Friday, July 29, 2011

dangerous money

I was getting a headache. Something I would usually ignore (or remedy with a glass of iced coffee), but I was hard at work in a place without a barista handy. I was up in the hay maw of the Common Sense Farm, bucking down bales one at a time to load into the back of my truck. It takes about an hour to drive down to their farm, load bales, and drive back. I took eight this morning and if the clouds break and it doesn't look like rain, I'll go back for eight more tonight. I buy hay in short trips, a truck at a time. This year, I planned on calling a delivery in of 100-150 bales by August, but plans changed.

I found out this morning from the Pennsylvanian State Treasury that the $7,000 dollar savings bond I was supposed to get a check this week was actually a clerical error. There would be no check. That money was planned to cover the new chimney installation, fix the roof, fill the oil tank, order hay, buy supplies for the stable, and pay the second half of the new sheep shed construction bill. The rest would have gone into a pretty little savings account, in case the truck needed repairs or sitting for the next oil tank refill. Tough cookies ladie, best grab another bale and chuck it.

My head was pounding now, and I was covered all over with chaff and sweat. I decided to stop at Stewart's on the way home for some iced coffee to clear my head, but suddenly it felt like it would put me around $7,001.87 in the red. I drove home. I had ice and coffee I already paid for waiting for me to brew and clink.

I am realizing how dangerous easy money is. That out-of-the-sky check was depended on instead of real work, or words, or workshops or overtime at the office. I was banking on it, and it wasn't even real. It's okay though. I have enough saved up for the second half of the barn (first half was already paid for in cash), and the half-priced deposit for the Stovery, but hay would be bought fifty dollars at a time, loaded by me on bale at a time.

This isn't a sad post, it's neutral. If anything it has energized me to plan more workshops, write more freelance, sell more ads, and find some sponsors. Knowing that money was on the way stopped me from dogging editors or pitching new books. I was going into winter in a lull of contentment, and it was stopping creativity, resourcefulness, and drive. Today I'll find a way to get some of it back from Egress. I am certain the oil tank, barn, stove, roof, stable, hay, truck payments and mortgage will continue to be taken care of. Not certain on the particulars, but I was never into details in the first place.

Folks, it takes more than seven grand to put this girl under. To that, I raise my home-brewed glass of iced coffee. An as if there was some sort of celebration to my new baptism as a scrabbler, I am picking up three Bourbon Red Turkeys tonight, a trade that was already in the works for pork. Tomorrow will be met with ad inquiries and gobbles.

Time to hit the home office and get to work!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That news still had to hurt.
I know what you mean about needing to remember to keep plugging away. There is no sure thing and sometimes even slowing down can be a major difference in results. It is healthier to stay in a rhythm, maybe speeding up or putting out more effort to change the pace.

You have a positive attitude and that makes all the difference.

July 29, 2011 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Ivy Mae said...

Good heavens, I know how you feel. We've been waiting for our adoption tax credit refund since mid-February, and every day that passes makes me feel like the IRS is just going to pop up and yell "just kidding!" So sorry about your disappointment, but I'm glad you have the right mindset about it!

July 29, 2011 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Not a disapointment at all, really. It's a chance to really put the pedal to the metal and see what I can make happen. Expect only good news out of this farm!

July 29, 2011 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Sue Steeves said...

Way to stay positive! I need to take a page out of your book....sadly I have let the negativity seep into my little world lately. Today it gets evicted!!!! I am another paycheck to paycheck person.....with a dismal salary and a mountain of student loans. It can really get the best of me sometimes. I am going to print out the last two blog entries and hang them on the wall to read when I need an attitude adjustment :) Thanks for sharing.

July 29, 2011 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger coley said...

Thats a good mindset to have Jenna! My hubby and I have the same way of thinking. Money is not there and things need to be done. So we just look at everything, prioritize and try to find fixes by bartering, or using stuff around the place. Don't give up!

July 29, 2011 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger The Urban Rabbit said...

I feel you. Easy money can be spent 3 or four times in my head before I have any check. I have been trying to put together some art for sale but the money isn't there yet and I need to cover my costs myself. Hopefully I can do this before we really need the money I just spent on art supplies. :) Thanks for reminding us to keep it all in perspective.

July 29, 2011 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger JGH said...

You're optimistic and resourceful- a minor bump in the road, I'm sure. But it does suck.

July 29, 2011 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

You have a wonderful attitude~ I am sorry for your disappointment though, but you've turned it around in your head, and no bitterness is heard in your tone...............Yeah Jenna!

