Monday, June 21, 2010

herding, help, and homes

Yesterday was Gibson's first herding clinic. The first of many, I'm sure. We were only there to watch, not participate (at 14 weeks, my pup isn't ready to tackle an angry trio of ewes) but just sitting among shepherds is a lesson in itself. The conversations about dogs, training, and sheep abound. My osmosis you pick up little tricks and tips. You listen to the observations on the the stock in the field, the dogs at work, and the farmers explain their methods. There's also rumors, jokes, gossip and potluck spreads, pretty much what you get with any gathering of people. But the humid summer morning, and the curling black clouds calling a storm, made the day a little storied. A little surreal. I spent all of it on a cooler talking and watching while Gibson play and tackle the other collies. It was nice to see him tussle with his future like that. Here you can see him crashed by lunchtime. While the older dogs were pacing and raring to go, Gibson needed a nap. He fell asleep right in the middle of the circle of chairs.

More on his day tomorrow, I'm in the middle of final edits on this chicken book and that's why posts are thin these days. I'm also just over some company (my sister and her husband) who were amazing guests and helped cook, clean, and taught me how to light and use my new/used charcoal grill Steve rescued from a tag sale fate for me. So much was done with family, and my sister loved the farm. It's hard not to love, even if it's covered in chicken poo and stinging nettle.

And my big idea: I want to help some of you find your own farms. I got here, and now I want to show those who are just as eager how. Buying rural property wasn't hard, I could do it by trial and error—but I learned some things I'd like to share to help anyone out there who is seriously considering buying land by October. And if you're renting right now and think I'm talking crazy... I bet we could find you your own farm by fall. I was able to move into my home with a no down-payment USDA loan, something I didn't even knew existed this time last year. Because of that, a recession, dumb luck, sellers concessions, and annoying the hell out of my realtor and mortgage broker I got a house. You can too. I promise. It's all faith, sweat, and realtors baby. CAF wants to help you find home.

32 Comments:

Blogger Sense of Home said...

Best wishes on your new book.

I think you are smart to introduce Gibson and yourself to both of your futures this way.

-Brenda

June 21, 2010 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Wow! Would love to hear your ideas on finding that special place in the country, Jenna! We are currently renting a place in the country from friends (we finally sold our house in town - wahoo!!!) - and are earnestly seeking our "forever place" on a few acres! Any and all ideas would be deeply appreciated!

Can't wait for your chicken book!!
Sarah in MN

June 21, 2010 at 11:28 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hey Jenna- stinging nettles fermented in rain water (or well water- chlorinated tap won't do) makes a swell natural fertilizer called 'purin d'ortie' by the French and will evidently shore up your plants so well they can withstand insect attacks pretty well. I went as far as to order nettle seeds just so I could make some.

Come to think of it, chicken poo is a great fertilizer as well. You're just up to your hips in great stuff!

When you get a chance, tell more about your weekend with your sis...love your new big idea by the way.

June 21, 2010 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

How much does Gibson weigh now, he looks huge for 14 weeks. Just curious, does anyone loose track of their dogs with all those black and white dogs running around?

I think it is a great idea to share your purchasing experiences with others.

June 21, 2010 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Carrie in Wisconsin said...

As I am going for my real estate agent's license currently, I'd thought I'd throw my two cents in. And it has nothing to do with the technical side. All I have to say, is the couple that are mentoring me have their hearts in the right place. They believe in putting the right person in the right house for them. The motto for which the company I am to work for is "bringing houses and people together to make homes". Not a bad motto. And I'm proud to say that I will be working for them. What I've learned about doing this is NO ONE should have to hound their realtor/real estate agent. If they are truly in it for YOU(the buyer/customer or buyer/client) they should stay in constant contact with you. There should not have to be hounding from you the buyer/customer or buyer/client. Otherwise, my concern would be they are out to make their own buck. Unfortunatly, in my area, I question people's motives for selling you a house. I hope, Jenna, that you had a great experience with your Realtor, and that they were fully able to explain to you how the real estate world functions. I'd share more, but I am still taking the course and have NOT yet gotten my license, but know enough about it so far to throw in the two cents that I've thrown in. Again, this is one woman's opinion here. But my suggestion to anyone looking to buy a house is to make sure that your realtor/real estate agent and the broker that they work for(if they themselves are not a broker) have your best intrests at heart, and truly know what you want in a property. And, that they properly explain how the real estate world functions before you jump into it.

June 22, 2010 at 12:55 AM  
OpenID urbanadaptation said...

Sounds like a great day with Gibson, and I'm looking forward to hearing about his training as it moves forward.

