Monday, January 25, 2010

you get what you pay for

handmade stair case, wood staircase, roundhouse stair case

We spent this past weekend with the hippies of western north carolina learning about Round houses made by
deltec, out of Asheville. The houses are very cool, all of the load bearing for the house is done by the outside walls, which allows you to do whatever you want inside. The entire outer shell comes shipped to you and in a few days they say that you can have the whole thing put up. Their suggestion is finding a local contractor to do the work for you, but what fun would that be?
round house,deltec homes, yurt, build your own house, hobbit, like a circle round house,deltec homes, yurt, build your own house, hobbit, like a circle
We are thinking that these houses because of their ease of construction and green friendly practices might be one option once we get some land to build on. The downside is that they are pricey, which makes sense, since they are so well crafted.

So i know what you are asking now, "why a round house?". Well first of all have you ever been in a round house? Picture a nice little hobbit house nestled into the side of a mountain, and then remember that nice feeling you get as you enter the door, of warmth the fire going in the back room, warming the whole house up, the earthy smell and semitry. There is something very similar when you enter a round house, although they are not built into the side of mountains and there are not any hobbits living in them. The circle just seems to make more sense all the way round. (pun intended)

here are some more pictures of the weekend.

round house,deltec homes, yurt, build your own house, hobbit, like a circle round house,deltec homes, yurt, build your own house, hobbit, like a circle handmade stair case, wood staircase, roundhouse stair case

In other news here is what we have found as far as getting land ready to live on. Do these numbers look right to you?

gravel for road- $10,000.
clearing land- $1700.0/acre or 1700.0 to rent a bulldozer for a week and do it yourself.( we want about 30acres done)
well dug- $1500.0-$5000.0 ( just depends how things go)
septic- $1500.0-$5000.0
power- might be free not sure yet...

getting a foundation prepped for a house $20,000

what else are we forgetting?...


Sunday, January 17, 2010

the era of infinite possibility is putting us on edge

After some sobering info from a realtor we're weighing our options, which are few. If we don't sell we don't move. If we don't list we don't sell. If we list with a realtor there goes a big chunk of our down payment. If we list on our own we may be bombarded with paperwork & unforseen things--namely not selling. Should we stay or should we go? sorry, just feeling a lyric would be nice.

No, we're going. we ARE going. we arrrrrre going.

We're looking for some answers to things like: how much does getting electric to the middle of nowhere cost? water? dare i ask; internet? Plus, getting a spot cleared & ready for a home built, cleared & ready for livestock...more pressing--a means of accessing the property.

After several days of serious contemplation, some of the jury members are still out. Pluses include:

  • being part of an actual revitalization of our environment--turning something so depressing into a homestead where 'integrity' farming takes place.

  • having no reason to worry about someone peeking through the windows while they walk down the street.

  • the (imagined) landscape of our dreams.

  • the opportunity to use our own vision to transform it...

  • enough land that anyone could visit, stay, park a camper & build an outhouse (& earn their keep).


  • no road frontage & barely a dirt road worth mentioning as the only entrance.

  • the mess that is 6 years of undergrowth

  • the cost & time involved in not finding something more accessible & prepped for our 'vision'.

Anything we're missing? it appears the pluses are winning. We shall hunker down & pray.

One Hundred and Four Acres and a Prayer


old farm house faulty foundationhopeful window  

After the virtual recon that we had done of the 97acres we knew there would be a gate to get into the property. What we weren't expecting to find was a logging company there. Once we got past the logging company, the road wasn't so bad, something a few steps down from a dirt road but a smidgen up from just a trail. Our trusty guide and head recon man Mr. Watkins gave us a tour of the property, which consisted of about a 1 mile trip down the road--the easement to the actual property; then a short hike down a four wheeler trail to the stream through some extremely beautiful land that made me realize why our an ancestors fell in love with this area.

