Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Homesteading Story

Our farm is owner financed for 15 years, originally @ 12%. Let me tell you all about one reason I will from now on deal directly with the seller:
We started our land search back in 2008 when things became truly untenable at our old place; it was a jointly owned property between my dad, who lived in California, and I. I've lived here full-time in Maine since September 1999. The longest I've been out of state was the week long trip we took to Niagara Falls & Toronto in 2007. I have a sister who has a drug problem and wants to stay living the way she is, and my dad's trailer that he and mom spent the summers in was also on the property where we were living. We had just cleared about a half acre over there, invested in a small tractor, got the house finally sided after it being a quarter done for 8 years...numerous things my dad was always gonna get to for me in the summer but got ticked off about something else and never got around to...So, he decided to let my sister and her boyfriend, with a record of drug prosecutions longer than I am tall, live in that trailer year round...one day while we were gone they got someone to drive them to the equipment rental and dug a trench across the driveway, jacked a line into our phone box, our cable line and our power, buried it, and then had a nice neighbor with an excavating business gravel the driveway to hide the trench...yeah, real enterprising when they figured they would get 'freebies' for as long as they were there. Well...our phone bill, thank goodness, was one of those unlimited plans, so it went undetected for a LONG time...same thing with the cable, I had a good speed package and didn't notice a drop in speed...considering I had been on dial-up even the dropped speed seemed blinding fast to me, lol!
When our power bill went from $80 a month, to $170, then up, and up, and up from there until one month it was over $400...that was when the 'theft of services' was discovered. 
My dad always used a generator when he was up, him and mom didn't use much power and they had a propane water heater and stove, like we did. Well, my sister sold that water heater to someone, along with dad's little 3-phase RV fridge that he ran on propane usually and on 110 when he had the generator running. SO the story came to light when I called and said, 'Look, you guys are grossly misreading this meter...now, every other month I've given you all the benefit of the doubt, maybe my husband's running the AC when I'm gone or some such, BUT now it's coming on fall and there's no AC running, etc and we have propane water heater, dryer, and stove. SO I would like you to come out and help me figure out what's going on, please.' 
They sent a crew and one of the guys used a voltmeter...and they went into the basement with my hubby and that was when the BRIGHT ORANGE 110 line was discovered...running from a hole drilled into the basement wall UNDER our porch...and my husband said, 'Well, that's new...to us, anyway...I wonder what it powers?' So they came back upstairs and one switch at a time in the breaker box they threw each switch...first the kitchen went, then the office, then the bathroom, living room, kids room, shop outside, and then there was one breaker left. A double, unmarked. As soon as the CMP man flipped that switch, we heard shouting from across the driveway. Now, here is where the real enterprising side of these thieves shows up: they had scrounged an old meter off an apartment building and mounted it on a pole at the road, 'like CMP told us to do, and the power line is underground.' Yep, the same day they trenched the driveway to jack into our utilities, they trenched their back lawn so it looked like CMP had been there. Yes, I am naive and trusting at times...this time though CMP cancelled the bill, and I had them take the service line down. We used our land savings down payment to get a generator set-up going and we've been off grid for over a year, going on two years, now actually. 
We started looking for a place that we could truly call 'our own' immediately after that. My sister and her boyfriend both had outstanding warrants and in spite of what they did, and the fact that over 20 marijuana plants were found growing inside the trailer, my dad said they could come back to the trailer. When the state's child protective services office was called and I was in danger of losing my kids because of those people, my husband and I really went land looking in earnest and found the place we know call 'paradise.' Our own little farm in the woods, if you will. We got a terrific deal by going owner-financed. 
Sadly for the landowner, the woman we bought the place from developed chronic heart failure and died within months of us signing the contract. Her son, a lawyer, is a flat out crook. We have been paying since August of 2009 on our land, to the realtor as the contract specified and then to her son after her death as we were notified to do. The landowner, a well-past retirement gentleman, winters in Florida but lives just miles from us. It was brought to our attention in October that this poor man had not received one cent of the money we had paid in. He initially contacted us requesting contact info for the real estate agency as no one would return his calls...when we told him about Virginia's passing he said he knew and had been told her son would be taking over things, just as we were. My husband and I traveled to the real estate office and found that someone else had bought the business just prior to Virginia's passing and the son had elected to retain the contracts on the  land and homes she had sold before her death. He had been collecting payments and NOT passing them on. Virginia had probably gotten caught up in her health and had brought her son on board well before her passing to take over things and he decided to embezzle instead...well, nobody can find this man at all...his law practice is gone, his home has been cleaned out and stands empty...craziness. 

