Posted by: Cris | April 7, 2010

Holy Hannah…I’ve got a plan!

I’ve been looking at our finances very closely lately. I feel confident that we can have our credit card debt gone in about 5 years if we stick to a plan. I’ve made a spreadsheet with all of our bills. Our monthly payments are under what we bring home…which is a good thing. 🙂 I’ve got some money set aside for emergencies, property taxes and hay for our critters. Now where do I go from here? I am currently paying more than the minimum on all our credit card debts. What gets me is the amount of money we pay out in interest alone. Wow. It’s saddening & sickening all at the same time. Why didn’t anyone warn us about the dangers of “credit”? I think it should be a mandatory class in school. Would love to hear any advice from you financial gurus out there on how to proceed. My plan for now is to try to be very careful in our spending & snowflake everything I can, on top of making above min. pmts. I really think the worst part is patience for it all to “pay off”. Ugh. 5 years seems like a long time, but on the other hand, I’ve been deep in debt for way longer.

Another topic I’ve battled with lately is getting a 2nd vehicle. We currently just have our truck. A family member has offered us her 2005 suzuki xl7 for just what she owes. That makes it less than half of it’s resell value & it only has 53,000 miles. In this decision I’m torn. We really should have a 2nd vehicle in case the truck breaks down. It will increase insurance to have a 2nd vehicle. getting this would extend the life of the truck because it wouldn’t have to be our main vehicle. We have 3 years left on our truck before it’s paid off. At this point even though it’s a “large” purchase, I think we’re leaning towards purchasing it. We would like to pay half of it in cash & borrow the other half from our 401K & pay it off next year with our tax returns. I can get lower interest borrowing from 401k vs. a bank loan. Between the 2 vehicles we should be able to make do until we pay off the truck & trade in for another one. I hope we’re making the right choice, but feel free to send me ideas. If the vehicle weren’t such a great deal, I wouldn’t even consider it.

Posted by: Cris | March 22, 2010

RIP MAGGIE MAE

Well we tragically lost our battle with IVDD in Maggie.  Her condition started to worsen mid week even though we were doing an aggressive medical therapy with her.  I had the vets out to the house Friday to check her out.  She informed me the prognosis was not good & it was time to consider putting her down. The inflammation was traveling up her spine causing more of her body to stop functioning.  The vet had warned me at the beginning of the week, if the swelling went up the spine…it would arrest her breathing.  I hated to see her suffer & she could no longer even support herself on her front legs, so I agreed with the vet & had her administer the drugs to put her to sleep.  With tears flowing down our cheeks…Maggie was surrounded by her family.  We all pet her & told her how much we loved her.  She passed away in my arms.  It was an awful weekend & I’ve cried a lot…and still am as I write this.  I loved that dog a lot & she was much more to me than a pet…she was part of my family.  I know we did everything possible for her, and the decision we made was right for her…even if it was horrible for us.  I was sent some poems which really touched me, I’ll share them below.

HEAVEN’S DOGGY-DOOR

My best friend closed his eyes last night,
As his head was in my hand.
The Doctors said he was in pain,
And it was hard for him to stand.

The thoughts that scurried through my head,
As I cradled him in my arms.
Were of his younger, puppy years,
And OH…his many charms.

Today, there was no gentle nudge
With an intense “I love you gaze”,
Only a heart thats filled with tears
Remembering our joy filled days.

But an Angel just appeared to me,
And he said, “You should cry no more,
GOD also loves our canine friends,
HE’s installed a ‘doggy-door”!

RAINBOW BRIDGE
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

RIP MAGGIE MAE 2/4/2004 – 3/19/2010

Posted by: Cris | March 18, 2010

Where in the heck did the last month & half go???

Howdy everyone!  It has been a VERY insane month & a half for me…thus no posting.  I will give you all a quick recap in my daily life as it stands right now.  We’ve had a lot of trials come our way & there are a bunch of pics I’d like to post for you all.

