Da da da da da da duh, do do do do do do doo... That's the limbo song, and yes, my life is still in it.
There were a couple of farms that came up on my search this weekend in the next county over that would be really nice to go and check out. I just kind of feel like we'd be wasting the realtors time, since we still don't know about the contract. The pre-approval is completely approved now and I have the letter in hand, so we can move on anything if the work situation clears up in DH's favor.
One of them was really kind of perfect when it came to land (over 20 acres) and has two barns and a greenhouse with both water and power to it. The house is older, but in decent shape with newer paint, roof, and flooring. And the house was spacious, but the taxes weren't ridiculous. It's not so far away that we couldn't keep the same doctors and see my mother often, but far enough that no one would drop in without calling first to make sure we were there.
Best of all, no wetlands restrictions, which is something we are really running up against in my county. We found a lovely house on ten acres, but 9 of it had to stay in wetlands. If we'd even been able to use 2 or 3 acres it would have been fine. It was in the middle of prime farmland, too. I don't mind leaving trees and I don't mind leaving swampy areas alone, but to be that limited on your own land is mind-boggling. And it's true on lots of property with no houses, as well.
Sometimes I think they just make some of this wetland stuff up. The certainly didn't care about it when they built the mall on a massive swamp in 1988 and it caused major flooding in the streets because that swamp was no longer there to drain run off into. Or when they put in a huge medical complex in the late 90's. Or when Walmart and Costco went in. That was all true wetlands.
But whatever. Existing farms don't tend to have those issues because that is what the land is zoned for and no one comes in and changes it after the fact as it is grandfathered in to any law changes.
I feel like all I do these days is wait. I don't believe in any day now. It's just another phrase that means nothing. I don't believe in the phrase we'll know tomorrow, either. At least not when it comes to DH's situation. Trying to keep positive in real life, but it is good to be able to vent here.
Viewing the 'House Hunting' Category
Da da da da da da duh, do do do do do do doo... That's the limbo song, and yes, my life is still in it.
So we heard from our credit union and have been tentatively pre-qualified for a mortgage. We just have to get them the last two statements from my savings account to prove we have money for closing, the last two tax returns, and the last two W-2's. We had everything except the 2014 tax return, which DH says is at work.
He is on his way back up to Alaska so hopefully he is right, but work can issue him a copy if not, so either way we should be able to send those documents in soon.
But we can't move forward ourselves until the company DH's work has bid on the contract for makes the announcement on who got it. They've known for almost 2 weeks now, but as per usual, they let their announcement deadlines go whizzing past. It is frustrating beyond belief to continue to have to live in limbo.
I am such a planner, especially financially, so not being able to plan seriously screws with my head and my sense of security. It kind of feels like when I have some OCD stuff going on and something prevents me from going through the rituals to calm it down. Like checking my alarm clock four times at night, but I can't because the power is out. It builds up and makes me a little antsy. Only this is bigger than that sort of thing. It's a low level of anxiety that is almost constant and doesn't want to be shoved back down into its hole. And I don't like it.
We looked at a couple of houses today, both old farmhouses. One we really liked the property, but the house, while good in overall square footage, was not so good in the usability of the footage. The one downstairs bedroom was too small to hold both our bed and dresser and the closet was pretty makeshift.
And one side of the upstairs was a foot higher than the other end, so a very noticeable slope. It also had two cracked windows, some bad siding (holes, or half missing pieces), what looked like a giant rust stain, and a roof that was only partially new and the rest looked bad. The shop smelled like mold.
It had cherry trees, apple trees, plum trees, and walnut trees, plus blackberries, and plenty of cleared land, really just what I want in land. Just that house was a major no-go. Doesn't matter how perfect the land is if the house is not good. There's always a reason why a house sits on the market that long.
The second house we looked at needs a new roof, new paint, has no hood for the gas stove in the kitchen, and I think the wood stove was installed without a permit, since there is no tile or heat shield under it or behind it. It is up on legs, but I think it still has to have the tile and heat shield. Which would be easy enough to do. Otherwise we really like the house. It was a craftsman and was spacious, the stairway to the second floor was wide and had a good banister on one side and a hand rail on the other. The downstairs bathroom had a handicap accessible shower and had an extra long bathtub with jets.
The land was really nice and next to the river. While it is legally in the flood zone, it hasn't flooded in that area in 150 years. It will flood half a mile away, so we might not be able to get out once in a while, but it doesn't get to the property. So if we did decide on it, we would have to still carry flood insurance. Two of the outbuildings are falling down and would have to come down eventually. The paddock and horse shelter is overgrown with blackberry brambles and would require a machete to be cleared and then who knows what it would take to get the roots out.
