Walden Effect

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Updated: 1 month 6 days ago

Buying a homestead from a sheriff's sale

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:43

The Homestead That Got Away had been sold less than a year ago at a sheriff's sale...which got me wondering if I should peruse those listings in addition to craigslist and real estate sites. Sure enough, I found a potential homestead on a county website in short order. But was it worth it?

After intensive research, I found out why the average homebuyer probably shouldn't stalk sheriff's sales. These auctions are a way for a bank to recoup their investment after a foreclosure...but lenders don't let properties go for a song. Instead, in 80% of sales, the bank buys the property back rather than losing money on the endeavor.

The next hurdle to be aware of is additional mortgages. This was the point that killed our interest in The Homestead We Threw Back, since an online title search suggested that the mortgage resulting in the foreclosure wasn't the only lien against the property. If we'd bought that property without a title search, we would have owned the land...plus the obligation to repay the primary loan. Suddenly the selling price got a lot higher than we thought!

Of course, it can also be tough to thoroughly research foreclosed properties since the current owner might not be thrilled about you tromping across their land. Given the the high risk involved in buying a pig in a poke, we're probably going to steer clear of this source of bargain real estate for now...although we will check the bank sites in a month or two since foreclosed properties often end up there for less than they went for at the sheriff's auction.

Back to the drawing board!

Bonfire safety

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 19:52

We had a good sized fire extinguisher on hand just in case.

What's the perfect size for a homestead?

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 11:33

After a week of research, Mark and I are starting to arrow in on our land-hunting priorities. They're different this time around than they were when I sought out our current farm a dozen years ago.

Counterintuitively, we're actually looking a lot smaller --- 58 acres was awesome for experimentation when we didn't know what we wanted, but we'd rather contract and move closer to a city now that we know which aspects of homesteading are our favorites. Currently, we use about 2.5 acres of our existing homestead, and even that feels like more than we want to manage as we grow older, expand our interests, and turn into more weekend homesteaders.

What's the sweet spot for a mature homestead? I'm guessing somewhere between 5 and 10 acres will give me the isolation I crave, room for extensive gardening, and still fit within our price range. Perhaps the classic Five Acres and Independence was on the right track?

Pet photography

Sat, 07/08/2017 - 19:40

The trick to taking a good picture of Strider is to be very very slow.

Tough goat decisions

Sat, 07/08/2017 - 10:47

Several of you have asked about the future of our goats. Will they come with us or will they find a new home?

Although the decision is hard, we're opting for the latter. I regained some of the joy of goat grazing after Artemesia died, but I have to admit the experience has never been quite the same since my beloved goat left the farm. Since I also stopped being able to drink milk last summer, suddenly the animals that were intended to be dual-purpose livestock turned into moderately expensive pets.

Given that they are just as much companions as working animals, though, we're taking our time to find Aurora and Edgar just the right home. We have one potential lead on a family who might spoil them in the manner to which they've grown accustomed. Fingers crossed they'll find someone else excited about milk and grazing in the very near future!

Basket brotherhood

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 19:31

Huckleberry has decided the only thing he needs to take on the upcoming move is his basket and little brother.

Patreon show of hands

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 10:45

We've had a slew of questions, both here and via email, which we haven't had the time to answer in depth. Meanwhile, several of you have asked for videos in the past, and I thought this move might be a good opportunity to share that type of content via Patreon.

The idea is simple --- patrons sign up for whatever level of support they feel comfortable with, and in exchange they gain access to member-only videos hidden behind a paywall. Since the videos aren't available on the open internet, Mark and I will feel more comfortable sharing nitty gritty details we don't want to broadcast to the world at large. Meanwhile, your donations will help us purchase a larger tract of land if the right property comes up  for sale before this farm finds a new owner.

But the project will take time and energy which we could also be expending on our move. So I wanted to get a virtual show of hands. Would you be interested in supporting the Walden Effect via Patreon during our transition? If so, comment below and be counted (and feel free to tell us what type of questions you'd most like answered). Thanks in advance for your support!

Hardy kiwi progress

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 19:49

Our hardy kiwi's continue to plump up as the Summer moves along.

It's one crop we have not irrigated that seems to not need it.

Instant Pot

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 11:46

Before we decided to move --- and I realized anything we carried in would soon have to be carried out --- I caved and bought an Instant Pot.

These electric pressure cookers are a fascinating product, designed to cook anything from rice to pot roast to cake at the press of a button. There's a sautee feature for use with the lid off, then you can lock down the lid very safely for fast, high-pressure meals.

Honestly, I could see me and Mark using this as our sole cooking heat source if we bought or rented an unfurnished space and weren't ready to rebuild our kitchen right off the bat. So maybe the purchase was a good move after all. It's definitely on my list of items worth being carried out across the swamp.

Kubota winch assistance

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 19:58

We had to use the Super Winch to get the Kubota down the driveway today.

Chicken waterer production

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 19:48

Getting started on production of our big Chicken Waterer closeout sale.

First fact-finding mission

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 10:07

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for your well wishes, both here and via email. It's meant so much to us to be embraced with such positivity and kindness. Please know that your gestures have been noticed and appreciated!

Now...on to the adventure! Saturday, unable to think about anything other than our transition, we filled all of the feeders and waterers up high and hit the road. Mark's working up a video log with more in-depth thoughts, so I'll keep this post fact-light and picture heavy.

