Posted in Farm life

Another Offer. Another Heart Break?

As soon as Farm #1 died, we got busy looking again. Our agent had made a lot of mistakes that could have been extremely expensive for us and while I felt bad the deal fell through for her, I knew I wanted a different agent who was more land savvy.

Not knowing anyone, I took to FB and asked on a few different horse sites for recommendations. This resulted in three names. The first woman sent me ads well out of my price range in areas far out of my radius from work. The second was a contact through a friend and she was super nice and knowledgeable, but didn’t have anything she knew that was listed. She did have a farm not on the market but willing to sell which ended up being the prison house.

The third guy was the jack pot. He had a listing that apparently nobody else knew about or at least never showed us. It checked all my boxes on paper: at least 30 acres, within 20 minutes of my work, schools I wouldn’t mind putting Wyatt in, and with at least a 3 bed/2bath house on it. With the needs checked off, we moved to the wants. It had a barn, fencing, stocked pond and an arena with lights. This thing was looking good!

Last Tuesday we went and looked at the property after work. The house was off limits due to a power outing from a bad storm over the weekend. This worked in our favor though as it forced a second look and made us refrain from an emotional offer.

We liked what we saw. The grounds were needing a bit of TLC as it had been left to nature for a while, but the bones were are there and functional. We scheduled a showing of the house for last Saturday.

The house didn’t disappoint. The original building is from the 1800s and has been added on to twice. Dusty wasn’t as enthused about it due to some wonky floors and a bit of a maze feel, but I loved the character of it. These new quickly built box houses with no nooks or crannies aren’t my thing. I love a house with character and this one had it in spades.

We left the property and looked at three other places with more land than this 30 acre plot, but none of them would have worked for us for various reasons. That night we stayed up late talking about it and sent in our offer the next morning.

After a bit of go between we had an accepted offer that we were satisfied with! Now on the the hard part: waiting out the inspection and appraisal. I’m hoping since the property has fencing, a 16 stall barn (no clue what I’m going to do with all those stalls), an arena, a pond and a bigger house that it will appraise better than Farm #1 did which lacked all of that.

After we made our offer I was texting with a couple local horse friends and told them about the place. Apparently the Farm was a huge local show venue 15 years or so ago and both knew it intimately. The history alone is so cool!

We will see how this goes. We have a tentative early December closing, but after the last appraisal debacle I’m not holding my breath yet.

Posted in Farm life, Uncategorized

Well That Dream Died a Quick Death

Ugh. Can I say that a million more times? Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Ok…moving on.

So the farm is dead. I was pretty depressed about it when it all came shattering down, but now I’m okay with it. Not in a “well, gosh I dodged that bullet yay” okay with it way, but more of a “totally not allowing myself to get screwed and oh yeah I’m not in a hurry so shove it seller man” sort of way.

Let me back up because this entire process has been complete shit. I rarely swear on the blog, though I tend to have a truck driver more swear words than regular ones mouth in real life, so you know it is bad when I do.

Before we got going looking at properties we reached out to the local lender known for covering properties of this size (did I ever mention the property was 67 acres????) for pre-approval. We knew what monthly mortgage we could afford, but weren’t really sure what loan amount we would be qualified for. We talked to an agent, gave her our information and got back a budget to work within. We felt pretty proud that we had been good consumers and did our homework.

Then we found this property and made the offer which was countered and we accepted. Reaching back out the to lender we were told that she was out for the week and nobody else could be assigned to us. Pretty crappy, but we just moved on to the next bank. That is when we realized things were not so good.

Our first dilemma was that the value of the property was in the land. Yes the house was new, but at only 1300 sq ft it really wasn’t worth that much. Regular lenders won’t mortgage when the land is more valuable than the building. We weren’t giving up yet though. We reached out to other lenders who typically handle the larger properties and everything seemed to finally be smoothed out until they got all our paperwork and realized Dusty had only purchased his business in July 2016. They require 2 years of business taxes when you are self employed even if you draw a regular salary from the business. That meant that his income, nearly double mine, was completely thrown out. My business has been around long enough, but the double whammy came down when they saw my salary. I take a minimal salary and pay myself in commission based on the profits of the business that month. Well, they can’t rely on commission so only my salary was taken into consideration. Which meant we now qualified for a shack in the ghetto.

