Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Good Day for a Sunbath

How about sunny, 50 degree weather to finish out January?  Pokey approves!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

photo by K

Monday, January 30, 2012

Inspection + Loan Update

image fron byjessiekay.tumblr.com

The radon test on the house came back with a good report (phewf!) and I met with my real estate agent this afternoon to review the rest of the home inspection.  Yesterday I read through the 27 page report and pulled out all of the notes on things that needed to be repaired.  I took my distilled list and divided it into three categories: current owner repairs, things that I'll repair, and things that I'll eventually repair (some of the more cosmetic details, as well as some of the things that I'll repair when it really becomes an issue).

On the list of things I hope the current owners will repair are several minor electrical problems, roofing problems, servicing the furnace and the oven, and repairing the chimney: the biggest things that affect structure and safety and that should be fixed before I move in.  I think it's a fair division of work that needs to be done (my own list is MUCH longer!), but I won't know for sure until the owners respond.  I'm guessing they won't be happy to have to work on the house, but it's sort of part of the process.  Fingers crossed it's not a deal breaker.

I also spoke with my loan officer today to check in on my application status.  I was pretty disappointed that not much progress had been made since we last met.  She was waiting for one last letter of reference (two more arrived in the mail this afternoon!) and is still working through the budget line by line.  I'm hoping that it's all set by the end of the week (hooray for wishful thinking!), and then it's just a whole lot of waiting.  The application goes to the federal government to review and allocate funds.  I'm a solid applicant and there is funding available, but it's still a bit of a long-shot.  But it's my only real opportunity to buy this farm, so I will remain hopeful.

When I started this whole process I don't think I realized how overwhelmed I would feel.  I'm on track with everything, but my head is spinning with all of the details that need to be attended to.  It's a test of patience and a test of faith - just like farming is.  You put all of your heart and hard work into growing something, but in the end most of what happens is out of your control.

Things always work out in the end.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mini House Tour!

Back of the house

 Front of the House


Chicken Coop



Swoon.  I can't believe this is going to be MY house!  :-)

All Photos by K

Making Progress

Planning the next 40 weeks of my life.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Home Inspection

image via pinterest

Just got home from inspecting my future home.  The inspector I hired was great - he spent over three hours with me pointing out LOTS and LOTS of problems that I wouldn't have noticed on my own.  Nothing major, but lots of minor projects (some more costly than others) and lots of cosmetic details that need to be fixed.  Tomorrow I'll get a full report, which I'll be able to match up with notes that my parents made (once again, so helpful to have a team help with the details!).  It's overwhelming, but it'll be good to make a list of everything that needs to be repaired and what the timeline looks like.  If I decide to renegotiate with the current owners to help cover the cost, I'll need to do it within 7 days. Busy busy busy.

Tomorrow I'll post a couple photos of the house (yay!) and maybe a glimpse of my crop plan (if I can get it organized enough in between developing a project repairs list).  But for now - goodnight!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Actual Cost of Buying a Farm

source unknown
As expected, buying a farm costs a lot more than the negotiated price.  Here's a quick update, two weeks in:

Contract: $1,005.00
Copies/Faxes: $6.00
Loan Application: $13.50
Home Inspection: $450.00
Radon Test: $125.00
Water Quality Test: $130.00
Water Quantity Test: $115.00
Septic Inspection: $100.00

Total so far: $1,944.50

I chose to have all of the home inspections done for peace of mind.  It's a sizable upfront expense, but the hope is that if there is anything minor wrong with the house, the contract can be renegotiated to help cover some of that expense, and if there is anything major I will have saved myself from heartache later on.  I hate having to spend the money, but it will be good to know the house is safe (fingers crossed).  Just another hurdle.

The stress of purchasing a farm on May 1st is really starting to settle in.  I'm confident that I can piece together a plan to make up for farming without a farm this spring, but I still feel terribly overwhelmed.  And with the lingering thought that the contract or the mortgage could fall through before then, I still don't feel 100% committed.

I wish I were more of a risk taker, because I think I would be having a lot more fun.  Spending money makes me queasy.

Speaking of spending lots of money, I'm starting a farm with a pair of boots.  That's it.  I don't even own a shovel (I use K's snow shovel to clean out my chicken coop)!  In the next couple of months I need to purchase a lot of the basics  - does anyone have a great source that they use?  What about used equipment (other than craigslist, which I don't seem to have much luck with)?

Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chugging Along

image from e-tells-tales.com

The home inspection is scheduled for this Saturday, the same day I'm supposed to hear back from the loan officers with an update on my application.  I'm a little nervous about both (especially spending so much money on a home inspection without knowing more about the loan application), but I'm sure that everything will work out well.  Plus, I'm REALLY excited to see the house again.  I catch myself daydreaming about it all the time lately and seeing it again will help me remember all the details.

Meanwhile, I'm still working on my budget.  It seems like every time I blink I think of something else I'll need to buy to keep my life on a new farm running smoothly!  I'm also working on a crop plan and trying to compile a seed order, but I'll be totally honest: every time I open the seed catalogs I just get lost reading the descriptions and dreaming about a garden.  I'll get down to business soon enough.  But for now I'm just concentrating on imagining it all.  That's what a dream farm is all about, right?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Snow of the Year

I woke up this morning to the first snow of the year.  Everything was so quiet and so white: just how a first snow should be.

Exactly how much snow did we get?  One Poquita's height worth.  (About 8 inches)  :-)

It was Poquita, Neckie, Gertrude, and Honey Sunshine's first time playing out in the snow!  Poor Neckie (still missing most of her feathers) came outside SHIVERING and ate snow by the beak-full while standing on one foot (that's right - a chicken/turkey that looks like an ostrich and stands like a flamingo).  Fluffy Honey didn't understand why she was so cold and scratched around to fine some green grass.

Speckles is just plain miserable.  He insists the snow is my fault and hasn't stopped complaining.  He wasn't even happy when I brought out a loaf of stale bread for a treat because he doesn't like to eat it when it has snow on it. Nothing like a picky rooster.

He gathered up a few of the more adventurous girls (and Poquita, who will do anything to be near me) to inspect my shoveling job.  I don't take their lack of enthusiasm personally - it's pretty hard to impress chickens in a snow storm.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's all good...

photo from canellevanille.com
Everything in the farm purchasing world is good.  The current owners accepted the letter (albeit a little later than expected) and just asked to be updated on the loan process as it develops.  My real estate is handling all of the details associated with the house and my loan officer is handling all of the details associated with the farm business.  I've gathered a really trustworthy team of people to guide me through this process, and that's really all I can do is trust.  And be patient.  Everything will come together.

I finally took time tonight to tell most of my friends and people that have helped guide me through this process.  I didn't want to share prematurely (especially because things didn't work out so well the first time I gave it a try), but let me say, it feels REALLY good to have people feel happy with you.  I've got quite the community of people supporting me and that's a pretty powerful thing.  I need to be better about reminding myself of that power at times of worry.

I've got this.  I've got everything and everyone I need to make this dream come together.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Sigh, and a Deep Breath

image from amrphotography.com
My meeting with the loan officers about my mortgage application this afternoon went really well.  I rocked out to my favorite CD on the drive to the office and had a sudden bout of confidence when I was presenting my business plan.  It still needs tweaking, but it was pretty solid and the loan officers were impressed.  I even was able to meet with NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Services) about completing a land survey and applying for cost-share programs (to help put up hoop houses, fencing, etc).

The application will take a long time to process, and that's stressful.  The only thing I can do is be prepared to make adjustments and get them whatever they need as quickly as possible.  Tomorrow, that means letters of reference, pay stubs, the deed and legal documents for the house, and a check for $13.50.  The day after?  Who knows.  But I'm ready for anything and determined to make it work.

For the first time since I signed the contract, I sighed with relief.  One more hurdle down, countless more to go.  What I didn't expect was that the next one would be SO soon.  The contract required a letter of pre-approval (which was later renegotiated to be a letter stating that my loan was in process) was needed by 6:00PM.  I left the loan agency at 5:15 and drove 30 minutes to my real estate agents office, which was locked and closed for the night.  I called her cell phone about 8 times, with no answer.

