Where do we start?
The farmhouse is from ~1930 and has had some use, but also has had many updates including insulation, a metal roof and an upstairs conversion of a bedroom to a nice master bath. The 8 acres need weeding and mowing, the fences need repair, the house interior needs painting, the barn needs painting, etc. It can be overwhelming to take on a property in the country. The solution at first: triage.
Internet and phone
A major challenge is there is no cable or DSL where we live, but there is landline phone service. I check and there is cell phone signal, but it’s weak. Its 2011 and I decide to get a 3g usb modem and a 3g router. To get cell signal in the house I use a Wilson cell signal amplifier with an external antenna. The coaxial cable is already in place as the previous owners had a cell phone amplifier. This works OK. We plug our Ooma internet phone into the 3g router and the internet speed is fast enough for the phone but it’s not ideal. But it works and we don’t have any extra cost for our home phone. As backups we each have an AT&T gophone cell phone. If we lose power we can get signal by going outside and use our cell phones. (As of 2016 we moved to T-mobile.) I set this up before we move in.
Let’s paint the farmhouse
Our first decision is to paint much of the house before we move in. We have about three weeks overlap with our rental and will use this to paint as much as we can. We consider hiring a painter but we want to get to financial independence (FI) as fast as possible, so we decide to do it ourselves. I will use up my two weeks vacation, and dear wife (DW) and I will paint the house. We make a few decisions that really help. First, we will use some colors we used in our previous house. This helps because sometimes you get a color on the wall and it just doesn’t look like you expected. We go with a fairly neutral Behr ‘White Clay 730C-1’ for the living/dining room, hallways and master bedroom.
Second we will paint the ceiling and walls the same White Clay color which will save a lot of time, as opposed to cutting in a white ceiling. Painting an already empty house is not that bad and we already have the drop sheets from our previous home. We buy a couple of 5 gallon tubs and get after it.
It’s tiring but we get those rooms done before we move in, and we do the other rooms and kitchen over the next two years after we move in. DW takes the lead on those. There we use other colors and paint the ceilings white so the house does not have a monotonous look. We are very happy with the results.
How do we deal with the extensive weeds that are in our corral? By the time we have finished painting weeds have grown up to about 2 feet height and they have developed rope-like stems. We decide to buy a Husqvarna ‘High Wheel Trimmer’. This turns out to be a reasonable solution as we don’t yet have the gear or knowledge to knock back the weeds with chemicals. Again DW takes the lead and clears the corral while I go back to work .
Later on we get a setup for spraying (below). If I had it over we would spray first and then cut any remnants with a lawn tractor. We’ll cover our spray routine in a later post.
We have about an acre of lawn and 7 acres of pasture. The pasture will have to wait. Initially we use our push mower on the lawn but it’s a short term solution. We need something bigger. I spend some time researching and decide on a 48” Husqvarna lawn tractor. We order it from Mowers Direct and it comes encased in a wood frame. I use a sawsall to cut it out of the wood frame and set it up. DW is the mower in the family and she loves it. We’ll cover maintenance in a future post.
There are many other small jobs. It’s to be expected for an older house and a property with outbuildings. Youtube is a great resource for howtos for small jobs. But tackling the four topics above gets us to a feel more comfortable with our progress. It will be another 18 months of country living before I feel like we have things under control.