We’re going to build a new home! We live on 16 acres of land, some of it forested. It took me forever to decide where I wanted to put the house. (What a lucky problem to have!) If you’re shopping for land to build a house, or have an acreage and want to build; I can help you. Here are some things to consider when choosing a location to build a new home.
Do you want your near the entrance, or further back? That’s a personal choice, and purely aesthetic. Depending on the size and landscape of your plot, you can decide whether you want your home visible from the street or not. Your choice depends on ease of access and how much privacy you want.
The further you build from the nearest electric pole, the more expensive it gets. Your electric company will charge for each square foot they have to cover. They will usually clear the area of trees from the nearest pole to the build site, so find out how much they are willing to do before you pay to take down trees. Which brings us to…
Clearing & Prep Work
How much clearing will you have to do? I originally wanted my house a bit further back, but there’s a forested area that would be pretty expensive to clear. Price shop for bulldozer and tree removal services and add it to your cost sheet if you are hiring out. Renting the machinery is a great option if you want to do the work yourself.
Make sure an experienced builder checks the area you want to build. You don’t want to do all that planning and clearing to find out you have a sinkhole! I also reccomend having your general contractor supervise when the pad is built. It’s important that he knows if there are any soft spots.
Well & Septic
If you’re rural, you’ll likely need to dig a well and septic tank. There are specific rules for that. The well has to be a certain distance uphill from your septic, and septic must be a certain distance from your home. Make sure you have enough cleared area when you choose where you’d like to build your home.
It’s ideal for your house to sit on a bit higher ground so that water runs away from the house. If you don’t have a higher area, or want to build in a lower position, talk to your builder about what precautions you can take to protect your home against water runoff. As a side note, check if land is flood zoned when shopping for property.
We have a really cool retaining wall (below) that’s over 100 years old. It’s a good distance away from the front door, and sort of defines the front yard area. I think it will “frame” the house nicely. I’m imagining some potted plants there.
Look for natural features that you can integrate into your yard, like boulders or amazing trees or shrubbery. Maybe you have an existing fence or garden you could work with.
Funny that view is the last thing in my list! But it was almost the last thing I got to consider. Finding a spot with the privacy I wanted in a location that wouldn’t break the bank was the hardest part. (Trees grow wherever the heck they want around here, electric poles and lines really eat the budget.)
On a larger plot of land, you can face your home in any direction you like. Imagine the view from each window, and determine where you need the most natural light.
I hope some of these tips help you if you’re building a home. I’ll keep you posted each step of the way, so follow along if you’re interested in the home building process.
Time for a quarterly farm report! Let’s see what’s new, what we’ve learned and if any plans have changed.
Remember in my summer farm post that we irresponsibly let our dog get pregnant? Well, 4 of the largest puppies went after our chickens, and there were 8 fatalities. Our lesson was:
Spay And Neuter Your Pets!
It was a sad day. We invested time and money into the chickens, and I was pretty sure we wouldn’t get eggs for a while due to the stress. It messed up our chicken to rooster ratio; and roosters had to be culled.
My calm, docile roosters also became aggressive towards us for several days following the massacre. We donated all but one to a tamale maker. We have built an enormous kennel for the dogs. Now our dogs and chickens have to take turns roaming around.
A New Family Member
We homed all our accidental puppies, and kept one for Bella. Lil’ Missus looks just like her mama. (Ugly!) Homing dogs was way harder than I thought. We got Brownie and her puppy fixed, so we won’t have to worry about more accidents.
An Investment Pays Off!
We’ve been getting eggs since September. Right on time, despite our rookie mistake with the dogs. The first ones were smallish; but with practice, our cuckoo marans are laying almost a dozen big, beautiful eggs daily. We’re coming out ahead of what we’re spending on feed since eggs are so high right now, but egg production should slow down soon.
Hubby and his brother bought a used four wheeler. My nephews have two kid-sized ones, so it’s a lot of fun ripping around the property.
