Art of Proprietation

Monday, January 25, 2010

So, back on the hom front

On the cooperative household side of things, we had a very lean fall. For the first time in more than ten years we were actually empty for about a month. The cooperative household can be as much as 25% of our cash flow, so being empty put quite a dent in our financials.

And when things are lean, I have to admit I am willing to be more flexible than I would otherwise. Mostly that means we have been willing to work with shorter terms than I have in the past. In our state, there is a duration dividing line between places of accommodation (hotels) and real estate, and we make sure to structure what we have to offer as real estate rental, not a hotel. Generally it has not been an issue in the past. Three months has been about the shortest period we have worked with. But with tenants in short supply we have been reduced to the legal limit recently. So we have had a cop who was new to the area and his permanent digs weren't available yet, a research student from Chicago, A med student doing a rotation at the local teaching hospital, an electrician on temporary assignment and next up a Physical Therapist doing a stint at a nearby hospital.

Having this much turnover is a little taxing. Doing reference checks and interviews easily eats a day. And for every one we get to the point of doing references check, we consider/interview another ten. Training a tenant is also part of the over head. Cutting the duration of stay by a third triples the overhead efforts to turn over new tenants. It also triples the losses due to gaps between tenants.

Short duration has been a choice that worked for us in the past. Short term people come with less baggage. Their foibles are easier to endure because of the limited exposure. Temporary situations like ours can be difficult to find, so people who need it are willing to consider the conditions we place on it. And it's nice to have fresh faces cropping up from time to time.

So, accepting less than optimal terms in times of trial is something we do to endure until things are better.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Food Snoot

A friend has rescued me. Well, thrown me a lifeline, anyway. You know, one of those donut floating things. Well, it's better than drowning, really!

I've been through two or three gallons of feedlot milk. I even mistakenly bought 1% milk. Friends have come to my rescue with a shipment of milk from their goats. It has been great to have real milk in the house again. I had an image in my head that I would quit drinking milk when I dried off the goats. But quitting a forty year habit has proven difficult. Even just until Ruffles kids in March.

This is kind of a good segue for something I have been thinking about for a while. Over the past 10 years I have become snooty about food. Ten years ago I felt pretty superior about cooking a dinner that was a supermarket turkey, store bought potatoes, packaged stuffing. Today, I turn up my nose at eggs that didn't come from my yard, I feel bad about feeding my goats grain from away. My wife and I talk behind our friends backs about their shopping habits. We now sell food and produce from our farm. And my eating habits have truly changed.

It's probably been a little annoying for my friends who are ahead of me on this curve. Urgently emailing them at all hours of the night with some food related tidbit of news that they have known about for years. I appreciate their forbearance in these matters.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Flat on my back

I was flat on my back for a while. My wife hurt hers maybe two weeks earlier. Nothing dramatic, I leaned too far out lifting the ice chains onto the tractor wheel. A strain. But it hasn't been fun. And I am getting to try out the insurance I have been paying for all these years. This is the first time I have gotten more than a tetanus booster. Can't say I am impressed with the insurance either.

Since all lifting is out for at least another week, we went ahead and dried off the goats a month early. I am not happy about that, I was hoping I had the pregnancies timed right so the first doe would kid about the time I dried off the last one.

We have eked along with the help of a friend. She was already staying with us while between gigs. She is the stalwart type and has been a great help, keeping the animals watered and schlepping wood. If you try sometimes, you get what you need...

10010545 last glass milk
Last pint of milk for our goats' 2009 lactation cycle

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