Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year Subscribers!

     I had some time to burn today and the weather was in a cooperative mood, so why not cut down another couple rows of sunblock (aka trees).  The cleared area isn't so cleared in these photos, but I can only do so much...and I got much done in spite of how it looks!  Hopefully the next trip up will provide me with a couple helpers to collect the cut branches and to stack the log sections that are laying in segments everywhere.  Once they're stacked neatly and the huge burn pile has got more heaped on it...the cutting will be done in this area.  Next up will be clearing the second section of drive path back further into the woods and then nearly clearing an identical area for where we will place our residence.

Jennifer and I have been doing some brainstorming in regards to our farming options.  Here is our dilemma.  We don't like to pull weeds.  We don't like the thought of wild foragers (deer and others) feasting on any/everything we will eventually grow.  We are alarmed by the machinery investments costs necessary to work the soil if we went the way of tilling the ground.  We've got seasonal dampness and water issues that might cause growing issues with seedlings and roots damage.  So what do we stumble upon?  Aquaponics:  the merging of hydroponics and aquaculture.  In a nutshell, fish in a tank, water is pumped with nutrients from their poo, plants absorb the nutrients and in the process clear the water, water returns to the fish tanks.  In a very well maintain and managed system, the plant production in soil-less confined hoop houses is phenomenal compared to traditional gardening.  The plants either float in a bath of nutrient rich water (horizontal), are rooted in clay rocks (horizontal) or are planted vertically in a drip irrigation system and hung in rows while growing a net pot.  With the right species of fish, a well designed system can even grow the plants that will be fed to the fish!  We think we found the solution and a healthy one at that since aquaponics can be done certified organic!  More to come on this in future posts!  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sun up to Sun down...sore, but so worth it!

David and I started early this morning.  My hopes were that we would complete everything we ended up completing.  It was a good day.  The overgrowth and tall marsh grass has been cut down to ground level.  Many small trees and shrubby sucker trees were cut down in the process.  Our piles of scrub, sticks and cut logs are growing.  Not only in size, but in location and numbers.  When the day of the big fire occurs, there will be plenty of fuel to burn.  I lost count on the number of trees I cut down today to make the clearing what you'll view in the photographs. My cousin Dave showed up early afternoon with his Kingquad and tugged the felled trees into a big organized pile.  There's much to do, but today was a milestone in that, at the very least, we can "see" the edges of where the fence will be eventually constructed and the garden will be planted.  I'm hoping for 150X150, but if it works out that we expand a be it!

My cousin Dave found a spot for his deer stand way in the back near the creek.  Didn't get photos of that because we put it together and stood it into position in the near dark.  My cellphone isn't a fan of low light conditions.

Here's the photos I was able to capture during the small window of time that the sun poked through the clouds.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Test Post: Round III

Let's see if this post looks a little more "custom" when its delivered to your inbox.  I've changed a couple things with the hopes that they would give it a bit more flare!  I'm continue to write here because I also changed the amount of text that is supposed to be delivered with the hopes that you will click on the title link and venture to the actual web to see the full content of what I've posted.  Let's see if this works.  Thanks for the patience!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

More clearing and cutting....

We were able to spend a few hours at the property today.  You can see from the photos that we're starting to have better access to the clearing.  I tried to use the weed eater to take down some of the scrub and tall grass, but it was slow going with the line attachment head.  I'm going to switch over to the heavy brush cutting blade and hope that it cuts it down quicker.  I need to clear about 150 by 150 so that I can burn safely.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tree & Brush Clearing...

I enlisted the help of a co-worker and we accomplished much this morning.  Maybe 5 more trips with similar results will add up to a cleared drive path and completely cleared garden area.  Weather was great, work went fast, and we stacked a bunch of wood for later burning.

The four photos above are of a 100+ year old tree that got blown over in the last wind storm.  This tree is GIANT.  Now it'll be used for plenty of firewood.

Below are the progress pix:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Garden Area Revealed

Clearing the trees.  Its slow going, but we've got the beginnings of a drive back and past this area which will eventually be the garden.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Driveway Culvert Permit Approved!

After somewhat of a wait, I'm happy to report that the permit for a driveway culvert and skirt has been approved.  After a few phone calls, I was able to procure 40' of a 12" double walled PVC culvert and the junction collar for just over $220 including tax and delivery.  The permit calls for 30' so I'll cut the pipe down before installation and save the extra 10' for another project that I'll detail later.