I raced home (continuing to call) and tried to scan the letter in to mail to my agent, as well as the listing agent.  Wouldn't you know that I couldn't get the scanner to work?  I quickly called the listing agent at home (she wasn't very happy) and got a fax number, then rushed to the library to send it out.  I was 18 minutes late and still don't have confirmation it was received, but I did the best that I could.  If the sellers want to void the contract over it, they certainly have the right to, but I really hope they don't.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring confirmation, as well as appointments for home, well, and septic inspections and radon, etc tests.  I'm nervous paying for all of those tests without more confirmation from the loan officers, but part of the contract is that they must be completed by January 30th and I don't want to be stuck with a much more expensive problem later down the road because I skipped out on a home inspection.

Details, details, details!  I just have to stay focused on the big picture and trust that everything will work out well in the end.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'm nervous

image from weheartit.com
I'm nervous for my meeting with the loan officer tomorrow.

In the four days since I signed a contract to purchase a farm, I've managed to pull together the loan application, business plan, marketing proposal, general growing plan, and income/expense sheets with enterprise budgets (which is a full 20 pages on it's own!).  K and my parents have been super supportive, and I feel really good with what I've been able to put together.  It really looks like a solid business (I can only hope that executing it goes as smoothly!).

I'm nervous because I need a letter from the loan office tomorrow afternoon in order to satisfy the contract.  I signed on Friday without realizing there was a line written that requires a mortgage pre-approval letter by tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the government doesn't give out pre-approval letters or make promises until they are 100% sure.  It takes time to process the application, and in the meantime the only reassurance I can provide will be formal updates on my application process.

My only hope is that the current homeowners will be understanding.  The loan officer told me that he actually met with them as well this morning (they are also seeking a loan to purchase a farm), so hopefully they will be sympathetic to the process.  I've got all of my eggs in one basket, hoping that this mortgage goes through, and it makes me a little nervous.

Sometimes I wish that I weren't QUITE so good at worrying.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Progress Report: Four Months

image from theswellsideofthepillow.tumblr.com

About halfway through this past month, I was doubting whether or not I would have any progress towards finding a farm of my own.  Between the holidays and a bout of pneumonia, I didn't accomplish very much (as reflected below).

Thankfully, finding a farm is not about quantity of accomplishments, but about quality.  It took reexamining my values (ie. realizing that I didn't want a house that needed gutting) and expanding my search to find a new farm with potential.  Once I found a property that I felt I could develop a business around, drafting a contract and negotiating a purchase price went relatively quickly.  Exactly 4 months from the day I left my job to pursue this crazy dream, I bought a farm!

I'm really excited about taking this big step (despite the waves of nervousness and anxiety over everything that still needs to happen in order for it all to come together!).  I'm still having trouble believing it: I bought a farm!

Things I've Accomplished:

1. Farm Tours: Visited a Plainfield Farm and went on a marathon Six-Farm Tour.
2. Attended the second part of a financial farm planning course, through Holistic Farm Planning.

Things I'm Still Working On:

1. Preparing my loan application and business plan for my Wednesday afternoon mortgage-approval meeting.
2. Scheduling home (etc) inspections.
3. Meeting other Lebanon Farmers.
4. Learning more about registering the farm and establishing it as a business.
5. Creating a specific crop/livestock plan for 2012.
6. Developing a logo and website (I made good progress this past weekend!).
7. Begin drafting orders for seeds/chicks/supplies.
8. Conduct a land survey through NRCS.
9. Search for part-time work closer to Lebanon.
10. Figure out all of the other details of purchasing a farm that I don't know about yet!

image from etsy.com

To check out past progress reports, click here:
One Month
Two Months
Three Months

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Coldest Chicken

My poor chicken Neckie chose the coldest week of the year to molt!  Her "toupe" is all pin feathers (new feathers coming in) and she's missing most of her down feathers as well.  I thought being a turken in single digit temperatures was bad enough, but this poor chicken must be freezing!

Thankfully, her fluffy sisters keep her warm at night and the forecast looks a little warmer.  Most of the girls have started laying again because of the longer days, and Neckie is keeping up with the rest of the flock (which means her chapped skin and lack of feathers is a bigger concern to me than it is to her!)

I fried up three of the eggs this morning: Neckie's is the BRIGHT orange egg in the top left of the pan (and it had the loveliest pink shell).

On top of homefries and pork sausage (from our fall pigs) it was the perfect January breakfast.  And the perfect example of why I'm so excited to have a farm of my own.  Nothing is more satisfying than sitting down to a meal made entirely of food fresh from the farm.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I bought a farm today!

quote by Nelson Mandela via ffffound.com

It's still sort of difficult to believe.  I bought a farm today.

