is sort of like a bull ring that people used to use to lead bulls around? Anyway, the ends of the plastic have little balls on the end so that there is nothing pointy inside their nostrils, but it can't easily come out. The plastic flap then covers the mouth when they try to nurse, but they can drink and eat real food just fine. That way, they are around mom, but learning to eat by themselves. After about a week, you separate them, and they are fine! They naturally weaned themselves, and when you put them in the pen, they just start eating and drinking right away. You have to get the cows in twice, a week apart, so some people don't like to do that extra work, but we think it helps protect them from illness and stressors. You have to buy one per calf, but you just wash them and use them the next year, so not a big expense. We actually used mom and dad's this year, and when we take them out, they will put them in theirs. They cost $2 a piece.

We get them here:
http://www.quietwean.com/howitworks.htm

psst, fuck you FTC. I didn't get paid to just write that review, and didn't get any free samples, so go look somewhere else to catch bloggers in your evil little web.

Why am I forced to pay a checkoff?

November 6th, 2009 at 09:57 pm

Whenever you sell wheat, corn, milo, soybeans or cattle (and I think mushrooms, hots, cotton, well, most any farm commodity) you are forced to pay some amount to the marketing board associated with that product. For instance, for wheat, the Kansas Wheat Commission gets $.01 per bushel for any wheat changes hands from producer to 1st purchaser in 2008. In 2009, it is going up to 1.5 cents per bushel. For soybeans, it is 0.5 percent of the market price per bushel sold.

For cattle, it is $1 per head every time you sell anything, calf, cow, bull for seedstock or beef.

These programs are marketed as being for research, expanding domestic markets and expanding international markets (marketing). They started off as a true check off, where by if you wanted to contribute, you would opt in and pay this amount. Eventually they began forcing everyone to pay under penalty of fines ($5,500 per instance for cattle).

For some of the check offs, you can request refunds for your money and actually get it back (wheat and corn). For milo, you can apply for the refund, but they haven't yet decided if they will pay it back yet. That decision will come in 2011, but you have to have your form in 60 days after you sell the product. (!) You can't get a refund of soybeans or cattle check off dollars.

Whenever I talk about getting this money back, everyone says "it is for research" or "They came up with 'Beef. It's what's for dinner'". The Supreme Court said it is constitutional. But I think it is akin to having to pay union dues and not wanting to join the union...and Kansas is a right to work state!

This year, the Kansas Wheat Commission brought in $3.56 million dollars! And now they are upping the tax from $.01 to $.015. So, conceivably, next year, they will bring in $5.34 million. Of course, that depends on the size of the crop.

You can download forms to get the money back for corn and milo, but for wheat you have to request a form in writing, and they stamp a certain voucher # on it, and if you sell at different elevators, they have to send you multiple vouchers (you can't copy them). Why, in this day and age, should you have to do that? Man, just put up a web site where you can enter your name, if you have to have it for "tracking purposes" (whatever that means), and let me get my form. The only thing I can think of is that people will get tired of calling in and requesting a form, so the wheat commission gets to keep the money. Here is my email trail to the secretary trying to keep me from getting my form:
Me: "Is there any reason this can't be put on the internet so producers could download it without you having to bother with sending it out?"
Her: "The reason it is not put on our website is because we need the written request whether it be e-mail, fax or by postal mail for tracking purposes."
Me: "So if, for instance, I gave the form you are sending me to my parents, they couldn't use it? It has to be tracked specifically to me?"
Her: "The request really needs to be made in the name of the person that the form is for."
Me: "Why? Is that the law? If you get a filled out form that you haven't already tracked, will you not process it?"
Her: "We have a database that is cross-checked. If they are not in the database a new entry is made. No, we process all requests."
Me: "We sell wheat at two different elevators. Do I have to request another one, or can I just make a copy of the one I have?" - this email was after I got the first one I requested in the mail.
Her: "You need one original form for each elevator that you sold wheat to. I will put another voucher in the mail to you."
Me: "This is just plain crazy. What would it take to change these crazy rules?"
Her: "If you would like, you might want to call and visit with your Kansas Wheat Commission representative Dean Stoskopf – PH: 620-653-7573." psst. Don't try to call that number. It is disconnected. Thanks a lot, secretary. But I did find his number, and I did get a hold of his wife. He, this "representative" (that I have never had the opportunity to vote for) is supposed to call me tomorrow.

Oh, yeah. Have I mentioned that wheat was $2.00ish per bushel during the 40's and it is $5.00ish now? Man, that's some savvy marketing. Hell, with inflation, the price went down!

Their web sites and pamphlets reek of unionization, socialism and misdirection. For instance, a quote from Teddy Roosevelt in on the Wheat propaganda paper: "Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere." Um, no. I have every right to withhold my support from any organization I choose. It also says: "A large portion of the check-off goes towards research to improve wheat varieties....A recent study evaluated the wheat breeding program at Kansas State University, the sources of funding and its return to producers. The cost of running this program is $4.8 million and returns an economic value of $89 million to Kansas." Hey, that sounds good, huh? Except $4.8 million is about a million more than the entire check off program brought in last year, and in fact, the checkoff only spent around $911,000 in research. So, they are trying to take credit for the entire $89 million return to the state, while only contributing at most 1/4 of the money.

This just burns me. I do not want to join the Kansas Wheat Commission. I don't want to join the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board. I don't want to join the soybean board or the milo board. And I don't think they should be able to make me.

Thoughts about being alone

November 4th, 2009 at 06:51 pm

Very not financial. Maybe controversial. But I would like to hear your guys' thoughts...

My cousin C is 28 years old. She has recently been having trouble with an ovary, and had a cyst the size of a softball that burst. She had to go in and have exploratory surgery, and in the course of that, they determined that one ovary had a growth in it, so they removed the burst cyst, removed the ovary and the fallopian tube on that side. She still has the other ovary, but they are still running tests, and it might be cancer such that they will need to take everything out.

C is single and has never been married, though has had quite a few long term boyfriends. She has no kids. She is staring in the face the possibility of being infertile (and in her mind, alone) for the rest of her life, and in fact that life might not be that much longer, and it is tearing her apart.

I saw her yesterday and had a good visit. During the course of that visit, we started talking about how people who are married, and have kids, and especially are married early, just don't "get it". It is a conversation we have quite a bit.

I talked to another cousin J the other week. She just turned 30, and hasn't been on that many dates, let alone had a boyfriend. Obviously, no kids. J has another cousin, B, on the other side of the family that is also 30 and is having her 3rd kid. J's aunt said "B better quit having kids pretty soon...she's already 30!" J said "Remember who you are talking to here." It really upset her. Her cousin is too old to have her 3rd kid? And she isn't even remotely close to having her 1st? Again, some people just don't "get it".

As a reminder, I didn't get married until I was 30. And I miscarried and still don't have a child.

My sister R (who got married at 20 and had a daughter at 21) asked me today how C was doing. I told her the medical stuff and told her that C is still working through the same old stuff, but now it seems to be much more in-your-face. My sister said this:

"I feel sad that C does not see her self worth. It seems (without knowing all the whole details so I may be WAY off) that she gets in relationships just because she is lonely or because she insecure? She gets into a relationship but she does not commit to it or allow this person to get too close to her and jumps out. But she is lonely so she gets back into it. I think though, her sadness comes from some sort of unfulfillment that I don’t think that men and babies will be able to fill…"

I do acknowledge that sometimes people get in, and stay in, or go back to, relationships that they shouldn't be in because they are afraid to be alone. If you want to be married and the person you are with isn't the person you want to marry, you need to move on. But, the last sentence really got to me. After thinking about it for awhile, I wrote her back this:

"Don't take this the wrong way. But I'm going to say it anyway. As for the wanting husband and kids thing, I think that it is really easy for someone who got married out of college to not be able to get the utter frustration and despair you have when you are 10 years out of high school, dating ALOT, and be no closer to being married and having kids than you were the day you graduated. It is the only thing in this world that we do that working harder at won't help with. You just have to meet the right person. There is nothing you can do to change that. It is completely out of your hands. In that portion of your life, you are revving up your motor, but no one will change the light to green. Rev, rev, rev, still stuck there. That sucks. And now you have something wrong with you that may make it impossible to have the kid you want so much? I think she is handling it pretty gosh darn well. I wish once she knew that the person she was with wasn't the right person she would break it off right away instead of it lingering, though.

Look, when you are single, you are, by definition, selfish. What else is there to give of yourself too? Your relationship with God shouldn't change whether you are married or not. You can volunteer or whatever, but if you actually think that is a good solution, think about this: give up your husband and volunteer instead. No comparison, right? How about this: give up your daughter and volunteer instead. There is nothing that can replace your marriage bond or your bond with your children. If you think that is incorrect, please tell me what you would voluntarily give up your daughter for, in an across the aboard trade. NOTHING. So if you don't have those bonds, you are missing something. Nothing can replace those things. It doesn't equate to your self worth, but it is something that you are missing.

