Saturday, February 28, 2009

Disaster strikes...

It wasn't a housefire, no one got hurt. Instead, disaster came in a little envelope with a window.

We received our tax bill about a month after we arrived at the farm. We had stretched to buy this precious piece of land and had invested our whole selves in the concept of becoming self-sufficient. We had calculated closely and aside from buying a couple extra goats and hence needing extra feed, we were on track.

But this was 1976. Inflation was out of sight, rising to 10% not long after we moved in, and 12% soon after. It was devastating.

And the City of Natick needed to raise taxes to keep up with costs. Our tax bill doubled.

When we closed on our property in August 1976, the taxes were $2600 a year, a huge amount compared to what we would have paid in most states. In fact, at that time Massachusetts was called, not affectionately, Tax-achusetts.

But then the taxes doubled. We literally were being asked to pay $5200 a year or over $400 a month. The mortgage was only around $700 a month.

Suddenly we were in a dire situation. JSL's salary at MIT of about $32,000 could barely cover the original monthly payments. He had been teaching there for 8 years, had consulted for NASA and aerospace companies, and we were still in trouble.

This was the beginning of 5 years of serious financial challenges. The rest of the story of our time on the farm, and the real reason this whole saga has relevance today, is because we had a big deficit to face, and tried lots of things, and somehow survived. And look back on it all with fondness.

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