Monday, August 26, 2013

So, Here It Is...

Literally, my fortune the day I got back to Arizona.

Let's back up a few weeks.

I've been at the farm for eight weeks. To secure a home for my family I have tried and failed at the following:

Attempt #1) Secure a traditional home loan to buy a home or have one built. My credit score was 640 which isn't terrific but I never thought it would have given me trouble. Turns out, traditional banks (at least where I was) wanted a score of 660 to do business. The other issue that crippled me here was the fact that I had my own house in Arizona.

Since so many people in 2008-2009 created a false renter's agreement in order to qualify for a home loan (told to me by my lender) and then DEFAULTED on the first home once they moved  in to the new residence, banks now want to see a solid six month rental history (including deposit history). I do not have this. As you know, my family is still living in my house in Arizona.

Bottom line, no traditional mortgage. Yes, I tried with multiple lenders.

Acquired an orange canoe along the way.
Attempt #2) Secure a modular home loan and place it on the farm. The salesman told me over the phone that he could get me qualified with a 640 score all day long. I visited the sales lot and picked out a nice modcl that would fit my family plus my mother-in-law. THREE WEEKS LATER, I finally get the final numbers that yes, I did qualify for the mobile home but the mortgage lender wanted 10-20% down or in my case $10,000.

If I haven't stated it already, I BORROWED $1000 to get to Oklahoma in the first place. I had been out of work for a solid month before I moved. Before that, I was half way through a medical program for which I dumped $12,000 into from my savings. I was broke. I was also looking at needing approximately $3,000 to move my family from Arizona to Oklahoma with the use of a uHaul truck.

So to get the mobile home I needed $10k + $3k and I I was slowly building up savings while working in Oklahoma. I had saved up $1500 in the two months I had been working. That is a far cry from $13,000 and simple math told me I would be living without my family for nine or more months to get a mobile home. This did NOT take into account the need to put in septic, water and electric to the trailer.

Caveat #1) My original plans to live adjacent to the farm house and use the existing water well, electric tie in and possibly the sewer changed weeks into my arrival at Oklahoma. A concerned family member voiced that if I lived next to the farm house, thereby making the farm house somewhat my front yard, other family members who may have wished to visit the "family" farm might now feel as though they were infringing on my privacy when they paid a visit to the "family" farm. They politely asked that if I were to live on the farm, that I not set up a homestead in the same proximity as the farm house. I completely understand this concern and wish not to "take over" the family farm in any way. So this relegated me to a different section of the farm where I would now be responsible for putting in a complete sewer, water, electric connection. (read: more money and see caveat #2)

Caveat #2) My father made it clear to the family (including me) that he intended to sell his entire share of the farm  and either retire to a town farther south in Oklahoma to be near his grand-daughter (child of his adopted daughter, long story) OR relocate to Hot Springs, Arkansas. This meant that the "family farm" would no longer be inheritable (if that's a word?) to me in any way in the future. Any and all improvements that I would make could potentially be for naught. I asked him if he could leave me ten acres to homestead on the farm to which he declined. It is what it is, I can't beat a dead horse. This was quite a blow to my whole intention of cleaning up the family farm and making enjoyable for everyone.

Father/daughter football game with Sis #LoveMyGirls
Attempt #3) I downsized my living quarters to a bumper-pull trailer and had a dealership running numbers for me on a 26 foot Jayco with double pull outs. It would have slept eight people and we could have lived in it for six months to a year until I had the money saved up for a mobile home. TWO WEEKS LATER, after being moved from a new trailer to a used trailer back to a new trailer again by the dealership because they couldn't decide which one I could qualify for "easier", I finally got some numbers.

$5,400 down and $531/mo at 17.7% interest. What the...? Why is this so hard? I could go on and on about why this game doesn't make any sense to me. I have come to the conclusion that it is all my fault for not having saved enough money. With no land in MY name, I had to have money down. I didn't have either. I had seen my family for 4 days in a ten week time span and it was wearing thin. I really wasn't seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

No house, no mobile home, no travel trailer, and no farm house to live in for my family. I had landed the perfect job nearby but it would still take me months to reunite with my family. Mind you, dozens of people were now helping me look for a home to rent.

