Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the red kettle and big plans

The snow that fell here Saturday night never melted. Outside a thin inch still coats the farm. Only the hundred tiny triangles of goose feet line the path between the coop and the cabin porch. It feels like winter is finally here. In the mornings I have to fill up the red kettle with water and let it whistle before I can go outside. I use the hot steaming kettle to melt the ice on the bird font and Finn's bucket. I learned that Finn will chug cold water and start to shake from the influx. Like how you and I get the chills after eating icecream on a cool night. So I pour hot water in with the cold from the outside faucet and let him drink luke warm water from the big white bucket. Maybe this is babying him: but no one should start their day shaking. Saturday I plan on taking him to his foster home long as Abi and Greg oblige it. I'm really going to miss this little guy around here.

But like so many of you have noticed, this is good. All this business since Thanksgiving has given me some beautiful tunnel vision. My head is down and I'm working hard towards this goal of having my own farm by late spring. So far I've talked with financial advisors, realtors, mortgage lenders and neighbors. The town of Sandgate knows I'm looking. Word is out, homework is being done, credit cards are being paid off and information is coming at me from every direction. I believe this will happen. I'm just not completely sure how yet...

There are a few places for sale in town but the only one in my possible price range is right on the road with once acre. It doesn't feel right. Specially when for a little more there are places scattered all over eastern New York and other parts of Vermont with 5+ acres. I found a 144 year old farmhouse across the state line in Jackson NY with 6.5 acres, a barn, pasture...the works! Knowing these places are around, even if they aren't or can't be mine yet, is comforting. I just have to hope that soon my life and finances will be in order. If the world can offer me something simple, something humble, I will make it into an empire. A small house and three acres with these hands...my god, I could make that place sing! Mark my words. If I get my own place. There will be lambs.

Keep me in your thoughts. I'm not all that superstitious, but I do think if enough good intentions can focus, amazing things can happen. I mean, crikey, today I got a Christmas card from France. FRANCE!? Someone in France is thinking about this cabin and thought to mail me a card? I read it in the headlights of my truck and just grinned like an idiot. If friends who have yet to meet me an ocean away are keeping Cold Antler in their thoughts, maybe some locals around here with hints about houses and land may be too. I'm just going to keep my head up, nose clean, bills paid and do what I have to do. I'll sell the truck, all my instruments, whatever it takes. This girl is getting her home. Hers and no one else's.

When I'm ready the right place will be available, right? It'll happen?


Blogger Angi said...

You are such an inspiration! Can't wait to read about when you find The Place. It's gonna happen!

December 8, 2009 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Abi said...

It is happening already Jenna and we are more than happy to welcome Finn on Saturday! You'll see. When you find the right place there will just be no doubt. You know, we're rooting for you.

I've been giving the Alpacas and the chickens warm water every morning so we promise to keep spoiling Finn for you until you can bring him back home :)

December 8, 2009 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Of course it will happen! We (out here) already know it!

December 8, 2009 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You will most definitely get that homestead!! I made up my mind to own an old farmhouse when I was a very young woman and within one year I had it!! I am still there and have the best life ever. With your attitude and knowhow, you will have it!!

December 8, 2009 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Jenna, don't worry about the "how" of it all, just set your focus and it will come to you. We'll be sending lots of good energy to you!

December 8, 2009 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Alli said...

Hell yes.

December 8, 2009 at 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Draw pictures of this farm you want. Keep it in your thoughts. Hang pictures up of all your wishes. As long as you keep pushing yourself towards it, it will come.
p.s. I will miss Finn, too.

December 8, 2009 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger From the Country Farm said...

Heck yeah it's going to happen! Our little homestead litterally fell into my lap. I was leaving the house to go make an offer on another house that would have worked but that was not perfect, ( after nearly giving up after having looked literally all summer) I was on my way out the door and needed to check email one last time as I was expecting an important one and the listing for this popped up. I sent the link to my husband and mother and called to realtor to see it that night in like 2 hours after it 'popped' into my inbox. We confused the heck out of the realtor (I've got one I highly recommend if you need one lol) who had all the paperwork filled out for the other house but she went along with it. We had it under contract that night in less than 5 hours! This home is it, it's HOME! Yes, it WILL happen. Trust me!

December 8, 2009 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger Gwen said...

Ah, Jenna. It's not your business to figure out *how* this will happen. It's only your business to *know* that it will. We're all rootin' for ya.