I’m working 3 clearings to make a really fun path for riding. It’s a lot easier trimming trees and hauling brush, because we can hook a trailer up to the quad. There is a nice natural path that just needs to be tidied up a bit. There will be lots of forks, twists, and turns so traffic laws will be in place when multiple quads are in use. I’ve actually been looking for traffic signs. Why not give the kids a head start for driving real trucks?
We remodeled the living room (which is actually a sun room addition) when we first moved in. Since then, Edson has painted our daughter’s room and is remodeling her bathroom. Her weird, shallow bathtub has been replaced with a modern shower. It’s a teeny wittle bathroom, but it’s a going to be a lot prettier now.
That leaves the dining sewing room, kitchen, laundry, pantry, and master bedroom firmly stuck in the 70’s. I’m not antsy to remodel at all.
We intend to build a house at the rear of the property. That’s a part of the reason why I don’t want to invest a lot in remodeling. But…renting this house a viable option that will pay half the mortgage, at least. Although I don’t want to share my space, I have to admit that it makes financial sense and we could really use some more manpower to keep up with the land. So since we’ll be in this house for a couple years, and probably rent it after that…I do think we need a few cosmetic updates. Sigh.
I also changed my mind about getting meat chickens this spring. Butchering chickens is a lot of work, and I can buy a whole chicken at the grocery store for less than an hour at minimum wage. I still want pigs, but just a couple for personal bacon. Ive learned it’s difficult to make money off livestock without a big operation and expensive equipment. Raising animals for meat doesn’t save money either. But you eat better, and give the animals a good life that they would not experience in most commercial operations.
I’m researching leasing the back half of my land for farming or livestock. I could make a little money and get some agricultural education if that works out. I’m not really sure where to start.
Nature Is Kicking My Butt
I’m losing the battle against the trees. We’ve already killed 2 chainsaws. Any reccomendations for a super heavy-duty chainsaw? Oh, all my pretty flower gardens got overgrown with weeds over the summer. I’m slowly working those in preparation for winter.
Lions And Tigers And…
Coyotes, oh my. A new housing edition to the East, overgrown jungle property adjoining a part of mine, and the sounds of prey animals have lured them to my farm. We’ve had 2 sightings just this week, dangerously close. They are very smart and hard to catch.
The plus side is I haven’t seen too many deer getting close. Remember, I’m still pissed at the entire deer population for eating up my pear harvest.
My winter farm report might be more interesting. Maybe I’ll have some building plans to show you. I’m debating a small ranch style home or a classic farmhouse with a wrap around porch. It’s hard to find the smaller floor plan I need. More house = more cleaning, no thanks!
I’ve been meaning to keep you updated on the progress here at the farm. I feel like a post blog needs a finished product to show, and the truth is farm work is never really finished. So maybe that’s why I haven’t kept up with writing about farm stuff. But there are lots of wonderful goings on here, and I can’t wait to share with you.
Peaches are my life this week. I have at least 20 lbs to can, courtesy of my uncle’s peach tree. My freezer is chalk full of blackberries, squash, and other goodies so I need to process all the peaches. All the peaches! My house smells amazing, you should all be jealous. I’m making peach syrup, jam, preserves, pie filling, and just regular old canned peaches like you buy in the store. Except they are so much yummier. And opening a jar of summer peaches in January? That’s heaven.
We are free ranging our chickens now, it helps keep the grounds bug and pest free and keeps our cuckoo marans happy. I made a rookie mistake and didn’t get chicken wire up around my tomatoes and they ate a bunch of them.
Cuckoo marans are a very docile breed and even the roosters are friendly. We’ve culled lots of roosters but still have 5. We only need one so we’re keeping an eye out to see who is our keeper. I wish I knew who ate my tomatoes, because he’d be first to go. At this point the boys will only taste good in tamales and dumplings…the meat is tough after 16 weeks. I’d love to give them away but everyone out here has too many roosters right now.
We expect eggs in September, I’m so excited. I’ve read that we should put golf balls in their nesters to train them where to lay. I do not want my farm fresh eggs being laid in random bushes, especially since my chicks won’t get broody and give me babies for at least another year.
