Subscribe to our Mailing List

Get the news right in your inbox!

Reclaiming the Homestead: Our Path to Homestead Ownership

devon 7 Comments

This post contains affiliate links meaning that I may make a small commission based off of your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Homestead ownership seemed the impossible dream. Until it wasn't. Our journey to owning our farm and taking charge of our dreams starts here.

Reclaiming the Homestead: Our Path to Homestead Ownership

Devon 7 Comments

Homestead ownership seemed the impossible dream. Until it wasn’t. Our journey to owning our farm and taking charge of our dreams starts here.

It seemed like it would never happen.

And in so many ways, I have felt like a fraud.  You see, I’ve been writing on homesteading and natural living for a few years now.  While living on leased or rented property.  I was committed to stewardship on a piece of land that would likely never be my own.  It bothered me deeply.  But we were stuck in an unfortunate situation.  Most lenders require 20%-50% down payment on properties deemed as “farm use” or “income producing.”  Even, in a sad twist of irony, the USDA rural development home loans do not cover the purchase of farmland.  How could we save up that kind of money in an area with ever-escalating property values?  Could we ever achieve homestead ownership?

Folks, we have a large family with all the expenses that come with it.

Sales of previous properties owned by my husband and I before we met happened during the market dive; no profits were made.

We have a small farm.

There is no inheritance or windfall headed our way.

While my husband has a good, steady job, I am a freelance writer, herbalist, and blogger.  For the purposes of a loan application, I would be better off working a minimum wage job in a fast food joint.

Clearly, the savings account wasn’t growing in a meaningful, say, 30% down payment kind of way.

Our path to homestead ownership was bleak.  Super bleak.

But nothing stopped us from looking and wishing, painfully torturous though it might seem.  On my birthday this year, we drove by a bank owned property that had just come on the market.  Twenty acres, four bedroom, 1930 home, for a steal of an asking price considering relative properties.  But, it was a hard NO.  The thistles and blackberries were already head high by mid-April, the house dilapidated to the point of squalor, the barn siding and all the wiring in the house and outbuilding long since stolen.  And yet, I couldn’t get the place off my mind, and after a couple weeks told my husband so.  He felt similarly.  We teamed up with a real estate agent and viewed the place properly.  Putting the proverbial cart before the horse – something I do best.  The house, although stinky, wasn’t “that” bad – in fact, the structure of the house was in good shape.  A near complete gut job to the studs, but a salvageable structure, no less.  But the house was really only half of the reason we were considering the place.

homestead ownership collage

It was the land – half pasture, half forest — that intrigued us.  Observing the abundance of alders and cottonwoods, we knew that water source was close, although we could hear nothing above the rustling of the leaves in the ever-present breeze (this property positioned at the mouth of a coastal mountain range corridor).  We followed a path through the forested area to the gravelly banks of a large creek.  Knowing the geography of the area, it could only be the creek that we were married at just a few miles upstream.  Our hearts lurched.  We wanted this place.  Badly.  It was a Wednesday.

homestead creek bend

So, we talked to a lender.  She and my husband determined that there could be a path to homestead ownership here, because a) the property was not farmable in its present condition and b) the house was more of a “rebuild” than a “remodel” thus freeing up construction type loans which had programs with low down payment requirement ranging from 0%-10%.  We could swing that.  But that lender’s bank didn’t offer the programs we needed, nor the next bank we contacted.  Or the next one. Or even the next one.  At about 4:30 PM on Friday night, a lending agent at a smallish local bank responded to our online home loan inquiry.  She had a program for us.  A 3.25% down payment program for us.  She agreed to work through the evening to get us pre-qualified so that we could make an offer the next day.  On our anniversary.

Yes, on our anniversary, we made an offer on a piece of property through which flows the same creek we overlooked during our wedding.  Fitting, no?

It was a three day holiday weekend.  Being a bank owned property, we wouldn’t hear back until Tuesday.

homestead pond

Tuesday arrived.  It was a multiple offer situation.  Sucker punch to the gut.  We had until Wednesday 5:00 pm to come back with our best and final offer.  We hard scrambled to collect well logs and septic records to give us a better idea of what we were looking at.  It wasn’t great.  We would need a new well and the septic status was questionable.  But still, we went for it.  Full asking price, with closing costs, and not a penny more.  Tick-tock, tick-tock…   Thursday, no answer.  The entire business day on Friday, no answer.  At 5:30 on Friday evening, we got the call from our realtor.  They had accepted our offer.  Bring on the tears of joy.  Our path to homestead ownership was finally clear and defined.

homestead sunset

Closing: the crazy-making part of homestead ownership

Per the terms of our specific loan program, we were looking at a 12-week closing process, one of which we were told would be the most invasive, redundant process ever known to home ownership.  It did not disappoint.  I am not exaggerating to say that it was a 10-15 hour a week part-time job to wrangle the paperwork, secure the inspections, and clarify all aspects of the closing.  There were tears of frustration, heated email exchanges with the lender, fees overpaid.  Mistakes were made.  Not many of which were ours.  But somehow, on August 31st we closed.