December 8, 2009 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger Spring Lake Farm said...

It is going to happen because YOU deem it so!

I'll just be happy to be along for the ride.

December 8, 2009 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger stace41971 said...

I am living proof that with enough positive thoughts and hard work the dream of your own homestead can become a reality. Keep that tunnel vision going and before you know it you'll be walking barefoot in your very own meadow with your very own lambs :)

December 8, 2009 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger karental said...

Don't sell your instruments, at least not ALL of them... Trust me on this one.

December 8, 2009 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

Ditto what Karental said - keep your instruments, or at least the most important ones.

December 8, 2009 at 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny how things have a way of working out when you set yourself in the right direction. Sometimes it takes a bit of adversity to get you going the right way.

My partner & I were turned down for a business loan a week ago, but then we figured out a way to start it on $35K less, and I just got a tip about a part time job that will fill the funding gap. We're actually better off for our bump in the road.

I'm kind of in a place of transition, a place of just moving forward like it's *going* to work out and even though you don't know how, you just keep going until you find a way to get there.

You don't get anywhere if you just stand in one place looking at your shoes, you gotta take one step after another. You can't look too far ahead on the path or you'll falter, wondering how the hell you'll get that far, just keep your head down and take another step.

It is okay to pause, catch your breath and look back a bit. Look at how far you've come, Jenna. There was a time before chickens. Before sheep. I still aspire to chickens and sheep!

You've come a long way, and you'll go much farther. :)

December 8, 2009 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Tony Colella said...

Jenna, it will happen indeed. When it does you will look back and think, "well of course. Look how it all lined up and fell in place just like it should."

We never see this happening but when it does it often looks all too obvious.

Tony in Asheville

December 8, 2009 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Just a word of un-asked for advice... Be sure to figure property taxes into the equation of what you can afford. Properties may be less expensive in NY, but I understand that they have some of the highest taxes around - enough to make a difference in what you can and can't afford in monthly payments.

December 8, 2009 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Yes, please do your homework before you purchase in N.Y. The taxes aren't the only costly expense. Once I got divorced I had no choice but to leave N.Y and move to Ky. I just couldn't afford to live there anymore, and most people I know back home are still scrimping and saving to get by. I'm not trying to discourage you from looking, but Kathleen was absolutely correct as to why the price of houses there are so cheap.

December 8, 2009 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger BurntScone said...

I just thought I'd pipe in with some motherly advice I wish someone had told me 25 years ago (I've moved every 2 years on average)--check as many realtor websites as you can--landandfarms.com is excellent--check out the dairy farms, they can be very reasonalbly priced, check Realtor.com. The advantage to the websites is that you can see photos of the interiors, outbuildings, and so forth within your price range. The big real estate companies like Coldwell Banker, Prudential and others are good resources. Try to tour as many properties as possible, and make sure you have a list of your "Must have"s, "should have" and "would be nice if". This will keep you on track when you are feeling pressured (by yourself or others). Check property taxes (good catch, "Kathleen Stoltzfus")and closing costs (3-5% of the sales price in some places). Make sure you choose a good inspector, because they can catch things (leaky under-house pipes, etc) that can cost you $$$ down the road. Make your realtor work for her money by taking you to as many prospects as possible. You don't want to get a place and see one you would have preferred later. I know you're going to do great, and we're all behind you! When you find a place you like, introduce yourself to the neighbors and ask what they think of the property--neighbors are great sources! Take lots of measurements and pictures so you can plan your spaces. Good luck!

December 8, 2009 at 10:44 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

That is exactly how the universe works and group thought makes it happen even faster! Here's to that first beer and campfire at the new 'stead!

December 8, 2009 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Carrie in Wisconsin said...

Jenna, you will get there! We're all pulling for you. Wait for the place that feels right, thats important. I'll be sad to see Finn go too, but its only for a little while, til you build your empire. And it sounds like he has a wonderful foster home to look forward too. Sending positive energy your way!

December 8, 2009 at 11:14 PM  
Blogger Miss M.J. Ma'am said...

You will accomplish it all Jenna! The best of luck to you, I'm pulling for you all the way!

December 8, 2009 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger KimT said...

it will happen!

December 9, 2009 at 1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll know it when you find it, Jenna. There is a place out there perfect for you. You will find it when the time is right. It has happened to me before. Everything just falls into place.