I probably got on a rant here that wasn't justified. But we talked about this last night. Heck, we talk about this all the time. I talked with J the other day, and she and I talked about the same thing. I know I am married now, but I still remember what it was like 3 and a half years ago before I met DH. Exactly the same. And people just don't get it.

Ok, off my soap box. I would like to hear what you say about my rant Smile"

This isn't going to piss R off. She knows that I am very thoughtful in all I do, and she will read this in a spirit to try to really get what I am saying. (She responded to say she would write back later when she had time to think about it.)

But, I wonder, what do my saving advice friends think? Am I way off base here? Or am I on to something?

BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway

November 3rd, 2009 at 09:03 pm

woohoo! I bought 100 shares of BNSF at $79.79, and just found out today that Berkshire Hathaway is buying the whole company! Either we will get $100 a share, or equivalent shares of Berkshire Hathaway! Yippee!

That is all for today. Too tired.

Rolling along

October 19th, 2009 at 09:30 pm

Well, things are just kind of rolling along. For some reason, I have a big break in bills from the 14th through the 24th, and starting in November my one bill paying bank is going to charge $8 a month for balances under $2000, so I needed to change all my direct deposits to a different bank. I got through most of that last night. What a pain! Three I needed to contact someone other than doing it online. One was DH's disability insurance, and they are sending me a form to do that. One was our telephone/cable/internet company, and I downloaded a form for that, and now need to send it, and on is DH's life insurance company. Um, I haven't yet figured out what I need to do there, but need to get on it pretty quick. I have two more accounts that I log into to pay, and so I'll change those when I do that.

I figured out that right now, I need $1000 a paycheck for all household bills. That is water, electricity, credit cards, insurance for my pickup, insurance for DH (above), natural gas, vet, ambulance bill, phone, cell phone, farm electric, student loan, and taxable investment account. That leaves $600 a paycheck for pickup payment, gas, food, and misc. Another $250 is going to go to the farm account. I budget for the most I have ever paid for these bills, so, for instance, the gas bill in the summer is like $25, but in the winter about $200. I budget $200 so I'm never short in this account. The other $125 can be used elsewhere.

ahem...
One more payment and it's mine, part 1:
One more pickup payment of ~$160. Usually $181.76, bi-weekly, but this Thursday, the pickup is paid off. Yippee! Wow, when I think back to everything I've gone through since I bought that pickup 6 years and 166,750 miles ago. Got dumped, probably went through depression, but never checked it out, became a team lead at work, met DH, changed jobs, sold house, moved, bought house, got married, sold house, moved, got laid off, moved, got pregnant, miscarried, found another job. And every two weeks, $181.76 came out of my account. I will never, never, never buy a new pickup again, and I will never, never, never get a loan for a vehicle for 6 years!

Need to determine if I am going to drop the coverage to just liability. Right now I'm paying ~$68 a month for insurance from Geico. The pickup is still worth $7665 according to kbb.com in "good" condition, but there is some hail damage, so even at "fair" condition it is still worth $6840. If I wrecked it, we would probably replace it with a $2500 vehicle, at most. I'll probably keep it as is, for sure for the winter, because of deer and ice. But after that, I don't know. I probably will call Geico to see if they will drop the coverage again, and use the bluff of "I'm thinking about dropping it to liability only" and see what that gets me.

ahem...
One more payment and it's mine, part 2:
Will make the final payment for Bandit's surgery this month. When we set this up with the vet, they said they would charge us $1000, and we could pay over time. I was sending in $100 a month. Interest charges would accrue, but I was supposed to call the vet's wife at the end and she would take the interest charges off. So, called today, and she took $36.23 off, leaving $89.00. I'll pay that on Friday, and then Bandit is ours again Smile I usually pay on the 1st of the month, just to make it easy, but she said if I pay before the end of the month, no more interest would be accrued.

The $100 (vet) was coming out of bill account and the $181.76 was coming out of the gas/food/misc account. As soon as the pickup is paid off, I am going to find another account in a bank up here (the old one is in Texas) so DH and I can both pull money out of it, and close that one. DH has been using money out of the bill account for his misc, and I want to get away from that. So, in another few days I'll have to change my direct deposit again and rethink where the money is going to go.

$418 every two weeks has been a little tight for gas/food/misc, but really, I don't know where it all goes. It just seems to fly out of my hands. Of course, I'm driving 2 hours a day, so a lot of it goes to gas, but other than that, food and beer, probably. Now, adding DH on to that account, I'll probably leave it at $600, but shave the bill account down to just adequately covering the bills and free up some money there. Yep, just checked, gas, food and beer. Not much misc spending, and I paid the chiropractor bill off in the past few weeks from it too.

Now would be a perfect time to start a snowball, huh? I keep thinking that, but then I keep thinking I need to save some of the money for the farm, just in case. Farm bills due by the end of the month:
Co-op #1: $1263.00
Co-op #2: $4985.18
Co-op #3: $ 340.51
Crop Insurance: $2271.00
Pasture Rent: $750
Total: $9610.69

We got paid for our CRP last week, so that was $3326, and we just filled our soybean contract today, so 1000 bushels at $9.08. That will cover the above bills. We have more beans and milo to cut and deliver, too. But, we have farm insurance payment in November ($2200?), land payment ($9900) Dec 1, and planter loan ($2500) Jan 15. We are getting ready to wean calves, and will sell them in January, so the other bills after January will be covered.

You know what, though? Cash flow bites us in the ass. We have our big payments set up to be after we sell something, for instance, sell calves and pay cattle loan and line of credit, sell wheat and pay land payment, etc. If cash flow is giving us trouble, then we need to decrease our monthly nut. At least that is the advice I give others, so I should take it myself.

Ala Dave Ramsey, the lowest 6 accounts are as follows:
1) Citi Financial: $73 total, $27 / month (0% interest)
2) Vet: $89 total, usually $100 / month (0% interest)
3) Pickup: $160 total, usually $363 / month (3.85%)
4) Ambulance: $390.50, usually $36 / month (0% interest)
5) House: $1300, private loan we pay when we have some extra money. Let's get this paid off! (5% interest)
6) Student loan: $2590.86 (3.13%)

ahem...
One more payment and it's mine, part 3:
Just decided, let's pay the Citi Financial one off. It is 0% interest until 2010, I would pay it off in a few months anyway, let's just get rid of it! This is for a table and chairs that I never should have bought, but at least now it is paid for.

Ok, sorry for the disjointed post here, but I think I'll do this for the 1st November paycheck:
- $550 to food/gas/bills, for DH and I. I'll have a buffer in there just to see how it goes at first. Maybe will need to up it, but let's try that.
- $350 to farm account. Farm should pay for itself, eventually. But this may help smooth out some of the bumps.
- $1000 to bills. As I said above, $1000 will cover bills NOW, so as I knock some of these small accounts out, I can snowball.

Here is my next couple month plan for the snowball:
Pickup loan, 10/22, $160 - done
Russell Vet, 10/26, $89.00 - done
Citi Financial, 11/1, $73.00 - done
Gilpin Ambulance, 11/1, $36.00
Student loan, 11/14, $50
Capital One, 11/14, $50
Gilpin Ambulance, 12/1, $200
Student loan, 12/14, $50
Capital One, 12/14, $50
Gilpin Ambulance, 1/1, $134.50 - done
House payment, 1/1, $300
Student loan, 1/14, $50
Capital One, 1/14, $50

I'm driving myself crazy. I think this will work. But hey, I'm sure I'll tweak it a dozen more times by 1/14/10, anyway. Heck, in this post, I tweaked it 3 times!

Good news on insurance

September 26th, 2009 at 10:56 am

Got good news yesterday. We had freeze damage on 40 acres of our wheat this year, so we had to turn it in to insurance. We had 65% coverage and the price they guaranteed was around $8.50.

They guarantee the 5 year yield average on that farm. The theory behind that is so a good farmer, that consistently gets 50-60 bushels per acre gets more than the poor farmer that consistently gets 5-10 bushels per acre.

We just took the ground over so we didn't have a 5 year average on it. But, they took the 5 year average on the ground instead. That was 17 bushels. One of our fields got 18, so we had to cut it, but the other field was only going to get 6, so we didn't cut that and got 65% of 11 (the difference of 17 and 6). We already got paid for that.

It turns out they messed up, and instead of using the 5 year average of the ground, they should have used the 5 year county average. That is 32 bushels! So, we should get
32 - county average
-17 - what we already got paid for
---
* 00.65 - 65% coverage
* 08.50 - $8.50 per bushel
* 40.00 - 40 acres
-------
$3315 - TOTAL

That is my back of the envelope math (we didn't have exactly 40 acres, and the $8.50 is an approximation), but should be darn close. They said we should get that check sometime next week!

