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Archive for April, 2015

Old Iron

April 27th, 2015 at 01:32 pm

Much of my summer in 2008 was spent cleaning up the old farmstead where we now like. I've mentioned many times about just how much iron we've dug up, and sold at the local junk yard.

We were using my in-law's front-end loading tractor, and a borrowed flat bed wagon to load a lot of the stuff. I set the chains around an old plow that had been sitting in the barnyard, rusting and sinking into the ground for probably 35 years. I was about to set it onto the flat bed when my dad stopped me. He told me that the plow was still good, and shouldn't be scrapped. So, I set the plow down behind the barn, out of sight, so it could continue to rust, and sink into the ground in a different spot. I also set an old harrow, which is used to smooth the ground after it is plowed, and a snow plow blade behind the barn as well. That was 2008, and they are still sitting there.

About a week ago, I was talking with a friend of mine. He mentioned that he was going to an auction sale the next day. This particular auction sale is a fund raiser for one of the local township volunteer fire fighting crews. It's a huge annual event, where old farm machinery, and other assorted junk is donated and sold. He mentioned that he was looking for a two-bottom plow. I told him about the two-bottom plow behind our barn. He seemed interested, but I could tell that he also wanted to attend the auction, just to see it and take part in it. His wife, on the other hand was not at all excited about the idea of him buying our plow.

The next day I snapped a picture of the plow and sent it to my friend, and later he replied that he was interested, and asked about price.

I asked may dad about it, and he said that I could sell it for whatever I wanted to sell it for. I did a bit of research on the internet to get an idea of the plow's value. I'm probably under valuing it, but I decided $90 for the plow, and $60 for the harrow. If he's interested in the snow blade, I'll throw that in for $50, to make then entire transaction $200.

Of course, mom and dad will get all the money, I'll lose some junk for which I have no use, and my friend will pick up some equipment he wants (but his wife doesn't) for a low price.

I guess that makes that a win-win-win-(lose).

Finding a babysitter

April 16th, 2015 at 01:41 pm

As most of you know, we have two special needs sons. They can be very difficult to care for.

Outside of family (my mom, dad and sister), we have three regular baby sitters.

Long story short, we need a baby sitter for tomorrow night. DD1 is in a play, performed with her home school group. Two of our regular sitters are busy, and the other is in the play.

I'd really like for my mom and dad to be able to watch the play. We've torn them away from enough of our girl's activities to watch our boys in the past. My sister has taken a job where she works in the evenings, and even if she wasn't working, I'd like for her to be able to choose to watch the play.

We pay our sitters $7 per hour. It's tough work.

The three teenage girls might be burnt out from watching them. I'm sure they have legitimate commitments for tomorrow night, but I get the sense from them that regardless of what we pay, they are getting burnt out.

There is another neighborhood girl that might work out. She's pretty heavily involved with high school sports, and is often not available. I didn't think about her until I started writing this post.

We'll probably find someone for tomorrow, but a lot of times we need to scramble until the last minute to find a sitter. Or, we get my parents to do it. Or DW or I stay home.

This is strange territory for us. We always brought our girls with us to things. When we didn't live in the area (close to family), there was a neighbor family with small children about the same age as our girls. When DW and I wanted to go out alone (which was rare), we left the girls with our neighbor family, and they would do the same. It was infrequent, and money never changed hands. We just took turns, and it seemed to work out.

DS1 is getting much more manageable in public. But, his younger brother is still very difficult to take out into public.

I would imagine that in the next year or two, he will mature out of his present behaviors. Until then we will scramble, and pay accordingly.


My Budget

April 9th, 2015 at 01:19 pm

I went through our family budget, and assigned percentages to each expense item.

Some comments:

Gasoline is very high. A lot of that has to do with all the running around we do with our boys. I have made a category called "special needs", and that is all the other expenses related to caring for children with special needs. So, really some of that gasoline line item should go into the special needs line item.