Que up the drama, the anger, the frustration. Finally, after Dusty worked tirelessly contacting dozens of lenders we found one who would look at everything we made together and gave us a really great offer for a mortgage. The deal could move forward.

After all of that we decided to celebrate by announcing it to the world. I mean, we just jumped through about 1,000 hurdles, uploaded close to a million documents and got the mortgage secured. Surely this thing would go forward now.

The inspection went smooth as silk. The house was built in 2014, so we didn’t expect anything less. The only two things pending were the land survey (8k out of our pocket, let me choke a little on that) and the appraisal.

I didn’t even know when the appraisal was going to come in. The current owner had bought the place less than 6 months ago, so we weren’t concerned about it coming in for the price we were needing. It was pretty in line with other properties listed in the area for that much land. Imagine my surprise when the appraisal came in 25k less than what we agreed to buy it for. That is a huge deficit.

Now, I’m not one to cash in my chips and walk away without a fight. I’m also not one to enjoy bending over and taking it and I refused to pay out of pocket to make up the difference. Our realtor, who had been amazing to this point, started to get on my nerves as she kept insisting that the property was worth the asking price and that the appraisal was just really crappy. That may have been very true, but after an awful experience being upside in our house we bought during my schooling and taking a 45k hit when we went to sell because the market crashed after we bought it,  I refused to be on the shit end yet again and pay more than what this was worth.

The seller insisted he had an appraisal from when he purchased it that was for “well over asking price” though he never coughed it up. My response was that he could then find someone else who may be lucky enough to get an appraisal higher than ours was for, but I wasn’t going for it.

The truth is that while we both adored this property, it wasn’t perfect. There was no barn. No proper fencing. No arena. No garage. The house was one bedroom shy of what we wanted. We were willing to overlook all these things and spend a few years making upgrades and improvements, but not on top of having to cough up 25k in addition to our down payment. It wasn’t worth it.

We said a sad goodbye to all the plans we silently made in our heads for this property and are now looking again. It sucks. I’m frustrated and sad and a lot of other emotions all rolled into one big ball of mess. Nearly tasting my own farm has made me hunger even more for it, but not enough to get screwed. I did learn one important lesson, get the appraisal before paying for anything else. Period. And now we know our exact budget and know what lender we can use, so that is good.

Now let me just go and drink my emotions away…..

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Farm life

The Story of a Dream

When did it begin?

Was it during my first trip to my Aunt’s farm when I giggled with glee feeling the silky hair of the various dogs, cats, horses and goats?

Maybe it was a little later when I began to stay for long weekends/week with her and my uncle riding, camping and canoeing.

Perhaps instead it was in 8th grade when a blonde haired prepubescent version of myself was sitting in class drawing barns and stall layouts with a squiggly hand during class instead of taking notes.

Later? During high school when I would take long drives out to the country to clear my head and breathe in the sweet scent of clean farm air? Or in college when I leased a horse and pretended I knew what I was doing?

In all likelihood it started in the womb. In any event, the desire to live with space has been deeply ingrained in me for as long as I can recall.

I remember doing my junior year of college in Rome, Italy. I was living in the heart of the city in an apartment and walked or took a bus or train everywhere: school, the grocery store, the colosseum. My ears were hit with a constant barrage of noise from all directions. My eyes saw concrete in every direction. My nose smelled the dirt and grime of a centuries old city.

Taking advantage of the ease of European travel, I flew out one weekend to London and stayed in a hostel bordering a magnificent park. Once I wandered into it, feeling grass under my feet, smelling flowers, watching ducks and swans laze in the pond, I finally breathed again. I knew right then what I wanted most in this world: a small corner to call my own where it was quiet, peaceful and green.

A lot happened upon my return home to the States. I met Dusty. I graduated. Got married. I lived in suburbia then moved to the city for school and back out to suburbia for residency. I got Gem and explored the woods on horseback. I never lost that urgency to have peace and quiet. To sit outside my house and hear nothing but birds, the wind through the trees and the humming of the natural world.