That is awesome.

-------------------------

As for the house cleaning and meal planning, that went well last week. I decided to take the same approach as working up to running a 5k...slow and steady, and add a little more each week. So last week, I just concentrated on keeping the kitchen clean. I kept a sink full of soapy water to wash everything while I was cooking, washed dishes immediately after supper, washed the floor, and made sure that I made a container for lunch the next day as I was cleaning the table off. It went very well.

It was great to have the meal planned before I got home. I could then start supper when I got home and have it ready to cook as soon as DH got home...as a farmer he generally works til dark, but sometimes earlier, sometimes later. I just have to wait until either he calls me to tell me he is on the way home, or start cooking when he gets in the door.

I made meatloaf on Thursday, and instead of cooking all of it, I put half of it in a ziploc bag to freeze, so next time I want to cook meatloaf, I just have to defrost and bake. I froze some cut up onions, and I also froze some pre-cooked vegetable mix from the chicken and vegetables night. My freezer is getting full! I have another little freezer in the garage, and a big freezer as well. The little freezer is half full of meat, but we haven't used the big freezer yet. So, if I continue like this, I'll have a lot of choices to pick from, and plenty of room to put it.

I need to plan next week's menus. I'll put them on my side bar as soon as I do that.

So, now that I have a good handle on the kitchen, I'm going add on keeping the bathroom clean all next week. Then, the living room, then the bedroom, then the office, then the back room.

This may sound very rudimentary to most of you, but I have been teetering between not caring if the house is dirty and overwhelmed when I think about tackling the whole thing at once. So, I'll add one room per week, and after 5 more weeks, the whole house will be spic and span. Keeping it clean should be easier than getting it to that point, right?

------------------

One of my banks, the one that has my bill paying account in it, is going to start charging $8 a month if your balance goes below $2000. Well, they aren't going to get $8 a month from me! I have another account that we left $30 in just to keep it open, but haven't used for about a year that doesn't charge anything, and of course has free bill pay, so that is going to be my new bill pay account.

I also will be done paying off my pickup after two more payments (bi-weekly) so at the end of next month, I'll own the pickup free and clear. After that happens, I want to change my "gas/food/other" account to a bank up here. (The current one is in Texas and also has the pickup loan.) I can't put DH on it unless we go down there to sign something to put him on the account, so it will be easier to get the pickup paid off, open a different account and close that one. Then, we can have a farm account, a bill paying account, and an "other" account. Currently, DH has had to pull "other" out of the bill paying account, and I want to get away from that. I want to find an account that has ATM reimbursement and is local.

First things first, though, and that is to get all the automatic bill paying things moved over to the idle account we already have, and get that done by Nov 1, since that is when the fees start.

Inspired

September 21st, 2009 at 09:09 pm

I don't know why, but http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com has inspired me this weekend. I admit I haven't done too well managing my house, well, ever. Always dishes to wash, clothes to wash. The bathroom is dirty. The floors are dirty. I don't know why, but this weekend, it just got to be too much, and I started attacking.

Kitchen looks very nice now. All dishes are done and put away. Cleaned the outside of all the cabinets, moved some drawer contents around, etc.

Started planning my meals out today as well. That's what the meals on the side bar are about. I'm listing all the ingredients for making that stuff, so I can easily pick from the list to make a menu. I'll probably add a grocery list page, too, so I can access this at home and at work.

I'm just doing suppers. We eat leftovers for lunch, or DH grills something for himself when I'm at work. Toast, peaches (lately, but not for much longer), and sausage is breakfast.

When I got home today after shopping, I took the polish sausages and split them into 4-sausage packets. That way if we want to grill them, 4 will be enough for us and we won't have to thaw the entire package out.

I also chopped up every green, red, and yellow pepper I have. I have a bad habit of buying peppers and then not remembering if I have any and then buying more, so I waste a lot. I ended up chopping like 10! I bought 6 and found 4 in my fridge...but they are now all chopped up and mixed up and put in ziploc bags in 2 cup portions, so I can just grab and go now.

I also made bread today. I mean, what is up with that? I don't know. It is doing its final rising now, and we'll see how it goes. Hope it tastes good! It is just normal white flour bread, since thefamilyhomestead.com said try that first and then get fancy. I would like to start making whole wheat bread, even going so far as to grind my own wheat I take from our combine. How awesome would that be? Of course, I'd have to get a grinder, and those look kind of pricey. I'll see how I do with the bread making for a while before getting one of those.

I also bought the stuff to make my own laundry detergent. Ivory soap, washing soda and borax. I'll try that tomorrow.

I also ran tonight with Bandit. Man, I've had a busy night!

is it tax time yet?

September 19th, 2009 at 08:55 pm

Apparently, at our house it is. Smile I went through my pile of receipts today, sorting them into farm expenses, farm income, job searching expenses, depreciation, etc. I just had a huge pile I needed to get through, and it is now residing in a 1" binder and a 1" pile, sorted by date.

Usually I tape the smaller receipts to a piece of paper and put them in the notebook as well. I plan to do that, and then scan everything in so I have a backup of it in case something happens to the paper.

The push to do this is because I am planning on figuring my taxes as close as I can before the end of the year and convert an IRA to a Roth IRA in 2009. I plan to convert enough of it to get my income up to the top of the 10% bracket. I am transferring my old 401k to the IRA right now (just got the check for $16,954, and need to forward it on). What with me losing my job this year, being on unemployment, buying more cows, a planter, etc., I think we will have quite a bit of room to do this. I can only foresee taxes going up in the future, so I want to shelter as much as I can in the Roth IRA as possible.

You know, that gets me thinking. What happens if some kind of a fair tax is implemented? People have already paid taxes on Roth IRAs and their income. So if a fair tax is implemented, won't that be double taxation on that income? I have never heard anyone explain how that would work.

---------------------

I ran that 5k last weekend, and I am so proud of myself. I hadn't run 3 miles without stopping since college 10 years ago (I did it once before the race). It was very slow, but I didn't walk at all, which was my goal. There were so many hills, at one point I wanted to, but I figured I could jog as slow as I could walk, so why not reach my goal when I could do that?

It was a really fun weekend. We had 19 walkers/runners in our group. My mom paid for all the t-shirts we were wearing (an early Christmas present), so we all stood out.

Brother T won his age group (15-19)
Sister J won her age group (15-19)
Sister K got 3rd in her age group (20-24)
Sister E got 4th in her age group (20-24)
Brother D got 3rd in his age group (25-29)

I didn't walk. That's winning for me Smile Actually, I got 21st in my age group, out of 41. It took 42 damn minutes, but I got through it.

We then went to my sisters house for lunch. I had taken some cans of stuff (corn, mushrooms, black beans, salsa and a bag or brown rice) and my crockpot, and made that in the hotel in the morning before we left for the run. It was done by noon, so that was my contribution to lunch.

We then went to a park for a niece's birthday party.

Then, my brother in law just had to go to Hooters. Ok, we'll all go. We had one table of guys (including my dad, my 16 year old brother, my husband, by 24 year old brother, and 4 BILs) and a table of girls and kids.

Service was absolutely horrible. It took 30 minutes for the waitress to get our drinks at the girl table. It took another 20 minutes to take our order. The order was all messed up (she forgot 3 orders of fries, and had a salad that no one ordered, and one of the drinks had a hair in it). I asked for our checks, and she only got mine and DH's, after 30 minutes, and then had to come back and ASK us all what we got because she didn't have it written down? I don't know. We were there for over 3 hours.

DH was paying, and I told him to not tip because her service was terrible. All the guys at their table erupted "Why? We all got our beers on time." He ended up tipping her awesomely. I was pretty peeved at that. My sisters paid their tabs for their families, and didn't tip at all. The waitress didn't even give my brother a check. By that time, we had waited for our checks for over an hour, so we told him to just leave.

So, other than that tipping incident, the weekend was really fun. All of my family in one place doesn't happen that often.

My sister wants us to do another run on Thanksgiving day in Salina. I am planning on keeping on running 3 times a week. I haven't lost any pounds except the 6 I initially did, but I am feeling better and my jeans feel more comfortable, so I know I am losing some weight. I take Bandit (my dog) with me, and he really needs it, because when DH is working all day on the swather, he is tied up all day...and very rambunctious when I get home. After 2 miles, he usually is pretty calm when we get back.

-----------------------

Things are moving along on the farm. Beans are almost ready to be cut, milo is almost ready as well. We will be weaning calves in a few weeks. DH is currently swathing and baling for a lot of people, which will bring in some good money, once he gets it done and can bill it.

