Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Critter Costs

My critters are eating me out of house and home. 

Seems like every week I’m spending a hundred dollars or more on hay for the horses, llamas, donkey and goat; for dog and barn-cat food, sunflower seeds for the birds, corn for the deer and fish pellets for the few remaining finned critters in my run-off pond. You might as well call the latter heron food, because when the pond becomes a mud hole in late summer, a blue heron treats it like his personal cafeteria.

I ran a Quicken report, and I almost fell out of my chair. Then I realized the 2013 report included the purchase of a used three-horse slant-load Sundowner with weekender package (tiny living quarters). Take away the trailer, and I still spent almost $7,500 on food, farrier visits and vets.

Actually, that amount included some “extras” this year. I bought two llamas and two ponies, plus two saddles. I had mats put down in my two horse stalls, which entailed ground preparation. I also bought a deer feeder with a timer so I can spread corn at a set time each day. It took me hours just to anchor it to the ground. I need stilts to put the corn in the hopper, but that’s a story for another post.

What it didn’t include was the money spent on trail riding, i.e., for diesel fuel, insurance on my dually, camping and riding fees.

I wish I could say 2014 would be cheaper, but that would be a lie. I’ve just signed a contract to have my shed-row barn extended, a lean-to built for my round bales of hay, and another shed built for my Sundowner. Then I’ll need to get an electrician out to add some lights and plugs. I really need a run-in shelter in my far pasture, too.

Are my critters worth it? You bet they are! I enjoy having all the pasture animals come up to me when I walk out to the barn. I love trail riding, and it’s fun to watch the birds fight for space on their feeders. I’ve even learned to identify some of them. My dogs offer protection from home invasion (especially my Mastiff), from loneliness and from the cold on a winter night. (Yes, they sleep with me.) I’m looking forward to seeing more deer once I’ve loaded the feeder.

I just wish I could count animals as dependents. I’d never have to pay income taxes again.

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