I got a phone call from my real estate agent around 11:00, while I was busy making lunch for 150 preschoolers.  I made a trip to the dumpster to listen to the message (no cell phones allowed) and text K: We got the farm!

The current owners accepted my offer of $312,000, with the stipulation that I have the contract and the deposit in before 2:00PM (they were leaving for New Hampshire for the weekend to purchase a farm of their own).  I quickly fed all of the kids and took a 30 minute break - just enough time to run to the bank for a money order and dash to the real estate agent's office to sign the new draft of the contract.

My agent wasn't in, but had left the contract at the front desk. With a quick signature, I bought a farm.  The office staff wasn't very impressed and it was sort of a non-event.  I rushed back to work and then to a meeting afterward, keeping my secret excitement.

I don't think it'll feel real until I have the keys in my hand.  Or at least until the mortgage is improved and the home is inspected.  I have a meeting with the loan officer on Wednesday afternoon and a lot of work to do before then to make sure I'm confident with my business proposal and application.  I feel good about it, but it's another hurdle.  Just one of many, I'm sure.

Four months ago today, I quit my job to pursue this crazy dream, and today I made one more very large step towards making it come true.  I've impressed myself, and feel stronger because of it.  I'll get through the other hurdles and make this work.  On May 1st, I'll move into my first home onto my first farm.

I bought a farm today! :-D

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Waiting Game

image from http://bradsurcey.com/

My head is swimming (hence the fish photo today, instead of something farm-y).

I had a HORRIBLE day at work and nearly missed my appointment to sign the contract to put in an offer on the Lebanon Farm this afternoon.  I woke up really excited, but spent most of the day worrying about the fact that I don't have a lucky number.  Lucky numbers seem trivial, until you need their assistance (say, in picking a starting price for the house). 

At a certain point, the dollars just feel like numbers and hold no meaning to me.  I know that sounds horrible, and it doesn't at all reflect my spending habits.  I've saved nearly every penny I've ever made since I started working when I was 16.  Money matters to me, but dollar amounts in quantities I can't fathom just don't hold as much weight.

In the end, I offered a higher initial bid than we discussed, and I felt good about it.  I'm still running off my disappointment from my last attempt at a contract and wanted to be sure that we would be in the game of negotiating.  After signing and initialing a MILLION times, we submitted the contract.  The only big change from last time was the waiting period.  Having to sit vigil by the phone for 5 (what ended up being 6) days last time I put in an offer was too long.  The unique situation warranted it, but I just couldn't physically worry for that long again.  24 hours felt like long enough.

I hadn't really needed to focus on the length of the contract, however, because I was shocked to hear back from the homeowners within a half hour of leaving the office.  Here's how the bidding went down:

Listing Price: $324,999 (originally listed at $349,999 in August 2011)
Comparative Market Analysis: $295,000 (the "market value" of the house based on comparable properties that have recently sold in the area)
My Offer: $295,000.  While initially my real estate agent advised starting out around $275,000 (in order to end up around my goal of $300,000), I do have some extra savings and wanted to be in a better spot for negotiation.
First Counter Offer from Homeowners: $320,000 (disappointingly higher than I was hoping for)
My First Counter Offer: $310,000.  This was the maximum price I was willing to pay for the property, but rather than go back and forth I submitted this as my best and final, hoping the homeowners would compromise in the middle.
Second Counter Offer from Homeowners: $315,000, plus a generator (~$1,000 value).  Apparently they didn't get the best and final thing, which is fine because I wasn't 100% firm.  My family had been willing to contribute a little and I could make $315,000 work, it would just be a big stretch.
My Second Counter Offer: $312,000, forget the generator (which I hadn't seen at either tour and could easily purchase as I see fit).

And that's it.  I paced and paced and paced and paced around the first floor of my parent's house and finally my real estate agent called back.  (It wasn't actually that much time, just much longer than the previous back and forth had been).  The homeowners wanted the evening to think about it and explore their options and will notify me of their decision by tomorrow at NOON.

And so, I wait until lunchtime tomorrow.  I desperately hope they accept the offer.  I would hate to lose the house over $3,000 dollars.  It's a lot of money right now, but in the long haul it's not that much.  I could scrounge up the $315,000, but my offer of $312,000 just seems more fair given the market value of the home and our negotiations.