While I'd love to find a farm (and have been searching local listings for awhile to see what's out there), I don't know that I'm settled enough to find something right now, both in terms of not knowing where I'll be in a year and financially as I finish up my dissertation. That said, any thoughts you have on the process would be well-received.

June 22, 2010 at 1:35 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Gibson is going to be a large border collie, around 50-60 pounds. HIs dad was 50. He's 24 pounds now. They joked that i got a cow from idaho by mistake, since he's so large and loves the grass.

June 22, 2010 at 5:34 AM  
Blogger Myndful said...

Anybody who wants to be a little further south...come to Maryland's Eastern Shore! I just bought a property in Somerset County - had to sign a "Right To Farm" notice!

June 22, 2010 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

I can't wait to hear your tips about buying a property. We are, presently in a home in suburbia, so we can't move until we sell it. But I'd love to know the process to make things easier when the opportunity presents itself. Thanks as always, Jenna, for giving of yourself. You are mighty blessed.

June 22, 2010 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Sounds like a great time is being had all around! Such a change from the posts while you were sick. I'm glad to hear it.

The other posters are right; Gibson does look huge! My Leeloo (while being a mix w/a lab) is just nearing 30lbs, she'll probably be around 40 and she's almost six months now.

Good luck with everything, Jenna. Sounds like you're heart is in the right place. I'd take you up on the farm bit but we own the land, now just have to figure out how to get a house on it!

June 22, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger kelly said...

Hey Jenna,

I am in the process of looking for a farm myself. Unfortunately, the USDA money has run out. It ran out just before I was ready to close on another property (it's actually good that it didn't work out with that one; it wasn't a good fit after all). Hopefully Congress will vote to fund it again when I am ready to finally buy! I actually have found a place, but it's up for auction. I've never done this process before and I think I'll need to find a realtor (not my current one) that has some experience with this.

You are very inspiring. Thanks for that.

June 22, 2010 at 8:27 AM  
OpenID kragore said...

I am in the process of looking, but in the area I have to look (because I have to maintain my day job,) it's going to be damn near impossible (Greater Worcester, MA).
Any plot that's big enough to support my critters (beef cows) is priced to be parceled off for McMansions. I'll keep looking, maybe I'll get luck and something will turn up.
- K.

June 22, 2010 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger ShepherdWannabe said...

We are looking for a house/farm at the moment....I had no idea about the USDA money! Looking forward to your advice!!

June 22, 2010 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger kelly said...

http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/SupportDocuments/housing_2010-4498.pdf

Here is the document showing that as of March 4, 2010 there is no money in the program. Keep your eyes open for more funding. Write to your congresspeople!

June 22, 2010 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

Also looking forward to your farm-hunting tips! We're looking for our own farm to start raising alpacas (among other things), and it could sure come sooner than later.

My Old English Sheepdog loves grass too. I always joke that he only heard the "sheep" part of sheepdog and missed the "dog" part.

June 22, 2010 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...

Jenna - we cannot WAIT to move to a farm. We are currently renting a home in a suburban area near Dayton, Ohio. Eventually (I'm hoping) I will be relocating with my job...we are working on our credit now. For now, we have to be satisfied with a small garden in the back of the apartment and a bunch of plants in pots.

June 22, 2010 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Betty in CA said...

I am happy to hear about all the progress you have made in such a short time--that is wonderful! :)

Yes, please post your insight and comments on purchasing a farm and how you went about obtaining a USDA loan. I live in CA where young, aspiring farmers have a hard time entering into that profession due to high land prices. Thank you.

June 22, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Betty in CA said...

It is wonderful to hear the amount of progress that you've made in such a short time.

Yes, please post any insight you have re obtaining a USDA loan to purchase real property. I live in CA where high land prices keep prospective farmers from entering into that profession. Thank you.

June 22, 2010 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger OnNotFittingIn said...

Jenna,
First i want to thank you for all the inspiration you have given to me. It has been awesome to read your blog and see that some dreams really do come true. I have my own dreams of owning a own small homestead someday with my husband and hopefully a couple of rugrats, but for the moment I live in the city in an apartment and content myself with balcony farming. (rewarding but really not the same.) I would love your advice on finding a place of our own. Living in California, the options are limited, but we'll get there some day.
You're cube dwelling reader,
Danielle

June 22, 2010 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Summermelonfarm said...

Yesss! Can't wait for the farm finding tips! :)

June 22, 2010 at 12:54 PM  
OpenID gileadgoats said...