Moving to our current home was a step in the right direction. With 16 acres surrounding us, there were no nosy neighbors or pesky HOA presidents to yell at you for your grass being 1/4″ too high. However, the property sits on the corner of two busy roads. The traffic can be heard in our bedroom even with the house being 1/4 mile back from the road and surrounded by large, ageless trees. There is a constant barrage of noise, people and the energy of dozens of people going places and doing things.

It is the opposite of peaceful however the horses were home and it was super close to my work and family. It was sufficient. But then Irma came along and while we suffered no damage, she brought with her a heaping dose of uncertainty and a fear that was rooted in lack of control.

Irma put me on a mission. I wanted my own place in a peaceful corner of the world. I wanted to sit and relax on my front porch and not hear the world buzzing around me. I wanted a place to decompress from my day and live life a little slower.

Thankfully Dusty was on the exact same page.

What commenced was a frenzied search of every online site we could think of. Property without houses, full on horse facilities, property with a house but nothing else. Lake side property. Mountain property. Wooded property. Hills, flat land. If it was for sale we looked at it.

Dusty fell in love with some. I fell in love with others. Our biggest concern was that the properties were falling into two groups: huge swaths of land with run down, nearly demolished trailers or tiny parcels with massive, ornate homes. Neither were what we wanted, but we spent hours upon hours looking at property, touring modular homes and various stick built builders locally exploring our options. It was both exciting and exhausting. How could our budget allow for such a wide variety in offerings? Would we ever find a suitable place within our budget and our radius from work within a good school district?

The search continued until the Sunday of the Windridge Hunter Pace. I mentioned that I had an important meeting at 2 pm that made me have to rush a bit once we finished. That appointment was with a realtor to look at three very different properties in three different cities: acerage with a small house, property bordering a lake with no buildings, and a mountain top house with a pool.

We met first at the acerage with a small house. I was skeptical. The house was just about as small as we could squeeze into and it was on the edge of our radius in an area I knew nothing about. My heart was already sold on the mountain top house in the city I really, really wanted to live.

The route took us down country roads brimming with golden rod along the ditch. The farther we went the skinnier the roads became until eventually the lines disappeared. We turned off the road and down the driveway which wound past a goat farm and kept going until it dead ended in a clearing with the house to the right and a seemingly endless pasture straight ahead.

My heart stopped. I knew I was home.

We poked around the house a little, but it was so small that it didn’t take long to survey it all. While it is small, it was built in 2014 with new appliances and an open floor plan.

After the quick look inside, we piled into the truck to drive to the back of the property. The front half is all pasture, but there is equal amount, maybe a little more, in woods that run along three sides and the rear. There were several trails that led down through the woods and we walked a couple that followed a creek with a small waterfall leading to a large meadow in the back. Apparently the original owner would damn up the creek back there to water his cows.

By the time we got back to the house I was done. We cancelled the other two appointments and got busy drafting our offer. It was a tense 24 hours waiting for the reply and we went back and forth a bit until reaching an agreement.

You’d think we would have gone out and celebrated at that point, but the drama and stress were just beginning. This has been long enough, so I will stop here and get into the rest later but so far we are set to close mid November. I’m holding my breath a bit and not dreaming too big since it has been such a rough go, but I already have plans for the property. I’ll fill you all in as the time gets closer and closer to closing.

Posted in Farm life

Mowing the Pasture

Before we moved to the farm we had a lot of people telling us how awful it would be. How we wouldn’t have any free time because of all the work that would need doing. How I’d wish to be boarding again.

As I mow it creates a nice little race track for Wyatt and he always shows up on his quad to race around it

It’s a good thing that I don’t let others negativity effect me.

Since moving here I have never once regretted it. Honestly, none of the “work” has actually felt like work at all. I enjoy most things around here, but the one thing I love to do more than anything else is now the pasture.

Sometimes he gets his own tractor out to help. I love the afternoons spent outside riding around with my little man

There are so many reasons for it. It’s a great way to check out the fence line for loosening, holes or other issues. I can look over the grounds for the health of the grass, invading weeds and any potential area of harm like large rocks or sink holes.

Obviously the horses are very bothered by my mowing activities. 

