Cota Farms' Blog

June 20, 2019

Going Homeless In Style

Filed under: The Plan — Cota Farms @ 6:16 pm
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I’m taking a little break from my ‘selling the farm’ series as progress has become painfully slow mostly because it won’t stop raining. The change in weather across the world is real and far more serious than the media in the States will admit to. When they do speak about it, we are pelted with politics and misinformation. Eventually the crop losses across the world will force even the distracted Americans to wake up and take notice.

I spend a lot of time considering what I want to happen if the farm sale goes my way. I began this line of thought long before I considered selling and moving on. In my heart I have already moved on. What I don’t want to happen is more of the same. I’m done with all that, really, seriously, completely. I’ve even convinced my wife and long time companion to give up the acceptable life of working, struggling, paying taxes, and struggling some more. It really wasn’t that hard. We have no retirement, no savings and can’t apply for social security for a few years yet but I can’t stand it anymore. Truth is, I dropped out of society years ago and became the stay at home part of the marriage. I busied myself with trying to make the farm work for us; I gave it my all but in the end it just wasn’t enough.

A couple of years ago I decided to up and run away to the desert. My poor health and better sense (at the time I was not prepared to live that way nor did I intend to) brought me back after only a few weeks but the seed had been planted. I learned that there is a surprising large number of people (tens of thousands) that live in not just recreational vehicles but converted vehicles of all kinds in the western part of the country, in the desert, national and state parks and land managed by the government. I did a quick estimate and perhaps 20% of the land within the 48 states is public.

I’ve done a lot of research on this since and have fully committed to spending the remaining days of my life living like so many others are already doing. God bless the internet! It is so easy now to see and understand how this is done. I’m sure most of these people do not consider themselves homeless, it seems that category is reserved for those who primarily live in the cities without traditional housing. Within that grouping people are divided into those that live in their cars while working yet not earning enough money to afford housing and the rest who are labeled addicts. Unfortunately, they are sometimes all just considered undesirable no matter their circumstances.

Those that live in their vehicles outside the cities fall into different groupings the most interesting of which are those that choose to live that way. I long to be one of them. The biggest difference between those in this category has to do with planning. Many people didn’t have the time, resources or inclination to plan ahead when they made the choice to move outdoors. I have an engineering degree that when coupled with cheap technology allows me to envision a more comfortable and graceful transition to this kind of life. I want to wake up in the desert or mountains but I also want a little refrigeration, be able to enjoy my music, book and video collection, access to the internet and a comfy bed. I also required a certain number of dogs and cats to be right there with me. Of course this would only be an improvement in living conditions from their point of view. I love all my other farm animals too but I will just have to settle for the wild variety.

Our Tiny Home

There are so many YouTube channels on this one subject that you must sort through them to find the specific information you want and get past those personalities that are just not for you. I haven’t had a question yet that there is not several people out there wanting to share their experience or expertise about it. Health care, no problem, concerns with pooping, I’ll even talk about that myself in subsequent posts, how much money do you need, I’ll share my budgeting plans.

My wife has zero spacial conceptual skills so I drew her a picture. This is how much space we will have and this is were everything will go. I naturally think my design is one of the best out there and I’ll explain how it works, about how much it will cost and why I chose the cargo trailer conversion.

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June 18, 2019

The Shepherd’s Manual

Filed under: Book — Cota Farms @ 5:12 pm
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I was recently inspired to share †††some books in my collection. It never occurred to me to do such a thing until I was reading a post from Tim Miller, – Classic Jam Hits – in which he shared some books from his collection that caught my attention. Being a shepherd is (for a few days more), one of the most interesting an enlightening things I have done. I can’t exaggerate how the experience has changed my whole perspective of the world, society, people, religion, and more. I grew up in the city and didn’t start farming until I was more than forty years old.

I won’t try and explain all of that but I will say that these books (and others I will share in forthcoming posts) helped me to understand that animal husbandry has had a profound effect on all peoples and nations and how devastating the corporate takeover of this part of our society has been. Some would argue that corporate practices and technology has served to increase food production many times over. I would rebut that you may not really understand just what is being produced, its quality, and the actual cost of production. There is plenty of information on the net supporting this so I won’t go into it here.

These books are old and that is the best thing about them. They were written before the time of corporate agriculture. †††††††††††††††††††††You don’t have to read more than one book to discover that animal husbandry practices today are in sheer conflict with what was done for many hundreds of years. The apparent contradictions make no sense until you factor in the profit motivations of the current way of raising animals. Unfortunately, enough generations have adopted these conventions that to return to a better, more humane and more sustainable way would require temporary sacrifices that the general population would rebel against. No worry though as the present power structure would never let that happen.