My dad wants us to swath and bale for him, and have him trade some work. He can put on siding and do windows, so I think I want him to replace our windows and at least one door before winter hits. We only have 6 regular windows in our house and one big picture window. And the back door needs to be replaced (you can see light through the edges when it is shut). I don't know how much it is going to be, but I think that should be done before the siding is done. Maybe next year he can do siding as trade?

beans!

August 22nd, 2009 at 04:47 pm

I don't remember who exactly suggested this blog (it was someone here, on a blog, or in a comment to a blog):
http://crockpot365.blogspot.com
but it is pretty good. I like to cook using the crock pot, especially in the summer.

One post she had was how to make beans:
http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/cooking-dried-beans-in-crockpot.html

I never knew how to make dried beans...I was always scared to try. But her post made it look so easy.

I bought two bags of dried black beans this week, and on Thursday night I picked through them to make sure there weren't any split ones, or shriveled ones. I just dumped them out on our kitchen table, and sorted through them...took probably 10 minutes. I put both bags-worth in the crock pot, and waited until Friday.

I have a crock pot that has a removable bowl, so it is really easy to clean. (I have two of those in fact). If you are buying one, I suggest to get one like this...you can soak it to clean it, instead of having to worry about the cord on other kinds.

Friday, when I got home, I covered them with water, so it had about 2" worth above them. I put the crock in the refrigerator. That step took like, um, 2 minutes. Most of that time was finding room in the refrigerator. The blog said to soak them 6 hours in the refrigerator to keep germies from growing. We were going out last night, so I figured I would rinse them when I got home...

Well, I forgot about them until about 11:30 this morning! Oops. They really swelled, almost to the top of the crock. I rinsed them, put them back in the crock, filled it up with water, and cooked them on high until around 6:00. The directions said to do it for 8 hours, or bite tender, but they really smelled good, so I tried them. They were ready, as far as I could tell. And they tasted good. I rinsed them again, and decided since I already had the crock pot dirty with beans, I might as well use it to make supper with.

I put 4 cups worth of beans, 1 can of corn, 1 small can of mushrooms, a jar of salsa, a can of chicken broth and 2 cups of uncooked brown rice in the crock pot, and put it on high. I didn't drain anything, just dumped the cans in. I thawed out some chicken and put that in there too. On high, that should only take about 4 hours to make. I love that meal! Put some salsa on it, and some sour cream, and it just tastes awesome. Then, the next day, you can use it in tortillas to make burritos. The flavors really go well together.

After I used the first 4 cups for tonight's meal, I rinsed the rest of them again with cold water and put them in ziploc baggies, 2 cups each (she said one can was 1 2/3 cups, but my recipes aren't precise enough to bother with 2 measuring cups, so I just used a 1 cup measure twice). I got 4 of those baggies worth, flattened them out some (so when they were frozen they would stack better, and to get the air out of the bags, but not enough to actually squish the beans) and put them in the freezer. That step took, maybe 5 minutes.

So, even though I started them at 6:00 p.m. yesterday and they weren't in the freezer until 6:00 p.m. today, I only spent less than 20 minutes doing anything with them.

I will definitely do this again. But since I have two crock pots, I will probably get 4 bags of beans and split them up between the two. It was really easy, and I know that there isn't any extra ingredients (like salt or preservatives or that goopy icky stuff on the bottom of the cans when you use canned beans). Doing 4 bags won't make much difference in time.

So, whoever turned me on to that website, thanks a lot!

thank a farmer

August 19th, 2009 at 08:16 pm

I was reading another poster's blog, talking about how high the cost of all organic, all local, all natural food was in New York. I offered a suggestion that she could start a container garden, or freeze some of the produce that she got during the season to stretch it out over the year.

That suggestion was made in good faith.

However, I have been reflecting over her post for a couple hours now, and I have a slightly different take on it. I didn't think I should impede on her blog with perhaps a contentious post, so I thought I should make my own entry. For the record, I am not attacking her. I have just been ruminating on people's buying habits and what people expect.

I started to think about how our grandparents (or great grandparents...how ever far back you have to go) used to do things. They didn't buy food at the grocery store every couple of days; they grew it (vegetables, fruit, grains), raised it (animals for meat, chickens for eggs), ground it (flour), milked it (cows/goats), baked it (bread) etc all themselves, or did without. They also dried it, smoked it, salted it, canned it, or hung it outside in winter to freeze it. If they had tried to buy everything, it would have been cost prohibitive. And they took a lot of time to do these things...I imagine back in the day leisure time was a commodity not many had.

So what makes it possible for people to not spend that much time procuring their food? Modern farming. Modern farming is why you don't have to spend $1200 a month for nutritious food for 2 people, but can if you choose. Modern farming is why you can play on the internet, exercise, have hobbies other than hunting/fishing/gardening. Modern farming is why you can live hundreds or thousands of miles away from where the food is grown, in fact, maybe not even know where it comes from (milk comes from a cow, not the grocery store). Modern farming is why food costs (the actual commodities, not the processed result) get lower and lower when compared to inflation, due to the ground getting more productive, plants getting higher yields, producing more bushels / acre than ever before.

People like to disparage modern farming techniques, saying things like "we are cutting down forests" etc. That is not true it the U.S. There are more trees in this country now than there were 100 years ago. Modern agriculture is sustainable on the ground already in production, or less as the years go on, with such techniques as rotational planting (growing plants that replenish the ground with nitrogen...soybeans and others), letting the ground rest every couple of years, controlling noxious and other bothersome weed with judicious use of herbicides, and continued improvement of plant seeds.

In short, I guess, thank a farmer for providing you with good, inexpensive, healthy food, so you have time and money to do other things. If not for us, everyone would be spending >$1200 a month on food for 2.

I hope I'm not this way the rest of my life

August 14th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Reading the forums has been a little hard lately w.r.t. the baby boomlet going on over there lately. I COMPLETELY understand the excitement, but I just want to quietly pipe in and say a little circumspection may be prudent. Especially with some of them so early on in their pregnancy.

I know that the easiest way to stop a conversation cold is to mention you had a miscarriage. It is very uncomfortable. They don't know what to say, you don't know what to say...so you just wait three beats in awkward silence and then change the subject.

I hope that when I get pregnant again I can be as happy and excited as I was before, and not reserved, waiting for something to go wrong. But I do know that I won't be telling anyone (except DH and maybe parents/brothers/sisters) until after 12 weeks next time.

I just realized every post I've had on this blog since it has happened has had some reference to it. I hope I'm not being a party pooper to anyone!

hot day today

August 8th, 2009 at 09:09 pm

It was over 105 degrees today! Wowzers, it was hot. I didn't get much accomplished. My calves got out AGAIN and our neighbor found them, so I had to hook up the trailer and go get them, and then I got some water for the calves and our new horse.

Let's get caught up. I started buying calves from a local dairy in March after I was laid off, and gradually got up to 8 of them. The plan was to get them on grain and get them up to 1000 lbs or so and then sell them. I had them on milk replacer for a month and then weaned them onto grain. I also had bought an angus calf, had three given to me (but one died) and took care of one where the mom had stopped giving enough milk. Just last week we had another cow die so I am taking care of that one too. When I knew I had the job, I needed to sell the calves because DH would NOT feed and water them for me. He thought they were a pain and didn't want to add those chores to his list. So, I called a cousin of my dad's (which I call an uncle) that bought dairy calves as well to see if he wanted 8 calves. He didn't want 8, but wanted 1! Sorry, that doesn't make sense...I might as well keep them all. But he did say his nephew was starting to feed calves and might be interested. So I called my (second? or is it third?) cousin to see if he wanted 7 calves (I would let my "uncle" have the one he wanted). 4 of them I had been feeding since March/April and 4 of them I had just got about 2 weeks ago. I got $200 for the older 4 and $110 for the younger 4. I bought them all for $80, so a small profit, as we had the grain to feed them.

So, now I just have 5 Angus ones left. I have them in our corral because they kept getting out of the grass with the electric fence around it, and the gate on the corral is such that it rests on a piece of cement, but then we have a chain to put around it too. I have been just putting it on the cement without the chain, but I think the wind blew so much yesterday morning that it blew it open and they were gone. DH tried to find them when I was at work, but couldn't. This morning, he got a call from our neighbor, and they were in with his calves, so I went and got them.

DH mentioned tonight that his uncle took a calf to the sale barn last Monday that were about the size of ours (which doesn't make much sense, because they are all different sizes! lol) and got over $300 for them. After commissions and everything, it was about $280. I think he wants to sell them on Monday. Ok. I'm not able to take care of them anymore what with working, so if he doesn't want to take care of them, that's fine. I just thought we only had a few more months before weaning our other calves and he would be feeding all of them everyday then anyway, so we could put these in with them and it wouldn't be another chore. But, he wants to get rid of them and it isn't worth a fight, so ok. Like I said before, I bought one of them for $200, and two were given to me and two were from cows that were too old/died, so I'll make a profit on them too.