Homestead ownership achieved.

It was a bit anti-climatic, truth be told, as we were no doubt nursing a few closing process induced ulcers.  But it was joyful.

Homestead ownership at long last

The last month has been dedicated to securing the property and demolition.  The first lines of fencing are up, and a driveway gate erected to prevent the trespass, vandalism and dumping that vacant properties so often experience.  We are clearing brush to reveal a vista for which we have named the property, Cottonwood Hollow.  Two weeks of hard labor, mostly on the part of my husband, resulted in complete removal of all the drywall, soiled and disgusting insulation, and 1980s fixtures.  We are taking pains to preserve the original lap siding, hardwood floors (under some gross subfloor), and most perfectly vintage pantry complete with pie safe – we are clinging to every bit of remaining vintage charm.

Neighbors are coming out of the woodwork to help us reclaim the homestead, including the arborist that trimmed up some trees to make room for heavy equipment, the one that gifted us with extra fencing, the farm king of the area offering to help us restore the pasture land, and even the teenage boy that helped with drywall.  We have found a beautiful community in our neighbors.

homestead ownership driveway gate

Over the next couple months, our general contractor will take over (another necessity of our loan program – hiring a general contractor).  A new well will be drilled, septic repaired, the home and property rewired, the barn rebuilt, pastures fenced, two small additions created, and the home restored to livability and perhaps even a little glory.

Homestead ownership has never felt so good, my friends.  Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for this.

homestead creek view

Want to follow our progress? Make sure you join the email newsletter or follow me on social media.  Also, when all is said and done, I intend to detail our path to homestead ownership more completely in an ebook – so keep your eyes peeled for that.  Homestead ownership is not just a dream – it can become your reality too.

[mailerlite_form form_id=1]

Reclaiming an Old Homestead

Devon

Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, was published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of NittyGrittyLife.com can be seen at LearningHerbs.com, GrowForageCookFerment.com, AttainableSustainable.net, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, The Herbalist's Healing Kitchen, will be published Fall 2019.

All posts

7 Comments

  • […] last month was all about optimism, hope and a hefty dose of demolition work – this month was all about […]

  • […] you have been following my Reclaiming the Homestead journey, you might remember my mentions of the skeletal remains of a beaver ravaged orchard.  The […]

  • Phil Ward November 14, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Great writing!

    • Devon November 14, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Ahhh, thanks Phil!

  • […] is your first time visiting my Reclaiming the Homestead series, you can read more about our journey here and […]

  • Brigitte January 24, 2018 at 5:26 am

    Love your story! I fell in love with a house that was in similar shape although it was a hoarder home and everything was left behind! It was so disgusting but, it had high curved ceilings and a beautiful sun room and the original vintage windows with storm windows and the river rock fireplace sold the place to me! You will get there and it will be so worth it and you are so right about all the surprises that you could never foresee.

    • Devon January 29, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      Oh, my!!! At least most of the junk here was long gone — along with just about everything of value or character. I bet it took a lot of “seeing potential” to make the leap of faith! We are currently living in a travel trailer in front of the place, waiting got the final work to be done for move in. It has been a painfully long road, but we are glad to be “home”.

    Leave a Reply

    About Me

    About Me

    Meet the Nitty Gritty Mama, Devon!

    I am an herbalist, farmer, cook, and forager. I get my hands dirty and am not afraid to do things the "hard way". Sharing my Nitty Gritty Life with you! Read More

    Devon

    Connect

    Subscribe to our Mailing List

    Get the news right in your inbox!

    Popular Links

    Instagram

    • I am going to let you in on a little secret... With holiday baking ahead, I am finding myself a little, ummm, wider than I used to be.  While I am generally enjoying the benefits of low carb for the time being, I didn't want to go through the holiday forgoing dessert entirely... So I played around and came up with this rose hip and cranberry curd tart in a nutty gluten free tart shell crust! 
It can be sweetened with all-natural, organic erythritol (with none of that yucky artificial aftertaste) or with real cane sugar for naughty or nice versions!
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#wildfood #wildfoodlove #cranberries #rosehips #holidaybaking #baking #homemade #cranberrycurd #sugarfree #erythritol #glutenfree #glutenfreerecipes 
https://nittygrittylife.com/rose-hip-cranberry-curd-tart/
    • This golden golden milk spiced chai is the perfect delivery system for anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric. 
And it tastes DIVINE.
Folks, herbal medicine can be as easy as treating yourself to a warming chai tea latte on a chilly fall morning.  It doesn't get much more pleasant than that.
Also, din't you love it when your latte wears seasonally correct colors? 😜🤣😘
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#goldenmilk #chai #turmeric #curcuma #curcumalonga #curcumin #herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #medicinalherbs #foodismedicine 
https://nittygrittylife.com/golden-milk-spiced-chai/
    • Fire cider is the PERFECT example of the concept of food as medicine!

