Sunday, July 31, 2011


I've been thinking a bit about why I wanted to move here in the first place. One reason is "luxury". The typical definition of luxury includes such beauties as a 50" television, a boat for the weekend, and a big truck to pull it. Or perhaps leather furniture, deep carpet, and granite counter tops. At the typical grocery store, all the bacon is smoked in apple wood, because someone decided a while back that that's what tastes the best, all the milk is homogenized and pasteurized, and all the cheese is atomic yellow, because that's what everyone thinks they want.

The luxury I want is to be able to watch the sunrise, without a building getting in the way (and sunrise here is amazing). A 50" TV might be nice, but not as nice as looking at few hundred feet of newly cleared irrigation ditch and knowing I've just accomplished something. It was nice living in a place where flies, ants, and spiders weren't much of a problem, but I appreciate times like that much more now that I've spent an evening vacuuming earwigs out of the living room carpet.

Wanna know why the cheese gets dyed yellow? Because better milk produces yellower butter and cheese, and people used to judge the quality of their food on traits like that. I want the luxury of starting with better milk.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How we bought the farm

Warning: long boring post ahead

Many of the people we've met since we moved in have asked how we found this place, and were surprised somehow to learn that we just saw it online. was a favorite site of ours from the time we began thinking about moving until we finalized this deal, and it lists more than just the typical (sub)urban residential dwelling. Anything available on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) in Utah should be available there, which basically means everything that's not for sale by owner (for those, there are other sites). Our realtor set something up to email us once a week all the new or revised listings that met our criteria ("within our price range" and "more than one acre"), and then we'd periodically look through the web site for things that seemed interesting.

Kanosh sounded attractive from the beginning, but probably only because there were a few properties in the area that we liked, and nothing obviously distasteful about the area. In particular, living here would shorten our occasional trips to California by over two hours of driving time -- by itself not sufficient reason to move, but one reason we didn't look too closely at eastern Utah, where lots of properties otherwise met our criteria. When we first noticed this place, it was at the very top of our price range, and we both thought it could be really cool... but wouldn't ever happen. We stopped by to look, while visiting another interesting property in the area, but still thought it wasn't possible. But prices come down as properties sit on the market (our condo's price definitely did!), and eventually that hurdle disappeared.

The fact that our home is in on the outer fringes of nowhere really only affected the transaction in two ways: the inspection, and the financing. The former is the subject of an upcoming post; our mortgage broker (my uncle) warned us from the beginning that the latter could be difficult. Investors apparently don't like investing in weird properties, and ours was definitely "weird" (lots of land, in a very rural area, with very few comparable sales close by to work off of).

The first financing hurdle was the appraisal. Our land is actually four different legal parcels, and lenders won't lend on more than two simultaneously, and generally not more than one. So we had to get a loan on the parcel with the home on it, and hoped it would cover our total purchase price. Which meant the appraisal was important. That's where someone looks at the home, finds comparable sales (ideally within a mile or so, and in the past six months, but you don't often get that in rural area). We ordered the appraisal, waited, and waited some more, and finally word came back on my birthday: the "purchase price is supported", meaning the home and the one parcel of land was sufficiently valuable that an investor could recoup his money after foreclosing on us, should it come to that. In other words, it was worth about as much as we'd offered. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever. Well, perhaps not ever, but it was exciting nonetheless.

So it was irritating when, later on, the mortgage broker said the lender wanted another appraisal, to "comfirm" the first one. This after the first potential lender had said, "Um, sorry, it's just too weird for us." Appraisals run $350 or so -- which is small potatoes compared to the purchase price, but is still irritating. That appraisal eventually came out in our favor, as well, and after that, it was just a matter of signing our life away some papers.

...which included more papers than usual, because it involved water rights, extra parcels, etc. But that all blurs together after the first 6-inch paper pile you sign your way through at the title company. And since the title people provided cookies, it wasn't a big deal.

Anyway, that's how it came about. I hope the story was at least as boring as the process... *grin*

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Way to go, Moe

Moe brought home his first mouse a couple days ago (no pictures, both to spare the squeamish and, frankly, because I didn't take any). To all those who said these kittens would never learn to catch mice without the help of their mother, I have this to say:

nanny nanny poo poo.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why won't my arms move?

Why won't my arms move? Who are you? Are we enemies? Why am I on this wall? Where is Buttercup?

I'm getting to a point where I have lots of questions. For instance:

  • We want a cow one day. What do I have to do to get ready for one?

  • What kind of fences should I use? Where do I get the materials and tools? How do I use them?

  • Will the newly patched shed roof withstand the wind load?

  • How do we keep the kittens from eating the chickens we have coming in a couple weeks?

  • How do I build a coop for the chickens, anyway, and with what?

  • Just how wacky is our electrical system, and how bad a sign is it that the lights dim whenever the dishwasher starts up?

  • I'd like to raise a pig or three, but I don't see pigs around here. Does anyone keep them? If not, why not?