Here’s our news:

1. We had 3 healthy & beautiful calves.   2 heifers & 1 bull calf.  the bull calf was HUGE!!!  He weighed a whopping 125 lbs at birth!!!  They’re doing fabulous & drinking the milk like it’s going out of style.  LOL

2.  My dear sweet basset hound, Maggie Mae, has had a tragic injury to her back.  She’s been diagnosed with IVDD, which basically means she blew a disc in her back & the swelling on the spinal cord has cause paralysis of her hind legs, tail & bladder.  I’m currently nursing her with a steroid treatment prescribed by her vet.  We are unsure if she will ever use her legs again, or have bladder function.  Time will tell.  It’s very devastating to think of her not making it through this.  I’d appreciate everyone’s prayers & good thoughts sent for her healing. 

3. I’ve been experimenting in new ways to save money…and have found great sucess in making my own powdered LAUNDRY DETERGENT.  Super easy, cleans as well or better than store bought detergents without the harsh chemicals!  Powdered laundry detergent costs me roughly 6 cents per load (and I do a lot of loads!!!).  Arm & Hammer liquid detergent costs me 16 cents per load…making my own saves me over HALF the cost!  I know we’re talking pennies here, but when you do roughly 2 loads of laundry a day or more…it adds up!  I’m going to be experimenting with some other things too & will post how they worked out for me.  As for the recipe for the detergent I use:

1 cup Zote Soap (or you can use Fels Naptha, Ivory, or other pure type soap), grated fine

1 cup Borax powder

1 cup WASHING SODA (not baking soda, washing soda can be found in the laundry aisle made by Arm & Hammer)

mix together & use 2 tablesppons of powder or 3 is washing heavily soiled clothes

4. We have 2 more babies added to our herd.  2 Jersey bull calves.  They’re here to use up our extra milk we can’t use so we don’t have to dump it.  They’re tiny compared to our shorthorn calves & the one is a peanut…he’s smaller than a dog!  I’ll post pics soon.

5.  I’ve been pasteurizing our drinking milk from the cows & what a great flavor milk has when it’s fresh! MMMMMMMM.  I’ve also been making butter & cheese!  I’ve learned how to make a simple cheese that sets using vinegar.  very inexpensive & can be used in any recipe that uses ricotta or similar type cheese.  I even crumble it up & add it on the homemade pizzas underneath the mozzerella.  YUM!

As you can see, my life is just full of stuff right now.  My day starts at 4 am when we head out to the barn to milk for the morning.  I come in & clean up equipmen after milking, pack my hubby his lunch & send him off to work at 6am.  6-8:30 am I’m doing housework & nursing Maggie (which takes about 30-45 min to feed, clean, medicate, & do physical therapy).  School starts at 8:30.  Lunch time we have chores to do, bottles to feed & I have to nurse Maggie. Finish school in the afternoon.  4-5pm we head out to start cleaning barn & do chore/milking.   Afterwards…dinner, pasteurize milk or make cheese, more equipment cleanup, nightly nursing of Maggie & we’re to bed by 10 most nights…if I’m lucky I find 5 minutes to pee!  LOL  My days fly by…and I’m left wondering where in the heck did the last month go?  LOL

Wishing you all many blessings & I’ll keep you posted…and gets pics up when I can!

Posted by: Cris | March 8, 2010

I’m baaaaccccckkkk…..

Well it’s been a super crazy couple of weeks of no sleep, babies…and did I mention no sleep?  LOL  We have finished having all of the calves.  I’ll post pics soon with all the details.  I’m also learning the art of pasteurizing milk & making cheese.  In addition to that, I have decided to save money in a new area…LAUNDRY DETERGENT.  The price of that stuff is ridiculous!!!  With all the critters, the barn clothes, jackets, normal clothes, etc…my washer gets a workout.  There are 2 types you can make powder or liquid.  I’m opting to make the powder becuase the liquid makes 5 gallons at a time.  If I find the powder isn’t disolving, then I’ll have to make the liquid version.  I’ll keep you posted!!!  if it works, I’ll share my recipe I’m using.  Going to make a batch today & give it a try!