But beyond the logical reasons for loving the task, I also just really enjoy the time spent in the tractor. The task itself requires minimal mental effort and is an instant gratification type activity. I can easily see the progress I have made and the difference in the pasture it is creating.

There were a lot of roadblocks Sunday afternoon as I tried to mow the pasture before Irma hit

The four hours spent out there is a time for me to think, dream and watch the horses as they graze and interact with each other without any pressure from me. The pasture has been needing mowed every 6 weeks or so since spring. I’m not sure what the fall and winter will bring, but I’m thinking I’ll likely get one more mowing in before a long break for winter.

Wyatt picked out a skeleton dog that barks and growls for his Halloween decoration this year. I didn’t realize he brought it into the pasture until I made the circuit and saw Pete on high alert. Poor horses. They are pretty little kid proof at this point. 

Any farm chores that speak to you more than others? I know plenty of people enjoy kicking stalls for similar reasons.

Posted in Farm life

Bad Hay…What Do I Do?

When we moved here in January we were a little screwed in regards to hay. We needed enough to get us through until 2017 first cutting but 2016 was a drought year and pretty much all stores were gone. I managed to find some horse quality hay and while it wasn’t the greatest, it was good enough to supplement the green fescue in the pasture. The horses ate it fine with

minimal waste but I wasn’t thrilled enough to purchase again.

Once the first cutting was made, and it was a great spring for hay around here with with a perfect combination of rain and sun, I researched a new supplier and found a guy up north by the NC/SC border. Hay was $7/bale plus a $160 delivery fee, but it showed up green and delicious. I got 50 bales and was thrilled with the quality. The horses chowed down on it and all was good.

Gemmie is looking smashing these days. Other than the mare glare

Until….

I had a client mention that she had 1,000 bales of first cutting fescue they needed to sell to make room for their second cutting coming off the field soon. Her typical buyer is Clemson University but they started baking their own and didn’t need nay. She was selling it for $4/bale and lived only 3 miles from us. I told the hubby that it was worth a look at least as it would save us some money and we could stock up on another 50 bales. We went out a couple of weeks ago and while the bales were extremely loose (like a few completely fell apart trying to move them loose), they were green had very minimal stems and smelled like hay.

Not sure why she was so annoyed with me on Sunday, but she is still pretty

We loaded up the trailer and truck bed and filled our garage to the brim. I was happy to see a full stock of hay that I knew would last us at least through the fall.

Except I noticed the horses would not eat it. The piles I put out remain there untouched. The grass is starting to grow again with the cooler temperatures, but even the best spring grass is typically ignored for hay by our fat horses. For them to not even look our way as we put it out is odd.

Hay. Not as good as Timothy or orchard up north, but good for the fescue down here

So they hate it. We have plenty of the other first cutting left to feed them so it’s not an issue of not having hay to feed. The issue is what on earth I’m supposed to do with 48 bales of hay my horses won’t eat. I don’t think I can sell it. I mean my add would have to read “$4/bale fescue hay, first cutting, horse quality although my horse won’t eat it”. Who is going to buy that? It’s been such a great hay year that everyone is pretty stocked up for the year and a third cutting is basically going to waste as nobody has room for it.

I can’t keep throwing it out in the pasture just to watch it be ignored and then have to rake it back up. I have no idea why they won’t eat it. It’s green, smells like hay and has very little stems in it. It looks identical to the northern hay which is also fescue but for some reason they won’t touch it. Do I take 48 bales to the dump?

What do I do with all this hay??

Posted in Farm life

Seeking Advice: Fly Protection

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp. 

Ugh. 

While all the rain this year has allowed the pasture to grow and the hay supply to be abundant, it has also allowed the insects to go a little wild. It is to the point where they are having issues eating their grain between stomping and biting at the nasty little buggers. I’ve also noticed that their hooves are starting to chip from the combination of being softer from all the rain and the trauma of all the stomping. 

We have been spraying them with heavy duty fly spray frequently but it seems like it only works for a day and then they either sweat it off with the high temps and humidity or it rains and washes it away. Even the supposedly water proof stuff isn’t lasting more than 48 hours. 

Past use of feed throughs didn’t produce any results for us and just kept Pete from eating. 

