Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting Ready For Winter


We had to get hay. There was no getting around it. We could be here for a while. Our latest buyer, let’s call him Bob, got turned down for a mortgage because the bank thinks his commute to work is too long. You’ve got that right. The bank is suddenly concerned about a borrower’s quality of life and butts into decision-making like a meddling mother-in-law who gives the baby a pacifier, or takes it away—whatever she deems is right—because the mother of the baby is obviously an idiot.

I warned Bob about the trouble the banks were giving people who tried to get a mortgage to buy this place. Bob told me if he got the house he planned to transfer to one of his company’s branches closer to home after he got settled in. But in the meantime he would commute. Admittedly, it wasn’t close. Almost two hours. Just like what my girlfriend’s husband does who owns a car dealership up in New Jersey and less than what my other girlfriend’s husband does who works in Manhattan. Sometimes you have to travel for good things.

I advised him not to mention his plans to the bank. If he transferred, they’d claim he got a new job and they don’t give mortgages to people with new jobs. I said don’t give them any ammunition. Don’t even mention it. Don’t tell them that I have a really nice riding arena and you could give riding lessons if you wanted to even though you don’t plan to. Don’t even say it. (They rejected my first buyer because of that. Didn’t want her to rely on paying her mortgage by giving riding lessons even though she was a registered nurse and in fact took riding lessons on her days off.) I warned him: don’t say anything.

But who knew they’d have a problem with the commute? It didn’t even occur to me and I don’t know if it occurred to Bob because he was fine with it. Why should it bother anyone else? I have no idea how the bank found out. Are they Mapquesting the distance people go to work in addition to pulling credit reports and looking at tax returns? What’s next? Will they ask for proof that you own a riding lawnmower because push mowers require too much energy? Will they ask for references from people who will vouch that you know your way around a toolbox and can fix a broken window and repair the heater if it conks out? That actually makes sense. You would think maintaining their investment would be more of a concern to them than worrying about how far the borrower has to drive.

Bob hasn’t given up. He’s trying to get the transfer. But I don’t have a lot of confidence. Last year we thought we were closing, so we didn’t cut wood. I’m too cheap to use the electric heat continuously so I got ripped off buying a dump truck full of wood that turned out to be so green it sizzled and spit like driftwood just washed up on the beach and had to be resplit because the pieces were so big and heavy I could only carry one at a time. And you know how strong I am. I don’t want that to happen again even though getting hay is the worst job in the world. I’d rather clean sheaths. I’d rather weed-whack all the monkey weed or the pig weed, whatever that crap is that grows on the bank behind the arena like it’s on steroids. Forget manure. Even though most people would lump manure in with the sheaths and the weed-whacking, I like picking it up because that’s when I do all my thinking. That’s when my mother talks to me.

At any rate, we had to go and get the hay because I have no faith Bob is going to get the transfer and I think we’re going to be stuck here for the winter, possibly forever. Kurt was kicking and screaming. He’s sick of this farm stuff. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t ridden the horses since we moved out of Jersey eight years ago. And that was the whole point. The horses. But all he’s been doing is building barns and building fences and fixing houses and then fixing houses more so we could sell the houses. We thought we were going to kick back in the country. Have a nice, slower-paced life. Sit on the porch with a glass of iced tea and a slice of blackberry pie; maybe mosey down to the barn for a ride once in a while. But he spends more time and energy maintaining things, fixing things and trying to get rid of the things that we fixed than actually partaking in the rocking chairs on the front porch or the triple gates we installed on the riding arena so we could enter and exit on three sides or the manicured trails he keeps in tip-top condition because you never know when someone’s going to want to come and look at the house. He doesn’t even have a horse anymore since Kelly took over Bullet. So he was not happy about the hay.

The thing about hay is you have to get it while it’s available. It’s not like Jersey where you can pick up the phone once a month and say you want some and the hay guy delivers and stacks it on Thursday. Here, you’ve got to go get it yourself. And you’ve got to get it while the going’s good. Because the farmer won’t store it for you. Even if he had a place to store it, he’s not doing it. You want it, you come and get it right now before Wesley Bell comes and gets it because Wesley just picked up a couple of nice Walkers down at the sale and they need some groceries right quick. Hay, in the land of hay, is somehow a commodity that’s in short supply. At least if you want hay without mold or Johnson grass or crushed up cans and Styrofoam cups baled up with it. And it’s almost impossible to get delivered.