That's when I learned that there was a renewed OIL BOOM in Oklahoma like that of the late 1970's. Roughnecks from all over the country were flocking to my little section of Oklahoma and scooping up every rental available (house, trailer, room, apt, hotel) for the asking price. In most cases that I was directly involved in, the house for rent was snatched up within 48 hours of being posted for rent. And if that wasn't enough, a veteran that I worked with informed me that the local Air Force base was running an abnormally high number of "studens" as he called them, through the base. So many studenst that base housing was running short and the students were also gobbling up the public housing. I was witnessing a perfect storm for NOT being able to rent.

And then I got a phone call.

A hospital, which shall remain nameless, contacted me for a management position. For those that don't know, management is what I had been aspiring to for years. I am passively seeking my Masters degree and have been in healthcare for over 20 years. After several management interviews failed in and around Arizona, I sought the Oklahoma job (non-management, average pay) and acquired it. To keep food on the table for my large family, I immediately left for Oklahoma and started earning a paycheck. It was my ONLY option for work.

One last look at the farm.
Now, almost ten weeks into the homesteading adventure that seemed to be failing, a hospital has offered me not just a job in management but a salary THIRTY percent higher than I was making in Oklahoma. They have offered to MOVE MY ENTIRE FAMILY to the new hospital location AND a hefty sign on bonus. So, by now you've noticed that I said "was making in Oklahoma." That's because I packed up and left two days ago.

I accepted the offer, arrived back at home in Arizona and happily celebrated my oldest daughter's Sweet 16 birthday (Sis). The next day, we loaded up the family Suburban and headed to the new town to look for a rental house. Unlike Oklahoma, there were several to look at. We saw seven all together and settled on a beautiful home on 2.5 acres, nestled between gorgeous mountains. There is already an established chicken coop with layers, a three car garage/workshop and although they call it "outside of town" it is only 20 minutes drive to work. The exact same it took from the farm to the hospital in Oklahoma. The generous Sign On bonus will take care of first and last months rent leaving me nothing out of pocket to pay for except the gas to drive my family up there. Our entire house will be packed, moved, and unpacked again, at the expense of the hospital.

Only, there are no hordes of bugs crawling everywhere, billions of grasshoppers eating everything in sight, or sweltering hot and humid days because we are at 7,000 feet in elevation and to my surprise nobody has an air conditioner on their house (hello, I've lived in a desert for 20 years). It is that nice...all year long.

I didn't want to leave the farm. Honestly, I felt like my dream of homesteading had somewhat failed. But when I look at how it all played out, I can't think anything other than this is where HE intended for my family to be at this time. Several of my family members shared this same thought. Oh, I forgot to mention the rental houses in Oklahoma that I had secured also. Slowly, one by one, they backed out of our agreement for one reason or another. Two solid rental agreements found buyers paying full price at the last minute. Others said my dog, the German Shepherd, was not acceptable because they are considered "dangerous just like a pit bull or rottweiller". What?

I was lamenting about how I would get the money needed to both relocate my family AND afford all the down payments necessary to establish a new home in Oklahoma. Then this hospital offers to pay it all. It was unbelievable but still left me torn about leaving the farm. I took the tractor for one last joy ride and gently eased her into the barn where I had found her. I sealed up all the doors and took the air conditioners out of the windows. I turned the water off at the toilet but left it on at the well. The sticker bushes had grown up so quickly with all the rain we had received that I could barely see the roof to the well. With no lawnmower, a broken brush hog and no weed eater, I had no means to clear the brush.

It's like mother nature what swallowing the farm back up and erasing everything I had done over the last nine weeks.  All that remained as a sign that I had been there was the snake skin wafting in the breeze on the barbed wire fence where I had left it. I took some final photos as I pulled out and thought about all I had learned while I was there. It will serve me well in my next attempt to homestead.

For now, I will regroup with my family and focus on attaining a few more tools that I wished I had already purchased (chainsaw, wood splitter, generator, etc). I will work feverishly at establishing a decent savings with which to purchase a homestead on property that I can call my own. Property that I can do anything I desire with only Wifey to answer to.

