Thursday, March 28, 2013

money, money, money, always funny ...

Ren Man got a part-time-two-day-a-week-job-that-he-loves in Saranac Lake. He's been there for about a month.
We always scoffed at people who had off-farm jobs as a starting point before they could rely on their farm income full time.
We thought we'd saved enough.
We thought we could work harder.
We thought our products would be more sought after.
We thought we'd be living in Vermont with a farm that had most of the needed infrastructure in place.

Instead we find ourselves holding our breaths when the credit card bills come in (one personal, one for each business).
And every month we miraculously feel like we made it through by the skin of our teeth.
This is particularly unnerving for us because we've always always paid everything with credit cards out of convenience (carrying minimal cash, not using our debit cards) to have one bill to pay off at the end of the month.
We never carry credit card debt from one month to the next.
If we don't have it, we don't spend it.
Except that at a minimum we have a $900 feed bill once a month.
Thankfully, there are very few expenses otherwise.
But each month the bills get paid and we breath a little easier until the next bill is due.

So Ren Man found a job to help with the "negative cash flow" - he calls it.
Is that selling out?
He's now gone 11+ hours twice a week and many weeks he's picked up an extra day.
And it's nice to get a regular paycheck.
But, as we feared, it means other things (farming/family/photography related) don't always happen as timely as they would.

Our small project right now is a steady flow of seed planting. We're about a week behind, but that's okay - last year we were about a month (or two) behind.

Our big project (as always) is the creamery. Ren Man is regularly making delicious un-saleable cheese (because we're not licensed and inspected).
In order to be licensed and inspected we need to build a creamery.
We have the plans.
We're trying to find a contractor - everyone has their favorite to recommend - but we're not getting called back.
And then we need to find funding - I'm hoping to do some crowd sourcing and assuming we'll need to go through an ag lender.
Or do you get the loan first?
I'm hoping the contractor can provide and itemized list so we can say to people: "We need $X for the foundation. Anyone want to help with the foundation? Or if you'd prefer, the electric system is going to be $Z. We're laying the foundation on such-and-such date and we need X number of bodies to help - are you in for a little "barn raising"? The electric will be ready to go in on THIS date - anyone up for the job?" ... that sort of thing.

It feels like such a big overwhelming thing - organizing building a structure that you're whole financial future rests on. All advice welcome!

In the meantime I'm enjoying the days when Ren Man is gone and unreachable. The farm (not to mention everything else) is in my hands. I also really enjoy the days when Ren Man is at the farm - even if he is elbow deep in cheese making.

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