I'd say that I'll be up all night worrying about how things will end up, but I'm so tired I don't think it'll be a problem. I feel good about my bid and trust that everything will work out how it's supposed to.  I think I'm actually more worried about the loan application - which still needs attention and revision in order to be processed as quickly as possible.  I suppose when you're good at worrying (like I am!) there's always something to worry about!

Fingers crossed my lucky number is 312.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Round Two!

imaage from mimsiewhimsy.tumblr.com

I took a second trip to the Lebanon Farm (#5 on our Saturday Marathon) this afternoon to learn the property boundaries, as well as meet the homeowner and listing agent (who were unavailable on Saturday when we saw the home).

I had a pretty long list of questions, about the land, the neighbors, the disclosures, and town services (trash, mail, emergency).  It was great to have all of them answered and to learn more about the home.  It was built, by hand, by the current owners.  It was great to hear their attention to detail and how much they loved the house, but they are passionate about dairy and need a MUCH larger farm to pursue their interests in making cheese.

I was especially grateful to walk the property with the owner and learn more about the land.  I was disappointed to learn that the back 2 acres of the property are wetlands, under a conservation easement that prevents the owner from doing anything on that land.  I was really hoping to use that land for grazing, and wouldn't have known that from looking at a map.  The other approximately 3 acres of wooded area are also considered wetlands.  This land can be grazed, but not cleared.  Within that parcel are about 100 sugar maples, which the owner taps each winter for syrup.

Even though the usable land is significantly less than I initially thought, I still think the farm has a lot of potential.  In the very back of the property there is a beautiful brook and over 2,000 acres of preserved forest and hiking trails.  The biggest benefit is that Lebanon is an agricultural community.  At first, I was intimidated by the size of some of the very large dairy and poultry farms, and how rural it seemed.  After driving around a little bit, however, it is a really beautiful community.  It just makes sense to start a farm in a farming community.

The current owners really want to sell to someone who will love the house and use the land and offered to help with any questions I might have down the road.  Even though I am admittedly having some anxiety over how quickly this is coming together (and the reality of having to FINALLY take the leap of starting my own business, and spending all of my savings), I have a really good feeling about this farm.  My parents, K, and even my real estate agent are excited and supportive - more so than with the North Stonington property I made my first offer on (that didn't work out).  It feels good to be working as a team.

Tomorrow afternoon I'm meeting with my real estate agent to put in an offer on the Lebanon Farm.  I still haven't decided on a price quite yet, but I'm ready to just go for it.  I'm nervous, of course, but I'm even more excited.

If I had known how nerve-wracking this whole experience was going to be when I got started...well, I probably still would have gone for it.  Having my own farm and my own home is my dream and I know I'll do whatever it takes to make it work.  Clear eyes, full hearts...can't lose!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lebanon Zoning, Soil Survey, a Comparative Market Analysis, and Putting Together a Business Plan

image from etsy.com
I stayed home sick from work today, but tried to make the most of it by looking into lots of details of the Lebanon Farm.  Thankfully, everything checked out okay!

Lebanon is a very farm-friendly town, with lots of large dairy and poultry farms.  Most of the specific zoning regulations pertain to large "indoor" farms (building sizes, manure storage, etc).  It doesn't seem like I will have any challenges raising pigs, chickens, and vegetables on the land.

Agriculture including dairies, the breeding, raising and keeping of cattle, horses, sheep, and other similar animals but specifically excluding kennels except as regulated below; riding stables; truck gardening; greenhouses and forestry operations; poultry provided fewer than 200 birds are housed; poultry operations having more than 200 birds provided the total floor area of all buildings on the lot used in the poultry operation does not exceed 50,000 square feet, the lot area is not less than five acres, all buildings and accessory facilities used in the poultry operation including those for waste storage and treatment observe a minimum 100 foot setback from all property lines, and the total floor area of all buildings used in the poultry operation does not exceed 15% of the area of the lot. 

The only challenge will be an area towards the back of the property, where a neighboring house is less than 100 feet from the property line, in an area I had hoped to use for rotational grazing.  Hopefully good neighbor relations and a wide buffer will make it a non-issue, otherwise we'll use movable electric fencing to make it work.  No big deal!

