Okay, our "lower 40" is more like the lower 2, but the point is, I took a deep breath, crunched many painful numbers, talked to my landlady and some fence experts, and made the decision to invest in fencing off another big chunk of the property.
It was a tough decision for two reasons. One, the lay of the land makes it hard to fence, thanks to a very pretty but inconvenient gully dividing the currently fenced portion of my lot and the remaining acres. Two, I'm renting, and investing money into a rental property feels an awful lot like flushing the money down the toilet.
I also am on a crusade to wipe out the last bit of my personal debt and to re-build the savings I lost during the collapose of the economy and my mother's last year of life.
Despite all that, my longing to walk my dogs off-leash in the woods this winter was so strong I decided to see if there was some way I could economize enough to build the fence. I trimmed some fat in my budget, took a couple of extra small contracts to boost the income a tiny bit, and worked out a plan to buy the fencing materials this month, pay the fence guys next month, and buy the automatic gate opener and have it installed in November. (I can just work the gate manually until then. It won't kill me!)
This way, I get the fence without incurring any debt, and am able to pay for it out of my latte, new clothes, and pedicure budget -- in other words, out of my trimmed fat.
For those who roll their eyes and wonder why my dogs aren't trained to come when called, they are. But I have sighthounds, and I'm sure if they were your dogs, they'd be so perfectly reliable on their recalls that you could call them off a stampeding herd of deer with a single word. I, however, don't choose to put my dogs' life at risk in a land of hunters and fast drivers to prove what an awesome trainer I am. So please, save me the lecture. I've heard it all before.
So consider yourselves warned: Come October, you'll be inundated with YouTube video of my dogs racing around the autumnal woods of Michigan! We can't wait!