Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Surprise @ the New House

It just keeps getting better and better-at least as far as crazy things happening is concerned!  We were there Wednesday late afternoon just to check the water lines for the irrigation system.  We immediately found that we'll need to repair a crack in the PVC near where it goes underground to reach the pastures, so Tony turned off the water and we started looking at available space for expanding.  He got a phone call during that time and was busy on the phone when I turned around to see a man standing in our backyard.  He asked if we were the new owners, then informed us that he's the previous owner!  The one we'd been told was working in the Phillipines.  Well that was a shock-and then a bit of panic as to why he was there.  After assuring us there were no hard feelings he filled us in on the details surrounding the loss.  Basically it's a matter of not being able to find work locally that pays well enough, so he's building a house on the beach in the Phillipines.  He had his Phillipino wife with him and it was very pleasant to chat with them.  We were able to ask questions about the place and give him some of the personal effects that other family members had left behind.  I was glad we got to meet, hear the story and learn some details about the property.  It sounds like we'll be continuing the goal he had for the place, so I think that eased his mind a bit too.

Now, how about some pictures?

As suspected, this room used to be a formal dining room, and the first owner (not who we met) added a wall to make it a bedroom.  We can't decide if this should be taken out or just updated for a fresher look.  Thoughts?

Part of the pantry.  Can you tell the house was built in 1979??  There are 2 small closets side by side that I think I'd prefer to have as 1 larger closet.  The washer and dryer go on the wall to the left & perpendicular to this wall.

Master bath.  Previous owner says the water heater wasn't big enough to fill this for a bath.  Guess we'll need to fix that!  There's a dinky shower to the left that will have to be enlarged, IMO.

The drawing on this wall was done by the previous owner's dad and is among the things we were able to give him.

Pretty good view of the kitchen.

Front entryway.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

More Goat Babies

These are the kids of one of the goats born on our farm last January.  We gave her and a half sister to the neighbors at our pasture last fall.  They don't want to add to the flock, so we'll get them or be able to sell them.  We think there's a boy and a girl, but the boy won't hold still or stand up long enough to get a good look.
I think this is the boy.

And the girl...

Girl again.

She held still more than him...

Mom checking out son.

Friday, February 17, 2012


In the last two days we've found or gathered 30 of them!  33 if you count the duck eggs.
I found these early this afternoon.  I had just returned home from a false alarm-I can now add goat midwife to my resume-when one of our hens cackled at me from behind the minivan.  If you own hens, you know the cackle that says, "look at me, I just laid and egg!"  I went to investigate and that's what I found.

Yesterday our son found 10 in the old feed box that was used when we were trying to milk our cow.  The hens also laid 12 in the hen house-double what we've been getting!

I found 1 duck egg on the lawn yesterday and 2 in their pen today.  What a blessing!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Elsie vs Tony, Round One

So much happened today that I wanted to share here, but the topics don't mix, so you'll have to come back to hear about the other things.  I've written numerous times about how cantankerous our cow is.  Read more here, here, here, here, well-you get the idea!  Most of the time she's at a pasture we used to own, but there's no grass growing anywhere and she'll be calving in April, so we brought her to the house again.  I was thinking I'd start working with her to give her a second chance at being a good milker.

Today was the first attempt at that, and as the title might suggest, it was a battle!  Given that the price of hay is close to $21/bale with tax, we're trying to find some less expensive alternatives and still give her and the 2 pregnant does good quality feed.  Alfalfa pellets are somewhat less expensive, so I bring the goats to their milk stands and give them some along with cheap produce.  Today I also soaked a batch for Elsie using apple cider vinegar.  A friend had read that it helps to calm cantankerous cows.  I found the wording ironic, as that's what I've been calling her for a long time.  Elsie the cow-not the friend.

While I worked with the goats, Tony took the container of ACV alfalfa pellets into the pen for Elsie.  She was loving them and ate almost the whole batch.  Toward the end she lost interest.  He offered it to the goat buck who is also usually on pasture instead of here with is.  I went in to check on dinner and upon my return I hear Tony yelling at one of the animals.  As I got closer I could see it was Elsie and that he was giving her "what for".  I asked what happened because he was also holding his head.  Apparently, she decided to jump on him while his back was turned, but he turned just as her front legs were coming down on his shoulders!  It knocked him to the ground and he thinks she stepped on him, but you know how those things can be-it happens so fast that it's hard to recall just what did happen!