The soil survey also turned out just fine.  There is a small area of wetlands towards the back of the property, as well as a stony area, but most of the property has very good soils on flat lands.  I'm not sure I'll be able to do a soil sample now that the grounds are frozen, but I'm hoping the current owners took samples in the fall (if not, I'm not too concerned, the gardens look beautiful and I expect it will need minimal amendments).  

My real estate agent also complied a Comparative Market Analysis that justifies the price of the property (listed at $324,000) closer to $296,000.  On Wednesday we have a second viewing of the property with the listing agent as well as the current owners, and afterwards we plan to meet to discuss a bidding strategy.  The house is only a little overpriced, so we want to put in an offer that leaves a little room for negotiation, but still seems fair.  
The whole process is going so FAST this time!  It's stressful, nerve-wracking, and so so exciting all at the same time.  I feel rushed to compile a decent business plan so that my loan application is accepted as quickly as possible and spent a good amount of time working on it today.  Everything is just such a whirlwind!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Farm Tour: Six Farm Marathon

I'm still exhausted from my farm tour marathon yesterday: six farms in six hours.

We went prepared and really made the most of the day.  I say "we" because I knew I would need a team to help evaluate this many farms in one day, as well as to help speed along the decision process.  My parents, real estate agent, and K joined me on the adventure.  I'm so grateful for all of the support, because I would have been totally overwhelmed without the additional 4 sets of eyes to pick up on all of the details.

SO, here we go!  A run-through of the properties in order of appearance (sorry a few are missing photographs!).

Location: North Stonington (less than 15 minutes from my parents)
Land: 5.5 acres of mostly flat land (1/2 cleared, 1/2 wooded), somewhat residential
House: Renovated Ranch in immaculate condition (almost too fancy).  3 bedrooms, 4 full baths (yes, you read that correctly).  No outbuildings.
Price: $375,000
Award: Most James Bond-Worthy.  The basement had a hidden, fireproof room for storing very expensive antiques (or aging prosciutto!)

Location: North Stonington (also less than 15 minutes from my parents)
Land: A rock.  Surrounded by beautiful, fertile agricultural land, nearly the entire 8 acres of this property are a stone ledge.  Dope.
House: Beautiful historic farmhouse in need of a good amount of work.   The downstairs was in pretty good condition (featuring a BRIGHT red wallpapered office), but the upstairs was trashed. No outbuildings.
Price: $219,000, as is
Award: Most frightening closet.  I opened it to peek at the storage potential and all I saw were dead animal heads.  This house also won the award for most mouse poop on a bed (I've never seen such a think layer!)

This room was SO bright!

This is what "AS-IS" usually indicates in a listing 

Award for most Horrifying Closet 

Location: North Stonington (about 20 minutes from my parents)
Land: 5.5 acre former horse farm...totally trashed.  They trucked in tons of sand for a "pony party" arena, and the back acre or so was wetlands.
House: A new (2004) colonial-style home in horrible condition.  The upstairs was one large master suite, with a second very small bedroom.  I've had pneumonia all week and my one lung couldn't breathe for more than 5 minutes in the house.  The property had several small horse stall/barns - all poorly constructed.
Price: $325,000 (though the real estate agent informed us it was about to go up for short sale...a headache)
Award: Most bathtub figurines.  There were hundreds around the "jacuzzi" tub.

So many figurines! 

Location: Griswold (about 25 minutes from my parents house)
Land: 13 acres, all wooded.  The majority of the land was good, but the house was surrounded by a moat (created from a waterfall and a quickly moving brook), leaving no room for a garden or to keep my chickens close by.  The house was only a few feet from the street, which we would need to travel on in order to get to the usable land.  Additional 6 acre lot available to purchase, but was very sloped.
House: Extremely cool antique colonial built in the 1750s.  5 bedrooms, with an open floor plan.  The kitchen needed remodeling (hadn't really been touched since the 1940s) and the house needed heat.  Overall, in pretty good condition with lots of neat architectural features.
Price: $349,000
Award: Coolest appliance.

Three-in-one sink, stove, refrigerator makes up the kitchen in the in-laws apartment.