But there is a lot of cleared land. 3 acres of it are rented for another year and in potatoes. Unfortunately they use pesticide. Plenty of it is not in use, though, and not been sprayed. It's 6.9 acres, so we could work around it.
Still, there are a lot of other houses to look at. And we are only getting a jump at looking, since the contract announcement isn't made until the end of the week. But if we did find something that was actually perfect, we'd be able to jump on it if the contract goes to DH's company. Or it could be a couple months of looking. Who knows? I won't pick something I don't think we can handle.
It's been a busy past couple of days. I turned 46 on Friday and made a fantastic from scratch two layer yellow cake (in my new Kitchenaid mixer) with milk chocolate ganache frosting. I received a beautiful locket from my daughter and an amethyst pendant on a super flimsy silver chain from my in-laws. I will have to replace the chain if I ever hope to wear it. I don't do delicate chains well at all. My son cleaned out the van with some help from his sister (a lot of help).
Today we spent a couple of hours at a thrift store and I was able to find a couple of greenish/teal/seaglass glass canisters with bail and gasket closures. They actually had 4, but 2 of them were pretty scratched up, but I didn't get those ones. They match the mixer and the new toaster.
DH picked up another pair of jeans (he's losing weight so fast we are buying jeans once a month at this point, hence the thrift stores. He also bought some shirts that were dressier, but short-sleeved.
I got a barely used wallet. I did find two plates in our pattern, but they were marked up and it didn't look like it would come off with scrubbing so I didn't get them. I purchased a nice waterproof winter coat for $20. It was a Lane Bryant so I know it was at least $100 new. The old coat I have is not waterproof. I also picked up a $10 waterproof jacket for my son and it fit him so I gambled well.
DD came with us and bought some stuff with her own money as well. She has an affinity for grandpa style sweaters and teenage boy style hats.
We did a little grocery shopping, but kept it limited. If I hadn't needed toilet paper and quart size freezer bags I wouldn't have gone at all.
We also picked up prescriptions at Walgreens and some OTC meds as well. I have to build my stash of Sudafed back up again. Now that my son is taking Claritin D all the time we have to have one licensed driver get the one, and another get the other. Then DD will get one for the medicine stash. This way we'll have a couple on hand for when we all get sick again and no one feels like driving. I miss the days when you could buy a 90 day supply of Sudafed over the counter. Stupid meth heads ruined that for all of us breathing challenged types.
I hope after DS's surgery he won't have to use the Claritin D anymore. That would be wonderful.
We may be going to look at a couple fixer upper houses tomorrow. They are low priced sold AS IS. The barns are in good condition and are both almost 5 acres each. We'll have to see about the houses. I know it is jumping the gun and all, but we are just looking. We are not buying yet.
My son and I went to view two of the farms yesterday. And the one house and all its outbuildings that I thought would be perfect were perfect, except there was a ton of water pooled under the house that you could see through the door to the crawlspace and the well pump house was also flooded. And those things would take a pretty penny to fix and at the current price of the home absolutely was not worth it. Also it had owls in the barn, which might be fine if you are raising large livestock, but not when you are raising rabbit kits.
The second house was...adequate. It was spacious and had land and a couple of outbuildings, one of which had a canning kitchen. But the barn had a badly cracked cement floor. There had been severe upheaving, so that parts of the floor were 8 to 12 inches higher than other parts. With my history of tripping over everything, that was not acceptable, and again would require quite a bit of work to fix. And I don't want adequate. I want it to be pretty and not need rewiring.
So neither house is a go. And maybe I should just take that as a sign to wait and not to jump the gun. Although I did see another house that I would really like to check out. It has 12 acres and is still within our price range. But...I think we will still hold off for now. It is probably wisest to wait until after the new contracts are signed at DH's work in March, anyway.
There are 3 very nice farms for sale right now. One is utterly perfect and two are quite doable. We have enough money for a 10% down payment on two of them and will have enough for a 10% down payment on the perfect one by the end of this year. And I'm swayed quite hard in that direction.
We would be able to afford the payments, all of our expenses, and still save a little each month. It would mean being a lot stricter with the budget. We've got a lot of play right now so that could be accomplished and we'd still have some breathing room.