Shearing our flock was one of the most frustrating aspects of raising sheep. No books on that here. Shearing is fast becoming a lost art in this country. Over the years we have dealt with a few men who do this and they were quite old and had no apprentices. Some years we could find no one and I bought some electric shears and tried my hand at it. I found them online for a lot less than the well known name brand and they were essentially the same thing without the brand label and perhaps even manufactured in the same place. When I was finished the flocked looked just like one would expect if an amateur with no experience had sheared them. The people I hired for this chore when I could had sheared tens of thousands of sheep and could do in a few hours what took me the whole summer.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

June 16, 2019

Facing The Wall – Selling The Farm – Part 5

Filed under: Book,The Plan — Cota Farms @ 8:18 pm
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The process of selling the farm has been sadly very much like everything else I’ve planned in this life, surprisingly difficult, discouraging, and even spiteful. Sometimes I’m able to step outside the feeling of self pity (I can’t think of a better phrase right now) and view with fascination how circumstances magically become more difficult as I am able to navigate around lesser problems that I have learned to deal with simply because they were always present and I became used to them. It’s certainly not about greater challenges joining with greater ambition, in fact I very much am trying to do less, have less and be less.

I am strong enough now to resist the platitudes that state we all have these experiences and that life is just like that. No, it is not. We all don’t experience being raped, or wrongly imprisoned. Many of us have never had a drug addition or desired to gun down a room full of people or actually done so. I’m not saying that some people never experience disappointment, but it is obvious that those born into families with great wealth and power have lives that don’t resemble what most of us call life. Likewise, a person who has talent, recognizes that talent and then works at it to become a star athlete or musician will leave this world with other thoughts in their mind than the person who has never read a book that transported them to another world or has an unattractive face.

I have spend much time considering this and how could it be that we humans have anything in common beyond the biology of life. Turtles and hawks are easily grouped together among themselves because we don’t perceive them as having life beyond their particular biology. They act consistently within the established framework (nature) to ensure their continued existence. We humans don’t do that nor do we have very similar experiences across the population as do say Aardvarks. No, life is not just like that and it is completely illogical that we evolved in a way that is contrary to the forces of nature, the same forces that are the primary principles behind the ideology that is the theory of evolution. It is obvious there are other forces in play here, give them whatever name pleases you. I wrote a story (not a lecture) about this – The Souls of Sheep

Once again I find myself facing a wall, the boundary of my ability to pass beyond. What scares me is that my past experience when facing a wall dictates that I will not pass through the wall. Usually I just stand there for a long or short period of time (days, years) eventually moving left or right and sometimes backwards. In those past times I was younger and physically stronger and could endure the ordeal. What happens when you progress beyond your ability to endure? Perhaps that is the definition of death.

June 1, 2019

Oblivion Is Sweet

Filed under: Book — Cota Farms @ 4:23 pm
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In a recent conversation with a friend, the topic of what happens to you after you die came up. Oblivion! Nothing happens, you’re just dead my friend gave me his opinion. The word opinion is important here first of all because it is important to acknowledge that what anyone has to say about the matter is assuredly speculation. Also, that my friend’s opinion on this matter is no less valid than the Pope’s view.

I have given a good deal of time considering the question, what happens later, throughout most of my life. So much more information is available to me now than went I first began to think on this weighty idea. In fact, I now find the whole thought of, what happens later, tedious, exhausting, nihilistic, and just not any fun at all.

In the same conversation that I was having with my friend, the subject came up concerning the sensation associated with being anesthetized for surgery. If you have ever had this experience then you know exactly what I’m speaking of, how you reacted to it is not certain though. Some people may pay little mind to the sensation of having had no time pass as the world goes on without you. This is not simply going to sleep. I believe that this is as close to realizing oblivion as a human can without actually going there not to return.

I gotta say, Oblivion Was Sweet. It was total, final, absolute peace and I didn’t mind it at all. In the seductive embrace of the simulated oblivion I cared not about if this merciful state of peace should be awarded to everyone. I didn’t hate the wicket people of the world, I didn’t even care about those who acted unjustly with me personally. Whatever you did, however you lived your life it was all the same, blissful peace.

