"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting Ready to Go (Travel Expenses)

We try to make it to Mexico to see Homero's family every other year. We used to try to go every year, but travel has simply become too expensive. Ticket prices have more than doubled in the last several years, and we now have to buy FIVE tickets. In years past, we could put a child or two on our laps and save money. This years trip is costing us more than twenty-five hundred dollars in tickets ALONE.

It doesn't help that Homero's family lives in Oaxaca, a relatively inaccessible city. We never fly all the way to Oaxaca - it would double the ticket prices. We fly to Mexico city and take a seven hour bus ride. That adds a day's travel on either side of our flight date, unless we want to bite the bullet and do the whole shebang in one stretch - leave home five hours before flight from Seattle, take two flights, land in Oaxaca, take a cab across the western hemisphere's biggest city to the bus station, wait for a bus, and then ride seven hours to Oaxaca. A further half hour to Mom's house, where we cannot fall into bed, but must first endure the celebration dinner she has prepared for us (it doesn't matter if we arrive at 3 am) and exchange gifts with all twenty-six relatives who are there to greet us. In recent years, I've decided that there will be a night in a hotel somewhere along the way. I'm getting too old for that non-stop shit.

There are more costs than just tickets, of course. We always have to go for a minimum of three weeks, and that is rather a lot of lost income from Homero's time off work. Then we have to make sure the barn is stocked with feed and the propane tank is full and the bills are all paid up so we won't come home to a cold, dark house and a bunch of starving animals. Here, from a past vacation, is a non-comprehensive list of the things I did to prepare for a previous vacation:

Our annual vacation to Mexico to visit family (postponed lo these last three years due to straitened circumstances) are fast upon us. We leave in something like three weeks. I have managed, thank the Lord, to hire a seemingly competent babysitter for the farm (Farmsitters (Just Whose Expectations Are Too High Here?)). Other farmwives will understand when I say there is no level of certainty that will allow me to relax and enjoy the vacation as I should: specters of mastitis, wormy anemia, and footrot will haunt me no matter how far I may wander.

That being the case, all I can do is my best to prepare for the worst. Here is my list of "things that must be done" divided into two categories: House and Farm:


1) pay bills. We don't want the electricity shut off (or the water, or the phone) while our house-sitter is here.

2) Clean the shit out of everything. If I were housesitting for someone, I wouldn't want to discover a moldy refrigerator drawer or a smelly secondary toilet. I would want plenty of clean towels and sheets.

3) Make a set of keys. Currently, I don't even own a set of keys for my own house. 'Nough said.

4) write instructions for everything - how to use the washer and the dryer, the TV remote, et cetera. Plus such things as how much to feed the dogs and where to put the food for the elusive cat.

5) work up a set of emergency numbers - which means contacting a bunch of shirttail relatives and begging them to be available in case of emergency. If they were readily willing to be available, I wouldn't be hiring a stranger, now would I?


1) stock up on animal food: full 50 pounds of goat food and chicken food, three or four bales hay, ditto straw for bedding.

2) make stop-gap repairs on barn floor: the floor is totally rotted out but a permanent fix is beyond our means at the moment, so a temporary fix would be something along the lines of:
a) break up and remove rotted plywood flooring
b) scrape and clean out subfloor as much as possible
c) lay cheap-ass treated particle board over studs
d) lay in a supply of straw for bedding

3) set up an account with both the veterinarian and the farm-store, so that any emergencies can be addressed by the farm sitter without a personal outlay.

4) Fix the lawnmower (again - don't ask) and do a final mow of both the lawn and the evil weeds. More to say about the weeds - next post.

5) Trim goat hooves. A long overdue task that haunts me in my dreams.

6) Write a detailed instruction booklet for milking and feeding. I know it sounds easy - "squeeze tits until milk stops flowing" but actually there's just a bit more to it than that. Things like "Goats will most likely jump up on the milking stand alone, but to get them off you must sling your arm around their neck and use the crook of your elbow to haul them down and guide them out the door..." as a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure instructions like the preceding are better demonstrated than explained via the written word, so I should

7) schedule a practice run for the farmsitter (compensated, of course) .

That's about all I have time to think about right now. No doubt there's a great deal more, which I will most likely heartily regret failing to address when I am on the beach in Huatulco and my farmsitter is sending me messages marked "urgent."

And finally, we have to pay the farm sitter. At least this year we don't have to find one: Rowan has finally reached the age whereat she is responsible enough to be left alone for weeks to take care of the farm. I am eighty percent certain she won't 1) burn anything down; 2) move in a bunch of loser friends; or 3) let any animals actually starve. Luckily, my sister and her family are in the area, so they will be an emergency backup.

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, aren't they? Oh my God, I can't think of anything more stressful than preparing for vacations. But I usually do enjoy them once I get there. For your perusal, here are a few vacation-related posts from the past:


www,FarmLifeLessons.blogspot.com said...

This will be the part of full-time farm life that I will dread. And all of my immediate family members are definitely city people. Good luck to you! Have a good vacation!


Rachael said...

It's like leaving a business behind, so much to think about! I hope you have a really great trip, and it all goes off without a hitch.

Olive said...

Happy Holidays to you and yours Aimee.
I'm sure that Rowan will take care of everything, you'll wonder why you worried when you return home.

Rowan said...

Only eighty percent sure? It will be fine, mom. I won't let anything happen, and if it does, I'll call either Jenny or 911 right away.