Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm too sexy for my dirt

It's come to my attention that The San Diego Crunchy Chicken has nominated me for Hottest Eco-blogger. This made me laugh.

Don't get me wrong - I'm flattered. It's just that anybody who's met me in person knows I'm a bit self-conscious and fairly nerdy. I don't recall ever being described to as "hot" before. I don't exude confidence, allure, or pheromones.

I started keeping my hair cut short so that I could do it myself with clippers. The upside is that after cutting it, I don't have to mess with it at all. The downside is that it grows and I eventually put the kids on the school bus looking like Nick Nolte's mug shot before I realize it's time to buzz it again. My natural wardrobe is a plain t-shirt and jeans. Almost my entire wardrobe comes from the local thrift shop, and one of my favorite shirts will be old enough to legally buy its own alcohol next year. I recently added a zip-up hoodie for that Unabomber look. My daughter's sleep issues mean I often have bags under my eyes. In fact, this morning, when I went to drop off some canned goods at the local food pantry, they thought I was among the needy.

But maybe the Universe has taken a turn in my favor. Maybe dork is the new hot.

So if you want to win one for the anti-hero, remember to vote for me in Crunchy's poll when it appears.



Friday, October 23, 2009

Makin' Lemonade

One of the challenges of trying to do this small farm thing AND have a day job is that there's not always time to finish projects. I'd venture to say that most people who try this don't end up with their properties looking like the cover of a magazine. The partially finished projects combine with the scraps leftover from completed projects to create a lot of debris.

The problem with trying to sell your house in this case is that most home buyers don't appreciate the, uh, "working farm aesthetic."

I've been giving Freecycle, Craigslist, and our local recycling center a workout, but they have their limits. And even the trash man won't take a broken down old goat shelter. Also, it turns out that when it comes to rotting lumber, even free is not a low enough price.

So, I decided that to commemorate, um... our move? The Pumpkin Show? Our upcoming 10th Anniversary? ... I decided to commemorate all those things at once. It was time for a bonfire.

A surplus of cinder blocks for a firepit. Some water-damaged cardboard boxes as a firestarter. A teepee of unusable lumber, a failed attempt at a bookshelf, a flimsy wooden chair, and we had ourselves quite a little fire.

The boys danced around it, helped gather the scraps, and tossed in woody stems (Thanks for helping with the weeding! Keep it up!) Amelia, confined to the other side of the back yard fence, decided to get in touch with her primitive side and get naked. And Lori took advantage of the situation to grab a few rare moments of solitude inside.

Fun for the whole family, and a nice little soil ammendment for next year's garden.

Throw in an overnight shower to put out the last of the coals, and it was almost serendipitous.


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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coming up for air

So, where to begin... Well, I guess the obvious place to begin is here: We've decided to sell our house. Or at least to attempt to sell our house. It's been a tough decision for a whole bunch of reasons. And what comes next is still a work in progress. But that's another post.

I don't know how it'll go really. To determine a fair market price, real estate agents normally look for comparable properties that have sold recently. But what to do when there aren't really any comparable properties?

We've got almost 9 acres. Most places around here are either under 5 acres or over 100. We've got a stocked pond. We've got tons of high quality fencing. We've got all the little things we've been doing that are hard to figure in. Some people would be thrilled to have dwarf fruit trees, or a chicken pen in the pole barn, or an arbor on the back of the house, or loads of extra insulation in the attic. Other people wouldn't care a bit.

And just to make it harder, there have hardly been any sales around here over the last couple years. This is an area with a low population density, and people who live here don't tend to move very often. In the four years since we moved in, I think only one house on our road has sold.

Not that people haven't tried, on occasion. But this is just a very low volume real estate market. Which may not bode well for us.

On the other hand, our place has a lot going for it, especially for the right kind of buyer.

Theoretically, we can come out ahead on this place, despite the rough market. But as with many things, you can't know the true worth of something until you have a buyer.

So that'll be interesting.

It's been a rough month or two for me. I was working 60-70 hour weeks for all of September and part of October, including at least five weekends in a row and a number of late nights, while at the same time trying to help get the house ready to sell. Four years worth of crap in the basement, including quite a few water-damaged items from a flooding incident. Half-finished projects that I wasn't sure what to do with. Leftover scraps and materials from finished projects. All the stains and marks and dings that kids can inflict on a house.

Throw in some midnight cow chasing, subsequent fence repairs (plural) and the resulting ruined garden, car repairs, computer repairs, fraudulent transactions in our bank account to the tune of over $2000... I guess you could say I'm a little tired.

Selling this place is the first in a long string of question marks. I'll get to more of this story as time and energy permit. But the good news is that we're in the home stretch on house prep.

Anybody want to buy a house?