Tuesday, August 25, 2009

i think i'll call him joseph

I had my meeting with the bankers yesterday. They kindly declined the first step—the pre-application. After explaining my finances they simply shook their heads and politely and patiently explained what next steps I should take and what I needed to have saved to return and apply. I'll still meet with another bank or two. Not because I expect a different response, but for more advice and suggestions/rates and conversation. Looks like it'll be spring until I can really think about my own farm... And even then that's only if everything works out.

I did mention it was a tall ladder.

After such a rejection, even a rejection I expected, I felt a little down. But now I know exactly what I need and where I should be to try again. Before I talked to the bank buying my own farm was a romantic goal. Now it's an understood plan. Even that evolution of an idea was worth the embarrassing meeting.

Besides that, things at the farm are going smoothly. The new lamb (who I have not stopped calling Joseph) has been accepted into the flock. It was rough and tumble at first but now that Sal and Maude have explained they get first dibs on everything: all is well. Last night I moved all 300 feet of electric netting to a fresh pasture section of the yard. Tonight those sheep will feast! I can not wait to let them out on the hilly side for their new grass. Last night when everyone was outside grazing, and the new young chickens were chasing moths and bugs around the yard—I grabbed a ja of birch beer and sat outside with a book and watched Farm TV. It reminded me of doing so with Diana (my original farm mentor) in Idaho.

I doubt everything I call Cold Antler Farm; the thirteen raised bed gardens, the chicken coop, the rabbit hutches, the goat pen, the sheep shed and pasture—I doubt all of this takes up 3/4 an acre (maybe less) in my backyard. There are 6 acres of land here but very little is cleared. So what I call a 'farm' (In all fairness CAF is what I am working towards more than anything else) is really just a backyard. And I don't say that in a negative way. If you're looking outside your kitchen window at your own half acre (or even less)—you sure can make it thrive. Just set up some good fences and dig in.


Blogger kate said...


Keep your eyes out for property you like, pick up free weekly guides outside grocery stores with real estate ads, and let people in your town know you are interested, with a timetable of not before next summer if they ask.....

It takes time to find the property that suits you, so use the delay to look around.

I think you are right about finding property for under $150,000. I got my three acres (one cleared) and a small cabin for $102,500, in SW Vermont, 18 months ago. It was once part of a horse ranch.

I took about five years on and off looking, so waiting til spring can be disheartening, when bankers say that, but you can really use the time for lots of good looking around!

Good luck!


August 25, 2009 at 7:11 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

thanks kate. that land and price you suggested would be a fine start!

August 25, 2009 at 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't think of it as a rejection or even an embarrassing meeting. Think of it as one step in the learning process. It's something you've never done before, and there really isn't a "How To" out there that's a one plan fits all. Besides, if it's your first time doing something like this, how are you suppose to know how to do it? I wouldn't know the first step in looking to buy a place, other than setting up a meeting to find out what I have to do. We're young and inexperienced, and that's okay. How else are we going to learn if we don't jump in when we feel brave enough to find out? :)

August 25, 2009 at 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Tony in Asheville said...


I deal with banks routinely as part of my business and quite often I am told no. This always agrivates me and makes me feel as if they are saying there is something wrong with the deal or my structuring.

Inevitably I walk out mad and then remind myself that this was only one bank. I have literally walked into the bank next door and had them say yes to the exact same deal. One that stood out was the banker next door looking up at me and saying, "this is a no-brainer, how's next week sound for a closing?"

Right now most all banks are running scared and lending little despite what the news would have you believe. The lending pendulum has swung too far the opposite way but it will no doubt come back to norm for a bit.

Hang in there. Use this "no" as a motivation and take the figures they gave and make them your goal. Chances are you will surpass those and still just get the "yes" you need from a lender.

I also like that you have realized just how much "farming" you have done and on less than 1 acre. So much can be accomplished when land is better used. This smaller plot mentality just might make your first farm a quicker reality if you don't need a great deal of land. Keep in mind that this will be your first farm and may not be your last farm. While it is not fun to move all that, this is more likely a stepping stone to a larger farm some day. The equity you gain will be the banking difference that leap frogs you to larger deals. Should you stay on that first property that is even better.

