Gentleman Farmers?


A good friend was looking at pictures of our new acquisition and declared us “gentleman farmers.” As I stood there sweaty, dirty, tired and sore, this struck me as strange. I would argue that as of yet, we are neither. There is progress, but just the kind that makes you feel as though you’ve worked until exhaustion but you aren’t done yet and there isn’t enough done to useful. We are routinely grimy and smelly and sometimes bleeding. Certainly not gentlemanly. And we haven’t “farmed” anything as of yet. There are neither animals to raise nor crops to cultivate. We tend to contractors, and that’s about it.

The careful nurturing of the contractors has, thus far, resulted in a barn which is more structurally secure. While I love the fact that it won’t fall down, I want to see stalls and doors that I can use. I know that nothing in the barn is straight and every piece of wood must be measured individually and cut very carefully to fit and that all takes time, but I really want to see progress that makes it look like a barn.

This week brings the addition of the fencing contractor to the property. He estimates that his work will take a week to finish and the weather looks as though it will cooperate. I can only hope the rocks in the fields are as obliging as the weather. We’ve dug two small holes already and found more rock than dirt. I am glad the fence guy is local and knows what he’s getting himself into.

People ask me if we’ve moved in yet. Yes, we sleep in the new house. There are still several large things and many small things in the old house. I hope I remember this move and avoid the gathering of so much stuff in the future. Or maybe I’ll still gather things, but I just won’t ever move again. Either way will work fine.

????????The farm did produce its first tangible product last week. We had nothing to do with it, but nonetheless, it came off our land. Two very weedy roundbales of assorted wildflowers and a little bit of grass went to a local cow farm. Our fields haven’t been seeded, fertilized, or even limed in a very long time. Consequently, they don’t grow anything palatable enough to feed to a picky animal like my horse. Mere hours before we were going to hire someone to mow the fields, the cow farmer showed up to hay the fields as he has done for years (unbeknownst to us). Apparently, cows eat anything green. They are more than happy with weedy wildflowers and we are more than happy to have the fields mowed and clean.



Today’s vocabulary word is pell-mell. I think it’s apt to describe life right now. There’s been some purchasing of things for our new home and there’s been some freaking out over the fact that we don’t actually have a new home yet.

The closing was supposed to happen this week. Late last week we visited the property to go over the work that has been done. Unfortunately, not all of the work has been done. Hard to see it when it’s still conceptual. Insert freak out episode here.

IMG_0733Bottom line, no closing this week. The carpenter who is already horribly over his time estimate (2 weeks, 5 weeks, what’s the difference!?!?!) is (supposedly) working furiously to get the work done. His definition of furiously working and mine might be different.IMG_0730

Meanwhile, summer marches on. The flowers are in full bloom, the greens need watering daily, the tomatoes are turning all variations of bright colors, and small furry dogs seek shade under the hostas. It seems that Piper is much more patient than her human companions. I wish I could crawl under those leaves with her…





The appraisal is done and good enough. The inspection is done and wasn’t a total disaster. Overall the house was declared sound and sturdy. There were a few items found to be deficient and in need of repair posthaste.

The tub must have had a small leak and over time the water rotted the joists and subfloor under the tub. Not a huge deal. Very common. Fixable.

The insulation has fallen down off the floor in one of the crawlspaces and the lack of a vapor barrier has led to some moisture related decay. Again, not a terrible finding. Not a very difficult fix.

The electrical is not all new and shiny. It’s an old house. I could have told you the inspector would say that.

And then, the grand finale…the other crawlspace. The dryer vent hose let go a long time ago. There is at least a few inches of lint all over every surface in the crawl space. What’s that? You think that could be a fire hazard? No, not really. Everything is soggy from years of moist air being pumped into the crawl space and the lack of vapor barrier. It’s all simply too wet to ignite. Good thing!

In all seriousness, that crawl space is a nightmare. The contractor that gave us a quote to fix it all called it one of the worst crawlspaces he had ever been in. And he’s got years and years of experience with this stuff.

The good news is that it is fixable. The bad news is that it won’t be easy and it won’t be cheap.