As for the horse, we've been looking for one since before we were married. My family is a big horse family, and his dad is, but DH just isn't. Or maybe he just wanted his own and didn't want to have to go get the one I own (that my dad has) 10 miles away to do anything. He rides pretty well, though hasn't ridden a lot ever since I've known him.

But he had been looking for one on our local craigslist-type website, and the broke ones were all over $1000. Well, he came across a 4 year old gelding quarter horse the other day that was $400 (down from $500) and it said "experienced rider needed." Usually, this means the horse is greenbroke. But he called and asked about it, and instead of being greenbroke, it had been used in a feedlot (which means REALLY well trained...those guys are in the saddle 8 hrs a day on their horse. I think they eat, drink and pee off the top of the horse without ever getting off) and it had spunk, so it is definitely NOT a kids horse - thus the experienced rider par. The guy DH was talking to had bought the horse from the feedlot worker so him and his wife could go trail riding, but they only had the same day off 1 time a week and never rode him. He was really skinny because this guy was feeding him rye grass that looked like straw and it had no nutritional content at all. The horse is skin and bones, really.

But, we got him for $400, and a saddle, blanket and bit for another $125. The bit itself is worth over $100 and the blanket is worth like $70, new. Don't know about the saddle. I bought mine a few years ago at a pawn shop for around $200 but it looks little more heavy duty. My sister trains horses and has bought 2 year old, not even halter broke horses for $400, so this is a great deal!

We have him in a different part of the corral and are giving him sweet feed and brome hay for a while to try to fatten him up a little, and then he will just go out in the pasture. We don't have a headstall yet, so we can't ride him until we go somewhere to get one of those, but I am excited to ride him. Apparently he neck reigns very well and knows leg cues (although I don't know leg cues, so I'll have to learn that!) He is very friendly and comes up to us to pet him and hasn't spooked once. I'm pretty excited!

Anyway, I just fed all of them and watered them today and moved some bales. That was it, all day. DH built some fence with a landlord and the landlord's daughter, and he was pretty exhausted when he came home. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and it tasted salty!

I've started running lately. My sister is turning 35 in February and got a wild hair up her @$$ that she wanted to run a 5k before she turned 35. She found a running program called "couch potato to 5k" and invited all of us to run with her. We were going to do the Komen race in Wichita, but we found out that Komen donates some of their money to Planned Parenthood, and we didn't want to support that organization at all. So, we found one in KC (where 2 sisters/1 brother live) that is for Parkinson's research. My Grandpa died of Parkinson's disease in 2001, so we decided to invite our first cousins to see if they wanted to do it too. All of my family (mom, dad, uncle who lives with them, all 9 of us kids) are doing it, as well as another uncle and his daughter and an aunt and 2 of her sons. We are getting bright blue t-shirts that have "in memory of eptacek" (my grandpa) on it.

I was on week 4 of the running program when last week my knee hurt so bad I almost couldn't finish the work out. My left knee hurt, my right shin hurt because I was altering my stride to compensate, and I came home crying. I wasn't getting any sweat or cardiovascular work out at all because I couldn't even strike the ground with my left heel. That was on Tuesday night. I went to the chiropractor on Wednesday after work and he did some magic on my lower back and my knee started to feel alot better. I waited until today to run again because I wanted the ligaments to have time to heal from the stretch I had put them through. This time I was out of breath and sweating for sure! I'm starting week 4 over tonight, and hopefully I can go every other night instead of 3 times a week and make up for the lost time. Our last week of workout was supposed to just get us to 5k, so I'm worried about not finishing.

Because of this, I've lost a bit of the "baby weight" I had put on from when I was pregnant. I've lost 6 pounds last time I checked, which is not a lot but at least is going in the right direction. People don't realize that even though I miscarried, my body was going through a lot-lot-lot of changes, and I've had to deal with that too. It wasn't just over that afternoon, physically or emotionally. I went through the entire labor, I was fully dilated, delivered everything myself, and didn't get to bring the baby home with me when all that pain was over. Frown I'm back on track cycle wise and hopefully we can try again really soon (maybe tonight? Oh, was that TMI? LOL)

Tomorrow I think we are going to Hays because I need to get two prescriptions filled at Walmart and we need to get that headstall for the horse. DH needs some parts for his pickup too. Hope to not spend too much money!

back to work

August 7th, 2009 at 06:40 pm

I finally found a job, after being laid off Feb 9 this year. Started this past Monday. I was making $96,000 before I got laid off and now make $60,000...but it is only an hour away (60 miles) instead of 2.5 hours away (160 miles), so I get to see DH every night at least. I also get a $.05 discount on the cash price of gas, so that is a nice perk! Smile I was applying for jobs every week since Feb, and this is the only interview that I had, and I got the job. And, it is a brand new position, so I get to kind of define what I do, which will be extremely nice. But right now, it is kind of slow because I haven't defined it yet!

Wow, getting up at 6:00 a.m. after 6 months of sleeping in was hard Smile But this morning was better than Tuesday, and we had even gone to the bar for a few beers last night until midnight before coming home.

It has been really rough around here money wise. I was on unemployment, getting $450ish a week, and that covered all of our normal monthly bills as well as food/gas, but no farm bills, and we had mucho farm bills this past month. We did quite a bit of planting and swathing for people that brought in money, and worked some part time stuff until I miscarried (after that, I needed a few weeks to get my head back on my shoulders) and then got offered this job. We are waiting with bated breath for my first paycheck on August 13, even though it will be only half a paycheck.

I don't know why I haven't posted much since the lay off. I think I didn't have anything nice to say about money so I didn't want to say anything at all Smile But now we need to start digging ourselves out of this little hole, so hopefully I will have positive things to say here.

I love you, my little baby

June 13th, 2009 at 09:34 pm

I am so sorry, my little baby. I don't know what happened, if I did something wrong or not. I am sorry you aren't going to be able to grow and meet your mommy and daddy and feel our love for you. I pray that you have already met God today and let him hold you until I can see you and hold you myself.

Wow, this guy is brave. Or wants a target on his back.

May 6th, 2009 at 08:04 pm

Unafraid In Greenwich Connecticut
Clifford S. Asness
Managing and Founding Principal
AQR Capital Management, LLC

The President has just harshly castigated hedge fund managers for being unwilling to take his administration's bid for their Chrysler bonds. He called them "speculators" who were "refusing to sacrifice like everyone else" and who wanted "to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout."

The responses of hedge fund managers have been, appropriately, outrage, but generally have been anonymous for fear of going on the record against a powerful President (an exception, though still in the form of a "group letter", was the superb note from "The Committee of Chrysler Non-TARP Lenders" some of the points of which I echo here, and a relatively few firms, like Oppenheimer, that have publicly defended themselves). Furthermore, one by one the managers and banks are said to be caving to the President’s wishes out of justifiable fear.

I run an approximately twenty billion dollar money management firm that offers hedge funds as well as public mutual funds and unhedged traditional investments. My company is not involved in the Chrysler situation, but I am still aghast at the President's comments (of course these are my own views not those of my company). Furthermore, for some reason I was not born with the common sense to keep it to myself, though my title should more accurately be called "Not Afraid Enough" as I am indeed fearful writing this... It’s really a bad idea to speak out. Angering the President is a mistake and, my views will annoy half my clients. I hope my clients will understand that I’m entitled to my voice and to speak it loudly, just as they are in this great country. I hope they will also like that I do not think I have the right to intentionally "sacrifice" their money without their permission.

Here's a shock. When hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds, and individuals, including very sweet grandmothers, lend their money they expect to get it back. However, they know, or should know, they take the risk of not being paid back. But if such a bad event happens it usually does not result in a complete loss. A firm in bankruptcy still has assets. It’s not always a pretty process. Bankruptcy court is about figuring out how to most fairly divvy up the remaining assets based on who is owed what and whose contracts come first. The process already has built-in partial protections for employees and pensions, and can set lenders' contracts aside in order to help the company survive, all of which are the rules of the game lenders know before they lend. But, without this recovery process nobody would lend to risky borrowers. Essentially, lenders accept less than shareholders (means bonds return less than stocks) in good times only because they get more than shareholders in bad times.

The above is how it works in America, or how it's supposed to work. The President and his team sought to avoid having Chrysler go through this process, proposing their own plan for re-organizing the company and partially paying off Chrysler's creditors. Some bond holders thought this plan unfair. Specifically, they thought it unfairly favored the United Auto Workers, and unfairly paid bondholders less than they would get in bankruptcy court. So, they said no to the plan and decided, as is their right, to take their chances in the bankruptcy process. But, as his quotes above show, the President thought they were being unpatriotic or worse.