We'd also be in our home for the first time since 2009. There is stress in living so long with my mother, even though I love her dearly and we get along quite well. I yearn to be able to have my own kitchen and do things my way and not have to schedule around her timetable, which is erratic at best and annoying at worst when you are trying to feed a family.
If we do this now, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about doing a 30 year mortgage. We would have to. I don't particularly like that idea, though, because we have only ever had a 15 year mortgage, and a 30 year mortgage would mean we could be 75 and 76 years old when it was paid off. Oh, I'd throw more money at it as we had it, but that would probably have us finishing at 65 to 70 years old.
The thing is, the practical thing anyway, is that if we buckle down and save super hard this coming year and throw everything at our down payment fund, we could have enough for a 20% down payment by December 2016. Which means we would lower our monthly payments significantly and have a 15 year mortgage. And it would be paid off by the time we were 61 and 62 years old, with no extra payments being made. With extra thrown at it, we might pay it off by the time we are 56 and 57.
The numbers make sense to wait out another year and save like the dickens. My head says that is the smartest thing we could possibly do. My soul says it is not quite sure it can cope with another year of living only in 1000 square feet with 2 teenagers and my husband. And only one bathroom.
We simply have no space. None. The house is very large, but this is the only space she allows us to use, plus we can cook in the kitchen (but must keep all our dishes and cooking stuff in our 1000 square feet). That frustrates me, too, because she has a huge kitchen with lots of cupboard space, two large living rooms, 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms for just herself. And two of those bedrooms are almost empty.
I am torn. I know what makes better sense. I really do. But it has been seven years. Seven very long years. And we wouldn't be struggling if we did it now. I feel like we are struggling though with the emotional part and being packed in like sardines. I want space. I want room to move. I want freedom.
I guess the thing I need to decide is what do I want most? Financial security is so freaking important to me. It is only one more year. Yet when I think about that year it is like a massive weight pressing down on my shoulders. One of these homes could be our escape hatch.
And 2 of them have open houses tomorrow. I will take my son and go look. Maybe in person they won't be as good as they are on paper.
I've been able to get out and do some serious work in the gardens this week. I've got a lot of food coming in, though never in the huge quantities I had expected for some of it.
The hay bale garden has been far more successful than the straw bale garden. It has had far less weeds and the growth has been phenomenal in comparison. So next year I think I will skip planting in straw bales at all and just go with the hay bales, if I do this again.
So far I've yielded $357.25 of organic produce over the price of my start up costs for the gardens. Next year if I start things from seeds instead of buying organic transplants, start up costs will be lower. Since I got started late though, I did the transplants to catch up some time.
If all goes well with the house sale and if we find a small farm and if we can actually buy it before next spring, I will be building raised beds out of rabbit bedding and rabbit manure, which can be used right away, and setting up compost piles for the bird waste and bedding, since it needs to compost for at least six months before using. We will use wire and t-posts instead of wood to keep things loosely in place and will build it up at least 3 feet tall. With the amount of bedding we could compost in place that will be by far a better method. Then we will have deep mulch as it breaks down to between 1/2 and 1/3 of its original size. It'll still be a foot off the ground so I can pull up a chair to do my gardening.
I'm not going to rush buying a farm, though. We may need longer than that even if the house sale does go through. I want to make sure I find the right place and that we have a big enough down payment that we are not struggling at all with making a mortgage payment again.
I am picky about what I want. It has to have a well for water. It needs to have either a creek or a pond on the property, but not too close to the house in case of flooding. It needs to have either a good barn or several outbuildings, preferably one with power and water, but at the very least power. It needs a house that is one level only, preferably with handicapped accessibility, and at least 1600 square feet with a minimum of 3 bedrooms, though I'd prefer 4, and 2 bathrooms.
The kitchen needs to be of a decent size for canning and processing meat. It needs adequate pantry storage. It needs a garage and no basement as most basements around here have flooding issues. It needs a wood stove and a propane or gas stove. It needs garden space, fruit trees and nut trees, and at least 2 acres of pasture and 2 acres of wooded land. Fencing around the pastures is a must. It needs a good site for a green house for aquaponics and growing dwarf citrus trees, and a good site for solar panels and possibly a wind turbine. Wants, but not must haves are a willow tree and a flowering cherry tree or two.
We will probably buy 5 acres, though if we can save up enough, I'd prefer 10. We don't ever intend to move again after buying our farm so I want it to be right or at least easily able to be made right, like planting my own fruit trees and nut trees, willow tree, and flowering cherry trees.