The other bad news is that the seller has now refused to use the contractor we feel most comfortable with. Instead, she wants to use a contractor she’s known for a while. I have no doubt that he’ll have only her best interest in mind and try to do as little as possible so as to keep the bill as small as possible. And then she’ll get to ride off into the sunset with her chunk of change and we’ll be left in the house with whatever problems that may arise.

I don’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about this, but I also have much choice. I don’t want to go back to house shopping. Fortunately, we do get to reinspect it after the job is done. And, if it’s not up to par, we can request more work or walk away. But both of those would mean that we would run into more delays. We first saw this place in early April. Enough is enough!



Do you see that little black dog out there? She’s on a mission. She’s independent as all get out. Her agenda is full every day. She is as anxious as I am to get this house purchasing process over with and to start exploring her own fields.

Exactly one month to the day from when I wrote the check for the appraisal, we received the report. That is a ridiculously long time to wait for an appraisal. There are all sorts of excuses for the delays but none of them are really any good.

The good news is that the appraisal was high enough to make the bank happy. They feel confident that if we default on our loan, they’ll be able to get their money back on the sale of the property. The loan is for a 30 year period and the real estate market is fickle at best. How much will this place be worth in a year or two is anyone’s guess. I find it amusing, and puzzling, that they care so much about what it’s worth right at this very minute. I think it’s all a crap shoot but I don’t plan on defaulting, so really, none of it should matter.

So now, after being told to be patient about a million times, we are supposed to move like lightening to sign documents and schedule an inspection. My motivation to move like lightening is minuscule. Despite this, it is just mid-week, and we find ourselves having signed our names more than a few times already and preparing for an inspection on Monday morning. After the list of issues we had getting the appraisal done, I’m ready to bet that the inspection will hold its own surprises.

The forward progress on the real estate front also means that I’ve cancelled a few plans for later in the summer. There will be no early July horse show for me. I’ll be home packing instead. I am reminding myself that this same show last year saw record high temps and then an epic thunderstorm that cancelled classes for an entire afternoon. Maybe I don’t want to go anyway. And if we’re ready for the show ring now, we should still be ready or more in August or September or October when there are other shows to consider.  The October show was such a good time last year, I really wouldn’t mind going again!


I think once in a while the universe sends you reminders that things aren’t all bad.

Last week was an exercise in frustration. Every time the phone rang it was news of some other exasperating, but not devastating, issue. The worst of it was finding out that there was (yet another) hitch in the appraisal process right before the long weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love a Monday holiday as much as the rest of us, but this time it represented a further delay. But hey, when you’ve had this many already, what’s one more? You can say that many times, but sooner or later, one more is one too many. I’m approaching that limit. As I said to my real estate agent – Maybe we’ll be living there by the first snow fall!

At the same time, I keep reminding myself that there isn’t anything else of interest on the market. If we walk away from this property, we’ll be back to square one without any idea of when we could be starting the process again.

But then there are the small, easily missed reminders that life isn’t all that terrible. This time it was the reminders happened at the barn. My horse is a superstar. She’s in a discipline that she SO wasn’t bred for and she’s broken through every glass ceiling we’ve come to. Just when you think that maybe this is getting a bit hard for her and maybe she’d be best off being able to kick it down a notch, she shows you what else is in there. And then you run home to check the horse show schedule. And this past weekend reminded me that eyes on the ground are invaluable. Even if the eyes aren’t always sure what they’re looking at or exactly what should be said in response, they’re worth their weight in gold. And I had that for 3 consecutive days. It helped so much.

This week’s mission is to see if I can produce the same results without all that help. I know it’s in there, and I’ve got 3 weeks before I’m in front of professional eyes again. I need to be able to produce those spectacular results reliably on demand!

A Lull in the Action

Not really. There’s lots happening, but it’s all in slow motion, so it’s really, really boring to follow in real time. The short version is that we’ve found a new place to lust after and are in the process of seeing if the stars will align. The most difficult part is knowing how many hoops to jump through to prove your worth vs. when the universe is putting roadblocks in place to tell you that this isn’t meant to be. it’s a fine line. 

