This is what our last weekend consisted of: drive an hour, load 130 bales into the trailer. Drive another hour and unload the 130 bales in the shed. Drive back another hour because not all 200 hay bales fit in your trailer and finish loading the 70 that were left. Your back is dead and your arms are jello. Then the next morning you wake up at 6 am finish unloading the 70 bales, hop in the truck and drive another hour in the opposite direction and load another 116 bales; drive back and unload the 116 bales. Your back is still shot and your arms are still jello.
Not only are we preparing for our move and working on home renovations, but we also have been working on preparing our miniature highlands home in their new pasture and this included finding and storing hay bales for the winter. Because our mini's are grass fed, we needed to load up on more square bales than the average joe with only three head of cattle. Right now our storage is limited, but we're making due with what we have until we can afford to build another storage shed or (in my mind) a nice big barn with a hay loft. Hay is in high demand right now because we are nearing the winter months and some people lost hay cuttings to bad weather earlier this year. Around Iowa, some small square grass bales are going anywhere between $5-8 per bale! We were fortunate enough to find some at a cheaper price without losing the quality, but we had to be willing to drive a little further. In the future we would love to invest in a mini baler (yes a mini baler) that makes small round bales and can be pulled behind a small tractor. This way we can bale parts of our pasture that isn't being occupied by our cattle and we can store up throughout the summer.
The pasture is almost ready to be occupied by their new tenants as well. My husband got the fence line up with the help of one of our friends digging in t-posts and wrapping barbed wire, along with hanging the cattle gate. The only thing that is left is moving their shelter to the new property, setting up their waterer and building their new hay feeder, which consists of a metal frame futon, wooden hay catch and u-bolts. I'm tellin ya, Pinterest is your friend when it comes to being creative and saving money for your home and farm! $20 instead of $250 is my kind of deal for a hay feeder.
At the end of the weekend we were tired and irritable, but it was so rewarding seeing our hard work coming together. I couldn't help but think of that stupid Lizzy McGuire song, What Dreams are Made of. Because in all reality, when you're working hard toward your dreams and what you see for your future, 9 times out of 10, it will consist of hard work and long days to get there, but in the end it will be worth it.
Flipping a house and making it into our dream home has always been on my bucket list. I love doing projects and seeing the fruit of your labor come to life in front of your eyes, even if its extremely slow moving. But let me tell you what they don't say about flipping a house on these HGTV shows; there are stupid tiny things you don't realize will cost you time and money. When we walked through our house (three times mind you before we put an offer down), we saw immense amount of potential and excitement. We could take out this wall here, add something here, get some new light fixtures, slap on some paint and call it good, right? Not. Even. Close. You start working on your house and then you actually take the time to look at the door knobs, and man are they hideous. So lo and behold you start cruising Wayfair and Amazon and Houzz looking for door knobs that fit the style and functionality you're looking for. Then you realize that the bathroom faucets and shower heads are nasty and probably original to the house and let me tell you, faucets and shower heads are dang expensive. And those "simple" light fixtures you thought of in the beginning, are $200 a piece and you need at least 7 of them. So you're back on Wayfair and Amazon and Houzz looking for sales and options. You find something you like and you think to yourself, "I can do that. Why would I pay another $200 for that when I can spend $30 and make it myself?" Then your list grows and grows of things to build and make and you're kind of on a deadline if you want this stuff to be functional by the time you move in. And that wall you wanted to take out? Well the contractor called and said that it's not load bearing, but it bears some weight, and the only way to add reinforcements is to put in a pole or two. Whats running through my head is, "Why can't you just put in a dang beam across my living room and kitchen and call it good? The whole point of open concept is to not have a dang pole in the middle of the room." So I guess we'll see how that turns out.
Every weekend I make my way to Hampton to work for several hours a day to get things to where they need to be before we officially move in. Unfortunately Holden can't always come with me because of harvest on the farm, and I only get him when the rain comes pouring in, which is both great on my end, but bad for the farm. Right now I can say we are in the home stretch, even if it doesn't look like it. For the most part the demo is done and the dumpster is already gone (which took two loads believe it or not). These next few weekends will pertain of nothing but painting and adding cabinet hinges and handles, shiplap charm and building our kitchen island while waiting on the contractor, the flooring guys, the electrician and the painter to paint the exterior here in the next few weeks. If we're lucky, the bulk of that work will be done by the second or third week in November.
What puts it all into perspective at the end of the day is when you talk to locals and they hear you bought the place down the road with the pasture land and the creek running through it and their response is always along the lines of, "You got that place? Wow, you got one of the prettiest spots in Franklin County." or "You guys got super lucky! That land is beautiful and rarely does something like that come up for sale."
We are beyond grateful to have some amazing friends in the Hampton area that has helped us with demo, putting up fence lines for our minis, plumbing needs, ripping up flooring, all down to taking off old light switch plates. We couldn't do this without them! Needless to say, this is the one and only time you will find me flipping a house. We plan on this being our forever home and maybe someday (when we have a little more money built up) we'll add on or build a deck or do something crazy to add to our already hectic life. Follow me on instagram @iowacattlemama to see updates and more photos of our ranch and home!
Holden & Billie Asmus