Hang in there lady.

Tony in Asheville

August 25, 2009 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Allisone said...

Wow, by Spring? That is really pretty fast. This is so exciting! Start looking for property now. Soon everything will have that lovely coating of snow and you'll have no idea what it looks like green.

August 25, 2009 at 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be discouraged by the bank. Last Tuesday (8/18), the Wall Street Journal carried an article about Vermont, and how it has some of the strictest lending laws in the country. As a result, Vermont has one of the lowest foreclosure rates; the flip side is that it is harder to get a mortage. Take heart, knowing that when you do buy, you will be on much firmer financial ground, with a lot less risk. You've now got a plan, and we're all rooting for you!

August 25, 2009 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...


You are so far ahead of where you were before the meeting. Even though your finances are exactly in the same shape, you now have knowledge, your dream is more defined and you have a path set before you whereas before everything was a "someday". I am proud of you.

August 25, 2009 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Jody M said...

I agree with what Kate says. Also, if you start physically looking at properties be sure to keep notes of likes/dislikes and needs vs. wants. You might notice something and then totally forget it.

Keep in mind, too, that a lot of banks will OK you for way more loan than you can actually handle. Case in point, I was talking to a man once who was looking for a home for his family, and the broker told him he could afford $400,000. He knew he couldn't. He pressed the broker on it, and the broker told him that *the industry had figured out how to juggle the applicant's risk, which allowed the banks to loan out more money to the applicant than they had been able to before*. It also allowed the loanee to often become the foreclosee.

In other words, you run the numbers and if you know you can't afford it, don't listen to them when they assure you that you can.

August 25, 2009 at 9:15 AM  
Anonymous kandy Gray said...

*Jody M- the banks did that to us too here in montreal. we when to re-negotiate our mortgage in order to get some $ for renos, and the bank literally asked "how much do you want?". when i asked what she meant, i was told that we were pre approved for 450,000.oo! our original mortgage was for 165, 000.oo only 5 years ago! i mean, i got a small raze of a few cents, and my husband had gotten a bigger one, but nothing that justified 450,000.oo. needless to say that we only took what we needed for to put in the second bathroom.

jenna, spring is not that far away, surprisingly close, start looking, so that you can get your "perfect as possible" fit when you can buy.

love that new sheep by the way; what a looker!

August 25, 2009 at 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jenna - Have you considered an FHA loan? They only require 3% down, instead of the scary 20% (like who has $40K to put down on a farm???).

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. I have a fear of debt, which is holding me back from buying my little dream homestead.

Someday. :)

August 25, 2009 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Jenna--you're in a great position now. I totally agree with Tony in Asheville because I've had the same experience. Everyone has very good advice here. I'm so impressed with your presence of mind and good sensibility when it comes to accomplishing your goal. Some day you'll look back and realize that this meeting was a step along the road to what you wanted. And, may I say, don't feel even the slightest bit embarrassed. You have nothing to feel embarrassed about--you are the kind of person banks wish would walk in their doors to do business. You may find this rejection was a blessing after all because the farm you want to call your own is out there waiting for you to find it. I agree with the others--enjoy the search. You know we're all rooting for you and I am sure in the end, you will have more blessings than you can even imagine right now. Mimi

August 25, 2009 at 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Abi said...

Oh, sorry to hear it but hang in there and don't take No for an answer ;)

We're in the process of starting our own Organic Egg Farm/Poultry Farm right now and our business plan has been rejected twice by ag lenders. Still we're going forward and you are so right about learning. Each time we submitted our plan we learned more and more.

It's a tough time to buy or seek lending but owner financing is a huge option now since sellers are having a hard time too. Something to think about.

I think Kate is right too. It allows you to really search for that right property. Have fun!

August 25, 2009 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Sarah Sanders said...

Hang in there, Hun!

