Folks love to write about the weather on their blogs. I’ve tried to resist that urge myself, because I’m usually bored silly reading about other people’s weather. Weather is only interesting if it’s *your* weather, I think.
Be that as it may, today I feel the need to wax rhapsodic about the weather. Because as it happens, I’ve been working on my taxes.
Not seeing the the connection? Well, for those of you who don’t live in SoCal, let me tell you that 2007 was the most horrifically dry year in recorded history for us. Or maybe you already knew that; all those news clips showing ginormous wildfires raging across seven tinder-dry counties in October probably told a fairly revealing story.
It was SO dry. Sand dunes and blowing silt dry. End Of Times dry.
We lease a pasture across town that is, in theory, always green. Up until around last August/September it was always green in practice too. In fact, most of it is a “protected wetland,” which means it can never be developed. Wetland. Marshy. Green. Grass. Fat, happy cows.
Last fall it finally dried up completely and we had to start buying hay for the cows. Every day. Coincidentally, the years-long drought had driven the cost of hay up to ridiculous heights. It’s up to nearly $15 a bale right now, and let me tell you that adds up in a hurry. We sold off a bunch of cows, waited to see if it would rain, then when it didn’t we sold off a bunch more. We agreed that if the rain hadn’t come by Jan 1, we’d sell off all but a small handful of breeding stock.
Around the end of November it finally rained, and we all breathed a sigh of cautious relief. It rained and snowed through most of December, and rained and snowed some more in January, including this past weekend and today. We’d be dancing in the streets if we were dancing-in-the-streets sort of people — and if the streets weren’t so floody and muddy right now. Seriously, YAY! All we need now is a stretch of warm, sunny weather and the cows will be up to their knees in new grass. (Meanwhile, of course, we’re still buying hay.)
A few weeks ago we got a census form from the Dept. of Agriculture. Big long thing, with lots of questions about what we’ve produced, how much the ranch has earned, what our ranch-related expenses were and so on. It has to be filled out and returned no later Feb 4.
I’m one of those people that always puts off doing my taxes until the last possible second. I hate everything about doing taxes. My brain just isn’t wired for math. It loves words, images, images created with words…it’s fair to say that my brain harbors a genuine passion for written words and all the many beautiful ways they can be combined to stir the soul and fire the imagination. Numbers, not so much. My brain literally seizes up when confronted with numbers in large quantities. So I work on my taxes a bit at a time, and usually get them out just in the nick of time.
And now I have this census form to fill out, for which I will need to figure out all of the ranch part of our tax information by Feb 4. Yarg. It doesn’t help that despite all my best intentions for getting more organized, we’re still using the time-honored cardboard-box-in-the-computer-room method of storing all our receipts and stuff.
So, in a prevailing spirit of annoyed resignation I dumped the contents of The Box out and started sifting through them. Sorted them out, started adding up all the different kinds of expenses. In fairly short order it became obvious that the pile of hay receipts was going to be alarmingly tall. And man alive, it sure was.
I put off adding up that pile until last. Today I finally rolled up my sleeves and tackled it. And it still blew my mind when the final numbers were in.
We spent a staggering $15,073.27 keeping our livestock fed last year, mostly just between the beginning of September and the end of December.
And now it’s raining and raining and raining.
I may go dance in the street after all.