Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'll Believe It When I See It

Slow Bob got the transfer! But that don’t mean anything. (I’d like to stop right here and tell you that I know my English is not always correct—I should have said, “That doesn’t mean anything,”—but I am writing how I speak, just like I would if we were sitting across the table from each other having a cup of coffee. Not to say I always know what’s correct English. However sometimes I know when it’s not right and I do it anyway.)

So Bob got the transfer. We got more hay yesterday anyway.
Even though everything looks pretty good at this point, I have no faith that it will actually happen. According to Bob’s banker, the only thing we’re waiting for now is the appraisal. Since we keep lowering the price every time we lose a buyer and put it back on the market, the last appraisal is twenty thousand dollars higher than what Bob is paying. And since we never stop working on it (since the last appraisal, we’ve painted ceilings, put pea gravel in the tractor shed, installed a new ceiling light, put ferns on the porch…) the amount of the appraisal shouldn’t be a problem.

The loan officer said, “Just as long as there are good comps, we should be good to go!”

I assured her, “Oh yeah, there are plenty of good comps!”

But there aren’t. I live in a town of about a thousand people. We’re out in the middle of nowhere. And this is a place people don’t move away from. People stay here. What are the chances that, at any given time, there will be a farm exactly like mine for sale?—a four bedroom house with one bathroom and with real horse facilities including a riding arena on ten acres? There’s a house for sale down the block right now. It has two acres, three bathrooms, no horse facilities and it’s on the highway. There’s another one in the other direction that has around the same acres as mine and a similar horse barn. But no house. (Of course serious horse people don’t care about houses. Just give us a barn with water and electric and a place to plug in the coffee pot so we can make a bran mash for the old guy in the winter.) A couple of miles down the road there’s an old dairy farm on sixty acres for sale. None of them are really comparable to mine. What are they going to want? A cookie-cutter house in the middle of a development that’s the same as all the other ones except the kitchen is beige and not blue?

So it’s going to depend on how much of a stickler Bob’s bank is going to be. And that means I had to go and get more hay.

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.