Next spring I’m buying 50 silkies, (which are great egg layers) and they are also very broody. That means they will sit on eggs and hatch them, even my marans eggs. I’m also going to get 50 broilers, which grow large quickly. They will be my meat chickens. I shouldn’t have to buy chickens after that. I just have to keep my egg layers in the coop, and the baby mamas can free range with the roosters.
We almost bought a pig the other day. It was a great price for gilts, but in the end we decided to wait. If we buy a pig now; the benefit is it will get big in winter. We wouldn’t have as much stinky pig smell and flies. The drawback is that when its all big and hungry mid- winter; we wouldn’t have all this fresh produce scrap. I have enough land to put my big stinky pig far away and save money on feed by buying later. I think it’s a better choice for us to hold off a little longer.
Cattle is still a far away plan. I started small with chickens and need to make sure I can keep pigs before I even think about it. Fencing is a huge cost, and I don’t know how much pasture cows need. I need my cattle to be mostly grass fed because feed will eat a hole in me. I will not run one of those operations with hungry looking cows grazing around. So that’s on the back burner until I’m a whole lot more knowledgable with more cushion in the bank.
My dog had puppies so we are finding homes for them. They just got their first round of shots. And Brownie gets fixed…poor thing. I’m slightly petrified that my husband and daughter will want to keep more than one puppy. Brownie is a great farm dog…I hope it’s genetic. I can’t afford any puppies stressing out my chickens or digging up gardens. I think hubby is forgetting that puppies chew everything. He’s totally enamoured with the cuteness. Sigh. Btw this is the ugly puppy, it’s Bellas favorite. Several of them are gray with blue eyes…gorgeous.
Cheerleading…oh my gosh I’m loving my daughter in cheer. Bella has practice twice a week, and games every Saturday until November. Her games are on all corners of this earth, we’ll be burning diesel this fall.
Bella is getting good though! She asked me to buy her a mat and she’s been working her butt off. Hubby found a free trampoline (not the big, big kind but not a tiny one either) for her to work on her high kicks. I’ve even let her slack some on chores, because she doesn’t usually take extra cirriculars so seriously. Maybe she just prefers working out to hauling compost…but she seems to be absolutely thriving and making tons of friends.
School starts soon and we will have our first autumn in our new house. I’m bubbling over with happy a little right now, just thinking about all the leaves changing color. I don’t want summer to end at all, but I’m excited to see what the next season holds. Until next time!
This chair had been lingering around for a couple years. It’s pretty small; my niece is the only one who can fit in it anymore. Some of the joints were a little wobbly too. It lived outside for a while, spent some time collecting dust in our clubhouse, then somehow survived the move out here to the farm. It blended in and sucked the joy out of whatever corner it lurked in.
I’ve been on a decorating kick lately. I’m obsessively arranging and rearranging furniture, and busy filling my greenhouse and sunroom with plants. (The long term goal is to make my own jungle.)
I changed my color scheme in the new place so I’m finding tons of junk to paint. Did you see my dollar store lantern refashion? I thought this chair would make a great plant stand to add some height and color somewhere, so I got out the paint again! I’m not a furniture or home decor guru. In fact, it’s quite out of my element. But this is so easy, anyone can do it. It’s just slopping paint on old crappy stuff; to make it look less crappy.
Farmhouse Chair Makeover
I started with a hunter green base coat. I used a sponge, and when that got annoying I just started wiping it on with a towel. But it was blah and boring.
So I added a coat of grey, so light it’s almost white. I was real careful to paint sloppy, because shabby chic is in vogue. I wanted bits of the wood grain and base coat to show through. If you want things to look rustic, just paint like you don’t give a damn. It usually works out fine, in my experience.
It turned out like this. The light color is a perfect backdrop for greenery or bright flowers. Don’t you think?!
If you like this project, you may want to visit some of my Pinterest boards!
We hit the 2 month mark living on our farm. Spring has come and it’s planting season. I haven’t really got to the hard part yet, and I’m already feeling it.
I read this post from The Easy Homestead; and found myself relating to several of the authors sentiments. She talks about the hard days. I’m pretty sure I’m not even to the hard part yet! I hope I’m as tough as I think I am.