Location: Lebanon (farm country, about 35 minutes from my parents house)
Land: 7.5 acres.  Currently a working farm (mainly meat chickens, small garden, pig, dairy cow). Mostly wooded, sort of close to 3 neighbors, but a pretty decent perimeter fence.
House: Perfect.  Is that too general of a term?  Built in 2002 with great attention to detail, the house just felt like a home with it's wide-plank wood floors and barn-style doors.  I never formally made a list of things I was looking for in a home (because I kept telling myself that I was buying a farm, not a house), but this house would have checked all of the boxes: mudroom with laundry, large kitchen, wood stove, office for two, 3 bedrooms, his-and-her closets, wood floors, etc.  Plus a two-stall barn and a large chicken coop.
Price: $324,000
Award: Most beautiful home.

Location: Lisbon (about 30 minutes from my parents)
Land: 29 acres, mostly wooded and quite sloped.  Lots of debris on the property (probably 2 dozen trashed cars).  I believe K described the front portion of the farm as it looking like Noah's Ark tipped over: in one small field there were all sorts of different animals standing in stinky mud.
House: I don't even know where to begin.  The 4 bedroom farmhouse was a disaster, but they were pouring all of their money into a very large (40x80), very ugly tv room/master suite.  The kitchen was the size of a linen closet.  There was a barn on the property, but it was full of debris and we couldn't go inside.
Price: $319,000
Award: Most cats on a bed.  As well as most cats in a house.  YUCK.

And the winner was?  House #5 (the beautiful Lebanon home).  Though the land is smaller than I was initially looking for, 7.5 acres is plenty large for me to manage on my own.  And the size of the land will force us to be creative and efficient with our space (something I always admire about small farms), as well as do a lot of work by hand.  There may be the potential to lease neighboring land down the road, as well.

In the end, it was easy to imagine us raising a family on that farm.  Even though it's further from my parents than I initially hoped, I like the idea of being nearby other farmers.  I also like the idea of purchasing a home that doesn't need a lot of work (any, really, aside from some painting and small projects), because I'm eager to develop the business and focus on the farm.

Things are moving much faster now that we're experienced with the process.  I'm hoping to go back and see the property again this week, I've already requested disclosures, and my real estate agent is working on the comparative market analysis so we can develop a negotiation strategy and draft a contract this week.  Everyone involved feels good about this property and I'm eager to make it all come together.

Let's hope the SECOND time's the charm!  ;-)

most photos are by Pop

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Not a Forever Farm

image from anobalesavage.com
I had a moment of realization while I was watching House Hunters last night (and, yes, I do spend my evenings like most retired folk, watching House Hunters).

There was a young couple with two young children and a sizable savings account looking to purchase their "Forever Home."  They wanted a home their family could grow into, near to both of their families and work, that they could easily retire into.  They visited three beautiful homes and (as in most episodes) had qualms with each of them.

Listening to the couple whine about details like the staircase (which wasn't picturesque enough for their daughters to slowly walk down dressed in prom outfits in the year 2027), made me realize something about myself.

I've been looking for my "Forever Farm" and it's been weighing on my decision making abilities.  Of course I would ideally find a farm where I could grow a business and a family, only to happily retire in the sunshine with my chickens baking scones every morning.  But circumstances change all of the time and there is no reason why I can't be flexible enough for my family farm to be affected by them.

There is no reason why I can't purchase a farm to settle, and then move home base after a while if a better opportunity presents itself, our business grows/changes, or circumstances change.  Without the pressure of searching for my forever farm, I can focus on finding a farm that will suit my needs for the foreseeable future.  This mindset doesn't change my opinion on any of the properties that I've seen in the past couple of months (it doesn't change anything, really), but it gives me new focus and determination for my Saturday marathon.

I've got a really good feeling I'll find my new home on Saturday.  :-)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What is love?

image from fuckyeahloldemort.tumblr.com
I came across this picture online and it made me laugh.  :-)

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  I had lofty plans to post a year in review and my 2012 bucket list this past weekend, but I ended up catching the plague from the preschoolers at work and I'm still recovering.  It's funny how the holidays pass so quickly that January 3rd seems too late to think back on the past year.  Oh well!

I'm working on a farm search marathon for Saturday that involves 6(ish) back-to-back farm tours.  I'm making this a game of odds and hoping that one of them holds promise.  I sure hope so, because this marathon will pretty much check off all of the properties on my "To Search" list.

If you have any hopes of not singing that terrible song in your head all night long, I suggest you switch to the radio ASAP.