Once we made it to the property there was a spot that had been cleared out, probably for the logging company to stage the trees. There lay a huge pile of dead trees; this was to be one of many places we would find nearly identical on the property. At one point I'm pretty sure i heard a voice coming from the woods saying in an old tree herder voice, "some of these trees were my friends". 

The views were beautiful, the land has nice rolling hills with a stream at one end and plenty of nice level areas to build houses and such. As we stood there looking out over the six year old growth we could see the future farm with all the saplings and underbrush cut away, the green pasture rolling down the hill to the stream bed. The animals living a healthy God intended life. The simple yet ever so important life of being stewards of the land was under our feet and yet it seems so unattainable.

The property is over grown and rugged there is no real road, no kind of buildings and no kind of pasture, we would be starting from scratch which is really exciting and really intimidating. There are many things we have to figure out and accomplish before something like this could be undertaken. This specimen has opened our eyes to the reality of what is out there & what we are up against.


pictures from today's journey... (to see the actual land, close your eyes--think "mess", there you go!)

Sun over barn  red house  

sunday drive

on the weekends--when it's nice--we go for rides in the country side. We usually find the prettiest parcels of land with the oldest most decrepit houses & pretend we have infinite resources to make it the place of our dreams, groan about the travesty of a place like this decaying before our eyes, and fantasize.

Of course we did it all again this past weekend, & will probably use more actual week-day hours to do so for the next little while. What did we see? Rolling hills, old fence posts, ancient trees with a lonely grimace spreading their branches with a boast toward the tree-line, 'look at all this room'. Like Anne Shirley reaching to the heavens in a prayer to God.

so, obviously this is not Drew...his fondness of all things avonlea is lacking, for sure.

so. just a post to say, the search is on. that parcel is out there. tomorrow morning we'll see another. It's hard not to have a vision for each--to get swept away by the eccentricities every new corner of this planet has to offer...creativity at it's absolute.

oh, and a real estate expert will be coming by this home tomorrow for a peek & some ideas on spic-n-spanning it.

included: Before picture. After to be stayed-tuned for. wait...

a most uplifting note from the broker today:

"The income looks good. The next step would be to do complete an application and pull credit. When is a good time for me to give you a call?"

pebbles turning

Just a quick update. We've talked to a few lenders/magic workers & we're still waiting to hear the word on if we'll qualify for a loan. As it stands we have some bank-men who can't get off the phone quick enough & others who graduated just down the road from Drew with some of his best youth-hood friends! Small mundo.

So. drum roll...we wait.

Sometimes one thinks (when I say one, I mean "I", certainly not Drew) what we really want, within reason, is what the Lord wants for us? I'm not talking cocoa fudge, not just regular fudge on my dairy queen sundae; I'm talking "with the greater good in mind" wants. Yes? 

Oh--and because no progress should go unmentioned: we're officially registered for an upcoming Round House builder's Seminar at the end of Jan. Added (& probably the clincher on our attendance) benefit--it's in Asheville. ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

the journey begins here

We don't yet have a farm but if we did it would be RoundHouse Farms (tagline: "interactive agriculture"). Here's the journey that has led us to where we are with our urban farm life. Follow along as we get closer to some acreage!

Raised Bed Garden, organic, free range
In our second year of marriage we lived in Asheville, NC--800 square feet & a porch & a container garden.We grew some (nasty pear)tomatoes & dill & a few other tasty herbs that we tossed in every meal--at the dismay of our palletes. We learned what worked. Inspired by the 'Ashvillian Culture & Cuisine' we knew we had to have a less portable garden. We moved to Greensboro. Up & coming & with lower prices on real estate it seemed the perfect spot to persue the imagined utopia. First we rented a small townhome with a little (bit bigger & with some sunshine) concrete deck--our pots felt right at home.