Let's be clear, it is the job and obligation of all investment managers, including hedge fund managers, to get their clients the most return they can. They are allowed to be charitable with their own money, and many are spectacularly so, but if they give away their clients' money to share in the "sacrifice", they are stealing. Clients of hedge funds include, among others, pension funds of all kinds of workers, unionized and not. The managers have a fiduciary obligation to look after their clients’ money as best they can, not to support the President, nor to oppose him, nor otherwise advance their personal political views. That's how the system works. If you hired an investment professional and he could preserve more of your money in a financial disaster, but instead he decided to spend it on the UAW so you could "share in the sacrifice", you would not be happy.

Let's quickly review a few side issues.

The President's attempted dictate takes money from bondholders and gives it to a labor union that delivers money and votes for him. Why is he not calling on his party to "sacrifice" some campaign contributions, and votes, for the greater good? Shaking down lenders for the benefit of political donors is recycled corruption and abuse of power.

Let's also mention only in passing the irony of this same President begging hedge funds to borrow more to purchase other troubled securities. That he expects them to do so when he has already shown what happens if they ask for their money to be repaid fairly would be amusing if not so dangerous. That hedge funds might not participate in these programs because of fear of getting sucked into some toxic demagoguery that ends in arbitrary punishment for trying to work with the Treasury is distressing. Some useful programs, like those designed to help finance consumer loans, won't work because of this irresponsible hectoring.

Last but not least, the President screaming that the hedge funds are looking for an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout is the big lie writ large. Find me a hedge fund that has been bailed out. Find me a hedge fund, even a failed one, that has asked for one. In fact, it was only because hedge funds have not taken government funds that they could stand up to this bullying. The TARP recipients had no choice but to go along. The hedge funds were singled out only because they are unpopular, not because they behaved any differently from any other ethical manager of other people's money. The President’s comments here are backwards and libelous. Yet, somehow I don’t think the hedge funds will be following ACORN's lead and trucking in a bunch of paid professional protestors soon. Hedge funds really need a community organizer.

This is America. We have a free enterprise system that has worked spectacularly for us for two hundred plus years. When it fails it fixes itself. Most importantly, it is not an owned lackey of the oval office to be scolded for disobedience by the President.

I am ready for my "personalized" tax rate now.

Dear Senator Brownback

April 28th, 2009 at 08:26 pm

Senator Brownback,
I was happy to receive a letter from you dated April 16, 2009 in response to one I had in turn written to you regarding FOCA. In this letter, you assured me, and I am sure many other Kansans, that you would vote against any FOCA legislation and that you would work to promote a culture of life in your work as a Senator.

Today, I am dismayed that you could vote to confirm Governor Sebelius as HHS secretary. Sebelius has truly embodied all you formerly opposed, including, I believe, improperly shielding George Tiller from being prosecuted for frequently breaking Kansas law with regards to requiring an independent doctor agreeing the health or life of the mother was at risk for late term abortions, as well as vetoing many restrictions on abortions that the Kansas legislature has passed. Her ties, monetarily, legislatively, and socially, to this gruesome doctor should have had you screaming in the aisles of Congress to not appoint her as HHS secretary.

There is no way to reconcile this paragraph, which I take directly from your letter to me just a few short weeks ago, with this vote you cast today: "Truly, no gift is more precious than life. I believe that life should be cherished and protected. I will continue to work towards promoting a culture of life through my work in the Senate."

I am disappointed beyond words at your actions. Please take the 30 pieces of silver due to you for this vote and be sure in the knowledge that I will never vote for you again, not for Senate and certainly not for Governor.

cptacek

My dog, Bandit

April 15th, 2009 at 08:45 pm

We have a Blue Heeler puppy, only about 5 months old, but 46 pounds! He is such a good dog. Doesn't bark, comes when we tell him to, was starting to help us chase cows until he broke his leg Frown He is about a month into having a pin in his leg, and should get it out in a week or two, and then we can keep working on him chasing cows for us!

We don't let him any further into the house than the back porch. We take our shoes off at the back porch so that we don't track as much dirt into the house, and for some reason, he likes to curl up on them:

Sometimes, DH just wants to play with him, but Bandit can't come into the kitchen...so here is the compromise:








And every now and then, we walk back to the kitchen sink and look over, and just have to call the other person back to look at what crazy position he is in now:

Up to 3!

April 11th, 2009 at 04:39 pm

Well, as you know, I'm starting to feed baby calves to try to earn some money on the farm. I started out with a Holstein bull calf (a milking breed) that I bought for $80. He was about 2 weeks old and already eating out of the bottle.

Well, a few days ago, the farmer that has been helping us out had a calf that was about a month and a half old that he had been bottle feeding all that time, and had recently started feeding grain. This is a good Angus heifer calf; the only reason he was feeding it was because it was a twin and the mom wouldn't take both. Nice big calf. I paid him $200 for it. We will probably keep feeding her until we wean the other cows and just stick her in with the group currently on cows. There shouldn't be any noticeable difference between her and any other calf nursing on a cow, and we should get paid more with her in the group than trying to sell her by herself.

For these two, I just have to mix up the milk replacer twice a day, morning and night, and stick it in a bottle, and they drink it down. Other than that, I have some free feed grain in a pan and some water, and they are taking care of themselves. The older calf should start just eating grain pretty soon, and the dairy calf will do that in about a month.

We got a call this morning from a friend of DH's who has a feedlot, and a cow that he is feeding had a calf last night. He can't let the cow raise it and he didn't want bother with bottle feeding it, so he gave it to me. (! Yeah!) It had already nursed on the cow last night and this morning, so it had its colostrum, so it was ready for me to take. I picked it up this morning and put her in a different pen than the first two calves. It is a little black heifer, but I don't know what breed. I fed it for the first time tonight, and now I know why some people don't want to bother bottle feeding them! Wow, you are all bent over and trying to teach this little thing to suck on a bottle, and they just don't want to cooperate! You get milk all over you, your clothes, the ground, the calf, everything! I eventually flipped a bucket over and kind of held her against the barn wall and got her to drink half a bottle. Their little stomachs can't take too much, so we'll try again tomorrow morning before church.

Up to three! We are thinking 10 at first, but we'll have to build some separate pens for them because right now we just have them in the corral. We'll need that corral for working cattle, so we'll have to move them somewhere else.

I was at the vet the other day and his wife started talking about a new vet joining their practice. They are providing a house for him, and so they are remodeling it for him. I was kind of joking when I said "you need someone to paint it" because I have done a lot of that for when I sold my last two houses, and she said "yes!" So, I am painting the inside of an entire house for $10 an hour. But, if I need to help DH with something, that is ok as well. Woo hoo! $10 an hour! That is only less than 1/4 of what I was making, but that is $10 an hour more than what I am currently making Smile

I went in again today to get a third bottle for the new calf, and she asked me what I was planning on doing. She offered me a part time job at the vet's office for $8 an hour for the first 3 months and then $10 an hour after that. She might increase the pay and the hours if the new vet works out. I told her that if I found a higher paying job, I would quit right away, and she understood that. I don't know. It would be 8 a.m. - noon, and then I could come home and help DH swath and plant and other farm stuff. I guess it depends on if we can make more on the farm in those 4 hours a day than $40. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I don't know if I should take it or not.

I get to start applying for unemployment insurance next week. yippee, right?

How's this plan?

April 7th, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Ok, I just need some other eyes to look this over...

I have four credit card debts that I am trying to pay off. Boo! They were from last year, farm start up costs...and I am really concentrating on paying them off. They started out at 0% interest, but that ship has sailed. So, the bad news:

Bank of America..$15,093 @ 13.24%
Capital One.......$1,882 @ 0%
Chase Visa #1:....$6,018 @ 9.24%
Chase Visa #2:...$11,130 @ 9.99%

The good news:
I am paying much more than the minimum, and haven't charged any to the cards for months.

The plan:
I have an offer for a 5.99% fixed APR for 2 years on Chase Visa #2, with 3% btf, in the form of a check. I have a $15,500 credit line on this card. At first I thought just to transfer ~$4000 something over to Bank of America because it has the highest interest. But, I just thought of something. I have $11,200 dollars saved up for the land payment due in June and the taxes due in May.

What if I pay off Chase Visa #2 with this money and then write myself a check for $14,850.
$14,850 * 1.03 = $15,295.50 (amount after btf)
$15,295.50 * ( 1 + (.06 * 2 / 12) ) = $15,448 (2 months interest, just to be safe)

Save the $11,130 for the land/taxes and put $3720 on Bank of America.

Doing this, I just dropped the interest rate on Chase Visa #2 from 9.24% to 5.99% for 2 years (and cut off their imminent plan to up the interest...I just know that will happen!) and dropped $3720 from $13.99 interest to $5.99% interest. I can't say I paid that off because that is really a balance transfer, but it does save me money.

