Spring is here, according to the calendar at least, and with the warmer weather comes everyone’s favourite season – tax time. After turning over a new leaf last year, I’m actually not terribly stressed with tax preparation for the past fiscal year. An odd turn of events, however, has me slightly preoccupied with the tax records from previous years…the past thirteen years to be precise. You see, it turns out that it’s not a fabulous idea to store large volumes of important papers in cardboard folders in a storeroom immediately adjacent to a bathroom with a toilet that has the potential to overflow with (thankfully) clean water. By the time the aforementioned water travels through such a storeroom, winding its way throughout ones basement before saturating ones feet in their office, those boxes of receipts have soaked up floodwater like a sponge.
A few days of fans and dehydration dried my boxes of papers fairly well, but I wasn’t interested in returning the records to their rightful spot without a little consolidating and waterproofing first. Going through all the boxes, I took out the extraneous papers and envelopes, stacked the invoices and receipts together and flattened and squished them until I fit several years’ worth of chronicles into a plastic lidded container.
I discovered that nothing triggers a trip down Memory Lane better than analysing how much our farm spent on what items and where. My records pre-date the very existence of our farm, which brings about interesting reminders of the fun and games we endured starting our operation and farmstead. I found souvenirs of milestones like our first land purchase and old receipts from tinning the barn roof at the site that went on to become our farm yard. There was even some fiscal evidence of romance, with a pattern of expenses incurred by my Other Half that followed the main route from southwest Saskatchewan up to Saskatoon consistently over a four year period. During this time, it appeared my Other Half took me out on some dates, or at least that’s what the paperwork suggests. I even found some receipts for flowers. The flowers might have died long ago, but he still has the darn bill to prove that they did actually exist.
I came across bills for horses, dogs and cattle that were bought and sold over the years. There were happy recollections of good animals that we had the privilege of having on our ranch, most of them adding value to our operation. I found a receipt for Spirit, a horse we once had, who was small but mighty, a nip-eared little filly who was fun to ride. There was a statement for Tuck, our tough old border collie we bought in the fall of ’05 to replace Bud, my husband’s steadfast companion. I came across a variety of invoices for cattle, including one from the fall of 2003 for a package of bred heifers, some of which are still in production around our place. Compared with the market at that time, those exact same critters are currently worth double what we paid for them eleven years ago. It’s still hard to wrap my head around the shift in the cattle market. I don’t know where livestock prices are going, but I sure know where they’ve been after assessing old weigh sheets, sales slips and market reports. I kind of like where they’re at now.
If I could offer anyone a small bit of tax advice this season, I would suggest you do yourself a favour and keep those important papers high and dry. And once that important precaution is taken, buy your beau some flowers. It might not be a write-off but it will still be worthwhile.