Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When It Rains, It Pours

This morning, when I first thought about sitting down and writing a post for the blog today, I thought I would talk about the weather.  How we had massive rain, which made the garden too wet to work in, followed by about two weeks of gorgeous weather that dried up the soil and enabled me to finish planting the garden, and now that all the seeds have been tucked into their rows and hills, the rain has returned.

I thought I'd talk about how I went from having nothing to do in the garden because the weather and soil hadn't warmed up enough, to tilling and driving stakes and planting like crazy while I had the chance.  And now that we've had some rain followed by warm weather, all the rows I got planted earlier are in need of lots of weeding because the weeds grew while I was busy getting the later sections of the garden planted.

I thought I'd talk about how we eagerly awaited the first stalks of rhubarb and spears of asparagus after not having any for nine or ten months, and now we've been eating rhubarb and/or asparagus several times a week, almost to the point where some family member says "asparagus, again?"

I thought maybe I'd mention going from "hmm, no mosquitoes this spring, maybe that long cold winter wasn't so bad if it killed all the mosquitoes" to an absolute dearth of the flying bloodsuckers.  I mean, so bad that the only time of day you can go outside without being attacked is when the sun is baking everything during mid-day (boy, do I have a doozy of a sunburn I could show you!)  One good thing about yesterday's all-day high winds was that I could work outside in peace without miniature buzzing vampires making a meal out of me.

I thought I might even talk about how I went from about 5 minutes a day of chicken chores (doesn't take long to care for 7 free ranging hens and their rooster) to having broilers in one pen, layer pullets in another, a few turkeys and ducklings and goslings in a third.  How those darn ducks are so messy with the water that it takes me about 10 minutes a day just to strip and rebed their brooder pen (I cannot wait until they can go outside in another week or two!).

And after a quick call from DD2 this morning during her first hour class (the teacher of whom happens to be the FFA advisor for the school) I thought I might talk about going from 8 head of poultry to possibly 43--my broilers from the farm supply store plus my chick/poult/duckling/gosling order and now: because the eggs that the FFA provided the third grade class with for hatching in April resulted in 6 live chicks that are in need of a home now that school is just about over for the summer.  The FFA advisor wanted to know if I might be willing to be that home for them; they appear to be 4 pullets and 2 cockerels.  (Of course I said yes, as any homesteading, chicken-owning fool would).

But no.  This post didn't end up being about rain, or the garden, or mosquitoes, or poultry.

Because this morning even more crazy things than being offered the third grade class's chicks happened.  For several months, DH and I have been talking and researching finishing off my barn with horse stalls and installing fences on what was planted, in 2004, as pasture and ended up being used as hay field since 2008.  It's come down to time to order and install the materials for that.  As in, he wants to finalize where we are getting them from, and make the purchase in the next week. I'm good with that.  I had told the owner of the horse farm back in February that I would be moving my horses home this summer and that I most likely would not be available to work for her after I moved my horses.  (I've been working for board, so if there is no more board, no more need to work.  Especially when there is so much to do at home:  garden, poultry, housekeeping, being wife-mom-grandma extraordinaire).

Well, this morning she asked me if I was interested in buying her farm from her.  To back up a little, I had told her, in May 2011, that DH and I were interested in buying her farm on a land contract, and that we would give her a life lease on the house (she was in very bad health at that time, since improved a little, but the reality is that she is in the end stages of emphysema and knows she most likely will not be around more than a few years).  In 2011, when I'd presented the idea, she was interested but wanted time to a) think about it and b) deal with her pressing health issue (did she want to pursue a lung transplant?) first.  Three years have gone by without any further discussion on it (every time it came up, she wasn't ready yet to talk details), which is why DH and I had decided just to go ahead with building stalls and fences at this little place here.

To say I was dumbfounded that NOW she wants to talk terms of sale would be an understatement.  Not only is she open to getting a sale underway, she says she is ready to just be done with having a farm and all the management, staffing, etc that goes along with it.  She is ready to give up control 100% (which has been my biggest frustration working there the last two years; I do the majority of the managing and dealing with staffing, yet she wants not just final say in every decision, she wants total control when she feels up to it, then dumps it all back on my shoulders when she isn't feeling as capable.  The inconsistency is killing me. . .)

Am I still interested?  Yes.  Am I leery?  Yes.  There is a whole lot of legal stuff to become familiar with and writing into the terms of sale in order to make this sale run well, especially as she might die at any time and neither of us would want the sale to be negated on her death (or me to have to take out a mortgage to pay off a land contract I'd only had for a few months--because if DH and I could afford to buy it with a mortgage we would instead of doing the land contract).  Am I almost reluctant to tell DH she now wants to sell?  Yes.  Because I know that when I tell him of this new development, that will most likely cancel what I have spent my spring putting in motion:  the stalls and fences to have horses at this little place here.  Ideally, I would like to have my older horses home, and have the horse farm down the road--literally, it is less than 2 miles from my driveway to hers) for my main riding horse (the only one who really needs the use of an indoor riding arena) and for paying clients.  Board rates in this area for a farm with an indoor are almost double what you get for board with only an outdoor ring or riding trails, which is all I would have at this little place here.  I would stop leasing my field to the crop farmer, and instead grow 18 acres of hay.  Which would be more than enough to feed the 20 horses there are stalls for over at the horse farm, plus my own horses and most likely still have extra I could sell (horse hay seems to be going for $4 a bale out of the field this spring and up to $8-$10 a bale at the local hay auction).

Too much to think about for one afternoon. How do I process the change of thinking that is required to go from having to work to pay board on my horses, to hopefully finishing my facility and moving my horses home in the next month or two, to maybe becoming the owner of a 10 acre, 20 stall dressage facility with indoor and outdoor riding arenas and 5 boarders (ie paying clients) ready right now all in the course of a few weeks?  Literally two weeks ago I was wondering if I would have to work off board for the rest of my life and never have a farm of my own.  Today I'm wondering if I should finish my barn or if I should set events in motion to buy an existing facility, or if (even better!) it's possible for me to do both.  It's overwhelming.  I don't think I've quite wrapped my head around it yet.  I'm not sure I can wrap my head around it.

 However, I don't want to take too long to hash it out, because I want to get my fences up and stalls built and my three horses home to this little place here before the summer is over.  If we don't buy the horse farm, I still need to quit working for someone else and get my own business off the ground.  A business based at this little place here.

It's a dream I've had since I was 16; to have my own horse farm.  I shelved it when the kids started piling up and I realized I couldn't be both a successful horse trainer/business owner and a great stay-at-home mom (of two, three, four?!?) kids, especially with a husband whose career required all sorts of travel and unpredictable work hours.  Now that the youngest kid is nearly a senior in high school, I feel like it's now or never.  I'll either get my horse business up and running, or it will never happen because I'll be too old. (I know 42 isn't all that old, but when you are talking about breaking horses, 42 is no spring chicken).  And now that it looks like I might be able to get a turnkey horse farm, one I'm intimately familiar with after having worked there most of my adult life, I hate to waffle and miss what might be the perfect opportunity.

When it rains, it pours.

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