Speaking of herding....I need to find someone with a good herding dog to help me round up my new shetland ewes, they've been on the lam for over a week now. Can you share a contact number for the herding folks? I feel like there must be someone nearby that could help. Chasing them around the area isn't doing any of us any good, and I won't be able to rest until they are safely back in the barn/pasture. Thanks in advance

June 22, 2010 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger unshaped place said...

I am so excited about moving out to the country soon too! Ah... definitely within the next few years. Y'all are all really inspiring.

June 22, 2010 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Amy McPherson Sirk said...

Thanks for giving us the chance to watch your transformation. I bought my first home 4 years ago. I'm about at the limit of what I can do in a small town. Once I finish up my degree (old lady going back to school) we'll be looking for a place with more room and less restrictions.

June 22, 2010 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Jenna, thanks in large part to your book and this blog, my family has begun the search for property of our own. We already raise chickens and have more vegetables than grass in the backyard, but we've reached the legal limit of what we can do in the City of Spokane and hope to get our own little plot soon. We're having trouble getting financed, thanks to the general recalcitrance of lenders these days and our having taken advantage of some federal aid recently (who would have thought getting help meant hurting ourselves in the long run?). Anyhoot, in a day or two we find out if we can start our own little freehold or not. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

June 22, 2010 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Chenga said...

Hey, Jenna! I'm such a huge fan. While we are in no position to buy anything for many years to come, we are making progress. Moved out of the city into a duplex in the country. Have a yard to garden and am in the middle of nowhere. Loving life. Thanks for all you do.

June 22, 2010 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Damn The Broccoli said...

Love the chicken poo and nettle, they will make you a fine compost. And they are free and natural.

Nettles can also be used for cooking. Dry them and grind them down for a herb to add to anything or boil for about 5 mins and eat like spinach, you can drink the water they are boiled in as tea.

They are high in good stuff and have been linked to cures for arthritis among other things.

They are also a powerful colouring if you want to dye anything green.

Nettles are one of those outsiders that no one likes and has forgotten the importance of!

June 22, 2010 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

It must be all that fur. Gibson looks like he already weighs 35 pounds!

June 22, 2010 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Jenna, you've already helped! Your book and blog have encouraged me to garden. This evening I tended to my extremely small garden of cucumbers and tomatoes, marveling at how quickly they're growing and how one tiny seed can become so much food. But, yes, please continue to help us turn our lawns and balconies into farms!

June 22, 2010 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Lorri said...

kragore - go to this website, and read the small print on the main page. Not sure if it's what you need but it's in eastern mass, at least...

http://www.carlislefarmsteadcheese.com/

Jenna - the farm finding tips will be much appreciated! I'm looking forward to them!

June 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

Hi Jenna - I tried emailling you about six months ago on the same topic. We're trying to find the right agricultural property in upstate NY or VT but we live in England and it's difficult wading through the real estate on the 'net.

I've only got experience buying land and homes here in the UK and I need a crash course (or pointers anyway!) on what to look for and what to look OUT for. If you think you might have some info/wisdom to pass onto us, I would be grateful. Please email.

June 23, 2010 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Jenna! You inspire me even more with your farm. I've been looking for a small patch of heaven the last couple of years. I live in Fl but am a country girl whose entire family were farmers. Cotton, Soy, cattle, pigs, chickens, venison. Canned jams and jellies from any fruit my grandma could get her fingers on. Since the fallout from the gulf disaster I have begun my search once again. This time I have September goal to move my family up. I don't want to wait for the fumes and oil to wrap around the Florida coast line. My days are consumed with where to go. I am looking in the Catskills area and south. I absolutely love VT. I have found Vt. is more expensive than NY. However, NY property taxes are out of control.
SO who nows? With grace and many blessings from above I hope to be north with my family on a farm this fall. My dream! I am going to send up a prayer each night for everyone on this site that desires the same.
Peace!

June 24, 2010 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger sgtgriffsgirl said...

Hey Jenna! Hubby and I just bought a 5 acre place. So far we have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 angora rabbits, 4 hens, 2 roosters, and are getting a goat tomorrow. We are wanting to live as self sufficient as possible. Hubby is in the Army, and we were tired of living in military housing. While living on base, we did what we could. We gardened from containers. Grew watermelons, eggplant, tomatoes, sooo much squash, mint, pumpkins, herbs, zuccini and so much more. Your blog is so inspiring. We have your book, and it rarely stays put on the bookshelf. Thanks for all you do, and best of luck with the farm. We are thinking of you as we start our own.

October 7, 2010 at 8:37 PM  

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