Tax time!

There are many benefits to having kids, but few of them are financial.  In fact, kids tend to cost quite a bit.  I read one article that says raising a child from birth to age 18 costs an average of $200,000 (this figure doesn't include college).  Of course, these same "average" Americans spend an average of $10,000 just in the first year of the new baby's life...  Yikes.  I think we might spend that much over the first 5 years of Ethan's life!  But we've been blessed with lots of hand-me-downs, nearly-free childcare, and a habit of shopping secondhand stores. 

But when tax time rolls around, having a kid can be a big help financially.  We now qualify for a bigger deduction, as well as a credit.  Which translates into a big refund!

I know Dave Ramsey would say that it's not a good idea to let the government use your money for free, and that we should lower the amount taken out of our checks each month.  But how I see it is as a savings account I don't have to think about.  And this year, in our quest to finish our projects and ready the Prairie Box for sale, it's especially nice to have some extra cash.

The first order of business is going to be to have the upstairs floors sanded.  I don't mind doing the shellacking, but I just don't have the inclination at this point to spend 2 days sanding the floors.  Plus, the sanders you rent just don't suck up the dust very well,  If I hire it out, someone else is responsible for the clean up!

Since we'll be moving out to my mom's or into the basement for a few days, I'll also shellac the stairs at the same time.  Obviously this project won't happen until we can open the windows...  Probably early May.

Soon, very soon, I'll be sending the rest of the woodwork to the stripper.  Another case of more money than time (never thought I'd say that!).  We only have maybe 15 more pieces.  I can stain and shellac them in the garage as soon as it's over 45 degrees.  It might even be worth firing up the kerosene heater for a few hours, just so I can get it done.  We'll also be finding/creating tasteful bifold doors for the 2 "new" closets, plus wood trim to match or complement the rest of the woodwork.  I need to start hitting up the ReStore.

Once we have the floors refinished and the woodwork back on, we'll paint our bedroom and put up crown molding.

And then... The bathroom. :)


Progress on backyard chickens

I was taking with some guys from work the other night about how I want to get chickens, both for meat and eggs.  J. said that he's been thinking about it too, and is in the process of building a chicken coop onto his barn and making a Whizbang chicken plucker.  Why yes, yes we are the hillbilly police..!  Still, it's good to know I'm not the only nutty one.  On my shift alone, there are 3 guys besides me that are really into farming/homesteading, plus quite a few others that work in other areas.  So we get together sometimes and bounce ideas off of each other. 

After some discussion, J. said that if I want to order some chickens and keep them at his place until they're ready to butcher, that would be fine by him.  We're going to get cornish crosses (not my first choice, as they're somewhat unnatural in their growth rate and bone structure, but they're what I'm buying at the farmer's market anyways), then when they're 8 weeks old, we'll have a butchering "party".  For me, right now, this is an ideal compromise.  I get my chickens without having to deal with chicks in the house or build a coop.  I also get to learn how to butcher and use the plucker.  Cause I've gotta tell you...  I'm a little nervous about killing my own critters.  I'm sure I'll be fine once I've done it once or twice, but I'll be glad to have help while I'm still learning.

I also haven't yet given up hope on getting my laying hens this year.  Maybe I could order those with J.'s batch as well, then bring them home when we've made the coop.  I don't want to take advantage of his generosity, but he did offer...  Because at this point, the idea of having chicks in the house really stresses me out.  It's already in shambles upstairs from the nearly-finished reno, the kitchen ceiling still occasionally rains down plaster bits from the toilet incident, and the living room has been taken over by baby stuff.  I don't know where I'd put chicks, and I don't even want to think about it.  But if J. could keep them til they're old enough to be outside...  That would be perfect.

I talked with my handyman about building my Playhouse chicken coop.  He said about $320 in labor, or two days of his time.  Ouch.  Guess that's one project we'll just have to make time to do on our own.  I'm seriously thinking about going to Lowes and playing damesl-in-distress to see if they'll cut all the lumber for me.  Totally out of character, but it would be a huge time saver...