The irony of this was so overwhelming it stayed with me, haunted me and now I’m sharing that with you. It seems perfectly reasonable to devise a set of religious doctrines to disavow this possibility. There must be a god accompanied by all the storied hosts of angles to assure us that there is a just ending to this circus, that the unjust are punished and the godly rewarded. Now the irony is multiplied and my mind breaks…

May 23, 2019

Disassembling Your Life – Selling The Farm – Part 4

Filed under: The Plan — Cota Farms @ 5:31 pm
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It is difficult to prepare your home, farm, business for sale when you are not moving upward but rather moving on. After speaking with my realtor I understood what selling this property, my home, means. It is about erasing my presence here as much as possible. Sure it make sense, perspective buyers must be able to see themselves living there, not the remains of the former owner.

We have seen the closed store fronts where the ghosts of the logos still linger. It is generally an impersonal thing because despite the laws of the land, these are companies and not human beings. The persons that worked for those companies hopefully moved on to other opportunities. If they didn’t then perhaps they were forced to sell their homes and likewise erase their presence from where they once lived.

It’s a life changing experience particularly when future expectations run toward the bleak end of the spectrum. I recently re-watched “The Grapes of Wrath” just to verify that my frame of mind was more than just self pity. Yep, my feelings are totally justified and I am in the good company of many a fellow human being past and present.

The Grapes of Wrath Poster

Like those characters in Steinbeck’s novel, I too am looking at homelessness but I hope to do it with more grace and comfort. It’s a race and there are so many of us joining it all the time. The number of homes for sale in my county is disturbing but I can only see competition for the too few buyers that are able to secure mortgages. It’s a shameful thing when we are set against one another over scarce resources, exactly the point of Steinbeck’s masterwork.

April 29, 2019

Everybody’s Grammar

Filed under: Book — Cota Farms @ 8:55 am
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I recently wrote a book. It was a novel and the experience was not what I expected. During the writing I was reminded of two books I read in which the authors referred to the story writing experience in almost magical terms. It was understated in both instances as I now know after having had the experience. It was magical and I never thought what those authors expressed was meant to be literal (pun intended).

Publishing a book is not a magical experience at all. It is anticlimactic. In today’s book publishing industry, the cost to publish a book (I am not including the cost to write one) can only be recouped by the most successful authors and since there are so many authors these days the percentage of authors who make a profit on their books is quite small. There is a standard procedure, cost structure, and if followed even loosely it would cost several thousand dollars to bring a book to market. For self publishers of eBooks, editing can be one of the more costly parts of the process. It you sell your book at a modest price of say between $4 and $10, you would have to sell several hundred copies to break even.

I could not afford to have someone edit my book so I had to do it myself. I understand that this is not the preferred method but I know of nothing that is done as it should be in spite of costs, profits, sustainability and the list continues. There is a variety of software available to help with the editing process. I just assumed that the fundamentals of punctuation would be included in the basic versions of these programs, I was wrong. But what bothered me the most was the rules of grammar. One program always wanted a coma where it wasn’t necessary but was called for in grammar text books while another ignored commas in favor of sentence structure. The cruel (and capitalistic) part of all the software I looked at was the large number of corrections that were tallied but not shown to coerce you to purchase a key to unlock the the full program. Yes, I do understand that we all must make as much money as possible and there is nothing wrong with this marketing approach…

So, what I got out of all this was that vocabulary, sentence structure, and all the things that makes writing a creative, artistic process is to be regulated and style is only allowed to the extent that it falls within the rules of grammar. I even asked a person to give me a sample edit and cost schedule but they too just relied on some grammar rules they learned in books or college. Oh the hypocrisy!! Some of the most lauded books in English literature are nearly unintelligible but they get a pass since they went from being a novel to literature as specified by some college of literature. And of course when it is pointed out that famous author X edited his own material the standard reply is “you are no author X”. Such arrogance can steal your breath away.

You have to write like this.

The irony then is the complaint that so many of the new self publish works are terrible. At least some of that is because the authors are driven by a formula that allows for the most possible profits within a standard marketing format and genre. There are so, so many sites, videos and blogs about how to make money writing. It seems to me they are akin to telling an artist how to make money painting houses in lieu of pictures because it pays better. If life is truly reduced to that equation then prostitution should be legalized simply because it pays better than waiting tables.

April 26, 2019

The Souls of Sheep

Filed under: Book — Cota Farms @ 1:09 am
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This is the title of a book I have written. It is available on Amazon Kindle, written by Cota Adams. It is very much related to the sale of the farm in as much as the sale of the farm is an integral part of my life transition. The book itself is a novel, a story, not about farms but about what it could mean to change your life. The book is fantasy no doubt because I can’t show anything in it to be more than pleasant musings. But that makes it no different than many venerated books that can do no more but yet are the inspiration for war and hate and fear. We all know these books.