In the meantime I’ve been keeping my fingers busy. The latest accomplishment…a nice new pair of socks! 

ImageHopefully it’ll be too warm to wear them soon, but until then, I do love them. There is nothing, NOTHING, like a nice hand knit pair of socks on your feet. And I vow to not give these away. It’s been a while since I kept a pair for myself. All the details and such can be found on my Ravelry page here

And can I add, this was a skein of yarn I grabbed out of the “seconds” bin. Second? Really? There was nothing second rate about this skein! Lovely color, soft, not a knot to be found, and best of all – an indigo blue that DID NOT bleed onto my hands as I knit. Perfection.

Tomorrow – another riding lesson. Things are heating up!


Spring may be here (debatable) but things feel bleak. The housing market is full of crap and the word “exquisite” is over-used. 

Last Sunday was spent going to open houses. Houses that were great had land that wasn’t. Great land had unfortunate houses on it. I had a real estate agent argue with me about how much I would like a hot tub. Trust me, I won’t. Overall it was nothing more than a massive disappointment. On Monday we saw a house that was a pleasant surprise. And then we lost it to people who made an outrageously high offer for way more than the house should have been worth. And now we drive by that house on a regular basis in our daily lives and think about what will never be. Unfortunate is another word that’s been overused lately.

Tomorrow is another day of houses. Sigh.

Waiting has grown old. Tensions are high. We are cranky. 


In knitting terms, a swatch is a practice piece. You do a swatch before you knit the real piece to make sure your stitches are the proper size and to see how a small bit of the pattern looks with your yarn. Sometimes you do a swatch and quickly move onto the real thing, sometimes you do a swatch and it makes you reconsider the pattern, the yarn, the needle size, the color, changes to the overall design, or a million other things.


I recently knit this swatch to prepare for a sweater I want to make. The yarn is Lopi and the pattern is a basic pullover sweater with a color work pattern yolk. A perfect match – both authentic Icelandic. But is it perfect? Should I invest the time and money of making the sweater? Maybe I should fiddle with the colors in a different arrangement? Maybe I should look for a lighter grey to better contrast with the black? Maybe I should just bite the bullet and start knitting the real thing.

It has occurred to be that there are many parallels in house shopping and swatch knitting. Is this the one? If we changed it a little here or there, would be perfect? Maybe waiting will reveal a better option? Maybe we should just do it?

The real estate front is quiet this weekend. As always, there are a few irons in the fire, but nothing red hot yet. Until then, we look and we swatch and we debate. 

Big Red

Despite the fact that this winter is dragging on and on and that March has been nothing if not continually cold and blustery, we continue to make appointments to trek out to the boonies to see houses that are of potential interest. The latest attempt: Big Red.

Big Red was…well…big and red. And also very old. These are all things we knew long before arriving. From the street it was an appealing enough house. Definitely an antique – just how we like them. Upon closer inspection we were less impressed. I can’t really pinpoint exactly why, but we just didn’t love it. It felt like I was just walking through a structure and I didn’t immediately see myself there. That said, there were some interesting finds. The basement had the most complete collection of cobwebs I have ever seen. The beams are encased in a solid sheet of them. I know spiders are “good” bugs to have around, but really there has to be a limit. The floors on the rooms on the back of the house have a distinct slant away from the rest of the house. To the point where they might be a challenge if one had a few adult beverages.

The outside of the house was also unique. There are several old stone foundations in the backyard and the garage has been constructed to take advantage of this. Examine the picture below…


Do you see the corner of the garage? Do you see how the wood is cut to fit around the rocks? Here’s a close-up…


The inside of that garage has two walls – side and back – that are made from the old foundation walls. The other two walls and roof of the garage sort of lean onto/into those walls. Definitely unique.

Unfortunately there aren’t any more pictures. The seller’s agent was fairly strict about not allowing me to take any pictures. I think we can chalk that up to another oddity of the property. The ones of the garage were snuck as we were leaving! Shhhhhh!!!!!

While unique is great and definitely on our list of desired attributes, this one didn’t really do it for us. We’re passing and moving onto the next one…cause there’s always a “next one”!