We got 95 bales at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning after going out for Kurt’s birthday the night before. We tried to schedule it for later so Kurt could sleep a little on his only day off. I claimed the horses were on a strict schedule regarding their meals and we would come over after they ate their breakfast but the hay lady was having none of it. She had something else to do and wasn’t waiting around for us to buy her hay. She’s one of the few around here who doesn’t go to church so I don’t know what else she had going on that was more important than getting three hundred dollars in a place where people work half a week to bring home that kind of money and where by the looks of her house—blue tarp on the roof, plywood on a window—she could use.

We’re going to need another four hundred to get through the winter. Three hundred if you go by Kurt. Five hundred if you go by me. And we’re going to have to go back before Wesley Bell gets them. I don’t even want to think about the wood.

22 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

I find it ridiculous that the bank would even look into how far a commute a potential buyer has. It's really none of their business. Maybe he'll get the transfer soon and you'll be able to get out of there before the winter.

At least you've got the hay. Seems like when people know they have something you need they call the shots. I've got my fingers crossed for you that you can get out of there soon or at least before you have to buy the wood.

Chris said...

"Life happens while you're busy making plans." May all your plans pan out! But get the wood and hay anyway. I hope Kurt gets a ride one of these days.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

You have some weird banks where you live. I know they have gotten stricter, but that is ridiculous.

CountryDew said...

I can't believe this. Too long a commute? That's crazy.

As for the hay, well, we sell hay, and it is first come with the cash, first gets it. Otherwise you're stuck with a barn full of molding stuff that you aren't selling because you promised it to someone and they never show. And there you go. All it takes is one promise and one no-show and the farmer learns to never do that again. I am sorry you find it such a chore, though. I imagine if things were a little more settled for you, it might not be such a problem.

I wish you much luck. I know you must be frustrated beyond measure.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Sweet Virginia, the bank is in Richmond!

Anita, I offered at least twice to pay for the hay in advance so we wouldn't have to rush back. It's really hard at our age to get all that hay at once, plus I have to try to schedule it when Kurt is off. I figured if she'd let me pay for it, then we could go back at our leisure--in other words when we caught our breath! But you're right. It probably wouldn't be such a chore for me if my mind was in a better place.

Christina said...

I cant believe (well, I can) that the bank would even make his commute their business. What a mess.

Gilly said...

Didn't you know that the Banks rule the countries. Here in the UK, as well as in the US I reckon, its money=power=we say how it is. You lot can stuff it!

Never mind what Party you voted in, never mind what legislation they make, or don't make.

Those with money have power. its as simple as that.

But I'm really sorry you can't find a buyer, and Bob got turned down by the Bank.

Always keep schtum in Banks!

Jamie "Green" Ferraioli said...

Sounds to me like you guys need to get in the hay business!

But seriously...wow...this house selling is playing out like a movie. I cannot believe "Bob" got turned down! I'm chuckling over how ridiculous the whole situation is! I can't believe it. Hopefully things turn for the better soon. But if not, just think of all this pure comedy gold you're acquiring.

Nezzy said...

Hay and grass have been few and far between for livestock owners this year. The violent weather has certainly taken it's toll on farmers this year and will trickle down to the public before it's over.

Too many bankers hold our lives in their hands and have no idea what our lives are really like. 'Just the numbers baby!

I pray that you and hubs have an answer to your prayers soon.

God bless ya and have a most beautiful day sweetie!!!

Anonymous said...

Eegads. And you know something? I have a feeling you are way closer in your hay $ estimate than Kurt, but let's just keep that to ourselves... And is there anything worse than green sizzling firewood in a hard cold spell? I hope you won't need a stick of firewood in Virginia this winter. But if so, I hope it is the good seasoned stuff. Ginger

qhgirl said...

While it really shouldn't matter.. I guess that with the price of fuel.. someone commuting regularly an hour each way could have a monthly gas obligation of anywhere between 400 and 900 dollars (depending on the vehicle and gas price).. I know.. I spend about 450-500! The other risk they may see is that the person might really be buying a "second" home.. which in the bank's eye would be more risky because you are more likely to default on an "extra" rather than your full time home (even if you are renting the first home).

That being said, if someone with great long term credit history was applying for a loan.. and they met the basic loan ratios.. I wouldn't be concerned with either issue.. since I would assign the risk of either of the two situations as minimal. Look, they charge us interest.. an interest rate based on the risk and time value of money.... The banks are holding our economy hostage.. people can't get home or equity loans.. that means people have to keep dropping prices.. which depresses the market.. which means that people lose the value of the equity "saved" in their home... when a need arises (like college..or medical emergency).. that saving is not available any more!