He has a bump on his forehead and a few scrapes (likely obtained from giving her "what for") and is feeling better now.  We put ice on the bump and he took a hot bath with Epsom salts, eucalyptus essential oil and lavender essential oil.  I'll be keeping an eye on him thru the night though, just in case.  His pupils are normal and he seems fine, but we want to be sure.  Oh-his left thumb was hurting when it first happened-and an injury there would sure make it hard to play fiddle for a living!

Shortly after this happened I was back outside to take something to the pig and I noticed that Elsie had Boots (the buck) cornered.  That was odd because he rules the pen-even to the point of keeping her from getting the food she needs.  By the time I walked back up the hill to the top of the pen, she had him by her horns, pushing into his side.  We think the ACV might have made her "drunk" because she looked wild!  So much so that I wasn't going to risk the lives of the does by putting them back into the pen.  Tony tied Elsie to a post and reconnected the fence that divides the pen so that we could put the does in the lower portion.  Elsie was then untied.  However, I don't think I'll be trying to tame her and turn her into a good milker!

We bought a house-Part Two

In my last post about this I left off with what I knew the evening of the first day.  At our Realtor's suggestion we put a new lock on the gate that day.  After that it got even more exciting, though maybe not all the good kind of exciting!  With an auction you pay a deposit the day of the bidding and then the remainder has to be paid prior to 5PM the next business day.  The office location was downtown Phoenix and since Tony had a job there that day we went with him.  On our way home we went by to see if the keys I remembered seeing in the RV would unlock either the front or back door.

We pull up to the gate and there's a different lock on the gate!  Our lock is gone.  No signs, no notes, nada.  There's a lockbox also.  A call to our Realtor confirms he didn't do it, he gives us a code to try on the lockbox, and tells us that it's our house-if someone has changed the lock they are in the wrong and we have every right to break the lock off.  Off we go to get tools.  Tony hammered open the lockbox which we assumed contained the key to the lock-we were right. 

Can you imagine the thoughts going through our heads during this time?
  • Did we just get scammed?  Our we out $30K now?
  • Are we dealing with an upset previous homeowner who will make our lives miserable?
As we approach the house we see that all the gates around it that were previously open are now closed.  There's a lockbox on the gate to the front door, and another on the front door.  Once again, a call to our Realtor and he's able to identify who it is by the colored box on the front door.  He calls us back with info from the guy and suggests we call him.  This picture shows how far from the road the house is and why we couldn't tell all this from the gate.  This picture was taken a couple of days later, but Wednesday night when this was taking place, the sun had set before we were able to get in.  What you see here is our driveway and the road is out by the two evergreens.

Tony called the other Realtor who had put the lockboxes on.  He'd been contacted that morning by FreddieMac to secure the property and prepare it for sale.  Needless to say he was a bit put out by the lack of communication between the bank/trustee/FreddieMac.  He asked if we got a good deal.  Tony simply answered yes, and this other guy says, "So you paid what, about $75,000?"  I think he almost creid when Tony told him what we actually paid.  I feel pretty good about the price, knowing a Realtor felt two and a half times what we paid would still be a good deal!

I had the power turned on last Friday and we went over to check a few things, but haven't been back since.  Tony's eager to test the well and the pipes in place to irrigate the pastures.  He took pictures that day and I'll post those soon.

The books we ordered to learn more about meat preserving have arrived and Tony's thinking it's pig butchering time sooner than he thought.  Our goat buck is in the same pen as the does and our cow.  All 3 are pregnant and need extra food, but Boots (the buck) shoos them away, so he needs his own pen-hence the earlier than expected pig butchering time.  She's over 250 though, so she's plenty big enough.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rescued Produce

Last week we learned of a program that rescues produce from being thrown away.  For $10 a person can get a box of produce that weighs up to 60 pounds!  Even better-for a $100 annual membership you're entitled to go each week for one of those boxes!  We bought the annual membership and even though distribution points are a bit over an hour away for us, we go to that area enough to make it worthwhile.  We'll use some for our own eating and feed the rest to our animals.  Hay is getting so expensive that we've got to find a better solution.  Hay was about $8 a bale 3 years ago when we got our first goats.  The last 6 bales Tony bought were over $20 each!  With a cow that eats 4 flakes a day, and 3 goats that eat 1 each per day, that's about $10 a day just to feed them!!  Moving to our new house will help-we have 2 pastures there that we can use for grazing, and they can rotate so that one doesn't get overly grazed, but even if we can start on that this week, it'll be 6 weeks minimum before either field is ready for animals.

