A Weekend of Preparation – Hay for the Winter

In the recent past our friendly neighborhood farmer would cut our hay fields for us and he would reap the whole harvest as we had no need of it. Now that we have the animals it is going to be important to store up some hay for the winter. The problem was that we have no means of moving the large round bales. I mentioned this to him when he came to cut the grass this time and he said, “Not a problem. I have an old square baler that I haven’t used in years. I’ll just bale you up some of those.” And so he did! When he was done baling there were 20 large round bales and 56 small square bales on the ground.

WhirldWorks Hay Field

WhirldWorks Hay Field

First thing Saturday morning we borrowed our neighbor’s flatbed trailer and I began loading the bales. Our youngest son saw what I was doing and he was not about to be left out of the action. He climbed aboard the trailer and as I threw each bale on he would pull it into place. That was until it got to the second level and he couldn’t pull it anymore. From that point on he gave me direction in the proper placement of each bale in order to create a huge nest. Indeed we did! The bales ended up stacked three high, but at the center was an opening for the nest.

Once fully loaded, we backed the trailer to the barn, but unfortunately there isn’t a gate in the fence wide enough for a truck and/or trailer so I had to park it about 15 feet away from where it was going to be stacked. Little man tried hard as he may to carry, drag or push the bales along the ground, but despite his best determination he couldn’t help with this part. One by one I offloaded the trailer and stacked the bales under the barn overhang. They didn’t seem quite so heavy at the beginning but by about the 20th bale they began to get heavier and heavier. By the last bale I hardly had the strength to throw them to the top of the pile, but made it through and ended up with a winter’s worth of stored hay!

WhirldWorks 2016 Hay Storage

 

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Farm and Homestead Update April 2015

Farm and Homestead Update April 2015

I have discovered that it can be very difficult to document the many activities that go on around the farm, even when there isn’t really a farm yet. I have found, through the sweat of my own brow, that our President was certainly not speaking about farms when he declared, “You didn’t build that!”

Barn

The Barn is at a stage that we shall call complete! It still needs some finishing touches, but in my experience it is unwise to call a construction project finished. We still need to close in the bottom and place rodent protection around the perimeter. We did complete the latter task on one side by placing an additional piece of treated lumber below ground level and then attaching 1/4″ wire mesh that extends under ground for about a foot from the barn. Helpful Hint: If you are planning to purchase 1/4″ galvanized metal fabric, the best price we found was at McCoys. It was probably less than half of what I found anywhere else).

 

Utilities

It is no wonder that so many homestead mentors recommend trying to find land that already has water and electric/gas service on site. It may not be this way everywhere, but the cost of connecting to a water line just across the street surprised us greatly. We’ll be spending nearly $6000 just to get connected to our water supply. We considered having a well drilled instead, but the $20,000 price tag for that knocked that option off the list.The paperwork, too, has been filled with so much legalese that it took some time to decipher.

Electricity is a little better, but for a little more than $2000 I would think they could dig their own hole for a junction box. We finished digging the hole and trench for them to put it in and I am very thankful to live in a place with little to no rocks for this kind of work.

We hope to have both water and electricity installed by the end of this month!

Garden

We have set aside an acre for our future gardening area and have great plans for the future. For the moment though our garden is simply a little 20′ x 4′ plot as a simple token to gardening.

Hay Field

We have a little over 7 acres that will be used for hay production and livestock pasture, but currently my only means of tending the field is a hand-held scythe and a home-made hay baler. While it is fun and good exercise to produce hay in this manner, there is no way for me to realistically work the entire area. Thankfully a local farmer stopped by and we worked out an agreement for him to grow and harvest the hay field.

Forest

So far the forest area is on the to-do list and I’m sure we will eventually be able to tackle it. The creek runs through the forest for the entire length of our property and we have already seen areas where trees have fallen creating dams that back up the water during heavy rains. There are also plenty of dead and unhealthy trees that need to come down. With poison ivy in full bloom now and plenty of other tasks at hand, the only trees being cut are those that have either already fallen on the fences or look like they could do so any minute.

