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Building Out the Farm
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My wife and myself are coming to the painful realization that our current living circumstance is not tenable. Financially we are hanging by a very dangerous thread and are on the virge of callapse. We made the decision a few weeks ago after receiving a letter from one of our mortgage companies that we need to downsize our financial footprint. Ie. Our monthly costs of operation are way too high. We need to move back to our land in the country. To affect this we have had to ask my disabled cousin to seek support from his family and in-laws to locate housing outside of our home. This was a difficult and painful descision on several emotional and spiritual levels. It is not a lack of desire to help him, it is the lack of ability.

We are going to put our current home up for sale with intention of moving shortly after the kids get out of school providing we can close in 6 months. This is mostly because of my number two son's pending graduation from high-school.

The hardest part is where to live... We thought the best plan would be to move back to our land in the country. We have been looking at bank repo'd and used doublewide mobile homes all over North East Texas for the last month. Some have potential, some do not. Most of them are just outside our current financial reach based on funds that we have arranged to facilitate this change and will require a mortgage of some kind to make the transition tenable.

Getting a new mortgage while still having not sold our current home is not really going to work as it does not reduce our footprint. We are discussing the idea of building a steel building home conversion. This may be tennable as the contractor we would be working with is a family member and will barter for some of the labor and will provide materials at cost.

After visiting the land yesterday, to say that I have trepidation would be an understatement. The amount of physical work ahead of us is unfathomable. It's been two years since I've been out to my land in the country. I went yesterday late afternoon. Oy, what a mess... This is not a project or process to be taken lightly. In fact it is downright scary. It may be that we need to do a video diary of the course of events to document the process and from what we started with to what we finish with.

Most people around would think this is nuts. Many with smaller families and around the same income as us cannot understand why we are struggleing nor how we are surviving. The reality is we are sinking. We have six children living at home. My disabled cousing and his wife and son are there also. My cousin has not been able to secure supplimental food support (Food Stamps) on any kind of a regular basis and his disability income is tied up with his own obligations - some of which change if he moves.

So currently there are seven children and four adults that are primarily living on my income. I am not in a six figure income bracket. In fact, when I bought this house five years ago my net income was about $30,000 per year higher than it is today. Post DotCom crash salaries in the IT field are not what they were pre-DotCom crash. The current recession/depression has not helped.

Almost nothing is going into 401K. There is no budget for a car payment to replace failed vehicles. There is no budget for car repairs (Currently 2 mini-vans sitting in driveway waiting for me to figure out what is wrong with them). There is no budget for home repair - yes there is some that is needed and will need to be completed to get a saleprice of at least our outstanding mortgage.

We will need to move, sell our current home, build or buy replacement housing on land we already have to lower our financial footprint. This will mean a long commute for me, but I have done it for 10 years prior to moving into town. The hardpart is preparing the land. It is rough. Since the neighbor kids had burned the two homes we previously had on the property we now have extremely tall weeds, and debri. The frames of the burned homes need to be scrapped out. The area needs mowed. The driveway and private road need to have new gravel as it is almost unidentifiable at this point. A plan for housing needs to be developed, which I am currently working on.

Do we buy a repo'd double wide? A new one? (Lower mortgage than current, but still a mortgage that we will not qualify for while we still have the current house and may not qualify for if our current home gets foreclosed on ). Do we build the steel building and frame out the inside as a house? Or do we try to keep this sinking ship floating with no hope of an emergency savings, no way to replace vehicles, and no emergency fund?

The choices before us are bad, bad, and bad... Yet a choice must be made. 

I do not currently see a way to get through the next summer at our current income and anticipate that our income is going to be reduced due to baby sitting conflicts with my wife's work schedule before summer.

The goal, of course, is to reduce the financial foot print and stabilize our selves to be able to be sustainable. We are currently pricing our everything: Bush-hog rental for clearing the weeds. Tractor rental to clear the old homes. Used and Repo'd mobile homes. Steelbuilding materials. Storage unit rentals. Pick truck rentals and trailors. All of which are going to cost us money and make our current situation worse for the moment while we transition.

