Which is why it was good. It was a wake up call. The problem wasn't my payment schedule it was the fact I could not catch up. Not catching up makes getting out of debt nearly impossible. I had been living a fantasy here, and it's not the one you are thinking. Riding horses and building a hawk mews may be weird, seem exotic, or expensive but the fantasy wasn't in them - it was in how I was dealing with money. I was thinking that as long as I was paying something I would placate the banks until I had the money to pay them off. Not the case, as that business card on the door proved to me. I want to thank all of you for your response, good and bad. I needed to hear both. I want to thank everyone who donated, creating a little cushion of breathing room that may be what literally saved this farm. You have no idea how grateful I am.
So what I am doing now is stopping to breathe, be calm, be rational, and figure out what happens next. I have sat down all last night with calculators, bills, lists, and plans. There are things need to prioritize, and things that need to go. I emailed my Taekwondo school and told them I would not be attending again until things turned around, and thanked them for all they taught and supported me. I figured out which animals I can sell, and which can stay. I realize all eating out, even a three dollar sandwich grabbed at Subway, is a luxury at this point.
I am not selling Merlin. I may have to sell Jasper, his cart, and harness. I am waiting to see. Merlin is simply worth more in many ways, as he has not only become a reason I wake up in the morning but alternative transportation. If I did lose my truck, he could take me places I needed to go like town, neighbors, and do farm work like pull logs for firewood and haul wagons. I would just be publicly flogging myself if I gave him up, and the farm would not be better for it. But Jasper is hardly used, and realistically he may need to go. I am figuring out the numbers.
I know many of you are confused about Falconry. What could seem more unnecessary? But there isn't actually any expense to it, not anymore at least. I did have to buy $124 dollars worth of equipment and pay a $40 test fee back in April, but that's it. I now have all the equipment and the materials for the mews are here, which were birthday presents. My friends are helping me build it, Ed Hepp is mentoring gratis, and the red tail hawk is free from nature. What falconry costs is time, and a sport done during the winter when I have it. Getting my apprentice license actually creates job opportunities too, since I work at a Falconry School who is losing it's partner in a few months. I could double my part-time income if I have that license, not to mention the book deal I could gain from my plans to write about it (something that is being discussed with publishers and magazines). When it comes to my particular, eccentric life, a red tail hawk makes financial sense and things like little ponies and martial arts do not. To most readers these all fall into the same category: hobby - and therefore it seems I should scrap them all. But certain things here like Archery and Hawks have become my part time jobs that make a serious postivive financial impacts. Things like karate tournaments, extra cart horses, extra sheep, are not. Giving up hawking would be financially detrimental, and a public punishment. I can't afford symbolic acts right now.
As for other expenses, some of your advice was amazingly helpful. Some of you just wrote to tell me you were going through the same thing, and knowing I'm not alone and that all types of people in all types of financial and occupational situations are going through the same "come to jesus" moments. I am refinancing my mortgage, which will lower payments in a few months. I am negotiating with my student loans to either defer or change the payment amount to keep them solvent. I am taking care of all my credit card debt, which is nearly paid off. I have not had a credit card in five years, and so far paid off 3 of my 5. I gave up grocery stores, since nearly 90% of my food now comes from my backyard or friends farms. Things like pigs and chickens turn out to be wildly successful and so those operations are growing. Things like turkeys and milk goats aren't, so these things will remain just for personal use (read one milk goat and a trio of turkeys to feed myself and friends. No herds of goats or flocks of turkeys). Buying things for fun, like boardgames or fashion-related new clothes is out. I'd rather go to goodwill and eat out of my backyard than give up Merlin. He's as important to me as Gibson. Family.
So there is light at the end of this tunnel. It just means taking stock, changing how I live, being honest, being realistic, and being tough about what can and can't be a part of my life. I can't do it all. I can't have it all. I can't afford it all. Lessons I needed to learn when I was feeling nearly indestructible for months after quitting that office job, and which spiraled me into fear and depression these last few months. But all sorts of healing is on the way. I refuse to give up Cold Antler, and I refuse to give in, and I refuse to be buried in the ditch I was digging. Things will get better. I promise.