Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Farm reconnaissance

I went up to the farm yesterday with Mark and Robb. This was my third time there (preceded by my initial look and home inspection trip) and Mark's second time. The trip had multiple purposes: take measurements in the house, examine the floors/walls/windows to plan for immediate repairs, meet with my insurance agent, examine the barn and other outbuildings and walk the fields to start planning where vegetables would be planted and animals pastured. It was a good trip as we managed to do all we had planned and came away better able to imagine what farming the land will be like in the spring.

This time, I also got lots of pictures (thanks to Robb's diligent shutter clicking!). I'll just post outside shots for now as the current owner is in the process of packing up. You'll see what a winter wonderland it is up there!

The Farm house

It's in 3 sections, the original house built in 1886 is on the left, followed by the middle chunk which I can't date, and the summer kitchen on the right, which was added in 1967. The future giant guest room is the whole second floor of the middle addition.

The house from another angle

The bank barn, with an old silo

Mark and me kneeling in the snow looking out at the furthest field from the farm house

After quite a bit of trekking through snow that sometimes came up to my waist, we arrived at the edge of the furthest field. I had actually forgotten that this field is part of the property too. Mark is adamant that we tried taking our first soil sample from this field (hit water after about 6 inches and went to choose a different spot), but my memory of that day is so confused with the other properties we looked at, that I'm not clear as to the boundaries of the land. The survey will solve that issue once I get it ;P I'm pretty sure Mark's right though, which means I do have a chunk of woods on the property, which is a definite bonus! It's a bit hard to see in this picture, but the woods are to the right of us.

Mark, me and Robb all bundled up for the cold!

My insurance agent took this picture of us. She got quite lost coming up to the farm as I gave her directions from Toronto, and she decided to come from the direction of Collingwood. She ended up driving to Owen Sound and Meaford, but no one could tell her where Grey Road 3 and Side Road 8 were. GPS couldn't find it because those are really generic road names, so there could be multiple locations, or the mapping company just didn't have enough detail for the more rural areas of Ontario. I'll be sure to get a good map picture of how to get to the farm once I start asking people to visit!

And the most encouraging thing happened today :) My friend Andrew found out that one of his client's grandparents used to own farmland around Chesley (the nearest town to the farm). So I gave Andrew the address of the place which he confirmed with his client used to be his grandparents' farm, along with the 100 acre Amish farm across the road, and probably the 50 acre farm that's t0 the east of the farm. So now that client will be digging up old aerial photos of the properties to send to me, and will probably be able to tell me more details about the land itself, and the history of the house and outbuildings. I'm always astounded by how small a world we really live in!

Considering that I only even came across this farm because I had contacted the agent about the Amish farm across the street, this is just another indication to me that God really led me to the right piece of farm land to buy. It was a much needed sign for me on a day when I was worrying about finances and how I would pay for all the things needed to maintain the house and run a farm. With that and Obama's inauguration today, I'm managing to stay hopeful that things will work out as needed. I'm hopeful that the positive change of Obama becoming president will mean that people will stop being afraid of planning and hoping for their futures based on media recession fear mongering. If we all just sit on our hands waiting for things to get better, they never will. So those of you out there who have been thinking for years about moving out of your parents' house, or stopping renting, come out and buy my condo! If you've been saving up any sort of cash for a down payment over the last few years, this is a great time to buy because mortgage rates are so low.

I will be at the Guelph Organic Conference this weekend, volunteering at the Everdale booth. After that, I'll be spending a few days at Everdale while Mark animal sits, so we can get our farm business plan written and our crop plans made. It may be winter still, but there's a lot of planning that we need to get done before spring. At least we'll have one piece of equipment after this weekend...a Ken Laing wheel hoe! He's delivering it to Mark at the conference. Locally made by a great mentoring farmer. I'm glad we managed to snag one. I'll be sure to post a picture of it once we've picked it up.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The condo is for sale

After some packing up of my clutter (any one who's been to my place before knows I have a lot of stuff), I was able to take pictures of my place so I could get it listed. I've moved some items to my sister's and my minivan has also become my mobile storage unit. Though by looking at my place, I don't think you'd think anything has been packed up. It's a good thing I'm not moving to the farm until the end of February, because I've got loads of packing to do!