These EASY to find ingredients are in your kitchen (or any average grocery store) right now.  Now you can whip up this pungent, spicy health tonic easily and have this excellent home remedy on hand when the first signs of cold and flu hit!  Your stuffy nose doesn't stand a chance when you have prepared a batch of this amazing stuff!

Psst... Rumor is that it might be a delicious to a Bloody Mary too. ;) Tap link in bio for link to post and recipe.

Photo used with permission, Page Street Publishing 2019.

#firecider #herbs #herbalist #herbalism #herbalmedicine #medicinalherbs #homeremedy #naturalremedy #naturalliving #foodasmedicine #foodismedicine 
https://nittygrittylife.com/benefits-of-fire-cider/
    • For the record -- I am not a hater of pumpkin spice lovers.  REALLY.  I swear. I just don't love the too sweet variations on the theme -- in everything from lattes to candles to candy.  And the "pumpkin spice bread" in the grocery store right now?  Doesn't even taste like pumpkin...
Let's put the pumpkin and the spice back in bread -- and add a little streusel topping. ☺️
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#pumpkin #pumpkinbread #baking #bread #pumpkinspice #homestead #homesteader #homesteading
https://nittygrittylife.com/perfect-spiced-pumpkin-bread/
    • Ummm, is it time to start preparing holiday presents?  Are you going handmade this year?
Try this rose scented, cold processed, super fatted, luxurious soap! (Was that enough adjectives?)
Make this now at it will be prefectly cured for holiday giving and stocking stuffing.
Tap the link in bio for link to post.
#handmade #handmadesoap #homemadesoap #soap #coldprocessed #herbs #herbalist #herbalism 
https://nittygrittylife.com/rose-cold-process-soap/
    • I am simply at a place and time right now where I am thinking of all matters of the heart -- and hawthorn is a cardinal herb for such matters.
This delicious herbal tea, with rose, tulsi, hawthorn, and chai spices will calm and protect your heart when the world feels like too much.
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#tulsi #holybasil #rose #hawthorn #hawthornberry #hawthornberries #herbs #herbalist #herbalism #herbmedicinal #medicinalherbs
https://nittygrittylife.com/tulsi-rose-hawthorn-chai/
    • I made this hawthorn infused cider for the first time a couple of years ago, after the passing of a friend.  This fall, I am tending to a broken heart once again -- this time mourning the passing of my grandmother -- and the crimson berries of the hawthorn are calling to me once more.
Herbs like hawthorn are a wonderful aid during times of grief, but so is the power of friendship, family and love.
Please gather up you community and share love abundantly.
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#cider #mulledcider #hawthorn #medicinalherbs #herbalist #herbs #herbalmedicine
https://nittygrittylife.com/hawthorn-mulled-apple-cider/
    • 💕Still finding my footing after losing the best friend anybody could ever ask for.
My dear beloved grandmother passed from this world last Friday.  I had the great honor to be at her bedside, to feel the last hummingbird-like flutter of her pulse, to observe her final wishes as she flew from this world to the next - undoubtedly with the same compassion, dignity and boundless optimism that she blessed our world with.
This picture of hers, mine, and my youngest daughter’s hands was taken a couple weeks ago now... a treasure of time spent together before renal failure claimed her ability to speak, while she could still nibble on a cookie and enjoy her beloved black coffee.  After this picture, we entered the strange yet surprising dignified “hospice time.” For those of you who have taken part in the hospice care of a loved one - you know this indescribable separation of hospice time and “real time.” There is a fixed end point, yet nobody knows when it is - and so you live each moment, hoping that it is, in fact, not your last, while also wishing that your loved one would pass peacefully and painlessly from these earthly bounds.
I do not post this looking for an outpouring of sympathy - those that know me well know that I rather bristle at the attention.  I write this post to thank all of the dedicated hospice care workers and as a knowing hug to all those loved ones left behind who have felt the mixed emotions that this time of great grief.
Sending love out into the world tonight. 💕
#grief #hospice #hospicecare
    • During these early fall days when the first freeze is never far off, I scurry to put up the last bits of the garden. This fermented hot sauce two ways are a perfect pair of recipes for the last remaining peppers and the nasturtiums that are usually abundant at this time.
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#hotsauce #peppers #nasturtiums #fermentation #lactofermentation #preservation #foodpreservation #edibleflowers 
https://nittygrittylife.com/lacto-fermented-hot-sauce-nasturtiums/

    Follow @nittygrittymama

    ×
    shares