I'm in awe of how things have worked out thus far.  God finds His way and uses people to further His plan unknowingly sometimes.  I'm happy to say that we were once again bless by Divine intervention.  This time, it saved us a fairly substantial sum of money.  How?  Well, it just so happens that the frontage (approximately 305') has been slated for right-of-way access, storm run-off and road improvements.  The township is having a contractor trim the overgrowth and improve the drainage ditch.  The Illuminating Company was concerned about the sucker trees and thick brush sprouting under the wires as they run parallel to the street.  The township was concerned with the same as it pertained to the shrinking ditch that carries water to the creek on the property.  So, the crew will remove all the shrubbery, clear the small sucker trees back to just behind the telephone poles and return the street side drainage ditch to fully functional status.  As part of the work, the contractor has agreed to prepare the ditch, in the area of the driveway, for acceptance of our culvert and grade the property so that the run off flows into the ditch at the skirt as part of the job!  This is a huge savings for us!

I'll post photos of the before and after as the work progresses.  As for now, we're having the culvert delivered to a generous neighbor until we can arrange a convenient time for 10 tons of 304 or 411 stone to be delivered and tamped into place.  It won't be long before we'll be able to at least pull off the street and onto the property when we visit.  Can't wait!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Driveway Culvert

A few phone calls and a brief internet search revealed the correct person to contact regarding permitting a driveway culvert.  The application has been submitted, complete with survey map and detailed instructions on site preference.  Within a short while, we'll hear back from the road inspector on the approval and technical information detailing what will be permitted for installation.  Not a huge announcement, but still a baby step in the correct direction.  We will really enjoy being able to pull into the lot rather than park on the rural 1.5-ish-car-width street.  We'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Land Ownership Journey: Lessons Learned

  As a prequel to the creation of this blog, I'd like to take this opportunity to present a short list of summarized bullet points that led up to the actual land acquisition.  You may consider nearly two years an extremely long duration to purchase land, and you'd be correct...but the events along the way provided a valuable lesson in how a transaction could go terribly wrong if left unchecked.  If you're considering buying anything from a small plot to sprawling farm acreage, these buyer precautions and tips might assist your search.

(Please note:  The following are my recommendations, experiences and opinions. They are not meant to replace the advice of certified, trained and blah blah blah endorsed professional.  In other words, these tips are meant to help not hurt, but use your own judgement and brain power!)
  • Find yourself a motivated and qualified real estate agent that specializes in stand alone land sales.
     Too many times we felt like second class buyers and weren't being taken seriously.  It took several weeks to find an agent that we felt was interested listening to our needs and actually assisting us.  We were interested in raw woodland property that was less than 50K without a residence and we weren't selling our home in the process.  Finding an agent that is motivated by more than commissions is a challenge but they do exist!  I highly recommend Kayleen McDowell of Congratulations are in order for Kayleen and her team members in celebration of business ownership and the launch of the new website, but don't let the "new" part confuse you.  The professionalism that accompanied our purchase transaction was forged through years of real estate experience.  Jennifer and I wish you all the best in the future!   
  • Even when you've found the right agent and have been equipped with an internet based buyer preference portal, continue to search the web on your own.
     If it wasn't for Jennifer's persistence in scouring the internet and the most obscure land sales websites, we would have not found our parcel. 
  •  Submitting a purchase offer?  Get your financing in order first,  keep your offer reasonable and leave the bulk of your down payment in the bank.
     Formulating and submitting a purchase offer is both exciting and nerve racking, but even before the pen hits the form get the financing prepared.  Ironically, the term "prequalified" wasn't applicable for us because we were purchasing farmland and not a home.  So, we found a bank that considered raw land/farm acreage loans the norm (many banks do not) and that offered reasonable financing options at extremely competitive rates.  We recommend Farm Credit Mid-America as a result of our positive purchase experience.

     It goes without saying that only you know what you can afford and what you feel the potential property is worth.  The worth only matters to you.  This may be blunt, harsh and to the point...but the worth established by real estate brokerages, agents, and automated online appraisal engines means nothing because they are not the ones buying the property, but the ones attempting to prop up the sale price in SELLING it.  They don't have to come up with the deposit, pay the mortgage, taxes, purchase fees, etc...YOU DO!  Place a bid that you feel comfortable with and know that it is highly unlikely that the first submission will be accepted.  Figure on agreeing to a final figure that falls some place in the middle.  
Submitting an offer requires earnest money, but use caution as to the actual amount!  Give only enough to establish a serious intent to purchase and nothing more.