Posted by: Cris | February 20, 2010

It’s a girl!!!

After 2.5 weeks of contractions & leading us on…Tulip had a big baby girl yesterday (2/19) at 11:30am.  The girls have named her Maple Grove Ruby.

Posted by: Cris | February 16, 2010

Dust off the cigar box…

We’re going to have a baby soon.  Tulip is currently in the early stages of labor.  They can last a few hours to a few days.  She’s having irregular contractions right now.  She’s also anxious & getting up/down frequently.  So she’s been brought into the box stall…aka The Bovine Hilton.   She’s been booked into the labor suite…and we wait…and wait…and wait…

Upon bringing her in though, I see she’s managed to get a gash across the back of her bag.  So I’m on my way out to wash it in a iodine solution.  Hopefully it won’t get infected.  It isn’t quite wide enough I think it should be stitched, but we’ll see what happens.  If I see it widening when the bag stretches more, I may have the vets out to stitch her up.   For now it can heal as is.

Posted by: Cris | February 12, 2010

Meet our newest addition…

Meet Cash…he’s a 3 month old blue merle Australian Shepherd.  He was being given away…which in itself is ironic, because there is no such thing as a free dog.  🙂  That said…he’s a hairball of energy & is keeping us busy.  He’s been going out to the barn with us & already is learning to chase the cows out.  He’s a very quick learner…so if we can get house breaking done soon…that would be good!

Posted by: Cris | February 11, 2010

Still waiting…

…all has been way too quiet on the farm.  We have 2 cows showing that they’re close to freshening, but we’re still waiting.  So nothing exciting to report for now.

I always find January & February to be the hardest months to get through.  Winter drags on.  There’s little to do.  The calves at least give us something to look forward to.  We’ve been getting mounds of gardening catalogs lately.  We’ve started planning for our garden this year.  You’d think as busy as we are the rest of the year, we’d enjoy the quiet of these winter months.  It’s really just the opposite though.  I find myself longing for the long day of work, when I’m never bored & fall asleep before I even hit the pillow.  LOL

One bit of news is we’ve decided to find a cattle dog.  My hubby & daughter want to train one to help herd the cows out to pasture.  We’re going to look at one tomorrow night at a rescue.  I’m not sure this is the dog for us, but we’ll look anyway.  We have a line on a couple other dogs too.  I’ll post more is we make a decision.

Posted by: Cris | February 5, 2010

Routines…

This is the routine “Ma” used in the Little House books:

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.

I just love this saying.  I don’t currently live it, but it has occurred to me how easy this would be to implement in my life.  Most people don’t actually churn butter…but I will be very soon.  Just waiting on the cow to freshen.  So I think as an experiment, I’m going to give it a shot. I don’t iron though…so not sure what I’ll put in there.  Probably a second day of baking since I make a lot of bread.  Anyone else out there follow a routine like this?

Posted by: Cris | February 5, 2010

Call me Hop-Along Cris…

I am in pain today.  Last night was a rough night at the hacienda.  He had a lot of “chores” to get done.  Dehorned the calf, so the girls can show her.  That went well.   No issues there.  We had hooves to trim on the big cows though.  My goodness, you would think we were going to cut their heads off.  They fought & kicked like their life depended on it.  Trimming hooves is no different than trimming your fingernails.  Needless to say, I am mighty sore this morning.  I’m also sporting a nice big bruise on my thigh.  One of the cows kicked hubby into me…and honestly it all happened so fast…I don’t know if the bruise is from my hubby…or the cow!  LOL  So they got a pedicure & I got beat up.  Oh well…just another day.  😎

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