August 25, 2009 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

I'm glad Joseph is home and that you have a plan to own a farm. If prices here were similar, I'd go for it too. Here a simple home with 5 acres is well over 150. In Ohio, none-the-less.
We'll keep planning and working that way.

August 25, 2009 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Good Morning Jenna,

I know you'll pick yourself up and move forward with the valuable info from the bank. It hurts though - Iknow.

My husband left me 28 years ago when I was 7 months pregnant and had one other child and I raised them and put them through college and graduate school and finally got my dream - I bought my own home at age 55. It WILL happen for you too (but MUCH sooner than it did for me). My motto is that 'you do what you have to do' and it all works out somehow.

Your advantage is that you know what your dream is and are moving toward it! Nothing will stop you now!

I admire you so much. Last Saturday I was so excited to get my copy of Made From Scratch in the mail. I am having surgery in October for a hip replacement and plan to read your book and your blogs from the last couple of years while I'm recovering to keep me in a peacful, healing state of mind. I also have a dream of at least urban homesteading some day when I'm healthy again, and you encourage me every day.

Appreciate you,
Salt Lake City
p.s. meow-love from my three cats to your gentle animals

August 25, 2009 at 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so lucky. You have a HUGE support system rooting for you all the way. Lots of great advice, a cheering section, a great shoulder to lean on when you're a bit down. There's some old saying my mom used to say, something about friends and joy doubled, sadness divided or something. I think about that here, for you - you have all of us to root for you when things are going well, to sympathize when things aren't so perfect, for a day, or even a moment, and lots of people who are in your shoes for company, people who've been where you've been for advice, and people who wish they were where you are to look up to you and admire you.
You are a lucky girl!


August 25, 2009 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

This is a great time to start taking notes, if you haven't already-when it rains, where does it flood? Do you see corn standing on land to is too wet to get to at harvest time? Do you notice where things grow and where they don't? How about areas that snow is more a problem. I can name you at least 5 places within 10 miles of me where the wind blows harder and the snow drifts deeper than the neighbors. Think about your needs and your wants. I'm sure since you are a planner and a writer, you have these things figured out. It does make good reading for us,though!! When in counseling after divorce, I was advised to write about the things that were important to me about ME and then of a spouse...just getting myself back in charge- what I needed, what I wanted, what I could put up with and what I couldn't. Not a bad practice when you are making ANY major decision in life. Sometimes we just drift along taking it as it comes, but sometimes we just need to be reminded to look outside the box and up out of our comfortable rut and see what else is out there...sorry, a little long winded... enjoy your dream..it's there for you..not too far.

August 25, 2009 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Melodie said...

Don't give up on your dream!You rock farm-chick-sista !

August 25, 2009 at 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

Just think of all the positive energy thats being sent your way from all the readers of this blog!!!! With that kind of help there's no way you won't get your farm! The woman I am currently working with, her husband owns a century 21 office in the area, and her advice to people that are looking for property is too make sure that the real estate person you chose to work with has your best interests at heart. Keep that in mind as well as you start to look. I have no doubt that you'll change the banks mind about lending you the money for your farm! Your a smart girl Jenna!

Ps. Love the new name you picked for the new guy!!!!

August 25, 2009 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You can do it! Don't give up, just keep working on Your Plan. I have one too: cubicle-free by 40. It will take hard work, but we'll get there.

August 25, 2009 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Rhonda Jean said...

You have your plan now. A realistic one. Celebrate that. And as Kate said, keep looking.

I love that you have all these wonderful comments and people supporting you in your quest for a self reliant future. Take care, love.

August 25, 2009 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Conny said...

Yes, yes, we're all behind you Jenna!! You knew that already, didn't you?

Not "if" but "when."

I love your "backyard" farm. Even a city lot can produce - mine is 1/8th of an acre, which is a good-sized lot in Silicon Valley.

Cheers to you.

August 25, 2009 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger Moon said...

Webster's defines a farm as both a tract of land devoted to agricultural purposes & a plot of land devoted to the raising of animals and especially domestic livestock.