Home Sellers Checklist

(This list is compiled by the author from their experience and is not legal advice on selling a home)

© mancityLong before you ever “pull the trigger” on selling your home, there are some very important steps to consider. Motivation is at the top of the list. If you don’t know why you want to sell your house or set expectations for its sale, the stage for failure is already set. Once you have clearly outlined your reasons for selling the home as well as the goals you have set for after the sale you can begin working through the following list.

  1. Home Inspection: Whether you hire an outside professional or perform the household inspection yourself is up to you. A certified, licensed inspector is likely going to find things you would have never thought of and going this route has its pro’s and con’s. On the positive side, you will have a much better idea what it is going to take to get your house into prime selling condition. On the downside, once you have a home inspection done by a professional, chances are you will need to disclose those results to any future buyer. If you don’t plan to remedy certain items on the inspection it can create a situation in which the buyer(s) want to negotiate a lower selling price or not submit a bid at all. At any rate, a thorough observation of your home is warranted and it is in the seller’s best interest to present the best home possible to the market.
  2. Repairs: If you have lived in your home for any length of time you know there are areas that need more attention than you have been able to provide. These can range from something as simple as cracked light switch covers to more substantial repairs such as cracks in sheet rock or foundations. The handier you are, the more of these repairs you can choose to do yourself which will definitely save money. On the other hand, professional repairs are often much more reliable and appealing to the eye. The homeowner must weigh the cost/benefit of which repairs to complete and then choosing who does the repairs.
  3. Cleanliness: Common sense should prevail here. A clean, odor free home is going to sell much better than a cluttered, smelly mess. From the day the house is put on the market to the day of closing, make sure to keep the home in as clean a state as possible.
  4. Ask for opinions: Once you have accomplished the above listed items, invite a few people you trust to come over to look over your home. They may point out things you had not originally considered. Take note of their comments and thank them for their input. You can decide later if you want to address the issues they brought up.
  5. Hire a Realtor: We have all seen “For Sale by Owner” signs in yards, but this is not a recommended practice. Yes, realtors can wield some pretty hefty commissions, but for the most part there is good reason for it. When it comes to selling a home, marketing is a key factor and most Real Estate Agents have access to very powerful tools in this area. Visit with one or more realtors to get their opinion on the value of your home and what services they provide.
  6. Real Estate Attorney: This is not always necessary, but it can be an important asset. You must consider that a real estate agent is not a real estate attorney and they do not possess legal tools that may be necessary in the process of a home sale. In some situations an agent cannot provide valuable information or advice that an attorney can.
  7. Patience: Once the house goes on the market it is important to remain at peace with your decision to sell. Chances are you will encounter buyers who are not as in love with your home as you have been and their feedback could be received negatively. Try to remain objective when receiving feedback from potential buyers and take criticism of your home with a steady mind. If the house sells fast, great! If it remains on the market longer than you expected it can be difficult to keep a positive outlook on the process. This is why step one is SO important. Remember the goals you set for after the sale and know that it will happen in due time.
  8. Receiving Offers: Some offers can be frustratingly low, but others can be excitedly high. Nobody can tell you the honesty behind any offer, but carefully consider each one on its own merit. Once you make a decision to accept an offer, remain content that you made the right choice in the framework you had to choose from.
  9. Don’t Count Your Chickens: Once you have accepted an offer and all parties have signed a contract you may want to breathe a sigh of relief, but many home sellers would caution you that the deal is not done until it has officially closed. Buyers can be a fickle bunch and there are a variety of reasons they often pull out of a transaction before closing, even the very day before. It is just such a situation in which a good realtor and attorney can be good company. They can be your team in determining what it the best course of action if the good deal is going bad.
  10. Closing: You’ve done it, your house is sold! Celebrate all the hard work you put into the process and thank those who helped you along the way. Remember step 1? Put it in motion.