We pray and ask other believers to pray that we make the best decisions to clear the debt load and stabilize ourselves.

Question: Can a family of 8 purchase or produce housing sufficient to their needs on $8-$16K? That is the rough budget of funds expected to be available for the project (Loan, sale of company stock, Tax return). I don't expect that the house will be finished in that budget with hardwood floors, marble tile etc.. I expect that the house will be framed in, in place and livable to free up the funds to finish the process and actually end up with a nice home by the end of summer.

We have been offered a lot of help from local friends for labor. This is good, because it will be needed. (I worry that they may not understand how much needs to be done).

By the way, if anyone knows of any grants that could help facilitate the process, please let me know!

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Woah - Clean up is hard!!

Well, the ground has dried enough to get some work done.

We got the tractor back up to where we can work on it.  I pulled the carburator and intake manifold off as the manifold was cracked.  We got some mowing done. 

 

I tried to move one of the old mobilehome framed with my truck, but that thing is a lot heavier than it looks.  I twisted it a little, but move? no...

It looks like I'll have to rent a cuttoff saw and buy some blades...

The other house is ready for move, and the ground should be dry enough for the mover at this point.  However, it would be better if he moved it in one shot rather than to the staging/storage yard.

So, that adds some pressure to us as we need to get the site cleared and a bed of gravel 8' deep, and 28ftx70ft as a pad for the house to sit on to monimize motion on the clay that my property is mostly composed of.

Oh, the white town car that was out there is gone.. stolen..

The laying boxes in the hen house are also gone..  Those were expensive too.. about $280 a piece new... There were 4...

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Progressing as scheduled

Well, as things go we are progressing nicely.  We are in process of prepping to paint and make general repairs to the gurrent house to sell.  We have purchase a used 4x4 truck to facilitate the difficult mud conditions at the farm.  We have completed the purchase of a double-wide 4br 2ba mobile home and paid for its move to the land. 

The truck had a transmission issue discovered 2 days after purchase.  We took it to the dealer and they fixed it for $671.  Many other shops around would have probably told us the trans needed to be replaced - which it did not.  We still have a problem getting 4x4 to function, but have some leads on the problem and it may be a simple fix.

The new home had some really nasty carpet in it, that has been removed.  There are some soft spots in the floor that we need to fix and some mold on one wall due to a previous leak in the kitchen.  So, we will likely remodel the whole kitchen.

Our cousin has opted to move out of state rather than move to the small town near us.  This will likely work out financially better for him, but puts him right back under the conditions that they left there for.  We were hoping they would stay until the school year ended, but they have opted to leave before then.  We are now trying to figure out how to keep Sue working and the kids in school until the end of the year... What a headache...

My shift at work has temporarily changed, limiting my contiguous time to get things done.  It should change back before Passover - at least I still have Shabbat off.

We still need to move the old mobile home frames out of the way and put down more gravel for the drive way and the foundation pad.  We also have to still move the meterpole and rewire it.  Also on the list, level and clear debris from driveway and easment, smooth potholes, etc..

And the Ford 8N tractor still needs to be retrieved and repaired...

Much of this is weather dependant.  Currently, any attempt to do any thing out there will result in a massive tow bill.  Too muddy, too soft... But spring is hear, and drier weather looms on the horizon.

And the adventure goes forward..

 

 

 

 

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Moving along

I've been trying to find a used backhoe/loader in usable condition for $1500-$2000.. Found some that are close, but not the right one yet.  Cost to rent is about $230 per 8hr day + fuel.  I will rent if necessary, but would prefer to own as I have many projects ther eover the next few years that will require it.

The house is purchased.  We've been out prepping it for move to the storage facility until the land is drier and prepped. 

Ripped out all the old carpet - ouch... All my muscles hurt, 5 rooms of nasty carpet stapled to the floor.

We still need to remove the end caps and the air system cross connect. Doing that on Wednesday.  Currently expect house to be moved to storage by end of this week - if weather holds out...