Am I missing something? I have to do this in the next week or the offer will be over.

Get to write off a payment to elmothespaceman

April 6th, 2009 at 03:54 pm

I'm on my way to buying some baby calves, bottle feeding them, and then weaning them and graining them until they are about 500 lbs. Well, at least I got one! One little Holstein (a milking breed) bull calf I got from a dairy. When they get some more bull calves I'll go pick them up too, but they just don't have any more yet.

I would like to have beef calves instead, but they are expensive right now. It is calving season around here, so if a farmer loses a calf, they want to pick one up to put on the cow so they aren't carrying a cow for a whole year without her producing anything. I heard a few weeks ago, those were going for $300 a piece at the sale barn...I picked up my bull calf for $80! But, I figure here in a month or so, everyone will be taking their cows out to grass and no one will want to bottle feed their extra calves anymore, so I might be able to pick some of those up for pretty cheap.

Problem is, we don't have running water out on the farm, only a well that we pump each day with a gas powered transfer pump. So, no hot water heater, so no heat. Well, as my mind comes up with pretty fanciful ways to do things, I figured out that I could use a coffee pot to heat the water I pull from the well, instead of having to drive into town to get the bottle ready at night. We have a large 10 cup one we use in the house and only have the small 4 cup one as a spare. 4 cup would be enough for this one calf, but we want to get up to 10, so I figured, get something bigger. One of those big 36 coffee percolators, the kind you use at family reunions, weddings and such, are so expensive new. Over $80 for the ones I saw. But hey, it is going in the barn, so it definitely doesn't have to be new!

I found one on ebay for $5.99, with $13.52 in shipping. It is avocado green! Definitely from the 70's. But, it will work. So, for $19.52, I'll be able to heat the water out there. Won't mix the milk in the coffee pot, just heat the water and pour it into something else to mix the milk.

Anyway, I bought it from a guy who's screen name is elmothespaceman, and his email address starts with spaceport430! I just think it is so funny that that is going in my taxes file because I can write this off. If I get audited, the IRS agent will have to decide if an avocado green space coffee pot can be a legitimate business expense!

yummy supper

March 26th, 2009 at 06:43 pm

I went out on a limb the other day and tried something I had never tried before. It might be pretty pedestrian for the rest of you, but I was mighty pleased with how it came out.

In a crockpot, I mixed a can of black beans, a can of corn, a small can of mushrooms and a small jar of salsa. I didn't drain any of this, just dumped it all in the crockpot. I mixed it and then added 4 frozen chicken breasts and let it cook on low for 8 hours. When we got home that night, I took the chicken out and shredded it (just took two forks and tore it apart into small pieces) and mixed it back in the crockpot. I cooked some rice (4 servings) and added that to the crockpot and mixed everything up. It turned out kind of soupy, so we ate it in a bowl. I added some sour cream on top of mine, and some shredded cheese. It was very good! We both had two bowls and were stuffed full.

I put the crock pot bowl (I have the kind where the bowl and the heating element are separated, which I would recommend to anyone! Easier to clean) in the refrigerator, and took it out the next night for supper. The rice had soaked up most of the water, so I put it in a pot and added a can of chicken broth and some more salsa and heated it up on the stove. Yummy the second time, too!

So, a cheap, easy meal with enough left over for another full meal (for two). Try it!

----------------------------

Good news on the ambulance ride from over 3 years ago. I had gone skiing in Feb 2007 and blew out my knee. I had to go on an ambulance 34 miles into Denver. If we had had a car, we could have driven in, but we had gone out on a bus, so we didn't have a car. Anyway, the ambulance had been submitting the claim to BCBS for two years now and they had been denying it. They said I used an out of network ambulance company. The kicker is, BCBS doesn't have any ambulance companies in network in Denver. Bastards. Whenever I bring this up, and ask, "So, when I am on my back on a mountain screaming in pain, am I supposed to call you and see what ambulance I am supposed to use? And what would have you told me?" And then I hang up. Again, bastards.

Anyway, I finally got the bill at the beginning of Feb 2009 (a few days after I got laid off). $1285. What bad timing! I called them and told them I was laid off and even with my salary last year we had lost money on the farm and my AGI was only $18,000 last year. She sent me a "financial aid packet" and I filled it out, but lots of it didn't apply. I finally wrote an explanation and copied my 1040 and lay off letter and sent it back. They are going to only make me pay half. So, we have to scrounge up $642.50 somehow this month. But, that's better than the full amount.

----------------------------

Finally got the phones switched to Nex-tech. That is going to save us about $25 a month, and it only took about 15 minutes to sell the two phones on the local website. Sold them both for $45. Maybe could have made more, but hey, they are out of here.

----------------------------

Blizzard is coming tomorrow. We spent the day putting fence around an area we used last year that blocks the wind pretty well. We lined up some bales to help block the wind even more. I hope we don't lose any calves. My dad called yesterday to say we should have 6" of snow and 45 mph winds. He then said he once lost 15 out of 30 calves because they froze to death one year, so I've been in a scared mood for a few days now. I hope it doesn't turn out too bad.

----------------------------

My mom called about a job in Salina...but it is a secretary's job. Should I apply to that? I am not a secretary. Of course, I could be a secretary, but I'm not. Ugh. I've been so discouraged lately on the job front. I got paid today and I have two more paychecks (so another month) and then the severance pay. I don't know if I should wait it out a bit or take anything. I feel like I shouldn't take something if I know that as soon as something better comes along I am going to bail, but maybe that is what I should do.

My MIL said I should balance checkbooks and pay bills for the little old ladies in town. She said people would pay for a service like that, but I don't know how to get started. I already balance our 4 checkbooks and pay bills for us, and I have a pretty good system set up so I never miss a bill, so I know adding some others wouldn't be a problem. I wonder about the liability of it, though.

----------------------------

I worked on DH's grandma's computer the other day. It was taking forever to start and forever to shut down. I did a virus scan on it, and nothing. I then started shutting down some of the Dell help things, and that seemed to make a difference. I didn't want to go too far because she wasn't there to tell me what she used and what she didn't, but now I know I can pretty much disable all of it. She paid me $10. Feel kind of funny for taking money for helping family.

Dear Congressman Moran

March 19th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Congressman Moran,
I just saw that you voted for the 90% tax on the AIG bonuses. Shame on you. The bonuses were lawful, and the stimulus package guaranteed that they could be paid. I was completely against the stimulus package, but I am for following the law. The law said the bonuses were legal, so the AIG employees should not be punished.

You do not have the right to abuse your legislative power by singling out individuals for punishment. You do not have the power to pass ex post facto laws. This is unconstitutional! What were you thinking? I would like to know why you would vote for this unconscionable power grab. As your constituent, please email me and try to explain your vote.

cptacek

Saved a little life

March 13th, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Well, yesterday DH and I had an interesting day. We had a cow that looked like it was going to calve soon because it was off by itself and just looking kind of "squirrely", i.e., not comfortable, getting up and down, and wanting to run off when we came around.

Around 6:30 p.m., the feet started presenting, which meant she should have the calf in an hour or two. We were making her nervous, so we retreated to back by the barn and kind of watched her through the brush. She would push, turn around real fast to see if the calf was out, and then push again. She finally did give birth, and we immediately heard her start bellowing and making a fuss. It didn't sound good. We hopped on the 4-wheeler and raced down to where she was.

Usually, the first thing the cow does is start licking the calf and smelling it, and maybe nudging it with their nose. This cow was butting the calf over and over again with her forehead. At first, it was just little nudges, but then she progressed to the point where we thought she would kill it. DH went over by her and tried to stop her when it got rough, but wanted her to try to lick it so she would claim it. She just wouldn't do it. She would lick maybe once or twice, and then start head butting it again, usually when the calf would start to stand up. The final straw was when she tried to smash it between her head and the ground. We immediately chased her off and grabbed the calf and put it on the 4-wheeler.

We left the pasture on the 4-wheeler and went to get the pickup. We put the calf in the back of the pickup and drove back out. We wanted her to follow us back to the barn, but she would only go as far as she knew the calf had been. It was like she knew she had a calf, but the thing we had wasn't it, and she didn't know where hers was. So, we took it back to the barn. I made up half a bottle of colostrum (special milk that has more vitamins in it to give a new born a better start) and DH put some straw in the pen. The little calf ate most of the bottle, and we left it in the pen for the night.

DH talked to his dad and I talked to my dad about this, because we had never had anything like this happen before. His dad said he had had one like that before but he hadn't caught it in time, and the poor thing died. My dad said he had one like that this year for the first time, and he had to do the same thing...take it away and feed it. But he said that he put the cow into a chute a couple of times a day and had the calf suck for a few days and the cow eventually calmed down and they are doing fine now. So, that is the plan.

