Broke Barn Farm: Sounds Legit.

My husband called this place Broke Barn Farm practically from the onset.  I hated it and coming from my “boujee” background in the Hunter/Jumper industry, I thought there is no way this can be the site of a future small business when its name immediately takes me to a dark place where my back hurts on a mountain.   Its on Country Lane after all.  Country Lane Farm was my top pick.  It was short, sweet and to the point.  It also sounded like I raised cattle ponies to some and the already eclectic location didn’t help that image either.  I tried naming it after anything… Heinzfield Farm (Go Steelers), Hunt Field Farm (too traditional), Green Cove Stables (too dated), Four Acre Farm (but its technically 4.4 so…no).

BeforeArial

Photo of the farm taken from the MLS listing.

Greg continued the Broke Barn Farm mantra: it was broke when we got it, we’re broke now that we bought it, and we continue breaking it as we go.  He roped me.  It stuck.  So what did we buy really?

When I first stepped foot on the property, I felt obligated to walk every inch.  It was late April/early May and Florida was being overrun by wildfires.  It was dry and CRISPY.  Walking across what we now call “The Barnyard” sounded as though someone had laid out an entire box of corn flakes on the hardwood floor and tap danced on them.  All I could think was its going to take a quality sprinkler system to keep grass growing and dust down.  HA. Jokes on me!!

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The pond on closing day when just a month before it was dried up by over half! And its deep.  Don’t ask me how I know.

We closed the beginning of June and roughly a week or two before then we started experiencing our typical summer afternoon showers.  The much needed rain brought on some amazing growth for the place, and what was a desert waste land became a local version of the Amazon.  FAST. Grass (and weeds, a lot of weeds) shot up out of no where, making me completely excited and hopeful that we can manage quality pasture in a town where you struggle to find boarding with grass turnout.  Our sand base makes maintenance a challenge, and just one too many horses, failure to rotate and rest, skipped seeding and lack of water will turn any place into a sand pit with the blink of an eye around here.  That being said, we knew we were in for a real treat when the seller’s realtor mentioned several calls she had received about snakes and overgrowth coming from our soon-to-be property in the days leading up to and at our closing.

Apparently as we worked through the drama that was the purchase of this farm, the seller decided to stop maintaining it.  Weeds towered my children (ages 9 and 6), And I’m not talking your average, run of the mill, garden weeds. These are trees.  Weed trees.  EVERYWHERE.

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Exhibit A: WEED TREES. I am 5’6 (and a half) and can stand in this coop, and the door is 2.5′ wide, if that gives you any idea of their massive and impressive size. Bastards.

And in anticipation of our new found slice of paradise, we had ordered a ride on mower (my first one ever mind you) and while I was SO excited to get it on, I was not taking my second most expensive purchase in that month and exposing it to the forest.  Greg though? No fear.  Until he bent the blade in the first hour of his attempt and flattened a tire in the second.  Oh look.  A broken mower.  Sounds about right.  Heavy duty blades should help prevent that going forward….HA. Funny.

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I actually just looked at it for a week before breaking it in.  

You know what we need! A weed eater.  For the weed trees.   Hand-me-down? Hells yeah! “Universal” attachments for heavy brush?! New spark plug, new trimming attachment, new blade for the weed trees. Yes please.  $100? No problem.  Ready to rip? No, because your universal pieces are intended for equipment made in this decade.  Not your hand-me-down.  So now you’re a whole different kind of broke and still can’t get the weed trees managed. Yay.  We are blessed though, because being out in the country means there is never a lack of folks with heavy equipment and it didn’t take long for us to find someone to bush hog the place.

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Tractor man handling the weed trees. Wish the picture wasn’t so dark but then again, it would have to stop raining. 

$375 later and we can actually appreciate what we purchased.  It no longer looks abandoned or disregarded. It does however show off how awesome our fences are…not.  They are not awesome. They need a face lift horribly.  But one thing at a time, right?

 

Did I mention it hasn’t stopped raining.  Because it hasn’t.  Even as I sit here and puke my thoughts into words someone else can attempt to manage, it has not. Stopped. Raining.  Since we closed in June, the longest “dry spell” we’ve had was a matter of a couple (don’t round up! I mean two) days at best.  Our grass is in full swing, our Amazon is turning into more of a respectable swamp and when it dries up, sometimes we can even mow!  And we have children old enough to help and who doesn’t love child free labor?!

 

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RJ tearing things up.  Just kidding.  I would yell at him for that. 

BUT we actually expect a few nice days this week! Not that we can mow.  Turns out those heavy duty blades aren’t Greg-proof….stay tuned for my I fixed a mower blog to follow… But I can’t even be mad because I have single-handedly  broken my chicken coop (which I rewired completely on my own).

And the garbage disposal (which I unclogged and re-piped).

And the shower head (which I got right back in working order).

And the toilet seat (did you know that not all seats are the same shape?).

And the closet door…twice..in two rooms (Greg helped with that, thanks hunny).

And just recently flattened three tires across two vehicles this past weekend.  Winning.

So what did we really buy? A huge work in progress, an excellent chance for me to improve on my handy-wo-man skills, a test of true love and oh yeah, a farm!

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Ignore the weeds.  And the trash.  And the random pallet attached to the fence.  Enjoy the farm.

Buy A Farm, They Said.