December 9, 2009 at 2:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 9, 2009 at 2:16 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Jenna, I like your attitude!

I own property in both NY and VT and the taxes are virtually the same, with VT a little higher.

In both states, property taxes also vary a bit in each town.

NY has more programs to reduce taxes, like the STAR program, which cuts $400 off the top of your taxes. (All homeowners except the filthy rich get it, but you have to apply and get your name and property into the tax data.)

NY also has a program where, say you buy 150 acres, you can put 120 acres into a state conservation program, where you use it the same but don't pay taxes on it. People love it. The program might get killed in the budget crisis, though.

(The man who built my house in VT moved across the border to NY, because taxes are better.)

Driver's license, registration, insurance, are all less in NY -- but not enough to be a deal breaker if you find the right place.

Since I can have residency in either state, I checked it out.

December 9, 2009 at 2:47 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What Kate said! Mary and I live on our 5 acre place in NY and I can tell you that the taxes here are less than where I came from in Texas...Watch counties that have big suburban developments like Rensselear and Saratoga, they can be outrageous.

December 9, 2009 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

You are going to get your homestead...we all can feel it.

December 9, 2009 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Jenna, one other thing.

VT has a "transfer tax" which still makes me fuming mad two years after I bought property there. You are required to pay the state of VT 1.5% of your purchase price at closing. It makes me mad because the state of VT didn't do anything for the money, but I have to pay tax? And NO ONE told me about it. It's a lot of money.

NY does not have a transfer tax. NY has a much lower tax on your mortgage only (unless things have changed since I bought my house). Make sure to check these things out.

One thing you might notice is VT is an overall poorer state with few resources in business, etc. That really only matters in severe budget crisis times, when VT can only raise residential property and income taxes. NY has many more options, with a bigger economy, more purchasing power, bonding, etc.

If you buy property in VT, when you sign a contract insist that the seller pay the transfer tax at closing. If you don't insist, you will pay it.

December 9, 2009 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger Mustard Moon Farm said...

I WILL happen, girl! So happy to see you getting closer to your Dream!

December 9, 2009 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

Absolutely it will happen! You can remove that question mark from the end of the post.
And then you can enjoy the experience of looking, knowing that yes, indeed, you are going to find the piece that's unquestionably yours. (I love that I'll get to go along on this journey through your blog posts. Thank you!)

December 9, 2009 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Hey Jenna, I like how things are moving right along! Good for you!

I too live in NY and property & school taxes are considered high, but I've done some research and haven't found that other northeastern states are much cheaper. I suspect it costs $XXX to run a state and the money comes from a number of sources, depending on the state. Not sure how NY's income taxes compare to Vermont's.

A little more unsolicited advice...

One word of caution on buying big old farm houses...they can be notoriously difficult to heat because they have virtually no insulation and are expensive to retrofit. I'd go for something small and tight rather than big and old. You don't want to be paying $800+ a month to keep the pipes from freezing!

One of the concepts I love about some homesteads I've seen is the cluster of small, functional buildings that grow up over time in response to needs. I visited one last summer that, since the late '70's has evolved into a compound of tiny buildings...the original tiny house by a stream, a greenhouse, children's (teen) residence, screen house, library, "bike stable", combination airport hangar (for an ultralite) and "gym", guest house, etc. Very cute and functional and affordable over time.

One other word of caution...I would advise against even thinking about taking money out of any retirement you might have for the down payment. Taking money out now will literally cost you tens of thousands of $$ 30-40 years from now because of the loss of compounding. If you have money sitting there, I know it can be tempting but you'll regret it if you do. (Google "miracle or magic of compound interest" to see what I mean.)

December 9, 2009 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

One more thing on property taxes...taxes can vary considerably from one town to the next because of the school system. If the school has a good reputation it will generally have higher per student costs, so taxes will be higher. County taxes (due in January) are always a lot lower than school taxes (due in September).

December 9, 2009 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Ivy Mae said...

You go girl. Thanks for the inspiration as you work toward your goal. Almost every day I share what you're doing with my husband as part of my strategy to convince him to leave the city on our own farming adventure. Praying for you!

December 9, 2009 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

It's on the way to you...just over the horizon. And it's beautiful.

December 9, 2009 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger BJ Gingles said...

No doubt about it, you will have your place and it will happen. You have too many people pulling for you for it not to be so. Sending prayers, positive vibes and all else your way.