I am not saying we need to return to the free wheeling equity loan a year for vacations and toys mentality, but the pendulum does need to swing back towards reasonable lending practices so that the market can rebound.

Claudia Condiff said...

Crap...
We are just beginning the process, and are listing our place, which we don't want to do, but have to financially.The hay thing...what a pain, and my allergies! I have 2 mini's left and can't find suitable homes..so I have them another winter,too.
We need to kabbitz over some wine..

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Qhgirl, you're right. The banks are holding our economy hostage. And they are over-correcting. I am being penalized because they gave out loans willy nilly to people who borrowed more than they could afford or used their home equity lines of credit for vacations (I did not--I actually have 100% equity in my home because we knew what we could afford, even though the banks would have loved to loan us money) and every time they over-correct and reject one of my good buyers for silly reasons, I have to lower the price of my house when I remarket it again. That's what's been happening. The longer this goes on, the more money I am losing. And therefore that's less money I can spend on another house. Or hay! It makes me really mad because I keep selling this thing! They keep refusing to lend anyone money to buy it. What do I have to do, find a cash buyer and then really drop my price? You are so right. I feel like a hostage. At the banks' mercy.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Yes! Let's get together for wine and whine!

Tanya said...

oh this is insane...i can't believe the craziness you have been through over selling this house...

we've bought a few of those truck loads of green wood, the worst isn't it?

the hay situation isn't making things easier on you either, what a pita....hang in there...hopefully the bank will love the next buyer.

Corinna said...

with all that hay bale lifting, I believe you when you say you're strong!

despite your disappointments, annoyances, and worries, it makes me happy to see that hay barn full. the horses will be grateful!

Corinna

Sweetflutterbys3 said...

Wow, I'm sorry to hear about your buyer's situation. How frustrating! They say the economy is bad because people aren't buying houses, yet when they want to, they won't let them. Yeeesshh!

I understand how it is to be stuck in a place you just want out of. But you will get there. Don't give up.

qhgirl said...

The economy is making everything worse.. we just were burglarized on Tuesday.. They caught the people.. but stuff is still missing and of course damage to structure and belongings!

Wish we could sell this place... unlikely anyone would do it again.. but just feels weird knowing people were in our place!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Oh Qhgirl, that is terrible! I can imagine how invaded you must feel just because I was robbed when we lived at that other place in Ferrum--the Evils stole our flatbed trailer--and I know how I felt over that, and still feel five years later. What happened to you, getting your house robbed, is way worse! Thank god they caught the people! What about your personal things? That's what would really upset me, the things with sentimental value.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Is anyone else having a problem posting (not commenting) to Blogger? I'm trying to put on an update and every time I click on "Publish Post," no matter what I do, nothing happens. Two days now.

qhgirl said...

Well.. the worst things they took were my 22 pistol and my mother's jewelry box and my grandmother's pearls. My mother just passed away in 2010 on Mother's Day.. and her jewelry box and contents was all I got from her. The stuff wasn't super valuable.. lots of stone jewelry etc.. but it was hers.. now I don't have it. The pearl necklace was also the only thiing I had of my grandmother too. It also wasn't a huge value.. but it was hers. In a way, the gun probably doesn't worry me as much.. in fact with any luck.. it will end up being used in a drug deal gone bad.. and actually clean up the planet.. lol. Not nice thoughts.. but then again, what these guys did wasn't nice. One of the guys used to live next door. My husband has hired him on many occasions to help him do work. We have fed and clothed his family.. he even took him to get an infected tooth extracted and paid for it! So... that is how we were repaid.. We did get some things back.. a TV, Wii game and a couple of long guns.. but not everything.. and not the things that I would have wanted the most.. and they have stolen countless hours of sleep at this point!

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

Qhgirl, I lost my mother around the same time. I think you know that. That just breaks my heart they stole that stuff. My mother's jewelry is not worth much either but it is to me. How you fed the guy and brought him to the dentist and all of that like he was family, reminds me of all the people my family employed over the years in their appliance business and how most of them stole from my family sooner or later. We did the same. Treated them like they were family. They were at our family shindigs, Christmas, etc. And almost all of them, sooner or later, stole from us. It was always a shock. I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day trying to remember stories about people who were the opposite. The nice, good people. Luckily, too many to write here.