No one likes a sweet deal more than a dairy farmer. I feel like all my life, finding the right price for whatever was on the purchase list has been key to our success. I am not sure if it is my ancestry, the way I was raised, or working with a limited milk check that has factored into those decisions. Whatever the reason, attacking life with that mindset has taught me to take advantage of the opportunities around me.

When our kids were younger, I scoured the newspaper for the best yard sales, hitting some of the higher-end neighborhoods for better quality clothing, toys, and furniture. Duane and I always use the same mentality for farm purchases and rarely buy new. Instead, we look for good deals on the dealership’s used lot.

This is not a “poor is me” cry but rather the reality of the mindset we live by. Finding the right piece of equipment or the right animal that fits our farm and our budget is something we strive to attain.

Granted, there have been plenty of decisions that did not work out as planned. Like the time we purchased an aged donor cow. We thought this was a good opportunity to dip our toe into the improved genetics arena, and although there were benefits to adding her to our herd, the value was not as great as we anticipated.

On the flip side, there was the time that we purchased a young heifer, and for weeks, I questioned our decision. I never envisioned that we would spend so much money on a single animal. We did not have any trouble staying awake on the 11-hour ride home from the sale. The mere shock of what we just spent kept us wide-eyed for hours. Thankfully, that heifer worked nicely for us and gave us a solid foundation for our herd.

Duane understands farm equipment more than I do, so I typically let him handle those transactions, but he runs decisions past me to get my input. I trust his frugal mindset to guide those decisions. However, there was a recent deal that I could not let go. For months, Duane and I were looking for a vehicle for me. It was time to replace the truck I was driving. We looked at several options but never reached a clear consensus.

We talked about an electric vehicle, which would close the loop on our methane digester. We talked about hybrid vehicles, and we looked at several models. Nothing felt like the right deal, so we kept looking.

Part of the problem is that I hate the car buying process. The time spent on arm twisting, price negotiating, and always wondering if this is a good deal or not is exhausting.

Then I heard about the car that Arlene had for sale. This car was exactly what I was looking for, and Arlene is an honest car dealer. She is a dear friend and a fellow dairy farmer, so I trust her impeccably.

The only downfall is that Arlene lives in California. Duane quickly reminded me that there are a ton of cars like this one between here and there, so I let it go.

After a few more months, another scenario entered the picture, and the car idea resurfaced. Our oldest son, who has lived in Los Angeles for the past 10 years, decided to move back to the East Coast. He needed a hand moving himself and his two cats home.

Arlene had a car that was still for sale, and the deal just got too good to pass up. A plan emerged that included purchasing the car in California and heading to Los Angeles to pick up Stephen and drive him home.

The trip took a twist when we realized that the amount of stuff he accumulated was not going to fit in the new vehicle, not to mention the fact that the cats, Rames and Kali, needed space to be comfortable in the move. They are clearly not in the barn cat category.

We did a bit of brainstorming until I realized that my new wheels also had a hitch, so pulling a trailer was an easy solution. Since I was not in the mood to negotiate for the best trailer price, I secured the first U-Haul I found in North Hollywood.

When I picked up the trailer, the dealer asked me if I had ever pulled one before. I reassured him that I am a farm girl. I am not sure if he truly understood what I meant by that definition, but he seemed to take that as a yes.

The second hurdle was realizing I needed to back the trailer into the skinny parking spot in the basement of Stephen’s garage. This took every ounce of my trailer backing experience and thankfully, after fewer tries than I anticipated, the trailer was in a secured area and the packing began.

Once we left California, the trip took us three nights and four days. There is a lot of wide-open land between the two coasts of this country, and we drove nearly 2,800 miles.

We passed a lot of dairy farms on our trip, and we also passed a lot of nice cars for sale as we came across the country. I guarantee you, though, that none of those cars for sale were as sweet as the one I was driving.