December 9, 2009 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

It sounds like you have struck the perfect balance of actively pursuing your desire and allowing it to happen. Admirable! Follow up those wishes and dreams with "and so it is" to put that solid, positive energy out there!

December 9, 2009 at 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the "I found my new place!" entry. All sorts of good thoughts heading your way from Colorado.

December 9, 2009 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Fanie.ca said...

I'm really enjoying reading all the comments about taxes and money here. So instructive!

If this can help you, I'd suggest you make a "Vision Board". Either from images from magazines/online or you could draw it as well.
I did my first vision Board last year and most of my goals came to reality.

It may sound silly, but it really help on focusing on the things that YOU really want to accomplish. :-)

December 9, 2009 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger nancmcp said...

Like everyone else, I absolutely trust that this will happen. How great that you found folks to foster the kids until you can take them again.

It's encouraging to see that there are places out there, but since you're not quite ready, I think it would be really frustrating to find the perfect place and see someone else snap it up.

When you're ready, the perfect place (for you) will appear! I can't wait to see this unfold...

December 9, 2009 at 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


December 9, 2009 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Dessa said...

You'll get there, girl. I don't doubt it for a minute.

December 9, 2009 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

DON'T seel the truck- you'll need it more than ever with your new homestead!

Keep the faith, and don't settle- get what you want, even if it takes a while. I looked for nine months for my first house and it was absolutely the right place for me at that time in my life.

Move confidently in the direction of your dreams.....

....and a Christmas card from France, known friend or not, is pretty cool....

December 9, 2009 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Lil said...

Good, supportive, positive, etc thoughts being sent your way. Good luck, Jenna! :-)

December 9, 2009 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Jenna and Kate, No t wanting to rain on anyones parade,just for clarification, I wanted to mention that the NYS Star program for school tax rebates no longer exists. Gov. Patterson did away with that this year in order to try to bring the states budget down. Additionally, in the Finger Lakes area of NY I live in, taxes vary county to county, so it is not a certainty that county taxes will be less than school taxes as someone mentioned here. At least not in the county I live in. Chris

December 9, 2009 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Jenna and Kate, No t wanting to rain on anyones parade,just for clarification, I wanted to mention that the NYS Star program for school tax rebates no longer exists. Gov. Patterson did away with that this year in order to try to bring the states budget down. Additionally, in the Finger Lakes area of NY I live in, taxes vary county to county, so it is not a certainty that county taxes will be less than school taxes as someone mentioned here. At least not in the county I live in. Chris

December 9, 2009 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

You will absolutely get your own homesead and little Finn will be back with his Momm-Jenna and family soon! His foster family sound great and they'll take good care of him until then. You're not in this alone Jenna.

December 9, 2009 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger kate said...


You're mistaken.

Please note I did not talk about STAR REBATES. The rebates were ended this year -- the checks that are mailed directly to taxpayers. That is EXTRA, and it was dropped.

I talked about STAR, period. The basic program is still there, where the state shifts money to the school district, which lowers the tax we pay.

These are two different components of STAR. One ended -- and I did not mention it (the rebates) -- but the other part is still there.

December 9, 2009 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger DarcieGlam said...

Oh yes, it WILL happen!!

December 9, 2009 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Point taken, Chris. I should have said *in my experience*, school taxes have always been more than county - both on my property and at our camp in the Adirondacks.

I think Kate is right about the Star program. Basic Star still exists, but the rebate - the check they mailed in the fall for a few years - has been discontinued.

December 9, 2009 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Yes, there are always new places coming on the market. If today's dream house doesn't work out, you'll find a better one next week or next month. One big thing in your favor is that the prices on real estate seem to be trending down everywhere. So that should make it easier to meet your goal over the next 6 months to year.

You have a great deal of will and determination and I have no doubt you will soon be in your own home.

December 9, 2009 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

Another thought (concern) as we do taxes, many people opt to live in PA as opposed to NY not just for the property tax, but for income tax purposes. May be worth having someone do yours, or do your own as if you lived in each state in 2009 and see if it make much difference.

December 9, 2009 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Staci said...

Jenna, I truly wish the best for you. Your new homestead will happen. And how nice that you've found local help in assisting you with your animals until you've got your own place. There are some wonderful people out there.

December 9, 2009 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

Yay! You can do it! (I'd sell the Subaru though. That truck embodies your goal, you know? And it's darn useful. But that's just me.)

December 10, 2009 at 9:31 AM  

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