The Colonel’s Plan – Finances and Other Chicken Feed

August 29th, 2018

Dear Daddy –

Your youngest grandson turned 19 this week and spent his first birthday without us. Of course, he was with us the Sunday before; but for his actual birthday he had classes and rehearsal and wasn’t available to even talk to us until after 10 in the evening. It felt odd, just as it feels odd to be living in a house without either of my sons, and to be finishing your house without you here.

The pink bathroom’s plumbing is in. I have to finish its tile. We now have four working bathrooms, though, 50 years and 10 months after we moved into this house.

Today I’m finishing the chicken run. Ethan and Tim helped me stand up the walls last week, and Renee primed the frame on Friday. Susan and I painted a lot of it on Saturday. It’s olive green and red-orange, like the coop. The hog wire (2×4 inch mesh) is up on the sides. I have one last run of wire to do over the top of the coop itself, and then I have to cover the small slots on either side of the door and put hardware cloth over the top door opening. After that, I’m going to roof it with 1″ chicken wire, reinforced with… something. I’ll figure it out. And I’m going to then line the inside of the run with more chicken wire. Apparently, hawks have been known to reach through a fence and grab a chicken by the head if it’s too close to the mesh. So chicken wire should help prevent that. Finally, I’ll run a predator apron around the outside of the coop.

Eggs are still coming slowly, due to molting, I hope. The last egg that I know of came Sunday. If Jess has found eggs in the meantime, she hasn’t told me. Renee has ordered some Omega-3 enhanced food for egg-layers, and some ground oyster shell for calcium, to hopefully improve their yield and egg quality—although the eggs we’ve gotten have been pretty good.

I thought this was a neat shot of the ladies’ new home by night, solar lights and all. The weird rectangle in the upper left is glare from my Jeep’s radio. I took it from the cab.

Renee and I met with a financial planner last Thursday and are meeting with him again tomorrow. He shook his head over our plans for the house—where Mother deeds it to us, and we pay part of the value to her. He asked why we were doing things in such a complicated manner. Why couldn’t she just sell something? The trouble is, as I explained to him, that the only thing she has to sell which is valuable enough to pay all her potential costs for care is this house. So we’ll see what he says when we meet with him.

I have to admit I was pretty low after that first meeting. The narrative of my life seemed to have suddenly become, “Of course you won’t get that house. You were never going to.” And I didn’t understand how. I knew there were circumstances in which I could lose the house, but I didn’t think they were a certainty.

Renee and I have discussed possibilities—renting our house so we don’t have to sell it, renting an apartment here at Simpson Road, which could be lucrative if all goes well. We’re also still looking at horse boarding and other uses of rural land. I had thought perhaps we could host a farmer’s market, but I see there’s now one in the Maple Lawn community just around the corner, so that’s out.

Life has become very complex. Add to all of this that I’m thinking hard about whether to retire from the Fire Department next April, and, well, that will bring life changes. If I leave the County and get an outside job, it will also bring me a good deal more money, because I’ll have my salary and a retirement check every month.

Work has been overwhelming. I took today off, but I’ve had four meetings to attend by phone, and several phone calls in between, because we’ve had an emergency project dumped in our laps. And the plumber’s office just called to say we need to do the County inspection, which I’ve requested for Friday.

I know I’m getting a lot done, and I know there’s a lot to look forward to. I just don’t feel it right now. I mostly just see all the obstacles I have to navigate around.

Well, I have to get ready for a 2:30 meeting. And I need to figure out how to support that chicken wire ceiling.

Talk to you next week.

Love,

Steven

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