catskills, country life, farm, Real estate, upstateny

Of Ants and Grasshoppers

Remember that old story about the ant and the grasshopper? The ant worked while the grasshopper played. And the grasshopper scoffed all summer, telling the ant he was wasting time that could be better spent enjoying himself. Winter was a different story, and the ant was warm and dry while the grasshopper shivered in the snow.

I’m trying to be like the ant.

We live in the real country now. Not suburbia. Out on a country road, twenty minutes from a supermarket (yes, you veteran country dwellers, I know you’re scoffing but that’s not the one mile walk I was accustomed to), and a healthy hill or a small mountain to get over in any direction.

We got our roof replaced. It needed it. I may have cried a little as we paid the bill, but it’s the kind of repair that will pay us back for the rest of our lives.

We got a generator. Our power went out all the time at the last house. But that short walk to a store and a mighty wood stove kept us going. The power was never out more than three days, as I recall. I suspect if it goes out here, it could be awhile before the power company gets to us.

We stocked ourselves with wood for the wood stove, got the furnaces cleaned, even had extra insulation put into the attic.

The snowblower is serviced, the salt is ready for the walkways.

We’re as ready as we’re likely to be.

It’s already snowed here, just a little. I’m not sure if I’m excited or nervous about the first real snowfall. This is the Catskills. It snows here. It can snow a lot.

What will I do to entertain myself once winter arrives?

I’ll be working. That’s a sure bet. Real estate may slow down in the winter, but it doesn’t stop.

I’ve been taping the sheetrock in my partner’s music studio. It’s a skill I’ve always wanted to have and it’s satisfying to put some work into the job. I’ve put in four or five full days so far, and the control room is, I think, ready to sand. I started taping in the live room today. It’s small and it’s going to go faster. That’s fine by me.

Once he’s back to work in his own space, there is paneling I could remove in the house….boy, is there paneling. But I have a book to write, too. Maybe I’ll take a break from construction this winter and focus on that.

Come spring, there’s a garden to expand, some painting to touch up outside, and we’ll be back to mowing that lawn that takes a full day, even with a riding mower to help with the meadow.

It feels different, this life in the country. The weather matters more. We watch the forecast and plan our activities around it. And people matter more, too. I’m loving the new neighbors, my new town.

This is what I always hope for my clients — finding the place that feels like home.

I got lucky. I found mine.

Real estate, Uncategorized

A “Quiet” Day on the Farm

It is not yet 10 AM. Four men are on our roof. Five more are on the ground outside the window. I can’t see them because plywood sheets are covering that window.

Scraping and banging above my head has kept a steady rhythm for the past two hours.

Ah, the quiet life in the country.

We have lived in this house for four months. It is, I hope, our very last move. We love it here. But moving and unpacking is just the beginning.

Consider this a word to the wise.

We knew we needed a new roof. That’s a huge investment, but one that will last for the rest of our lives. We are, after all, at “that” age.

A generator also seemed a wise investment. This is well and truly the country, and on a mountain at that. We toughed it out many times in our suburban ranch on that cul de sac a mile from a grocery store. Now it’s a fifteen minute drive to the grocery store. And anyone who takes winter in the deep Catskills of New York lightly deserves to have their pipes freeze, in my opinion.

So there are two massive investments right up front. And that is over and above the problems we discovered once we were here.

The riding mower that prior owner so kindly included in the deal? It need to be rebuilt. The flat tire was just the beginning.

Lights in the entry and the closet had shorts, making ominous crackling noises. Enter the electrician.

The well pump is a tribute to antique machinery. It, and the pressure tank, must be replaced. That is going to be pricey, and tricky as well. It isn’t worth taking the time to describe the well setup to you. Just trust me – it’s the weirdest thing any of us have ever seen.

The water in the basement isn’t the slight problem we were led to believe. It’s a “Get down here and start pushing this water toward the drain or put on your waders!” problem.

And did I mention we are creating a music studio for my partner in crime?

Be prepared, home buyer. No matter how great the results of your inspection, buying a house is just the start. There are changes you will want to make. There are repairs you will HAVE to make. And there are changes you desperately want to make (I’m talking to you, dropped ceilings, excessive quality paneling and avocado tub) that will have to wait.

The sexy changes have to wait. First, you’ll have to make things right. It’ll be worth it. But for now, I’ll be decorating the upstairs bath with colors that complement avocado green.