I've listed the condo for sale at $314,900. The technical details are as follows:
- 711 square feet, open plan corner unit, 1 bedroom + den with a 38 square foot balcony
- floor to ceiling windows
- walnut veneer cabinetry in kitchen and bathroom, with granite countertops and foyer floor, ceramic tile in kitchen and bathroom and carpet for the rest
- a glass backsplash in the kitchen (which I installed myself)
- a glass drop chandelier in the dining area, wall-mounted swing arm lamp in the bedroom and 3-spot light in the den

But what has made the condo my home for almost 6 years is more than those details. I first signed on the dotted line for the place in September of 2000, paid installments on it for the next few years and finally moved into it in February 2003. Over the years I:
- bought furniture (my first couch!),
- built furniture (both the shelf unit and corner desk were built in the den where they currently reside),
- moved furniture (though I don't rearrange nearly as often as Alan and Liz do at their place!),
- painted (the last time, just in time for my Christmas open house that year),
- sewed curtains (I've changed my curtains 4 times over the years),
- sewed cushions (I love finding beautiful fabrics),
- installed glass tiles (it's the grouting that can get finicky)
- and vacuumed almost daily

And then there's the entertaining...brunches, lunches, dinners, dessert, my annual Christmas open house (5 hosted here!), small group meetings, trip planning meetings, out of town guests, Battlestar Galactica marathons...711 square feet have fit a lot of people over the years! I'm definitely going to miss that aspect of living here, being so easily reachable by all my friends and family, despite the small size of visitor parking and high security of my building ;P Moving into this condo also changed my daily 2-3 hour driving and TTC commute to a 15 minute one-way walk. In the summers, I could stop at the farmer's market on my way in to work. In the winter, I would skate at the Harbourfront rink every week. And on those rare occasions when I was home alone for a day, this condo has been a homey retreat where many books have been read, movies watched and craft projects made. I'm definitely going to miss my first solo home!

As I was taking pictures for the listing, I realized that they weren't just pictures to try and sell the place, but also to remember what it looked like. So here's some nostalgia.

My bedroom, which was the first room that I painted the second day that I moved in. The paint colour is Violet Stone by Benjamin Moore. The curtains are from IKEA, which I modified. The fabric on canvas above the bed is a Japanese patterned quilting fabric bought from a quilt fabric shop in Linlithgow, Scotland. The swing arm lamp is also from IKEA, though they haven't made it for years and I wish I had bought 2 at the time. It's not the IKEA shade on it though as I definitely didn't like the one it came with.

The living/dining room and kitchen. Open concept living definitely worked for me here! The green patterned curtains in the dining area are the last set that I made. The glass drop chandelier is a combination of a chandelier bought from The Home Depot, and a drum shade Benita got for me from the Umbra sale. The glass tile backsplash shimmers in the light.

The den, with it's corner desk and shelving unit, both built right in the room. The white shelf was built first, attempted without a hammer, which didn't work. I had to run to Tammy's house to borrow her hammer...she and Jackson subsequently gave me a hammer as a gift ;P Before the corner desk, the shelves that are currently in the living room were on the wall opposite to the white shelving unit. That configuration really didn't work, which is why I was quite happy to discover this corner desk unit. One good thing about moving to a farm with a house much bigger than my condo...I don't have to get rid of any of my books!

And finally, the bathroom, all 40 square feet of it :) I debated from day one whether I would add colour to the walls. I thought I'd paint narrow coloured stripes, but in the end, preferred to leave one room all white and creme. It's probably better for its saleability that I decided against the coloured striping!

In about 2 months, I won't be living here any more. I will be starting a new adventure in farming. And as far as my life is concerned, the condo will have fulfilled its destiny. I bought it and paid the mortgage down aggressively over the years as savings and investment towards buying a farm one day. So this condo hasn't just been my home for 6 years, it has also been my vehicle into farming. I've definitely been happy here so I hope that whoever lives here next will enjoy it as much as I have.

The first official viewing of the condo will be tomorrow at noon. I've got a pile of things sitting beside me in the den that I will be taking down to the minivan tonight to get them out of the way. Have to have the condo looking its best for tomorrow!