Last night around 3:30 a.m., we went out again to check to make sure no other cow needed help, and give the calf another half-bottle of colostrum. The calf ate the milk just fine, she seemed warm enough, and so we left her alone for the rest of the night.

DH went back out around 9:00 this morning, and the cow had come up as close to the barn as it could get. It was like she finally knew where her baby was. So, DH opened the gate and she came in. DH let the calf out, and the cow didn't attack, but the calf didn't know what to do...it never tried to nurse. And they kind of stayed on opposite ends of the pen. He separated them again, and when I went out after lunch we set up the chute (yes, we didn't have it set up yet...) and put the cow in.

We milked her a bit and put it in a bottle to help get the calf sucking. I milked a little less than a pint, and I just have to say...if i had to milk a cow to get milk to drink, I would drink a LOT less milk! Just a pint made my forearms tired, but I got it! My first time to ever milk - like seriously milk. I had been there when someone was milking and they let me try, so I squeezed a few drops out, but this was a lot more than that. (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.) Got the calf to eat a little of the bottle, and then transferred her over to the cow. After quite a few tries, she eventually got it. The cow was calm but trying to look back at what has happening.

When we let the cow out again, they retreated to opposite ends of the pen again.

Tonight we put her in the chute again, and the calf did better. We didn't have to show her how to latch on this time, but we did have to keep pushing her towards the cow.

When we let them out this time, the calf finally seemed to know who momma was (she thought DH or I was momma for a while) and she started following the cow all over the pen, and the cow hasn't made an aggressive move towards the cow all day. We have them penned up together tonight, and if we see the little calf nurse tomorrow by itself without us helping, we are going to consider them reconciled.

Changing life insurance companies

March 11th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

We got a phone call the other day from our Farm Bureau guy about the life insurance. We are currently paying $86.22 for a $50,000 term life policy + $50,000 whole life policy. The whole life policy is worth about $1300 now if we surrender it. This is the guy who almost talked us into dramatically upping to a variable universal life insurance policy. In fact, we signed the papers, but I pulled back the next day:
http://www.savingadvice.com/forums/investing-banking/35137-did-i-make-big-mistake-vul.html

Well, he must have somehow found out we were looking at a different life insurance policy, because he was pressuring us again. I told him, "I want a quote for a $300,000 policy. We found one for $50 a month, can you beat that? If not, we are switching" He said he could find a $300,000 policy for 15 years for about $50, but for 30 years it would be more like $80. But, there would be a discount on our other insurance (5% a year). I told him to give us some estimates and I'd have to figure out if the 5% a year balanced out in our favor.

The one we found through Prudential was $300,000 for 30 years for $50ish a month, so it might have been close, but I just got a phone call today that said that DH qualified for a discounted rate, and it would be $30ish a month for 30 years! Saving us over $50 a month for triple the coverage.

The process of switching has been a real pain in the patootie, but worth it.

changing cell phone companies

March 10th, 2009 at 01:14 pm

We just got a flyer in the mail offering to switch to Nex-Tech Wireless. They are affiliated with Sprint, but are the more "rural" option. They offered 2 lines for $49.99 (plus taxes and fees, of course), 3000 minutes and 1000 text messages a month, and "nights and weekends" starting at 6:00 p.m. They are also going to pay us $200 per phone that we switch so we can cancel our current phones.

Currently, we are paying $59.99 for one phone, $9.99 for an additional phone, and $5.99 for unlimited text messages, so $75.97 plus taxes and fees.

Also, other people around here LOVE the Nex-Tech coverage...it follows you through hill and dale, over the river and through the woods...ok, no woods here, but anyway, people are happy about the coverage. Alltel can be, um, spotty.

So, next time we go to Russell, we'll be switching. Saving $25 a month and getting better coverage! Yeah!

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Well, I figured out what to spend the rest of the refund on: farm stuff. What else, right? We got distillers grain for the cows (about $1300) and we are going to buy enough mineral to last all summer and fall (another $1200-$1300). DH also wants to buy another water pump for the well because the one we are using is his dad's and we need to give it back to him. We also need a head gate so we can work our cows and also help them give birth if they need it right there instead of having to load them up and take them to the neighbor. The head gate might be like $1000 (we are looking at one a neighbor has, and we don't know how proud he is of it yet) and the water pump would be $500-$600? It is so never ending.

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Got the bulls tested yesterday to make sure their semen is good. They will go out to cows in May, so it is a little early, but the vet had a special where they test them, treat them for lice and flies, and vaccinate them, all for $35 a piece. They called it Bull-O-Rama and they had seed stock sellers with booths there, and provided lunch. A yummy green bean and dumpling soup in bread bowls. So good, I had two bowls! We took 5 bulls in (4 of ours and one for a neighbor). They were all good, ready to breed this summer. You may be wondering how they get the semen? Well, maybe you aren't wondering. If you want to know, highlight the next portion. They put a probe into their rectum and it has a slight electric buzz to it, which apparently, the bulls like, because it makes them ejaculate. The vet has a cup on the end of a pvc pipe that he put a plastic sleeve in (it looks like a condom) and he catches the ejaculate. He then puts it under a microscope to see if there is sperm moving.

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Having to send back some ear tags...we ordered them online and we wanted the calf tags. We ordered medium, but those are for sheep and pigs, not calves. We opened one package, and they wont' take those back, but we can return 3 others and trade them for the larges. Plus another $3 a piece. But at least we don't have to eat them! Have to get that to the post office today.

teaching?

March 7th, 2009 at 09:19 pm

My brother put something silly into my head tonight, and I can't seem to shake it. He said I should become the high school math teacher at his school because the one that is there now is just a long term sub and she isn't that good (that's putting it mildly, in fact). I have a master's in math, and I actually did all the classes to get my teaching degree except student teach my senior year in undergrad. I decided I didn't want to have to put up with whiney kids, and I had to choose between one math class I needed and student teaching, and I chose Real Analysis.

I have helped 5 sisters through math class (high school and college level) over the phone, and they say I explain it very well and they get it when I explain how to do it. But, of course, that is one-on-one, not to a group of 15 kids. (The school is very small, so there would probably be at most 15 kids in each class.) I know Kansas has a program where you can become a teacher and take some classes on the side until you get your teaching certificate, so I don't know if I would do that or contact my old college to see if my old credits would still be valid. I also was a TA in college, and my kids seemed to get it, and they did like me. Of course, that seems like ages ago.

Problem, though, is if I leave the IT world, my skills will go stale. But, if I am a teacher, I could coach and I would have summers off to help DH on the farm. Salary would be low for what I was used to, but actually pretty good for the immediate vicinity, although I can't find the salary schedules. Oh, I don't know. Probably a stupid idea.

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!

Another $8.95

January 31st, 2009 at 12:05 am

Sold another book on half.com for $6.45. It was a book by my favorite author, but this book sucked. I have kept all of her other books cause I'll read them over, but as a small protest against this sorry excuse for a story, I sold it. It is wrapped and ready for the post office.

Also sold a game for $2.50. You make out great for games...they reimburse you $2.89 for postage, but first class only costs $2.02, so add another $.87 to the $2.50!

I had someone ask about the computer and asked if I would deliver it to a town 50 miles away. I said I drive through that town every Thursday so I could drop it off. Haven't heard anything else from her yet.

Had someone call and ask if it was a laptop (?) Um, no, I would have said it was a laptop if it was a laptop.

I had another guy mentioned he might want a laptop so I told him I can probably get one for him for $225. (I should be able to get one for $200, but I'm done doing this for charity). My mom works with his wife, so I'll ask mom to ask her later this week if he really wants me to get one for him. If so, I'll have to pay with cash and then he'll have to pay me back.

You know, I put on my sidebar when I got paid for those books, but I think I'll put down when I sold them instead. This book and game should count for January, but I'll get paid for it in February.

I'm just getting around to putting that Polaroid portable DVD player on the local web site. Hoping for $50 for it. New, they cost $200 on amazon.com. Of course, I had it given to me, so anything I sell it for will be pure profit. It will also fit in the smallest flat rate box, so I'll ship it USPS for less than $9 (I put "plus shipping and handling" on my add).

Had other bad news today about the cattle loan that makes abso-fuckin-lutely no sense, but I don't want to expound on that until we have a different plan.

Oh, and about those no spend weeks you guys talk about. Good for you, really! That can never happen for me. I have to fill up with gas twice a week just for my commute, so unless I get laid off and stay home for a week nursing my hangovers, that won't happen. But, if I get drunk for a week to drown my sorrows I'll have to buy liquor, or at least beer, so there you go. I can't have a NSW.

My best friend is pregnant. Awesome! She is a good mom (already has one). It also gives me hope for us because her husband travels all the time too, so it must be possible for the timing to work out.


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