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Project updates

The house we originally looked at has fallen through.  I think the guy doesn't really want to sell.  Price was originally $10K + $4K to move and setup + materials.  By the time he was done adding in materials finished price as $23-24K + we had to put the ridge caps on and the end caps.  I don't think so... Keep shopping..

Found a 4Br 2Ba, needs less work.  Bank repo.  $8K + move.  Most of the materials are already there as the house is currently set up on a private lot that it will need to be moved from.  We made an offer to the bank and they accepted.  Now I just need to get in and sign the contract and get the money transferred.

We will store house at the mover's lot for a couple of months due to the wet conditions on the land.  This will incur some additional fees but they shouldn't be too bad.

Good news: I found the tractor out there.. Looks to be in the same condition as I parked it in...

Still no sign of the horse trailer or the blade for the tractor... Replacing the tractor blade is about $400...

Electric CoOp says pole is ok for re-use, but it is our responsibility to get it re-set up with a meterbase, outdoor breaker box, and standpipe... I want to move it as it is in the way of the new house.  I will probably need to talk to an electrician... That may be expensive.. So I am shopping for a 24' tall meter pole to replace the existing one...

 

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Updates

Wow... Had a system snafu... Had to go to a backup and lost the last weeks worth of comments.

Let's see.. I am sure that those that care probably already read my previous comments.  Still, Friday was spent driving in snow and ice from Fortworth => Azle => Boyd => Denton => Greenville => Leonard => Trenton => Sherman => Fortworth..  Took about 14hrs. 

I walked a portion of the land where the house will go.  There was 3-6" of water standing everywhere - even on grades.  This is because we haven't mowed out there in a while and the weeds are 6ft tall.  This is a good reason to keep your grass mowed as it helps with water controll and standing water.  This is going to take some warm weather to dry - and several weeks of no rain.

They will not be able to deliver the house to the property until the land dries.  We are estimating that will be mid to late May.  We also need to get some more whiterock gravel in place before the homes are delivered as a bed to set the piers on. In our last homes out there we did this and it stabilized the installation on the clay soil so that the house did not need to be releveled in the 8years it was there.

After the house is delivered and set it is our responsibility to get the ridge caps and troughs in place, finalize shigles as needed, and hook up all utilities.  This all needs to be done before we can begin working on siding, floors, and windows.

There are several items missing from the land and some things that have been destroyed.

1996 Lincoln Town car - destroyed by neighbor kids
1996 Chevy Cavalier - destroyed by neighbor kids
2 existing mobile homes - burned down by neighbor kids

Horse trailer - missing
Blade for tractor - missing
2 3 ton heat-exchanger systems missing

The Ford 8N tractor is an unknown.  It was not running when we left, but I knew why.  It was out in the field and may have been hidden from view of the thieves.  Plus I know that 2 tires had slow leaks and would have been flat making removal difficult at best.  Unfortunately with all the standing water and no galashes for my feet I was not able to walk the 400yards through the heavy brish to verify, maybe this week or next.

My next step is to formalize the contract with the house mover and get to the site with my generator and a sawz-all and remove the frames from the burned out homes.  I am going to try and slavage them in a way to re-use a portion of them as trailers for hauling hay and equipement.  So I won't be futting them up into the 1 foot salavage pieces I was originally intending.

Still outstanding big issue that must be resolved soon is the pickup truck.  I am willing to trade my 92 Lexus SC400 for a pickup of similar year or newer.  The car runs good and has been reliabel transport for me for 2 years now.  It has almost250K mi on it, so it is not pristine.  It is just not a suitable vehicle for farm life.  If you are interested let me know.

This is huge jump for us and a strong test of faith.  Unless you have ever lived in Rural Texas Prairie, you really don't know how hard it can be.  We have done this before, and this project certainly comes with great trepidation.  Based on the options before us at this time, there is little choice in the path.

May the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bless our work, our income, and cause us to be favored in the eyes of our employers so that our families may be blessed inthese troubling times.

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