July 29, 2011 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I don't mean to sound critical, so I hope my comment doesn't come off as criticism - it's really a question.

Why do you only get 8 bales at a time? I have an older version of the same truck you have (minus the nifty rear seating) and regularly load 35 bales on at time for the 40 minute drive home (up some steep hills I might add). I know 8 bales fit nicely in the bed, but once you go above the rails you can change the orientation and go another 3 or 4 rows high.

Another option would be round bales. They aren't as good for horses as the square, but I buy a couple for the in between season when there is not enough grass to feed the horses, but the horses haven't realized the grazing season is over. It's been so long since I raised sheep I don't remember what I used for them but I would image the sheep would love them.

One round bale, about 1000 lbs of hay, goes for about $40. I carry one in my truck, drive out into the pasture and just roll it off the truck. What's left over in the spring makes great mulch for the garden.

I know there's a reason why you do what you do, I'm just curious.

July 29, 2011 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Hay here, good hay, is 3.50-4.00 a bale. So that's around 32 dollars a truckload. I got eight because I had enough cash on hand to buy it, and didn't think I had another 32 handy to load her up double.

Also, I can load and unload 8-20 in a day and feel okay. 35+ and I'm sore as hell.

July 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Glad your ship's still afloat, but man, I'll feel so much better when I know you've got a good roof over your head.

One horrible habit I have is to think about all my problems all at once, instead of dealing with each one in turn--kind of like your last post, about how you got where you are step-by-step, not all at once.

In other words, you got here one payday at a time, you'll get to the next step one payday at a time. Or hay bale, as it may be. :)

July 29, 2011 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Wow, what a disappointment. If you don't mind sharing, how is it the PA Treasury led you to believe they'd be sending you a check for $7,000? And when you say "clerical error", does that mean they misplaced a decimal - as in the check will really be $70 or $700? Or no check at all? At any rate, I admire your ability to suck it up and keep on keepin' on.

July 29, 2011 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

So here's the good news: The most important things, the roof and sheep shelter, are being taken care of. I have the money for the sheep shed already half-paid, and have enough saved for the other half. Friends are helping me fix the roof for the cost of supplies. Those things will certainly be dealt with. What's left is raising through ads, workshops, writing, etc the money for the chimney, about 2,500 bucks....

July 29, 2011 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Sol said...

oh no that is really bad.

you have such a good out look on life! I need to adopt a bit of that myself

July 29, 2011 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Drummond Farms Alpacas and Woolens said...

As always you find the positive energy from this dissapointment. We, too, have had our share of "how are we going to get this taken care of" moments lately. Well, a lot of prayer and lots of hard work will get us through. So, prayers for you as you head into this new turn of events.

July 29, 2011 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger whitneyparrillo said...

Hey Jenna, love your drive and determination!

Where do you send your wool to be processed? We have a small flock of 11 merinos that we recently sheared and don't know where to send the wool. Everywhere I've looked, it seems very expensive to have it washed, carded, and spun into yarn. Any suggestions for a fellow shepherd? Thanks!

July 29, 2011 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I hear you on the money. I save up until I can get a full load. I get my hay from just about 1/2 way between your town and mine at $3.15/bale for good quality 30 to 40 lb bales so gas usage figures into my # of trips.

July 29, 2011 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I use Still River Mill, they are great, and they give you options too. If you are willing to skirt, wash and clean your own wool you only have to pay for the carding and spinning into yarn, so it saves you some money. Email them!

Thank you all for the encouragement!

July 29, 2011 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger kippy said...

We've all had this happen. It stinks, but is great motivation to find other means to get things done.
Wish I could blink my eyes like Jeannie and have that money magically appear for you.

July 29, 2011 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger Carissa Kennedy said...

Well, DAMN lady! Way to be an inspiration! No $7,000 check? Pfft...
Kudos to you for choosing the "work harder" response instead of "lay in bed in a comatose state"!

July 29, 2011 at 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy smokes! I don't normally deal with money (seeing as I volunteer, not work)but I still know what kind of blow a "mistake" can cause. The only thing I can suggest is to be optimistic! You are a creative person & a hard worker, so I know you'll pull through.


July 29, 2011 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Holy cow - you're getting good hay for $4.00 a bale? I clearly need to move. Low quality grass hay is $7-$8 a bale here, alfalfa goes for upward of $15-$20.

July 29, 2011 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

A caution to everyone not to feed round bales to horses. Yes, they are cheaper (around here, $30 or so for a round bale, versus $4 or $5 per regular bale). But round bales are often moldy inside and can cause serious health problems in horses. There was a high end (=expensive) boarding stable in my area that fed round bales to save money, and 8 horses died as a result.