If you have found yourself at one time or another completely swept by the love of horses, you have then dreamed of owning your own farm.  I was drawing stable blueprints before I was able to spell “blueprint”.  Here’s where I will have an indoor wash rack, here’s the feed room, here’s the tack room directly across from the cross-ties, it will be cinder block with wood dividers, half walls with bars in the front, full walls in-between horses. The tack room will have a saddle rack and two bridle hooks for each horse which will be clearly identified by the name plates hung above space for the tack trunk to be placed on blocks and it must be air conditioned.  With a fridge.  And a water cooler.  And don’t get me started about the arena.  Or the paddocks.  Or the equipment.  Or the management (don’t lie, you have dreamed too about how you would run it – I literally came up with fake horse profiles from magazine cut-outs and kept them in my “barn binder” as a kid).

Blueprint

If you ride horses and claim to have never done this, your pants must surely be on fire.

Been there, done that.  So when my husband actually made that dream a reality and was all in, that I could purchase a property that either hosted or offered me the ability to build my dream barn/farm, I was SO. FREAKING. EXCITED. I mean really, who wouldn’t love to go shopping for a farm?! My husband.  That’s who.  He had no desire to even look.  He gave me very basic requirements.  Four bedrooms, city limits, manageable size, end up with a mortgage less than our current rent payment.  He travels for work so I was essentially given a free ticket to pick out the farm and send him the bill.  Hahahahaha.  Yeah.  About that.

 

If someone buying a farm said it was the most enjoyable experience of their life, they had millions of dollars and a great therapist.  Buying the farm was a nightmare.  Literally things horror stories are driven from.  I was hysterical more often than not, so much so that when my son overheard a teacher mentioning that she “loves that house,” he begged her not to cry in her chair in a ball like his mom does.

I literally screamed out to God to “take this fucking pain off me.”  It sucked.  I guess because it meant so much to me.

We applied with our first lender in January.  Credit scores weren’t good enough, so lets get you enrolled in a credit repair program (that I am still paying for) at $140/mo for the two of you (its not like you need that money to pay off the bills negatively impacting those scores).   You make too much money for the first time home-buyers program at just over six-figures combined, we prefer to put annual incomes of less than $90k in $300k homes (wake up America). You have no debt so we can’t give you debt (what in the actual fuck). Fine, we will work on it and revisit in February.

I shared my first and no so great experience with a few friends who then told me it was rubbish.  They’re giving folks mortgages with scores in the 500s.  Mine wasn’t that awful, Greg’s was close.  But regardless.  If they could, why can’t we? Oh, we could alright.  Two more lenders told us they could definitely get us in a home.  Two more lenders told us all we needed was to make me the sole applicant (thus why “she” bought the farm). Then the two lenders told us all we would need to do is put 20% down.  That’s it.  Just 20% of our $250k advised purchase budget.  For folks struggling with the math, that’s $50,000 down. Herein lies the irony: if I had an extra $50k lying around, do you think my credit score would be an issue? Or was(am) I missing something? Still don’t get it.  Getting pre-approved not enough drama for you? Let’s add in the farms you shouldn’t have looked at before you were approved that were now flying off the shelf as you struggled to get the necessary things in order to actually make an offer, adding insult to injury.

There’s was the 10 acre, too-far-out, bank owned, everything you could want in the middle of no-where, actual site-built home for under $200k. That lasted 3 hours on the market. Then came the 4.5 acre fenced and cross-fenced farm, modular with detached garage that met the husband’s criteria, on the market for almost a year that then went under contract the day after I looked at it (since we were STILL not pre-approved).  Then there was the 4 acre, vacant property that already had septic and well, and would allow us to put our own home on it in addition to fixing the existing barn that had been on the market for well over a year. I even mapped this one out exactly how I was going to develop it.

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Exhibit A as to my level of crazy during the farm hunt.

What’s that? We’re pre-approved?!! Offer it up Mr. Realtor Man! Oh, the approval isn’t land and home? So we need another lender.  Great [eye roll]. Go pick out the modular of your dreams and get that approval in the works? YES SIR! Someone else came in with an offer the same day?  Then offer a few thousand less than the asking price on just the land while we work on the modular package and get it done.  They accepted the other offer?! Of course they did. Here comes emotional breakdown number 372.  Oh look, the 4.5 acre farm’s contract fell through AND the price dropped?! Upswing! The approval won’t work on a modular? Downswing. Call from the lender for the modular builder we picked out for the vacant property and they can finance the other property?! ALL UNITS ACTIVATED! GO! GO! GO! Offer in, counter-offer returned, counter-offer in, and accepted. BOOM.

Mind you, these battles were happening over hours, sometimes minutes, over the course of weeks on end for months.  I literally developed ulcers, IBS and probably a few mental illnesses. I could go on and on…and on.  The purchasing experience was long, with several more hills to climb, from countless document hunts, as many “no’s” as “yes’s” and a closing date that was pushed back more than Salt-N-Pepa could even handle. And money.  A lot of money. Some we had, some we didn’t.  At the end of the day though, it all came together. My #MarchMantra became my #AprilMantra, then came #IWillBuyTheDamnFarmIfIHaveToBuildOneMyself, then we went under contract in May and ultimately closed in June.  I have less friends than I started with, and my family has now continued to provide for me when I can’t provide for myself, but the farm is bought.  And we are broke.  So Greg has appropriately named it: Broke Barn Farm. The name I hate but just can’t shake.

BeforeArial

If I had a dollar for every time I shared this photo, I could have committed to the 20% down.

So our newest story starts with its first chapter.