So, if you are going to be purchasing land for sale by owner, or through an agency with owner financing, make sure all contracts have some sort of clause in case of any wrongdoing on the part of the agency or their agent. 

Our landowner has elected to forgive the payments we've made to the realtor, and just started collecting from November directly from us. We were very fortunate as there were many other avenues he could have pursued, including retaining an attorney and a long court battle with us in the middle...

1 comment:

  1. It's obvious that you read a lot because you write so good. I like your site. Thanks! Here is a true story in return.

    The cattle truck showed up an hour late but at least it did finally arrive. We grabbed a long strong rope, some feed and a four-wheel drive Ford Tractor that had a bucket loader on the front of it.. The man in the truck followed us over to the other barn which was across the road from the main barnyard.

    The bull that we were after was almost as big as the tractor but he was white with some light brown spots and the tractor was blue. Many men have been mauled and even killed while trying to remove a bull from a pasture but this bull was good natured and like all cattle, loves feed.

    Coaxing cattle with feed is an old trick and more often than not it serves the purpose perfectly. I've seen whole herds of heifers chase a quad down the road when a man sat on the back with a five gallon bucket of feed for them follow.

    But, we weren't driving cattle this time, so we tried to lasso the bull and separate him from the heifers. The man who brought the truck was following the bull around a feed trough that was out in the middle of the pasture while trying to toss the looped end of the rope over the big bulls massive head. The first attempt failed because the rope only grabbed one-half of the bulls head so we had to wait for the beast to shake it off before we could try again.

    The idea was to lasso the bull but to let the rope go once we did. Once the rope was finally around the bulls neck, the plan was to recapture the loose end of the tether and tie it to back end of the tractor while the bull was being preoccupied with the feed. It would have worked if the rope had fell just right on the first try but since it didn't the bull was spooked and wouldn't come close enough for us to try it again.

    One has to be calm and quiet around cattle because they can spook easy. Seeing that we had no chance of capturing the bull under the circumstances we decided to relocate the feed trough and get a longer rope. We moved the trough from the pasture up to the lower level of the old barn and started shaking the feed bucket again. The cattle answered the dinner call and as fortune would have it the bull went into the barn behind a heifer whereupon we closed the two in by shutting a metal gate.

    Once inside the barn, the bull was preoccupied with eating feed so we were able to lasso him correctly this time. The bull was tied close to the back end of the tractor and then led to the cattle truck which was parked down by the road. I held the tether tight while another fellow operated the tractor. I rode on the tractor by standing on a running board and secured the animal by wrapping the rope around a solid bar that was attached to the tractor.

    The bull came quietly but at one point it seemed like the bulls massive head was going to get jammed in between the back tire and the tractor's frame so we halted and readjusted the rope. The ramp up into the cattle truck was already down and the side gates had been attached so we pulled the bull up to the ramp, loosed the rope and prodded the bull up into the truck.

    Well that was one down and another to go. The second bull was back in the main barnyard. So we repeated the process again, over there. The second bull was younger but he seemed to be more dangerous which is unusual because generally it's the other way around.

    I was the youngest of our crew of four. George was the oldest at 88 years old, his brother Bob is 84 and John is about 70 years old. I am 55. Bob has breathing problems and he can't walk around to good so he operates the tractor. Bob has poor circulation also. I took my glove off and held his frozen left hand in mine for a moment so that it would warm back up. I overlooked the snot that had been wiped off onto the wrist and grabbed it anyway.

    We all know how cold noses can run in the winter time. It was zero today.