An earnest money deposit shows the seller that a buyer is serious about purchasing a property. When the transaction is finalized, the funds are put toward the buyer's down payment. If the deal falls through, the buyer may not be able to reclaim the deposit. Typically, if the seller terminates the deal, the earnest money will be returned to the buyer. When the buyer is responsible for retracting the offer, the seller will usually be awarded the money. 


A deposit made to a seller showing the buyer's good faith in a transaction. Often used in real estate transactions, earnest money allows the buyer additional time when seeking financing. Earnest money is typically held jointly by the seller and buyer in a trust or escrow account.

The key element of consideration is the word phrase "the buyer may not be able to reclaim the earnest deposit".  If the deal falls through and/or goes want to be arguing about the return of as little money as possible.  
  • Anxiety safeguard:  a correctly worded purchase offer. 
It was of paramount importance to us that any potential property be free of protective covenants, easements and/or deed restrictions.  The last thing you want is to plunk down your hard earned money only to discover that some other person or force has predetermined how you can or cannot use your property.  Sounds far fetched in a free society, let me assure you IT ISN'T!  Always, always, always include "this offer contingent upon the parcel being free of the
following- protective covenants, easements, and/or deed restrictions."  Do yourself a favor and include "and the transfer of gas, mineral and oil rights" as well.  And to cap your offer off, the inclusion of "must pass a septic perc. test and a 100 year title search".  
  1. Wikipedia's definition:  A percolation test (from percolation, colloquially called a perc test) is a test to determine the absorption rate of soil for a septic drain field or "leach field". The results of a percolation test are required to properly design a septic system.
  • Disclosure Statements:  Fact / Fiction and trusting your gut feeling.
A disclosure statement is a document that provides you with information known to the seller about the property you intend to purchase.  Most of the questions are cut and dry; while others are tainted with loopholes.  Questions that include, "to your knowledge, that you know of, and that you're aware of" leave definite areas for seller vagueness (to their benefit). 

Do not trust the seller's knowledge, trust the certifiable and legally binding opinion of a professional in the field.  The monies spent for a title search, 100 year mineral rights search and a good title company that will outline anything unusual in terms of land use covenants is well worth the investment!

Example 1:  Your dreams of owning and operating a farm have finally come true. You've purchased the ideal parcel in both size and location that will give you the opportunity.  Months later you begin to clear away trees and prepare for the arrival of more livestock.  The pole barn is up and the chickens are clucking away.  A neighbor is passing by and notices the improvements you've made.  Compelled to stop in and say hello, this visitor has more on his agenda.  After exchanging transparent greetings, he brings to your attention a laundry list of protective covenants that prohibit farm animals, prohibit the siding on your new barn and prohibit your RV from being parked anywhere on the lot.  Sound unrealistic?  Not so, even in "the country" things aren't what they appear until you've looked hard enough to see them as they are.  A title search would have revealed these "association" based deed restrictions before you had made the purchase.

Example 2:  Same scenario as above, but this time you're ready to start the farm house build.  The architect has drawn up the plans just as you envisioned them, the builder is ready to get started and you decide to drop into the county building department to pull permits.  A percolation test to determine septic feasibility is needed before anything else.  It is revealed that the lot you love so much will not support a septic system under the newly passed, more stringent, septic system guidelines adopted by your local township.  You read the soil inspection report in dismay because you know that if it won't pass a septic percolation test, your chances of attaining a building permit are zero!

Example 3:  The time has finally arrived, the point where you can relax is here.  It seems that you've done hard labor for years to reach this point.  Your handiwork brings you great pride because everything is shaping up so well on the farm you've built through blood, sweat and tears.  The outbuildings and support structures are up, the livestock are happy, the garden is full with produce.  The farmhouse, complete with its big picture window that allows you to kick back and enjoy the sun setting on the surface of the newly stocked bass pond is almost surreal.  A single tear falls from the edge of your sleepy, yet restless eyes.  You can't believe that an oil company will begin drilling an exploratory hole in your front yard tomorrow morning.  Nature's predawn
melody followed by the furious sympathy of birds celebrating the rise and warmth of the sun will become secondary to the seesaw squeaking inherent of the up/down motion of a well pump activated by the power supply of a noisy generator.  The view of the golden diamond size sparkles bursting off the waves of the pond you spent days digging with a borrowed backhoe will only be destroyed by the shadow of a 20 foot diameter, 12 foot tall oil collection tank.  The worst part?  The royalties, which amount to thousands a month, go to the previous owner.  Sound far fetched?  It would be if only you had ordered and paid for the 100 year mineral rights search prior to signing the final purchase paperwork!  

To be continued...