Horses definitely cannot handle moldy hay, and round bales are a serious risk.

July 29, 2011 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Good warning and true for just about any animal. Any hay can mold if it's not put up correctly. As with anything else you need to know what you are buying and from whom.

Round bales left outside in the rain are quite dangerous just as wet bales stored inside are an extreme fire hazard. Without fail we respond to at least one barn fire a year from uncured hay stored in the barn.

July 29, 2011 at 9:24 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Good attitude, chickie. Maybe the Universe is setting you up for a more secure future, you never know.

July 29, 2011 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger jennifer said...

I just love that you tell it all and inspire those of us who tend to be weaker hearted! You chin up better than most. I truly admire your determination. You bless so many with your teaching and writing, so I guess it is good for all of us. Thanks for your time and your tight budget will surely inspire us all.

July 29, 2011 at 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done on the good attitude. While it's too bad about the money, it's good that there are alternatives, and even better to recognize that they're there and can be empowering.

July 30, 2011 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger mmgreenough said...

I am proud.... all those little $1.87 purchases do add up! Good job fighting temptation.

July 30, 2011 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have to disagree with La profesora's comment regarding round bales.
There are many farmers who grow fine quality horse hay that is baled into round bales and stored inside until sold.
Besides, horses are not like cows, they simply will not eat moldy or rotten hay, even greedy ponies will turn their noses up.
For the past 20 plus years, myself and all the horsemen I know have fed round bales to their horses without incident. The only precaution you have to make is removing all the hay strings so the horses don't get tangled in them.

July 30, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 30, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I had the same question as CJ about getting only 8 bales at at time, just because you mentioned you'd be going back for 8 more later that evening. And I wish we could find hay for that cheap around here. It's up to $5/bale for just first cutting grass hay. Anything better than that is at least $6. I'm lucky that I have an "in" at a farm where I used to work, and they'll sell me very nice hay for $3. If I had to pay $6 a bale I don't think I'd be able to afford my animals.

That's a bummer about the money, but it's good you're keeping your chin up. Have you thought of doing any drawings or illustrations to sell to make some extra money?

July 30, 2011 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Patsy from Illinois said...

Well heck Jenna. That money would have certainly eased your load a bit. But easy come and easy go I guess. You are really resourceful and will come out on top like you always do.

July 30, 2011 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I picked up 14 today in Hebron and will pick up 14 more or so shortly again.

Somedays you're just too tired to pay for or pick up more than 8 bales, and even though it seems like a time suck, it's still 8 more bales.

July 30, 2011 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger HotFlashHomestead said...

Gotta jump in here. Horses absolutely WILL eat moldy flakes of hay, and either colic or founder because of it. I have seen it happen several times, once to my own horse. A totally rotten, moldy bale? No. But one with a fairly small (but still potent) amount of mold in it? Absolutely. And the results are expensive and sometimes, heartbreaking. Keep moldy hay away from Jasper at all costs. You are correct in buying quality hay from a reputable grower. You will still need to inspect it, but there's less chance of problems.

July 30, 2011 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger admin said...

Scrabblers are my kind of company and what this country was made out of. It is at times nerve-racking to have to pinch pennies when they’re already pinched hock something you’d rather not, or find a new ingenuous way to make some bucks but times like this do inspire creativity over plentiful ones somehow and it’s also so rewarding somehow to make your own iced coffee and no you’ll make it work. Love your attitude for sure!

July 30, 2011 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Good point - hay must be cut, baled, and stored properly no matter whether it is a round bale or a square bale. If you know and trust your source for round bales, maybe it can work for you.

In this area, round bales are usually stored outside or in a semi-exposed area, or baled before completely dry. In short, many farmers here tend to take shortcuts on round bales, and they often contain mold. In my area at least, one should NEVER feed round bales to horses because they are so likely to be moldy, yet many farms do (usually individual farms trying to save money, usually not boarding stables).

Zelda said it very well and I agree completely with her.

July 30, 2011 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

On re-reading my comment, I probably should correct it to say "some farms" here feed round bales to horses - I misspoke in my previous comment.

July 30, 2011 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...


July 30, 2011 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I was told to bur round bales at the agway yesterday, because they were cheaper. But I don't have a tractor (or want one) and think I'd prefer my person-sized bales!

July 31, 2011 at 7:14 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

And thank you for all your support, folks! It means a lot to get comments and kind words...

July 31, 2011 at 7:14 AM  

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