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Archive for June, 2014

Our cleaning service

June 25th, 2014 at 10:22 am

This morning, I thought this could have been a much bigger deal than it has turned out it be.

If you have been following my last couple of blog posts, you know two things: my DW took our oldest daughter to MSU last week, and the beginning if this week we were on vacation.

Normally our cleaning lady visits on Fridays from noon til 3:00. Last Thursday evening and Friday, since it was just our boys and me at the house, I knew that I wouldn't have the place ready for cleaning, so I left a message for our cleaning lady to visit on Monday or Tuesday. She did visit and cleaned one of those days. But, she left a note explaining that she would be moving out of state, and would no longer be able to clean for us.

DW and I talked about our options. She mentioned that our neighbor across the road has a cleaning service, and she is happy with the results. So, DW contacted the new cleaning lady. She'll start July 7. It was that easy.

Our previous service charged us $15 per hour, and provided all cleaning supplies, except for a vacuum. She originally provided a vacuum, but hers quit working several months ago, and she had been using ours ever since. The new service will charge us $13 per hour, but we provide all supplies.

On a side note, this most recent cleaning marked the one year anniversary of hiring our first cleaning service, and we gave her a fifty cents per hour raise, which we included in this most recent check. I'm glad I had archived hiring her in this blog, so I was able to look back and see when we had hired her. As far as that goes, I am currently archiving hiring the new service.

I know the new cleaning lady, but not extremely well. She grew up in a house about a mile down the road. We rode the bus together to school, and she is a year older than I am. Her parents no longer live there.

What could have been a long process of looking, and contacting, and interviewing, and narrowing down, and contacting references, and choosing, has turned out to not be a problem at all. I think the odds are very good that she will work out just fine.

Vacation

June 24th, 2014 at 04:25 am

We're at Cedar Point today. I'm an early riser, rest of the family isn't. We went to a drive thru zoo yesterday on the way here. Daw got the tickets for almost 1/3 the price on groupon ( for the zoo).

Food is very expensive here. Even outside the park. We're staying at the hotel right next to the park, so we can enter an hour early.

Here's a pic from the zoo yesterday.



New Chicks

June 18th, 2014 at 06:44 am

We got some chicks yesterday. These are meat chickens, not layers. They are for our kid's 4-H project for the fair.

They came in as a bulk order, for several 4-H families. We ordered 25, and received 26. The hatchery sends an extra chick for every 25 ordered, to insure against death loss during shipment. For all the times we've ordered chicks via mail, I don't think we've ever lost one during shipment.

I picked them up last evening after work from the family that placed the order. When I got home, DD2 is still young enough that she was wooed by the cuteness. DD1 was all business, getting them acclimated to their new home.

Brand new chicks require 90 degree F heat. So, even though it was 84 outside when they arrived, we turned on the heat lamp. The temp did drop down to about 68 last night, and sure enough, when I went out to the barn this morning to check on them, they were all huddled under the heat lamp.

It's six weeks before fair, and that's the maximum age for a "pen" of chickens. Each pen consists of three chickens. DD1, DD2, and DS1 will each take a pen to the fair. The goal is to match them as closely as possible in size and weight within the pen.

Also, DW and I started our own 4-H club about a year ago. 4-H clubs and FFA chapters can also take animals to the fair, and show and sell them as a fundraiser. Our 4-H club will also take a pen of chickens to the fair. Three kids plus one club times three chickens per pen equals 12 chickens needed. The 25 ordered plus one extra will help assure that we can get closely sized pens, plus buffer against any death loss/crippled chickens in six weeks.

Plus grandparents, aunts and uncles are usually good to pick up the extras that don't fit in our freezer.

The 25 (26) chicks cost $48.75. We'll probably have $15-$20 into each chicken before it's all said and done. Each pen is likely to sell for $100-$150.

4-H Exploration Days

June 17th, 2014 at 06:26 am

4-H Exploration Days is an opportunity for young 4-H members, at least age 11, to explore the campus at Michigan State University for three days each summer. Participants enroll themselves in either one long educational session, or two shorter educational sessions. Of course, participants also walk around campus, ride the bus around campus, and fool around with their friends.

Explorations Days is really a big recruitment tool. It worked on me, even though I only attended once. I think DW attended three or four times. We were there at the same time in probably 1986 or 1987, but our paths didn't cross.

DD1 is attending Exploration Days for her first time beginning tomorrow. She is super, super excited. She's been saving money for most of the past year, and has $40 saved. It may or may not all get spent there.

DW will be attending as a chaperon. DD2 will spend some time with a favorite aunt, and I will stay home with the boys. I'll only be taking two days off from work, as the boys are in school tomorrow, but not Thursday or Friday.

This will be a good opportunity for DD1 to learn about saving and spending money. I remember the year I went, I bought an MSU hat for $11. My dad was beside himself about that. It was white corduroy, with green lettering, and impossible to keep clean. I learned something about impulse buying. That's why we're letting DD1 manage her own funds. Better to learn now, than later.

Total debt less than annual salary.

June 16th, 2014 at 07:46 am

I just did some minor updating on my personal balance sheet, and I noticed that my total debt is less than my annual salary.

The exact calculation is - total debt = 91.6% of my annual salary.

Doing some backwards math, it looks as if debt dropped below salary in March.

It seems like that must be a step in the right direction.

I'm a "Preferred Customer"

June 12th, 2014 at 06:37 am

With my Discover Card. And I'd say it's almost as annoying being on the "good boy" list as it is being on the "bad boy" list. Almost, but not quite.

It seems as if the mailings are weekly now. "You are a preferred customer. You are eligible for a... home equity line of credit, or a consolidation loan, or an increase in your credit limit... This week's had something to do with student loans (I didn't open it), which I do not have, and do not need.

So, that's what I get for having a single credit card, and paying the balance off every single month. Offers for more credit.

The Impending Layoff (Not Mine!)

June 6th, 2014 at 08:03 am

Part of my job is to establish corn and soybean plots across a four county area in Michigan. I have one full-time employee, and hire one part-time assistant for 7-9 weeks in the spring. I also need some sporadic part-time help in the fall during harvest.

My current assistant, we'll call him Chuck, is about the same age as I am. He is finishing his third season with me. When I interviewed him a bit more than two years ago, he seemed like a good fit, and he has turned out to be a great employee. The good part, and bad part, is that he is otherwise unemployed.

He does some work for a neighbor farmer of his, and he picks up other odd jobs during the year. His wife is fully employed, and, as it turns out, they live in a family house, and apparently have no mortgage.

When I interviewed him in 2012, I promised nothing more than two months that spring. When he came back last year, he did, in an off-handed way, mention that it would be great if I had more work for him. I agreed that it would be great to keep him on, but I just didn't have the budget for it.

This year, he has made similar comments twice. And, I've replied with similar comments. Although, I did come up with an extra job that needed to be done, that either I nor my full-time employee could have done, but I guess I was feeling generous.

It looks as if he'll be finished next Tuesday, then I'll have to lay him off. Again, all he is ever promised is a couple of months each spring, but I do feel bad about having to lay him off again.

Four seasons ago, I had another assistant. He worked with us for one season, because he got a full-time job in between seasons. So that meant that I had to post the job, conduct interviews, and train Chuck. And, lay him off every June.