Retirement Savings is too small. It was more than that a year ago, but I decreased savings a bit for cash flow reasons.

Housing and vehicle loans, added together, are probably smaller than most.

You'll notice that I have a line for Credit Card. And, yes we have put on more credit card debt. Current balance is about $550. I hope to have it all paid off by September, at that rate of payment.

The Eat Out line is way too high, but it is what it is. Again, some of that could be tucked into the Special Needs line.


The end of an era

April 7th, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Those of you who are new to the blogs may not know that my wife and I adopted our two youngest sons from foster care. One of the benefits of foster adopting is that we've been participating in the WIC program, even though we don't meet the income requirements.

DS2 turned five last month, and he has aged out of WIC.

WIC is a very good program. Of course, for the first year, the benefit is exclusively baby formula. Since DW couldn't breastfeed DS2 like she did our girls, that was a tremendous benefit for us. DS1 was two years old before he came to our family, so we didn't use the formula benefit for him.

After they are a year, the benefit includes milk, whole wheat bread or tortillas, dry beans or peanut butter, cereal, fresh fruits or vegetables, and eggs.

We figured the monthly benefit at between $60 and $70 per month, for each child. DS1 aged out about a year and a half ago.

WIC is not simply a hand out. We were required to visit the WIC office each quarter. The child receiving the benefit was required to be there three times a year so the WIC nurse could weigh him, and record his height. We were required to review some nutritional information, and complete a quiz about the information each quarter as well.

In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that my office is located very near the county health department where WIC is housed, I'm not sure we would have kept up with it.

So, WIC has been a great help to us, but we're done with it now. And I know that when someone in line in front of me uses a government benefit card to buy some of their groceries, I don't judge quite like I used to.

Net Worth update, and other stuff

April 3rd, 2015 at 05:13 pm

April net worth is $235,542.

The sickness that was working its way around my family finally hit me Wednesday PM. DS2 is the only one who has escaped. It didn't hit me as hard as it did the others, but I was pretty worn out yesterday. Feeling much better today, but not 100% yet.

I had planned on taking yesterday off anyway, because we had our maple syrup woods opened up to local homeschooling families, as we do each year. I wasn't very useful in helping to set up, but I did my part in talking to the morning session about sap collection. I went home to sleep during the afternoon session. Oddly enough, only one family attended to afternoon session, because heavy rain was in the forecast.

We're on pace for a record maple syrup year. In fact, I think we're a gallon or two over our record of 202 gallons right now, and the weather forecast shows another solid week of production. That should make our planned replacement of tubing that I blogged about last week more feasible.

DD1 and DD2 might buy their fair pigs tomorrow. We're going to check out a new hog farm tomorrow. He's a local guy, and his pigs are about $30 apiece cheaper than where we have been buying them, but we're not sure about quality.

Repurposed Chest Freezer

April 1st, 2015 at 04:07 pm

I've blogged before about the junk yard that's about four miles from my house. Over the past six years, we've probably delivered nearly seven tons of scrap there.

Today it was my turn to buy some scrap from the junk yard. I bought a chest freezer for $20, and it will be repurposed for feed storage.

My dad picked up an abandoned chest freezer for feed storage for us a few years ago. It provides all the storage we need August - March. But, when we start getting 4-H fair animals this time of year, and especially late June through July when they get big and start eating a lot, we run out of storage.

We've been on the lookout for a chest freezer for most of the winter. DW found one on craigslist. But as anyone with any experience on craigslist knows, those transactions can be flaky, or downright dangerous. So, that never came through.

DW was driving past the junkyard earlier this week, and spotted it. They work great to store bags of feed, and keep them out of reach of raccoons and opossums. They are about the right height to stand a 50# bag of feed upright for easy scooping.

There were two freezers at the junk yard. The one I didn't get was bigger (longer), but it had a big dent in the side, and wouldn't seal shut, so I bought the smaller one. A buyer more savvy than I would probably have offered $15, but $20 sounded good to me, and we'll get more than that in use out of it.