I have callouses on my hands. I scrub the dirt from under my fingernails before I cook. I have plants in the greenhouse that need tilled ground, and I’m not as strong as I want to be. I dig and pull roots until my spine burns. Just today, I spent 3 hours tilling a spot for my peas, only to realize they will have to be planted under the trellis instead, to climb.
Stupid, ugly peas.
I have 33 chickens that Google is helping me raise. One has a broken leg, and I had to wipe my daughters tears and tell her we will do all we can to make sure it lives. The other day, the feed store was closed so I stalked a mill truck and begged for a heat lamp when I had one break. I mean, I begged. That’s not something I’m inclined to do. But lives were at stake. Or at least, future dinners.
I can see my family as a sitcom. The clueless mom who knows nothing about running a farm; but buys a farm nonetheless. City raised daughter, who keeps naming the dang groceries. (I mean chickens.) And always loving husband, who goes along with his wife’s craziness; and is actually the only one adept enough to live there. Hilarity ensues.
Farmers coined the saying, “you can break a man’s back, but you can’t break his spirit.” They say that because it breaks your back, y’all. And even though I’m so busy I’m dizzy, I am smiling. Here’s why.
20 Reasons Why I Love Living On A Farm
1. My daughter is safer here.
We bought our first house when I got pregnant with Bella, but the neighborhood declined. There were home invasions, gang and drug type stuff, and creepers. Maybe I’m just a wuss because I grew up in a quiet sleepy little town.
Here there’s one way in and one way out, and it takes a lot of fuel to get here. You need lots of gas money and really good tires to come visit me. I just don’t see bad guys going to all that trouble…ha!
2. We aren’t that into TV.
This is primarily because I do not have cable. Or turn the TVs on. I dont even know how to get local channels, because I had digital cable as long as I can remember. Our expensive Internet provider (who we shall refer to as HickNet) is very stingy with gigs and we can’t watch a glitch free movie if we tried. We ration our internet for the important things, like what to do if your chicken breaks it’s leg.
3. The stars are bright.
You can see them all, millions of them. It’s real easy to pick out the constellations. I missed stars.
4. Someday, I might never have to shop at Wal-mart again.
You know, once I have chickens, beef, milk, veggies & fruit. I can get a lot of things here in town. I have infinite hope.
5. Building character.
I’ve noticed that my generation does not understand what earning means. It means you deserve compensation because you performed a service that is worthy. That’s a little different than just showing up.
Work builds character. These kids are learning to drive a tractor just as fast as their foot can reach the pedal. We get to put tools in their hands, literally and figuratively. Right now they play at it, and quit when they get bored. But the minute one of them steps up, I’ll get to put a paycheck in those hands. I could probably employ an army of middle school and high school kids each summer. Giving kids and opportunity to earn gives them self reliance and self worth.
6. I can have any dang animals I want.
Legally, I can have just about anything. I could probably get away with having a tiger, unless the law found out. As long as the tiger didn’t eat someone, nobody would know. I don’t really need a tiger. But I’m not opposed to peacocks.
7. I have a cowbell.
Seriously, I wanted one my whole life.
8. I could walk around naked.
I would never in my life feel the need to walk around naked. Trust me. But you know, it’s sort of nice having privacy. I was able to smell what the neighbors cooked for breakfast in the city.
*In case you’re a creeper with lots of gas money, please note that you will be highly disappointed if you were hoping to catch a glimpse of a naked fat gurl. Also, see below.
9. I have my own gun range.
Hubby and I are excellent marksmen, and so are the children in my life who are mature enough to safely train. (Not playing, creeper.)
All joking aside, guns have a different use on a farm way out in the boonies. This is a different world than the one we left. I don’t feel the need to carry a weapon, except maybe at dark if I were way in the back of the property. You know, in case I surprise a coyote. A weapon is mostly for guarding the farm animals against predator animals. I am trained to defend my life against a target attacking me, I’m no hunter. So I’m thinking about trading a couple handguns in for a rifle.
