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Archive for August, 2014

Pay Day

August 29th, 2014 at 02:45 pm

Today is the last working day of the month, so it's my pay day. Always a good day.

Our summer property taxes are due Sept. 15, so I went ahead and put the check in the mail this morning, lest I forget later in the month. That's one of the few bills we do not pay electronically.

We don't have really big plans for the weekend. A friend of our family is getting married sometime later in the month. She and her fiance are in the Navy, and they are stationed in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii. They will be home this weekend, so they are having a reception here. That's about it.

Summer Vacation II

August 27th, 2014 at 02:19 pm

We went on an entire family vacation last week - DW and I and all four kids.

We visited the extreme NW corner of Michigan's lower peninsula, a part of our state none of us had visited before. We camped at a state park.

We had been planning this trip since June. Originally, we had planned to stay in a cabin on the site. Then, five days before our trip, plans changed.

My DW found a camper available on a local on-line selling/trading site. The seller said she was desperate to sell the camper ASAP, and that she would take any reasonable offer. DW contacted her, and it turns out that she needs to hire an attorney to settle a custody dispute with her ex. The woman also said that someone had offered her $750 for the camper, but she thought that wasn't enough.

So, DW set up an appointment to look at the camper. We discussed it, and figured we'd go as high as $900. DW stopped by the bank, and withdrew the cash. After looking at the camper, she offered $800, and showed the woman the green cash. She accepted the offer, and DW hooked up to the camper, and drove off.

It did have a leaky roof. It cost us about $45 in materials to fix that, but all in all, it worked well on our trip. It's a 1978 - 18' camper. Nothing fancy at all, but I'm sure it's probably well worth the $800, and probably quite a bit more.

We saved $100 by camping in the trailer rather than the cabin, but spent, I don't know maybe $30 or $40 more in gas to haul the trailer.

As far as our trip, we visited a waterfall, a light house, a sea lamprey research center, a calcite lime quarry, hunted for some fossils, and had fun camping. Maybe not really exciting by other's standards, but fun for us.

As far as the future of the trailer - it will be nice to have during fair week as a home base at the fair grounds. We will, of course use it for future vacations. Also it's difficult for our girls to have friends over night because of our boys with special needs. The camper will allow our girls to have friends over, and have fun and some privacy.

Fair Week Recap

August 4th, 2014 at 02:42 pm

We were at the fair last week. It was an expensive week.

DS2 doesn't do well at the fair, and frankly, it's easiest when both of them are away. Add to that that it wasn't a summer school week, and we spent a lot on baby sitting. My mom and dad helped out with them a lot, but they understandably wanted to see their grand daughters show their animals. DS2 did show DD2's goat in the just for fun clover bud show, and he showed a chicken as well.

Our girls did very well. DD2 won her age division of showmanship with her goat (that's the part of the show where the goat is not judged for meat production, but the child is judged for how well they fit and show the animal), and DD1 won her showmanship division with the dairy heifer. DD2 placed fourth in showmanship with her hog, and DD1 took third in showmanship with her goat. That was actually a set-back with the goat. DD1 has won the competition three of the past four years, and has never taken less than second. But, her goat was particularly stubborn this year, and she has made the dairy heifer her priority all summer.

As far as meat production judging went - they both finished in the middle with their hogs, near the bottom with goats and dairy (the heifer was too young do do really well, but we more more concerned with the behavior of the animal for her first year). DD2's chickens finished in the top quarter among 44 pens. You really have to pay top dollar for animals to do well in hogs and goats. DD1's goat was born at home, so we're happy that she raised, showed, and sold a home-grown animal.

Prices were up this year at the sale, and both girls finished the fair with some money to save for college. Prices were up enough that I did not buy a turkey, this year. Last year I paid $125 for a turkey that we ate for Thanksgiving. This year, no turkey sold for less than $200. I did bid about five of them up, though trying to buy one.

Really, the poultry competitions are a pretty fair comparison of a child's ability to raise an animal for the fair. Take our chickens for example. We bought 25 of them six weeks ago. We took 12 of them to the fair. Three each for three of the kids, and one pen of three chickens for our 4-H club. We went in with several other families on the order, so we all started out with random chickens. Then the children have to feed and water them, keep their pens clean, and keep them safe from predators. They can't be any older than six week, you must have the paperwork that shows the date they were hatched, and each of them must weigh at least five pounds. They start off on even ground, and may the best poultry producer win.

Compare that to other species like hogs, beef, goats, sheep that are purchased several months before the fair, after the animal is weaned. The buyer (and seller) already has an idea if the animal will finish as a great, good, or mediocre fair animal, and they are priced accordingly. The grand champions in those species paid top dollar for their animals.

We've never played that game. Of course during the fair, my instinct is to always think that next year, we want to win! We'll pay whatever it takes! But, thankfully I become more sensible, because there is only one winner, and several families that did pay top dollar and did not win. And, by time March rolls around, and it's time to buy pigs for the fair again, we decide to buy the moderately priced animals, and work on showmanship skills.

It was a good week. We had a great time, and we were all exhausted yesterday. We'll recover, and do it all again next year.