For those of you that joined to follow my homestead adventure, I thank you for your kind words of encouragement and knowledge. I hope that you will stick around to see where I take this adventure next. If not, I understand and bid you farewell. To anyone else that might still be reading, I haven't given up on the homesteading dream. If anything, I have had the privilege of experiencing a nine week practice run and will be all the stronger the next time around. This new property has a garage just waiting for me to put my OWN tractor in it. It already has chickens and we know exactly where we want to put the garden. The views are breath-taking and I will post them as soon as I can.

The one thing I can already see that is different between the farm in Oklahoma and my home here in Arizona is that I had all the time in the world to type posts for the blog in Oklahoma. Here at home, I get interrupted every five minutes by any one of my six daughters...and I wouldn't have it any other way.

~OJD & Family


  1. So, so happy for you.

  2. Congratulations...... so happy you found the "good" fortune cookie. Keep working on the dream.

  3. An unexpected twist, but wonderful news. There's nothing better than being with your family - wherever that might be. I look forward to reading occasional updates on where life takes you!

  4. Wow, what a surprising turnaround!! I'm happy for you, especially now that you have your family with you. All the best with the new job and settling into the house/garden. I won't be leaving - I'll still be interested to see your updates. Looking forward to pics. Jenny

  5. Something in Proverbs about "Man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps". In less than 12 weeks, you have learned more than in years of reading and thinking. Why don't you post a summary of "lessons learned" for us? A couple that I have gleaned from your posts are:
    - Money is important. It is more important to store up money than food, medicine or other tangibles. Money solves problems.
    - Relationships are important. Ten weeks without love is not a good life. And unclear ownership of the homestead was a deal killer.

    Life is made of many varied experiences. Good on you for taking the leap and chasing a dream. God bless. DG

  6. Dear OrangeJeep Dad-what an adventure! We could never plan the twists and turns of life that the Lord has in store for us! And every "way station"
    has its lessons and hidden opportunity.

    I look forward to hearing about the ongoing saga of the OrangeJeep Family.


  7. I'm so happy to see such great responses. I thought I'd get a bunch of "you gave up on the dream" comments. Our family is super excited about the move (even Sis!) I'll still post as close to daily as time allows.

  8. Wow...what a change! It goes to show you that when all the doors close except one, that's the one. Our door brought us TO Oklahoma, with the same type of situation (move paid for, moving bonus which allowed us to put a down payment on a house, etc.),which we could never have afforded otherwise. God knows what we need and will provide it. Congratulations on the new job, best of everything to your family, and do let us know how everything goes. Lots of hugs to those girls! Pamela in OK

  9. What a great post! I am so very happy for you. I know it has been a real struggle, but was definitely worth it in experience. There is nothing better than being able to hug your babies whenever you want! I look forward to the continuing saga of the OJD! God Bless!

  10. We are happy for you. Love the idea of "lessons learned" post(s). HE is surely right there withe you!

  11. I am very happy for you. You can greatly increase your self sufficiency on 2.5 acres. A homesteading dream does not need to be tied to any particular piece of property. Even your esteemed Wranglerstar had a drastic change in homesteading plans. I am really hoping you can use your increased income to eat blast away at your debt to become truly free, maybe buy your rental or find your permanent homestead. Can't wait to see pics of your new place if you feel you can share. I will continue to watch for snapshots of your new life of chickens, garden, and being home with family. eileenfromiowa

  12. Dear OJD,
    Life affirming, God ordained. Some serious blessings here. I lived at 6500 feet ( Steamboat Springs, CO, for a year and then moved to the "flatlands" at 5500 feet for 11 years. Winter is going to challenge you. Put a snowblower on your list, too. 2.5 acres is not to be sneezed at, you can do a lot with that! Ecstatic for you and the family!

  13. Dear Orange Jeep Dad,
    I started following your story just before you left for OK. I became so invested with your family's success because it mirrors my own dreams. So this new development leaves me torn, with my heart breaking for the loss of your inheritance in the family farm, but then soaring as God's plan finally reveals itself. Your new home and job sound wonderful, and 2+ acres is a lot of land to practice on. In fact, I am following a few blogs that have less than that amount of land and they are doing an amazing amount of homesteading. I am sure that most of those following your journey will stay to see what new adventures you and your family face. You are the second blog I check each morning (behind JWR's Survival Blog) and will continue to do so. Good luck to you, Wifey and the Girls. To paraphrase and old blessing - May the road rise up to meet you, the wind always be at your back and God's hand be upon you.