10. I can build a mudslide.
Or anything else we want. Like quad ramps or a whole playground. Limitless options.
11. It’s beautiful.
Everyday in spring, something new is blossoming. This property was a homestead before Oklahoma was a state. Most of the original structures are gone, but there are generations of plants and bushes and flowers to see. It seems like each day I wake up this month, I see a new splash of color!
12. Who needs to work out anymore?
Not that I ever worked out. But if I were in the habit of working out, I’d definitely stop now. I have aching muscles that I didn’t know existed in the human body.
13. The nature.
I very rarely walk to the back of my property without seeing wildlife. I’ve seen deer and wild turkey, but I hear there are lots more critters around here. Mostly the carnivore sort.
And birds! I feed them, because this place came equipped with a bajillion bird feeders. I have cardinals and bluejays, those are the only 2 species I recognize so far. But I’m going to save up some gigs to look it up.
14. The quiet.
My daughter was actually scared of the quiet at first. I remember feeling that way when I went to college in a big city, after growing up in a little town. Laying awake at night hearing cars, sirens, people…
It took a little getting used to for her. I sat down with her one day after she had been having trouble sleeping. I told her there’s actually a quite lot of noise if you pay attention. The birds, crickets, trees rustling, and distant farm animals. I told her when I was her age I could tell if there was bad weather coming just by listening. She hasn’t had any trouble since.
15. The people.
Remember in the beginning of this post when I told you I begged a mill truck driver to help me find a heat lamp for my chicken flock? The nearest farm supply outside of my town is 2 hours round trip. I guess in a small community, if you don’t have a heat lamp to sell, you call a buddy who can loan one to a strange beggar woman with a truckload of muddy kids.
See, I thought one of the reasons I wanted to move away from the city was to be more self sufficient. Live off the land, all that. But in a way, people rely on each other more in the country. It’s not a bad thing though. That’s how you make friends! Help me out with a heat lamp, I’ll give you some of nicely cultivated, ready to put in the ground (God forsaken) pea plants. We’re all ready to lend a hand to anyone in need, because we never know when we might be in a tough spot.
16. We are NEVER bored.
At least, I’m never bored. The kids have learned real quick not to get bored. There’s plenty of work to do, so if you can’t entertain yourself I will make you use of your abundant time.
Hubby and I go on dates on our own property. That might sound corny, but there is nothing more romantic than sipping a bottle glass of wine, sitting on the tailgate and watching the sun go down.
Yes, I know that sounds like a country song. Where do you think we got the idea?!
18. Food tastes better.
This summer we will get to eat our own produce. That’s not new; I grew a little and canned a lot when we lived in the city. There’s no doubt that I’m ruined for store bought tomatoes and fruit. It’s more than that, though.
I think it’s because you bust your butt all day, and you’re just so happy to sit down. Also, you’re STARVING, because you spent 6 hours tilling peas instead of 3. My theory is that one feels they have earned their meal, and that tastes amazing.
19. I feel closer to God here.
I love designer bags, clothing, fancy furniture I can’t afford, basically I covet nice things. Being away from the city slows me down and makes me realize what’s important. I’m materialistic, I admit it. But living here helps. I’m also more conscience of my time, which makes me feel like a better person in general. I am more present for my family. I get it now, what “You are the salt and the light” means. I’m learning to slow down, and just live.
20. My kid thinks I’m awesome.
Bella loves her school. (Remember, the old one was pretty rough!) Her first week, she noticed some things that warmed my heart. She said kids don’t care if you wear Jordans. She went on about how the kids aren’t teased and shunned. I also know that peer pressure and bullying happen everywhere, but that’s how she feels in this moment. And in a class with 13 kids, she gets all the extra math help she needs.
I can’t believe it took me this long to give my daughter what I never appreciated growing up. You grow up and move away, only to miss the very things you took for granted. Except my daughter has lived both worlds so she understands more than I did. Not that city living is bad. But city living in a not so nice area wasn’t great.
Bella went from not being allowed to play in the front yard to 16 acres of freedom. Of course, I still get a little nervous when I can’t see her. But hey, I have the cowbell!