The fall garden consisted of sweet peas in a window box with strands of old yarn nailed into the privacy fence, they climbed & were delicious. Fresh peas right off the vine consistently reinforce our craving to share homegrown goodness. 1 month in our first farmhand was born. 6 months in we moved. On an income under 20k a year we were fortunate to be looking at the peak of the housing market boom. Basing half our decision on the yard & it's exposure to sun, we found the perfect fixer-upper for us. In a long list of necessary renovations, garden beds were #2. It all started as a 10'x10' bed & the overgrown bush we were told was an apple tree. Our urban farm began. This back yard garden has taken on a life of its' own & is our "Harley Dr. Homestead". A trial that has created addicts.

Small Urban GardeningGoat FarmingRaised Bed Gardens

Today in the same yard after 5 years of play & exploration, of garden trials & tribulations we have maxed out what this yard/farm can give us. We have 5 chickens in a chicken tractor, three beehives, and raised bed gardens.
Urban BeeHive, HoneyUrban BeeHives
We have 375sqft of garden that supply most of our vegetables for the spring through early fall. we also have blackberry bushes, blueberry bushes, asparagus, a strawberry patch, & an apple tree. In good years we get fruit from every one; in bad years, not so much.
Organic Garden Bed, raised bed, tomatos Heirloom

Apple Tree, Apple Harvest

The chickens are the latest addition, giving us an average of about 4 eggs/day & hours of both entertainment and frustration. We knew chickens were dumb-- give them a bowl of water and within a few minutes they have pooped in it and knocked it over. Their feeder is useful as a perch from which to poop in fresh feed. For awhile they were allowed to roam/ destroy the yard. From a greeting at the bathroom window every morningorning--both creepy and entertaining; 5 hens peering with their sideways glances while you relieve yourself first thing in the morning is a little unsettling. Over all I have to say that they have been good fun and produce eggs that make it hard to eat anything but fresh & integrity raised. Everyone should have a few backyard birds.

Organic, Free Range, Chickens, EggsChicken Tractor

We started with two beehives 2 years ago. There really is not too much to bees, mainly learning to relax or go with the flow (no pun intended). Bees want to make honey with no interruption. As a new beekeeper I would open the hive weekly the first year--I ended up with a lot of stings. Our garden & apple tree were a bounty of produce our first year with the bees; record numbers of apples--so many that the tree split, & we got about five gallons of honey. We were so excited to share that we gave away about 4.5 gallons (now those folks are hooked!). That winter one hive died and needed to be restocked in the spring. This past summer we got another 5 gallons of honey & we're up to 3 hives going into spring '10 as we split one hive this fall. Bees are rewarding, even before their pollination and honey services; they are simple, natural, semi-unpredictable, & something any yard could benefit from.

Raised Bed organic farm

last year's expansion.

So, with all of this going on in our urban farm we are ready to give something a little bigger a try. Goats to be exact--lacey's dream from our time in Asheville. We want to raise them for both meat and dairy, along with eventually sheep for wool, and cows for both milk and meat, more chickens, turkeys, ducks if we have a pond...we want crafts, gatherings, potlucks, big bonfires, dancing, music, community.

Our entitlement to "family" land is non-existent--we feel like we're on our own version of the Oregon Trail--pioneering our way through small cash reserves & a troubled real estate market to find a place we can build Round House Farms. We don't have trust funds or 401k's to cash out, just hope & a dream, exactly what we had when we bought what has become our urban homestead. It may not be a fast journey--but we have embarked. Faith & optimism. Faith & optimism. Faith & optimism...

Oh, & books like "You Can Farm", and movies like Food, Inc. make us feel our quest justified. RoundHouse Farm's blog is going to chronicle the events, the failures, and the eventual sucess that will bring us to our farm. We envision this blog to be both motivation for those on a similar journey & a means of accountability for us in continuing on until our goal is reached--no matter what discouragement we face. We hope that you'll join in this "community" & maybe one day we'll together sing Kumbaya around the firepit on Round House Farm.

Please join us as we continue to blog away toward our ever nearing farm (& plan to join us there, too!).