My Book

Changing your life is not about discovering yourself or about trying to become something that you are not like a hedonistic hermaphrodite that thinks sexual experimentation is the pinnacle of enlightenment. I guess many people don’t understand what that means and perhaps that is why there are so many confused and unhappy people out there willing to believe that the world is a better place because morality has been replaced by rationalization, legislation and the rejection of responsibility.

I’m not a crusader nor do I have a passion to educate or warn the masses of people about an impending doom. I just don’t believe that is the case. It seems more probable to me that everything here is proceeding on scheduled as planned. When your train arrives at the station you get on or you don’t. If you miss it you may be lucky to find another stop alone your way but you can’t count on it and the fare could be more than you’re willing to pay the second time.

Having actually been a shepherd, I have more understanding of what that really means now and how it is often used in error when referring to people, even in parables. If I were to give a single simple phrase that illustrates what I am saying it would be, sheep are content with being sheep while people are not.

Sheep suffer no unnaturally ill effects by being blissfully ignorant of their place here. You must admit that while being killed and eaten by a coyote could be thought of as an ill effect, it is not an unnatural one. But for a person, any ill effect at all is objectionable. Getting past this idea is what it could mean to change your life.

The Souls of Sheep

April 5, 2019

How To Sell Your Farm -part 1

Filed under: The Plan — Cota Farms @ 2:36 pm
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Before we begin let’s address the obvious: if you’re a farmer or someone who wanted to be a farmer but you failed at it and now have to sell your farm, then you know little to nothing about selling a farm. You need help! I have a neighbor, a good friend or so I thought, who has a realtors license (he told me so) and offered his services. We made plans to make more detailed plans with dates and times confirmed and then he just stopped communicating with me. I was confused and disappointed. (I hope he is alright and maybe he decided he just didn’t want to be bothered.) It did bother me for awhile though and eventually I ask around and found a realtor that was highly recommended.

She is probably the only person who has a chance of selling my farm for what I want in the way I want to do it. I know this because she told me so. I told her “wow! I really needed to hear that kind of confidence”. So get a realtor and pay them the most you can to motivate them to do a good job. This is one of those times when you really can get what you pay for and capitalism can live up to the hype.

There are different reasons people sell their farms and or homes but I am focusing on the one where you are too poor to hang on to it and therefore you don’t have any money to remodel the place first in hopes of getting a better offer. That’s the reason that requires a list. The list comes in three parts.

The first list comprises those things that must be done so that people don’t just pass over your property. It also includes those things that must be done in order to qualify for FHA approval and bank financing. Most buyers will be seeking a mortgage. I had to put new gravel down so people could get to the house without breaking an axial. I will also have to complete my deck repairs and put up more railing to meet building codes and insurance requirements.

The second list comprises those things that, under better circumstances, should be done because it obviously devalues the house or property. There are missing roof shingles and patches from previously missing shingles. Each winter some shingles are blown off and as the roof ages the number of missing shingles increases. It is time for a new roof. I had envisioned a metal roof in a striking color like hunter green. That ain’t gonna happen so there will be more patches. There is probably a number somewhere that tells you the difference in market value with and without a new roof but it is moot. I think I got some basic painting covered though.

The third list comprises those things that won’t make any list for me but probably would for other people in other worlds. We haven’t had television for many years but sometimes when I am sitting in a doctors office or even waiting to have a car serviced I catch a little bit of television. There is a show I have seen more than once that is about people who want to buy a house and sell their house at the same time. The idea of the show is to fix up your old house before you sell it and sometimes they like their old house after they fix it up enough to just keep it. I think what those people do would fill up the third list.

yellow hallway

I met with my realtor today and she helped me to better arrange my lists, that’s one of the things that a good realtor does. She helped me understand that I can’t just throw a coat of paint inside the house I have to remove the colors as well. It was my intention to just match what was there. I was wrong about that. I love the yellow hallway but it has to go. She also helped me to understand that after we cleaned the house she would send over someone to clean the house. Fortunately pride is something I lost when the farm failed. Selling your house is a lot about undoing all that made your house your home. It makes sense, the house must be blank before it can become someone else’s home.

I already knew I needed a realtor but now I understand better why I needed a realtor. What I really needed was a good realtor! Unfortunately realtors are no different from any other professional like lawyers or doctors or dog groomers, half of them are just not very good at what they do. (Man could I tell you stories about dog groomers.) I was lucky, the second time, and found what seems to be a good realtor. Stay with me to find out just how good she turns out to be.