The difference between land-searching now and land-searching a dozen years ago is astonishing. Nowadays, everything is on the internet, either via Craigslist or realtor sites. So after zeroing in on our intended destination --- Athens, Ohio --- we hit the web and hunted high and low until we found a property we thought would work. Then we got in the car and drove north.

The first property was a disappointment. Although it was surrounded on three sides by the national forest and had loads of potential, it was going to take a massive amount of time and money to bring up to speed. Since part of the purpose of this move is to take a step ahead rather than a step back, we decided to give this one a miss.

The second property became The One That Got Away. Although there were some downsides (including a price at the high end of our possible spectrum), the property was pretty close to perfect. A small house only a little larger than our current living space but with half of that space consisting of a livable basement, a beautiful shed/barn, and fruit trees in production, plus all of the isolation I crave. We contacted the realtor as soon as we hit our crash space for the night...and found out the property had been sold that very day to someone else.

Of course, we didn't expect to find our homestead during a whirlwind, two-night trip. Our primary goal during this first adventure was to check out the area and see if we were even on the right track. And, after spending the night in the Passive House and visiting the local Unitarian Church, Mark and I both came away confident that this area would indeed be a very good fit for us. Looks like our to-do list will change from planting and weeding to packing and land hunting for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Passive House of Athens

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 20:41

We celebrated July 4th weekend with a fact finding tour of Athens Ohio.

After a short time being there we could feel it is going to be a good fit for us.

We stayed in The Passive House in Athens.

We only spent the evening and night there but it was great. I wished now that I'd taken a picture of the beautiful wood beams. Whoever built it is a true artist when it comes to home building. Anna and I both give it two thumbs up and would stay there again if we need to.

Chicken waterer closeout sale

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 10:04

We're moving, which means we need to dramatically reduce our inventory of Avian Aqua Miser Originals. This is our flagship product and is still the best option for many chicken keepers. The half-gallon waterers are each good for up to 5 adult chickens or 15 chicks and they're our very favorite way to keep bedding dry and animals hydrated in tractors and brooders. In winter, it's easy to bring Originals in overnight so they don't freeze, and the waterers are also a breeze to hang on the side of an isolation coop for a hen who's sick and needs a little TLC.

3 Pre-made Avian Aqua Miser Originals
Free shipping
US only
Waters up to 15 chickens (1.5 gallon total capacity)

5 Pre-made Avian Aqua Miser Originals
Free shipping
US only
Waters up to 25 chickens (2.5 gallon total capacity)
Usually, we charge $30 apiece for these waterers. But to reduce our own moving costs, we're selling 3 for $30 with free shipping (or 5 for $40, also with free shipping). The buy buttons are above. Please allow up to three weeks for delivery in the U.S., and I'm afraid we're unable to ship outside the country at this time. Inventory is limited so order soon --- once they're gone, they're gone.

Thanks so much in advance for anyone who buys our waterers or tells your friends. We really appreciate the support and are excited to tell you all about it as we embark on our new adventure!

The Walden Effect hits the road

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 09:55

I never thought I'd write this post...but Mark and I have decided to sell the farm and move on. The reasons are many and varied, but what they boil down to is --- we're ready for a new adventure.

Ever since fourth grade, I've wanted a big, sprawling homestead where I could raise every kind of plant and animal imaginable. And this farm was the perfect solution when I grew old enough to make that dream a reality. It was cheap enough that I could afford the price while barely out of college, and  its size allowed us to make huge mistakes with relative impunity. I've loved growing food, taking the goats out to graze, and playing in the creek, and Mark has loved the independence the farm provided for him to create a microbusiness and scratch his inventing itch.

But they say that we become entirely new people every seven years. And the new person I've become wants something slightly different. I still crave isolation and room for a garden...but it doesn't need to be as huge of a garden and I'd like more cultural and social opportunities nearby. Writing fiction has become a much higher priority for me in recent years, which has led me toward simplifying my homestead life so I have the leisure to pound away on the keyboard without guilt, and Mark feels the same way about his film aspirations. Meanwhile, we also want to plan for aging, which meant either pouring money into the driveway...or pouring that same money into something smaller somewhere else.

To cut a long story short, we're beginning the long, scary process of severing ties here and building new ties somewhere new. We plan to offer this farm to our neighbors first --- it is, after all, the neighborly thing to do. But if they're not interested, we'll be posting about a ready-made homestead for sale soon. So, if you'd like to slip yourself into fifty-eight acres of potential (some of it already realized), start counting your pennies and thinking about a change of your own. And for everyone else --- don't worry, the Walden Effect will continue...we'll just be opening a new chapter on a slightly different life. More details on that to come in subsequent posts....

Kitten update

Sat, 07/01/2017 - 17:54

A happy ending for this handsome little kitten.

Our local vet agreed to find him a nice home if we paid for shots and surgery.

We love Dr Fuller and his staff!

Kitten seeking a home

Sat, 07/01/2017 - 11:22

Look what I found abandoned by the side of the road during my morning walk yesterday. Public service announcement: please spay or neuter your pets!

2017 tomato waiting

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 19:16

This much color seems like it should yield our first taste in a week or less.


Fri, 06/30/2017 - 09:51

Roomba for weeds

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 18:42

The inventor of the Roomba-Joe Jones has invented a Roomba for weeds.

It seems like a serious product for someone with the right size garden.

Maybe weeding the garden in the future will be more about robot repair and less about kneeling down and pulling up weeds?