  • The electrical box I meant to put a light in yesterday has six different cables coming into it. What for? What do they connect to?

  • When should we plant our fruit trees?

  • How do I go about actually using our irrigation water?

  • There are three big flood lights in our field that buzz, but don't turn on. What's the deal?

  • Can I convince someone to come plow a few acres for us?

... and so on. I realize my neighbors have those answers. What's more, the neighbors have been unfailingly kind, thoughtful, and helpful. I will, eventually, get answers to these and other questions from them -- but I'm hesitant simply to interrogate random neighbors outright until I burn through their last vestiges of benevolence, That said, I want the answers now! I'll console myself with the thought that even with the answers, I'd still not have the time to do anything useful with most of them.

As an aside, if you happen to drop a ladder on your toe after patching a shed roof, this is a really good idea. I prefer the melting method, but I don't own a jeweler's drill.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Our roof has some issues. Our shed's roof has some more serious issues. I should probably buy shingles and nail them on, and that's doubtless what I'll do to the house's roof. But for the shed, I'm seriously tempted to try thatching it. We've got 20 acres of tall rye grass, after all. Anyone have a scythe?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe...

Our next adventure came in the form of a road trip. I had reserved four little kittens two weeks back when I knew we would definitely be moving. Four kittens, how come so many? Why to catch the mice of course!! We picked them up from a family in Nephi. They were kittens of a stray that had adopted this family. We thought about taking the mother, but decided against it since she showed signs of wanting to ditch the kittens.

We load the kittens up in a box and head the hour trip back home. We had been talking about what we want to call these cats for quite a while and never came up with anything we liked. After we got home, unloaded the kittens and introduced them to their new home it came to me. Four kittens make Eeny, Meeny, Miney, and Moe!

Here are the twins, Eeny, and Meeny. (Meeny is just slightly lighter grey on her head than Eeny. Miney is the lighter on in the front.)

Here is sister Miney. She is mostly white faced with a little white tip on the end of her tail.

Here is the man of the family, brother Moe.

The kids, and mommy and daddy, just LOVE the darling little cats! Being as we have never brought an animal home to live with use we weren't quite sure how to keep these little guys around since they are strictly outside cats. In fact we thought we had lost them for a few hours Saturday night since we couldn't see them anywhere.

Andrew was very worried and decided to take matters into his own hands and informed me that he said a prayer asking that the kittens would be safe and want to stay with us. About an hour later...

We found that they had discovered a hole in our foundation that would provide refuge from the commotion of four small children (especially the super lovey two year old who runs up yelling, "My kitty, my kitty!"). Thanks, Andrew!

We were told that Moe, the brother, is the calmest and most cuddly and that is proving to be true for us as well. When sisters are off playing Moe is usually relaxing in the shade. In fact Andrew and Daddy have taken to Moe. Before the end of the day yesterday Andrew had Moe walking up to him.

Day two is proving to be a good sign. This morning Andrew comes up and asks how much food he is suppose to give the kittens so he can feed them (this was slightly before 6 am). All the other kids also made it a priority to play with the kittens as soon as they were awake. Fortunately the kittens seem to be liking it here and have been playing back. Yay!!

Hopefully they will continue to stick around and be safe from any predators in the area and we will have a long time to tend and appreciate the cute cats.

An "organized" move

Not our house

A couple times during our move, people mentioned that things seemed particularly well organized. I'm not sure why it felt that way, exactly, but since we put specific effort into being organized, I thought I'd comment on a few things that we did.

I helped a couple people move in the weeks before our move, and noticed a pattern I wanted particularly to avoid. In each instance, there were three classes of objects to be moved:

  • Big, unboxable furniture
  • Boxes
  • Little miscellanea, mostly unboxable

Big furniture is easy enough, provided you have people to help move. We even managed to get the organ and piano out ourselves (I dismantled the organ somewhat in advance, so it would be easier; the piano movers I called couldn't come the day of our move, but while I had them on the phone I asked them for hints for moving it ourselves, and they recommended a piano skid board, which Diamond Rental provided, and which saved us). Particularly useful here is to have several oxen in human form on hand; some of my relatives could probably dead-lift the U-Haul.

Boxes are also fairly easy. They involve lots of trips up and down the stairs, unless you're willing, as we were, to throw some off the balcony to a foolish trusting catcher, and the two missionaries that serendipitously arrived just as I started loading the truck played that role well. Probably half our boxes went the quick way down the stairs, which saved several peoples' legs, backs, and sanity. Given some selectivity about what got dropped and what got carried, we even managed not to break anything.

The random little junk is the killer in all this. You can't box most of it, and it takes up all kinds of space. You can't carry much of it at once, so it requires lots of trips up and down the stairs. Inevitably it gets left for last, and it's at about this stage that most help gives up and goes home, because they figure you can carry all the rest of this stuff yourself. That's true, but it takes a week.