You have an authentic farm there, my sweet, and you're doing more with your little bit of land than any person I know.

You've always functioned well setting goals, researching the available materials, creating a plan and then acting on it. You're already at step #4, creating a plan. How wonderful! One day we'll be watching FarmTV at your new farm and they WON'T be reruns for me anymore!


August 25, 2009 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...


Check with a mortgage company rather than a bank. Often you will be able to get a loan with them when a bank says no. Worked for me. Good Luck! Cathy in Florida.

August 25, 2009 at 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spring is so soon! You will do it and you will do it right, we all have confidence in you.

I love the name Joseph for your new sheep. It fits perfectly with Maude and Sal....and Finn and Jazz and Annie. He's so cute. Did you choose him for his dark wool? Just curious.

August 25, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with your endeavors. At least you have a tangible goal to work toward.

As far as working in my own yard... we have 1 acre total and I would love to have some chickens. Unfortunately, we are not zoned for anything but cats and dogs - although our home is in a relatively semi-rural area. Any suggestions on how to petition the county? Don't know if you've had any experience with that.

August 25, 2009 at 9:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Jenna -
I read your posts occasionally and enjoy them. Keep up the great work online and on the farm, and at the "job." You'll find your own farm eventually - as you said, it doesn't have to be big.
North Idaho is still green and full of fun.
Ted Wert

August 25, 2009 at 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...


Rejection....been there and done that. It is a little dis-heartning, but it makes you stronger and more determined in the end. I'm a Realtor here in Georgia and specialize in the rural properties like you seek.
My suggestion?....look for an older couple or a widower or widow and ask them if they are interested in selling all or part (I don't know how much land you're needing) and if so, would they be interested in Owner/Financing. Several families here are land rich and money poor. With this option, you get started right away and start building equity. I have structured deals this way before and the owners have been happy to sell part of their farm and have some extra income. Like the other comments here, banks are a little nervous loaning out to some folks with less than steller credit (less than a 750 Beacon). The banks are just going back to the way of doing business like in the 80's.....so I've read (I'm just 32..LOL) I only deal and refer my clients to local "community" banks. They know the land and probably even who you're buying from. When you need questions answered, you go right in sit down witht banker eye to eye. Your honesty and integrity will shine through. A landowner would be crazy not to love you a first site and be willing to make you a neighbor. Hey, the promise of good bread and frequent "Masonades" won't hurt either!! Keep your chin up girl!

PS: Have you ever heard or read the Foxfire books? If not let me know, I've got a couple of extra copies that I can send. I love them as they tell the old ways of doing things like farming, raising animals, telling 'haint stories.

August 25, 2009 at 10:21 PM  
Anonymous René said...

Really you've been working towards this for years so a few more months of patience isn't going to do you in. It's tough turning a dream in to a reality. I'd recommend finding a realtor who is familiar with rural property. If you have checked it out yet, The Encyclopedia of Country Living has an excellent section on the practicalities of buying a homestead. There's so much more to it than I every expected. I'm not sure what you're using to search for properties, but I find the "land for sale" link on Mother Earth News has a much better search engine for rural properties than the typical brokerage website. Since the only thing driving you to move right now is your desire for your own place, you have time to shop around and be picky. Good luck with your search!

August 26, 2009 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger Naomi said...


I understand what you mean about CAF being a process - tarabrae farm has been in the planning and slowly building stage for a few years, and in a few houses.

Now we are on the farm, it is regrowing slowly, and taking a new and even better shape.

It will come - and all the planning, learning and experimenting will be worth every moment.


August 26, 2009 at 6:00 AM  
Blogger omnicharm said...


Nothing I can say that everyone else hasn't said already but one more voice doesn't hurt, right? There is absolutely NO REASON to be embarrassed by the meeting with the bank. Our system as a whole does such a poor job of educating people on financial topics that the only way many of us learn is by being rejected for something we want and then figuring out how to make it happen. As you yourself said, now you at least have a plan. And that's more than most people could say!

Hang in there!


August 26, 2009 at 11:27 AM  

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