I’ve started looking into fly sheets for them. Riding Warehouse has a good variety at a reasonable cost. If we go that route it has to be an open enough mesh to not cause overheating in the hot sun and high humidity. It’s in the upper 80s and low 90s and is only going to heat up from here. I’d rather them get bitten than have heat stroke. Plus most of the bugs seem to be on their legs. 

That lead me to look into just getting fly boots or those newish shoo fly bags. That way the legs are protected and they won’t overheat. But I’ve never been fond of wrapping the legs up and I’ve read that people have issues keeping them on. 

So that leads me to asking you all….fly sheet versus fly boots versus shoo fly versus something I haven’t thought of?? They need some relief and it is too early in the season to ignore. I don’t have a barn, so stalling them with a fan isn’t an option and Dusty looked at me weird when I suggested we buy a massive outdoor fan and put it in the pasture. 

Posted in Farm life

Finding Stress Relief

Life has been pretty stressful lately. Nothing is new there, life is always stressful, but this week it just all seemed to accumulate more than usual. Yesterday it boiled over and I just had an obscenely bad day. 

By the time I got home all I wanted to do was curl up in bed in the fetal position and forget the world. 

I fed the horses, poor mud covered and ignored souls, and happened to look over at the shelter. While many people tell me that their shelters remain empty even in the worst weather, my two prefer to remain out of the elements as much as possible. With all the rain we have received, they have spent hours upon hours inside staying dry. One look at the ground and I was appalled. Too much to apparently remember to snag a picture, but the ground was not only torn up but was also knee deep soupy mud. 

Something needed to be done, so instead of fading into the oblivion of an early bed time I dragged the boys to Home Depot to see what we could do. I really want to put pea gravel in, but we had neither the time to dig all the way down and set the stone properly or the money to get enough to cover the 200 sq ft shelter floor. 

Instead we settled for some sand. We bought 30 bags and covered the ground to help with drainage and hopefully keep there hooves and legs out of the worst of it. Poor Dusty hauled those bags and dumped them for me. This was halfway through.

Perfect solution? No, but I’m really hoping we eventually return to more normal rain fall amounts. Prior to the recent deluge the ground was remaining perfect in there. It’s hard to cope with the 5″ of rain we have had in the last 3 weeks. 

While the boys were playing in the mud and sand, I grabbed the riding mower. The pasture is going to seed in places and the horses are just not able to keep it all eaten down which is resulting in over grazed areas and tall regions where the grass has gotten too fibery for them to want to eat. It was time to mow. 

First time on the riding mower

I headed into the pasture and began to mow as the sun threatened to set. About 15 minutes and a few stripes later I came to a screeching halt. 

Look at how tall the grass has gotten! All the rain plus the two entire days they spent inside the shelter to avoid the rain really helped it grow

I had run out of gas. Ugh. 

I left the mower in the pasture, mush to Petes delight as he promptly went over to explore, and headed to the gas station. I wanted to mow dammit. 

Twenty minutes later I was back in my mower making my way up and down the pasture. 

It was a little slice of heaven. 

Watching the sun set behind one of the several ancient trees on the property

I sat on that mower as the sun set and stars peeked through the small breaks in the clouds. I listened to the songs of the birds that were loud enough to overcome the mower. I watched as Gem and Pete grazed. I breathed in the smells of freshly cut grass, clover and wild onion. 

All my stress melted away. All the emotions of the day were replaced by a deep inner peace. 

Gem and Pete grazing at the far end of the pasture while I mowed. They are equally grateful for some sun

The boys went to bed long before and it was just me and the pasture. Mowing is an intensely satisfying activity for those who need instant gratification. Watching the pasture go from unruly to even and well kept is nearly addictive. I didn’t want to stop.

As night fell, my world shrunk to the size of the headlight and any remaining concerns about my day, life and future were eliminated. All that mattered was lining up the tracks and mowing. 

Rhino keeping an eye on me

Unfortunately I needed to stop eventually. I got about half way through and it took 2 hours. I was worried about running out of gas again, there is no gas gauge, and having to push the mower all the way home which is a really long way to be pushing a dead mower. 

I’ll mow again tonight and finish it up if the rain holds off. 

I love living on the farm. It feeds my soul. It brings me peace. It helps settle the world.