Do you have any special programs in your area that make use of food that would otherwise be taken to the dump?  If you have farm animals, how do you keep feed costs manageable?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We bought a house today!

For anyone that's hung around long enough to read my blog for a while, you'll recall we've been trying to find a house to buy.  We even got close a few times-as in accepted offers that either got revoked by the seller or us.  Last night at 530 our realtor called to tell us about a property that was being auctioned this morning at 10AM.  Not so odd except we had told him we decided to stay here and add on, so he wasn't even really looking for a house for us anymore.  We had contacted a SIP home manufacturer and were awaiting their reply as to whether they could build a modified version of their standard plan.  In other words we weren't even looking anymore!  We couldn't get over to see the property before dark yesterday, so we got up early today to have a look.  The auction was at the courthouse at the county seat-an hour's drive from here-so we needed to be ready to head that direction before 9. 

Did I mention we didn't get to see the inside?  Or that to bid on a house at a trustee's sale you have to take a cashier's check in the amount of $10,000 as a deposit?  And the remainder has to be paid prior to 5PM the next day?  How about that we didn't get to see the inside first?  Oh yeah, I did tell you that part already!

We knew at least 2 other investors were interested in bidding.  We knew that both would want to make a quick sale afterward.  We knew we'd be willing to pay a little bit more for that investor to hold the note, should we decide to buy from him or her.  We were told to arrive about half an hour early, but we weren't able to do that and I was getting nervous.  We got to the courthouse at 955AM after having rushed into a branch of our bank that just happens to be across the street from the courthouse.  Tony and Goober Gus went ahead to see if we needed to check in or something like that, bu the trustee's rep wasn't there yet.  Whew.  Another couple and a single lady were though.  Were they there to bid on the same property?  All the excitement!

The trustee's rep told us he hadn't heard from the trustee yet that morning as to whether the sale was going thru.  What?  All this and the sale might not even be today?  OK, maybe that was one way God was answering our prayer to lead us in this transaction.

Turns out the single woman was a rep for one of the investors.  Hmm, how would we handle bidding against an investor with a rep that's well versed in these transactions?  Tony had rehearsed his strategy in his mind on the drive over.  He was going to let someone else open the bid and gauge how serious they were and set our upper limit. 

Having been told there could be a wait, Goober Gus and I went inside to use the restroom.  When we returned, the trustee's rep was reading the legal intro to the sales process, then proceeded to read the details of the property we were there to bid on.  I looked around-the investor's rep was nowhere to be found!  The rep opened the bid at $30,486 and asked if there were any offers.  Tony stammered over his words and started saying $35,000 (our upper limit), while he actually meant $30,500.  The rep instructed us that the first bid only had to be $1 over the opening price, so Tony restated our offer at $30,487.  The rep asked for other offers.  Having heard none, we heard the familiar, "going once, going twice, sold for $30,487"! 

Wait.  What just happened??  Did we just buy a house?  Without seeing the inside?  Do I care?  We just bought a house on 2 acres with 2 pastures, outbuildings, a 5th wheel trailer and backing up to Forest Service land.  We just bought a house.  In the span of 5 minutes!  It's been 10 hours and I still can't quite wrap my mind around it.  We've been looking for about 3 years, gave up and now we have a house for one tenth of what we planned to spend when we were going to build!

God is so good!  Did I mention that we still haven't seen the inside??

Oh yeah,  one of the new neighbors is a lady that was a dear friend of Tony's mom.  They bought the land from Tony's dad years ago.  Kinda funny, huh?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Testimony of Our Pig

She loves milk.  Real, whole, raw milk.  The timing wasn't right for her though, as the goats are dry prior to her reaching butcher weight, so she hasn't had milk for a while.  Until my husband noticed 1/2 gallons on sale at the grocery store for .88¢.  I saw it too and never thought about actually buying any for her.  He did and started giving it to her.  Guess what?  She doesn't like pasteurized, homogenized, high pressure treated, possibly hormone and antibiotic containing, artificially fortified white liquid.

With real milk, she slurps it up first, no matter what else is in her feed bin.  With the other stuff, she ignored it at first, but has started drinking it after everything else is gone.  I'm thinking I don't want her to have any of this for a few weeks prior to butchering.

Interesting, huh?

This post is shared at the Homestead Barn Hop at Homestead Revival and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.