Best April Fool’s day of all

Fifteen years ago today I was a freshman at Hutchinson Community College. I had money burning a hole in my pocket earmarked for a new horse. I wanted something young and fast, and that fit in my limited price range. When my sister told me about a consignment sale at the local sale barn, I just knew we’d find something there. At least it was easier than calling on classified ads in the paper.

We walked through the pens out back before the sale and I was beginning to get disappointed because nothing really caught my eye. Looking back on it, I’m not even sure I laid eyes on the 6-year-old brown mare that eventually would be mine, but I do remember when she went through the ring. She was long, lean and seemed pretty nice. Brown, with a black mane and tail and not a speck of white on her. The trader who had her had his kid crawling under her and weaving in between her front legs. Then they started talking pedigree. All I remember hearing was Seattle Slew, and I was hooked. He was the 1977 Triple Crown winner and is still the only undefeated winner.

I’d conned my sister into bidding for me, and we got my mare bought, $125 more than what I had so I had to sweet talk her and mom into loaning me the extra money. Mom still claims she owns the tail.. Probably the best $1,125 investment I’ve ever made.

It’s been a long 15 years with a lot of highs and some lows. From the first ride on her when she about run off with me, and to realizing how fast she really was. The first jackpot we won in Holly, Colo., and our first rodeo check at Ashland, Kan., to the knocked down barrels that “would have” won, we’ve been through a lot. I about lost her twice (July 2005 and April 2006) to colic and have been sidelined with our fair share of injuries. I’d always wanted to get her bred, but never could find the right stud to pair her with, and when I had settled on one I didn’t have the money. Now she’s 21, and I’m perfectly content with just having her healthy and happy. I wish we could have another 15 years together, but with horses you just never know how long they will be in your lives. I hope she’s around for a lot more. There’s a little boy who adores her, and someday he wants to ride her all by himself.

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Farm auctions

I love me some Friday night junk auctions and traipsing around the flea market on a Saturday morning. I get a kick out of finding something old to become new-to-me. However, farm auctions don’t give me the same feeling of satisfaction. Sure, they are auctions, and the highest bidder wins, but that’s the only person who wins (in my mind).

A few years ago my dad quit farming and sold out. That cold January day was one of the hardest in my short time on Earth. I took the day off work to stand out in the cold and support my family, only to watch the stuff he had worked so hard for be sold for dirt cheap. I haven’t been to another farm auction since.

This Saturday my Godparents are having a farm auction of their own. They’ve retired and built a new house in Manhattan to be near their children and grandchildren. I’m not sure if I want to go, but Mom suggested I go with her. I have always seen the auctions as a bad thing. They signal the end of an era, the end of a farm, the end of a way of life.

Maybe that’s not the right way to feel about them. They could very well be a place for a young farmer to get his feet wet in the agriculture business. They could let someone get a piece of equipment for a decent price and not suffer the mark-up a dealer would stick to them. They are a part of life.

Sunset after a rain at the ranch in 2006.

My campaign for a new camera

I have been campaigning for a new camera with my husband since before Thanksgiving. I noticed a black Friday ad that had a Canon T3i for a pretty good price (I thought) from Walmart.com. I even stayed up to see how quickly the package would be sold out since it went on sale at midnight. In the end he talked me out of it (I think he was scared of the $600 price tag), but I’m still on the trail for a new camera.

I bought my last camera with my very first tax return after having my first “real world” job in 2003. It was a Canon Powershot G2, that had a whopping 4 mega pixels. It allowed me to take a lot of photos for both work and for personal use through the years. Heck, I have gotten some great photos out of it. It came with a 8 MB card and a 64 MB card, so between the two cards I can only take 40 some photos. It also takes video, but only 30 second clips that are very fuzzy.

Same model as my camera. Photo from http://www.dpreview.com.

After missing out on the Black Friday deal, I have been searching the internet for a good deal on a Canon EOS Rebel T3, and as of late have found some that could fit the bill. Plus I have our tax return burning a hole in my pocket.

My husband is a little harder to convince. I don’t think he likes the price tag as much and would be happier if I spent $100 now for a simple point and shoot digital camera. Me, not so much.

Cameras are an investment, and if taken care of and protected they should last for a long time. A camera like what I want, would be perfect for taking family photos and videos as well as photos for other purposes. Now just to come up with the perfect argument for winning his vote on getting a nice camera! Likely I may not get any more Christmas, birthday or anniversary presents for years to come if I come up with a good bargaining plan.

The camera I want. Photo from http://www.geeky-gadgets.com.

A $7 taco

I caught an episode of Two and a Half Men recently and the scene showed Alan playing what I would call “credit card roulette.” Pay this card with this card, and then this one with that card. But what do I do with the last bill to pay? Hmmm…

My finances aren’t quite that bad, but I still have some credit cards that I wish I would have never gotten. I was a stupid college kid living out-of-state and trying to live on my own when a Discover card offer flashed in front of my naive eyes. I jumped on it and used it to pay everything from meals out with friends to entry fees at the rodeos. Shockingly they gave me a $2,500 limit way back then and I didn’t even have a job! Sucked me in, and it didn’t take me very long to get it up to its limit.

I still have that card, and it’s still got a balance on it along with crazy interest. I’ve been trying to get them paid off, but seems like a never-ending battle. Sure I could get serious and cut out all non-essential items out of my budget and sock it way to pay off that Discover bill from college, but what fun would that be? Still seeing several hundred dollars go out of my account to pay off credit cards should be some incentive to get rid of them, right?

I haven’t used my Discover card for years. Last three cards they sent me I never activated and shredded. Within the last two years they have upped my limit at least 4 times, maybe 5. I guess it makes the balance I do carry on it look not as bad – at least in my eyes anyway – now that there is a lot more than $50 of credit (like I used to have in college) remaining on it.

Today in my mailbox was a letter from Discover, and guess what? They upped my limit once more. Why keep upping my limit? Do they think they are going to entice me to use it? Not a chance. No way, no how. Heck, I’m still paying for that $7 taco from college.