Our plan of attack for this last category had several prongs. First, we were fortunate to have millions of boxes (in fact, we left some behind for our condo's new owners to deal with) thanks to begging them from all kinds of people. So we managed to box a fair bit of stuff that wouldn't normally be boxed. Second, we lived a pretty spartan lifestyle just before moving, so we could put everything possible in boxes. Nothing's more depressing to otherwise willing helpers than piles of unboxed stuff and no idea whether it needs to go out or not, so we boxed everything and lived a disposable lifestyle for a few days. Third, we put up signs telling people what stayed and what went. We left tools, instructions, and little baggies taped to all the furniture that needed disassembly, and Karlyn religiously labeled each box with its contents and destination using color-coded sticky labels.

Finally, I'm not sure how much difference this made, but I decided we ought to move the little unboxed stuff first, instead of last. The truck came with a "Mom's attic" above the cab:

Not our truck

Most people use this space for boxes, but it's perfect for all the random stuff. It's not tall enough that you have to worry about stacking lots of odd-shaped articles on top of each other, it's out of the way of everything else, and it's easy to tie it off or stack boxes in front of it to keep things from falling out. So by the time the main body of helpers arrived, we'd loaded the attic with our miscellaneous stuff, and there were only boxes and furniture left. Which is good, because we still couldn't fit it all in the truck...

Thanks to Flickr user JoeInSouthernCA

We did it!!!


Well, we did it! What did we do exactly? That is a good question and one I hope I can answer.

A week ago Saturday we loaded all of our belongings onto a 26' Uhaul. Okay, not quite all our belongings. You can really accumulate stuff, even when you have six people in a two bedroom condo. Fortunately we have some wonderful family and, on Monday the 4th, were able to get everything that didn't quite fit into the Uhaul on Saturday either in our car, or mostly into a "favorite" Aunt's car. Down we headed to Kanosh, just over two hours south of Salt Lake.

We got to the house about 2ish and started unloading the cars. Josh got there with the Uhaul about 30 minutes later. Another wonderful family member and his family showed up to spend the fourth with us at our new house. Between Josh, "favorite" Aunt, Uncle and his family, and various towns people that just showed up to say hi, one being the former owner's son, Kyle, the truck was completely unloaded by 5pm. Now that was a very pleasant surprise as we were expecting to finish the unloading on Tuesday when the bulk of the people were going to come and help. Wahoo!!!

The adventure begins....

We have been having frequent afternoon/evening thunder storms. Nothing very big, just a little bit here and a little bit there. Well, on Tuesday evening a lightning bolt decided to give us a closer look and struck our transformer (the kids response to the noise was, "Whoaaa!"). Our roast in the oven stopped cooking, our lights went out (which wasn't too bad since it was only 4pm), and our well pump stopped working. Yes, if you don't have a well pump you don't have water.

We weren't so sure if it was just us without power or if the other 3 houses on our mile long road were without as well. So, we went for a walk (the sky was clear by then). The house closest to us had its sprinklers on and the door bell rang (okay, answered that question). The next question. Out in the middle of no where, what do you do when you don't have power? We called Kyle and asked him that exact question. He helpfully pointed us to the electric company that supplies this house.

A call was placed to Flowell Electric and a crew was dispatched immediately to replace our blown-up transformer. Without any hastle and a nice conversation the power was back on by 9pm. Yay, electric guys!!! Now time to put kids to bed. Wait, the water doesn't work?! But the power is back on. Well, we might as well wait 'till tomorrow morning and to figure out what might be wrong with the water.

The morning comes and after another phone call to Kyle and various other people, several hours, and hundreds of dollars later we have water!! Now, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Kyle's wife, Stacy heard of our "troubles" on Wednesday morning and brought over two loaves of home made bread, two cases of bottled water, one gallon of water for washing hands, a huge bag of sweedish fish, a box of Capri Sun, and strawberry freezer jam. Yeah, hard times, right?

Well, keep watching because there are lots more adventures to come. Here is just a snip-it of our to do list: Replace all the windows, remove the grass from around the foundation, replace the electrical wire in the old part of the house, spray the basement with bleach so we can clean up the 50 lbs of rat droppings and fill the basement for storage, connect the three separate plumbing jobs to convert to one water heater (instead of 3) and add a water softener. That doesn't even get the the 20 acres of land! Fun times!!

Here are some pictures of our property.

Front Yard with the BIG tree.

Out door fire place (can you say future bread oven!)

Looking back from kitchen door. If you look really close you can see a brown wood fence just right of the middle of the picture. Follow that back as far as it goes and that is basically our property line.

View looking west from kitchen door. (Oh yeah, we have like 6 outside doors.) If you can see past the smudge on the lens everything that is brown is ours.

Looking west from the front of the house.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I hate moving

Phase I of the move is nearly complete. The truck is as full as it can possibly get, there's a bit of stuff left over, and the plan is to clean our old place out and drive south tomorrow. After yesterday's marathon box-and-stuff-moving session, my fingers wouldn't move this morning.