  14. This is really exciting news! I think the Lord allowed you those 9 weeks in OK trying out your own efforts and plans so that you could fully appreciate His provision for work, home, family etc. I mean, you couldn't catch a break in OK. But imagine if you had and had missed out on this opportunity! I can't imagine a more exciting time. Revel in God's amazing sovereignty and keep us posted on all the new fun!

  15. I'll miss the homesteading adventures on the farm. Reading about you learning has been a real kick, and has lead me to research some things and learn on my own.

    Having said that, I am glad that things are moving forward in a way that is good for you and your family. That is what is most important.

  16. So would you have heard about this management position if you had never left AZ for OK...?

    A smart man goes where the Lord leads him, even if there is only a brief stop there.

    BTW not going anywhere either; you're staying on the blogroll. Granted, I haven't posted in ages and nobody goes there anymore, but you're staying LOL

  17. Congratulations on your new beginning...but, you can't get rid of me that easily. I've not been following your blog very long, but love it.
    Keep on keeping on.


  18. Dear OJD,
    I've learned so much from following your blog. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

  19. So glad things worked out in the end. I try to follow a "let go and let God" philosophy and this is a great example. Best wishes on your revised journey. Keep us posted!

  20. OJD,
    God bless you! 2.5 acres is nothing to sneeze at. I have .25 and last year I supplied a quarter of my food. This year I ripped out my ornamentals and as a result I have easily tripled my growing space.

    I plan to continue to follow your blog. It has been an I inspiration for me.

    May the Lord continue to bless you,
    Palm City Girl aka Nicole

  21. I bet your family is happy to have you back with them. Like you said, the experience was not in vain, you learned a lot for your next attempt at homesteading. Even if you don't ever homestead, the experience will always be part of you.

  22. Man OJD, you've had too much in the trials department but some nice, timely fortunes too!

    I think the story will only get better. I'm sorry that your old man has taken the stance that he has regarding the land, doesn't seem fair but I don't know either one of ya so it's not really any of my bid'ness.

    I wish you and yours continued happiness and look forward to reading more from ya.


  23. Awesome news! I really, really think you should check out Dave Ramsey radio show. Money program. Changed our lives forever.

  24. Kind of funny how things work out. Ours is not to question why God does what he does, but we must learn to trust him. We have had issues too since returning home, We trust God and pray for a good out come. SO far its going better. I am praying for you and your family. Please keep us posted.

  25. HE has closed many door but he threw open the barn doors for this next move. We do not know or understand why when those doors are slammed in our face but if we TRUST and OBEY we get our answer, and are blessed.

    I am so very happy for you OJD. I was very worried and prayed hard when I read that you had much going on and would get back to your readers. Shame on me for worrying.

    If you had never gone "home" to Oklahoma and tried it, you may never have had the peace of mind that doing so provided to you were employed and it seems as though you got ahead financially and definitely in your homesteading skill set. Plus you had the tractor to play with...a great toy but not enough to pay for the separation from your ladies.

    Count on me to continue reading the Adventures of OJD and His Ladies.

    Blessings to you and yours,

  26. OJD
    One thing you should have learned is Homesteading is not just a place to farm. It is the love of farming and growing a self sustaining state of mind in your heart. It is not one man separated from the ones he loves and struggling to survive. In my eyes you are the perfect example of a homesteader. You have learned a life lesson we all can learn from. Now together you and your loved ones will appreciate each other even more and together you guys can learn self-sufficiency with a newfound appreciation for the efforts you put out.

    May God bless you and your family with his riches blessing

    Two Cedars.

  27. Wow -- That is one lucky turn of events & in this economy, don't see how you could have turned it down. It's unfortunate that your family's homestead won't be inherited by someone who would have loved it & taken care of it as you would have done, but that's their loss. But for now, it looks like you have your own "bug out" location all set with a mountain view to boot. Wonderful!! Somebody up there really likes you.

  28. I'm not going anywhere either, OJD. I am so happy that this door has been opened for you and your family. We always learn from our experiences...and you have had just a few!

