Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homestead Progress

Well just a quick update on the blog as we have been pretty busy sorting out things with our homestead plans. One of the key things we emphasis is the need for self sustainability and self reliance. That comes in many forms based on your personal location, and the resources you have available to you. In one of the last blog entries we talked about getting out and starting your own garden, or finding a local farmers market that has "real farmers" from your local area. Security of your food, water, and shelter are essential in order to be prepared for the events that are unfolding before our eyes. Well the plan here since last year has been for us to find a location with acreage that would provide for those basic needs with an eye toward sustainable agriculture. My hope and dream is to be able to start a CSA of my own and help other people looking for good wholesome food grown locally where my customers know me and where the food came from and how we do it. That is my dream and I think a key ingredient to helping our communities and families as the economy around us is devastated by greed, corruption, and fraud. So I think of this as my calling of sorts, teaching, sharing, and building a safe harbor for our families and community at least on a small scale. I think this dream is growing for many people now and the back to the land movement is alive.

Well to pursue this dream the challenge has been tough to find good agriculture land. The pattern here and in many places is that farmers once lived in these houses on the farm. That was the days of a farmer owning 200 acres and living on the farm. Today the average farmer is farming 1200 acres. What has happened is that the farmers have long since moved, they separated off 2-5 acres to go with the house and are selling that as an "acreage". Sadly the space is too small and unusable for most people to attempt to farm it. Many people from the city in search of the rural lifestyle and dream come out to the country and buy these places. What they end up with generally speaking is a very large yard to mow, and maybe a little room to have a horse or two. Many are happy with that arrangement. Personally we have much bigger plans than that which kinda put us at odds with conventional acreage buyer as they really had no intention of making a sustainable homestead for the most part. I have seen it done in a couple of cases where people are able to convert the space and make this usable for a small scale farming operation, but it is a challenge to say the least. Finding the right property is the key. So many of today's acreages really are ill suited for a sustainable homestead without a major overhaul.

Well we were told some time back about a farm that was going up for sale by a co-worker of my wife. To be honest we were so busy out looking at places that we just didn't follow up on it. There was very little information about the place and they were still in the process of cleaning it up to get ready to sell it. So we didn't follow-up to find out what the story was as we still had plenty of places to see on our list. Well we have pretty exhaustively searched high and low for a suitable farm acreage that was anywhere near realistic in price so our list has vanished. We will circle back to this farm for sale later in this post(I promise :-) )

Now if money weren't an issue we could have bought a place pretty quickly, but sadly money is an issue so we were handicapped by our spending limits. Strangely even in this foreclosure environment and real estate still in the tank the banks have been very accommodating in allowing us to take out a loan far larger than anything we would dare to take out a loan for and I find that a bit odd. Just because the bank will loan you a lot of money does not mean you have to take it! Common sense and responsibility are up to you. So keep your head on straight and don't get sucked into some monster debt you will be struggling to pay.

So we had run out of listings to see. I have been spending a lot of my free time searching listings online, and driving around looking at properties just to give our poor realtor a break. We were driving her crazy I think. I know I have been at wits end trying to figure out how to make our desires and dreams work with the limited choices we have been seeing. We were coming up empty handed. I was starting to believe the realtor for a little while as she kept telling us that we needed to spend a lot more money to get what we were looking for. However even when I increased the dollar ceiling in our searches we were still not seeing that many properties and still most of them still did not fit what I was after. So the story that we needed more money find what we wanted just didn't appear to hold water either. So the frustration level has been increasing. It is hard to imagine in my mind that coming to the midwest(I was born and raised in the midwest) that I could not find a small farm acreage to setup as our homestead. Sadly most of those old farmsteads are gone or have been converged to these micro acreages and were still commanding large sums of money.

Well my wife was once again reminded about the farm that was mentioned to us previously and that the seller was really wanting to get the place sold. The person telling us this is just a family friend of the seller and not connected in any way. We finally decided to call the seller and setup an appointment to go see this place and really were not holding our breaths as each place we have gotten excited about has turned out badly. We went out to look and much to our surprise it is in fact an old farmstead that still had some acreage(about 18 acres). This is nice flat to gradual sloping land that is mostly in hay at this point. The house is a nice large older farm house(built around 1900) which has been taken care of reasonably well. It does not have any updates or newer appliances etc so it will need some TLC. However structurally it is pretty sound. The property has several outbuildings however they are all in need of TLC and major cleaning and repairs. Again however they are solid enough that I can put them to use right away and we can pick and choose our battles as we go. No show stoppers there. The land has a lot of trees planted around the house. Looks like apple, pear, mulberry, and walnut trees. The place is overgrown and the trees need some serious pruning and love. I am hoping that I will be able to salvage the fruit trees and give us a head start on our other plantings of more fruit trees as we go. I walk out into the fields and looked around and this is going to be a lot of ground to work! It doesn't sound like much when you say it, but it is a lot when your walking out on it and thinking about all the work you will have to do to convert this space back into a real farm once again. It is a bit intimidating.

So we decided to make an offer on this place. It needs a lot of love and work, but we think it is the best compromise we have seen in our search. We weren't sure if the seller would accept our offer since is was substantially below their asking price, but we just couldn't justify spending more knowing what all needed to be done. So we made our best offer out of the gate and hoped it would be accepted. The sellers are 3 siblings and this farm used to be their parents place. They have since passed away and the kids are left with the decision about what to do with the farm. After some deliberation they accepted our offer. We did however make some stipulations in the offer as to the things that needed to be done such as passing a home inspection, well and septic inspections, and things of that nature. Anything that looked like it was going to get too expensive to fix gives both sides the option to either negotiate the costs or to back out of the deal and all earnest monies are returned. So that is where we are presently. We have presented the list of needed repairs and fixes found in the inspection and now waiting for the sellers to agree to the needed repairs and to address those concerns. I am trying not to count my chickens before they are hatched because strange things happen all the time and something could yet come up that makes this deal fall apart. So we take it one day at a time and just try to get everything we can done with the banks, inspectors, and all involved and hope that we get to see this thing through to completion of the purchase.

There are some surprises to this place that I will share with you at a later time that will showcase why I felt this place was the right one, but I don't want to spoil the surprise yet so you will just have to tune in later to see what we discovered and just what makes this place a little special and really is ideally suited for our prepper homestead. I think you will like it too!

I will get some pictures post for you later and show off the place once we finally close on the property. Again not counting chickens before they are hatched...


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