January 15th, 2008

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Red Tape

So far much of yesterday and all of today has been taken up with red tape and reports.   And I'm not even down to the level of income tax yet.

First there's the annual report to the county tax appraisal board on our wildlife management program (in Texas, landowners doing wildlife management can get a break on their property tax equal to that which the land used to qualify for when it was used for agriculture.)  There is an eight page Texas Parks & WIldlife form for annual reports, but it is aimed at people who have large ranches and manage deer herds and other game animals.  So  I have to supplement it with the activities *we* do, explaining how they fit the seven requirements written into the enabling legislation.  Altogether, the report this year will be about 23 pages, combining both.  It's gone as high as 40 pages in the past.  It's due Feb 1.   Farmers and ranchers only have to fill out a one-page form...ours *could* be that simple, but the Texas legislature got involved in writing it...

Then there's the USDA Census of Agriculture form, a 24 page booklet with 35 sections of questions to answer, most of which does not apply to use because, again, it's aimed at typical farmers and ranchers, not at people doing wildlife management or prairie restoration.   It's due Feb 4, and since I'll have to mail it (there's no local office to drop it by) I need to get it done well before 2/1.   That one could be simpler, too  ("Do you make any money off this land?  No?  Sign and return.")

Then there's the annual report on guardianship of a person, because we had to go to court to declare our son in need of a guardian even though he's legally an adult.  We hope someday to scale that back and then eliminate it, but we aren't there yet, and this protects him from unscrupulous types who could get him to sign papers he doesn't understand just because he does what he's told.  We have to report every year, and every three years we have to pay to post a bond for our performance.  Plus the $12 fee for filing the report.   That's a several-page form, too, and it requires an explanatory letter to go with it. 

I have made substantial progress, but I'm not done and I'm very tired of filling out forms and figuring out how to explain where our reality doesn't match their checkboxes...I think I'll get up and walk around for ten minutes.
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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Meat loaf

We've probably all been faced with the dismal, dingy-gray kind of meatloaf, always paired with a sort of red sauce entirely too reminiscent of blood. 

And yet good meatloaf is a wonderful comfort food.  My mother made good meatloaf, and I've come up with a version based on her use of two meats (pork sausage and ground beef) plus some shortcuts that we're quite fond of.    Tonight I made it just slightly different (no reason all meatloaf has to be the same) and we liked it a lot.

1 log of lean ground beef (this was from our own critter, and was probably 1.5 to 2 pounds--it was a shorter log than some, but longer than the pork sausage log.  

1 pound of pork sausage: I used Owens Country  Sausage (hot) but other brands would do. 

1 large package Pepperidge Farm herbed bread crumbs. 

1 jar Classico pasta sauce, with black olives and mushrooms. 

A little extra water to rinse out the pasta sauce jar.

All this was thoroughly mixed by hand, and was quite wet (but still formed lumps easily.)   It made two, each in a bread pan (9 5/8 x 5 1/2 x 3)    Baked in a 350 degree oven for a little over an hour. 

It was chilly and raw all day; the house was chilly...so this really warmed us up.

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