    God's blessings in your new home. I look forward to hearing more about your new endeavors.


  29. OJD, I am so happy for you !!
    My grandpa had a good saying which is "if things are meant to be they will just click together quickly and if things aren't meant to be then nothing will go right". Nothing seemed to go right for you on homesteading the farm in Oklahoma and you did everything that you possibly could to make it happen. Ergo--it wasn't meant to be.

    Also, it frankly bothered me that a few members of your extended family supported you on fixing up the farm, but many obviously didn't. If I didn't have title to it, I wouldn't put one cent into it because it could be sold out from under you. I have seen it with extended family myself that people may be ok normally but when it comes to them maybe getting some money---watch out !!!

    Now you and your wife and girls can be together and you can save money so that in a few yours you can BUY YOUR farm that is YOURS that no one can take away from you. Chock up your Oklahoma adventure as a life lesson.

    I will definitely keep following your blog and I understand for opsec reasons you don't want to say the town you are moving to, but will you still be in AZ or another state ??


  30. Wow, I can totally see God's hand in this. You were able to learn much from your few weeks in OK, and now on to a new adventure. 7000 feet sounds wonderful to me. I love mountains so I see it as a blessing that you get to live in the beauty that will surround you. Gardening is possible in high country if you chose the right varieties. I have friends who have been successful at it. I hope to be able to try it myself someday, would love to escape the desert. I'm looking forward to reading about what happens next.

  31. Hey OJD,

    Glad to hear that you're back with the family, really that is the important thing. There's no way I'm leaving the blog, so you'll hear from me too. Best of luck and fingers crossed for you all.

    EMT Tina

  32. I wound up here following a SurvivalBlog link from right before your move. Over the past couple months I've enjoyed reading your take on your trials and tribulations - and as a fellow AZ native, in the healthcare field, with a family farm in the Redoubt, there were enough similarities to resonate. I plan to keep following the blog as long as I can, because the next best thing to practical experience is watching someone else's - even if my own Galt trip isn't quite as imminent. I wish the best for you and your family.

  33. Hardwork is rewarded. Enjoy!

  34. I think you made a good move. We moved from CA TO OK 10 years ago with our 4 kids. The company packed us and moved us. It was great for a few years but we thankfully moved to the 3rd largest city in OK(Broken Arrow) where there are many more conveniences (health care,education) and no chiggers, ticks and scorpions! The real estate prices are great here, too. On the other hand,I miss the west coast: the people are friendlier to out-of-state people, no bugs, fantastic weather, so much to do(beach and pool, mountains, Disney, Knotts Berry Farm, great churches and family. My conclusion is that you never get everything you want in your house and try to be happy regardless. K in OK<><

  35. Wow! Congrats! Ain't God awesome?!?

  36. Love the Blog and Your Jeep! if you ever need Jeep advice! =-)

  37. Fantastic! What awesome news. I know you and your girls are so glad to be reunited again. I continue to wait to hear what's going on in OJD-ville! :-)

    Rejena in Arkansas

  38. excellent, Excellent, EXCELLENT!! Congrates!

  39. From one orange jeep dad to another, congrats and bring on your next blog entry!

    Enjoying your blog all the way from Australia

  40. So glad that God has found the right place for you-with your family. I too have had relatives that gush & smile over me "coming back home," only to find out that they have a long list of
    I won't put up with
    I can't stand
    You can only stay xxx number of days-we have our own lives
    It goes on ad nauseum. So, thanks for the memories, but I will live where God makes a place. You will be in the mountains, bug-less, with your wife and children, and living your desired job. What a blessing!
    I certainly will follow your new dream. ;) -Stealth Spaniel

  41. “Nice Post. It’s really a very good article. I noticed all your important points. Thanks"
    Jeep Patriot

  42. Wow... amazing how God has directed things for you! :)

  43. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that.
    Leo Muller

  44. I like the Jeep Compass. I always have. I see nothing wrong with carrying it on a date. I think it is well suited to some of the environments that couples could enjoy together.
    Not everyone likes to be in a club all the time. The outdoors is pretty fun too. Where you need to go, the Jeep can take you there. Plus it is pretty study, so you don't have to worry about it breaking down on the road.


Don't you spam me...I'll just delete it!