April 3, 2019

Maintenance – Selling The Farm – Part 2

Filed under: The Plan — Cota Farms @ 7:47 pm
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New Gravel

Before you can list your property you have to do all those things that you never got around to while you were going about the business of living and farming. It’s a sad irony that I have to clean up the farm and the house, perform maintenance and a hundred other small jobs to make the place one that I would want to live in before I can sell it. It’s kind of like punishment for failing to be successful. You would think that failing would be punishment enough but there are still many more painful moments yet to come; why don’t you follow along with me so you can witness the whole sordid affair.

The driveway has been in need of new gravel for at least two maybe three years. It will be one of the first things that a potential buyer will see and can not be put on the -sell as is list-. I’ll talk about the lists in another post. We have a long driveway which is always desirable except when it comes time to purchase gravel or when it is covered in ice and snow. I’ve noticed neighbors (that can be anyone within several mines in the country) that have put asphalt on their driveways and it looked good. I did a little calculating in my mind concerning what this would cost and it added up to me hating my neighbors, give or take a thousand dollars. We are fortunate to have a quarry just a stones throw (a stones throw, am I funny or what) from the farm so we naturally went with quarry gravel. Limestone is the preferred material to use but it is at least twice as much and in my experience and inspecting nearby driveways, it doesn’t really last any longer although this is the common wisdom.

On two occasions I used slag which is comparable in price to quarry gravel and outlasts gravel or limestone. I like slag because it melts the ice and snow away faster, it looks nice and it packs at least as well as limestone but there are two problems with it; it is not always available and it often comes with sharp objects that can cause a series of unexpected flat tires.

The gravel in the pic is about 23 tons and costs about $500. I will need about twice that much more to complete the area near the house and fill in the areas missed by the tailgate spread. This is the most money I plan to spend getting the property/house ready for show. I have already arranged to trade a Wheel Horse mower for some interior painting. Other items I will give away to good friends and maybe sell a few things. A lot of things will just be hauled away to the dump. I think that could be a poem.

April 1, 2019

Cleaning Up The Mess – Selling The Farm – Part 3

Filed under: The Plan — Cota Farms @ 3:21 am
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The farm has greatly suffered along with my deteriorating health. It’s a mess! So many half finished projects and failed experiments all there having to be cleared away before the property can be shown. I’ve made arrangements with some local Amish boys to help with what I can’t do. The high tunnel alone will take a long day to clear out and make presentable.

A mess on the farm

I’ve been working with one family for many years now and as the boys grow and move on to their own families I employ the younger ones. It is a joy to work with them and be around their family. They are a testament and proof to anyone who cares to see it that life can flourish outside the culture that we are programmed to serve. (I am using all my limited writing skills to be as subdued as I can. The ‘in your face’ approach never works out well.) This is/was a rural community with small and large farms but there is no available labor to be had among the young people here save the Amish. To be blunt, our youth will just not work that hard. Any wonder we have so much work for Mexican immigrants – ops, did I go too far?

Ours in not the only farm that is up for sale. In our small county there are many farms stopping operation and the land is being sold off. I can right now point to two dairy farms that I have visited that are finished. But not to worry as milk, cheese and ice cream actually comes from the grocery store, right? Yes that was a rant, sorry, as I was saying we are lucky to have help dismantling out small farm. Just last night a very young Amish man and his little brother were here loading lambs for us to go to the Easter auction. Without their help our options would have been frightening. You can’t find sheep wranglers on Craigslist.

There’s a lot to clean up outside the house which is a whole other issue. Some of the money from the sale of the lambs will pay for more gravel which will be spread and raked by, yep, the same sheep wranglers. They have many other talents as well like roof repair. Sure you could, if you have lots of money, hire a contractor to come give you an estimate that usually borders on the ridiculous and hope they actually show up to do the work. (It has been my experience that at least half the time they do not.) But we have learned from past mistakes and found other ways to get things done.

I arranged to have them come back for a couple days work of cleanup before the next load of sheep are hauled off. They will also be doing the bulk of the cargo trailer conversion, we discussed some details during the trip back to their place. They don’t drive so I happily pick them up and drop them off. You can follow the trailer conversion right here so check back occasionally. I’ve decided to go with the Murphy bed that allows for a tiny sitting area that looks out on a double glass door framed into the back end that opens onto the ramp door deck. Got all those ideas from YouTube videos.

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