Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We Like to Play

I was recently asked by a friend on Instagram if we were going to build on the land or if it was going to be recreational. Though I knew all along it was going to be both, it really hit me as I was responding to her how blessed we are. We are definitely planning to build, and in those plans we have areas planned for recreation.
We have already enjoyed "playing" out there, though it seems like lately it's a lot more work than play.
We have enjoyed shooting- guns and bows, driving all through the tall weeds/trees, and exploring the woods. I can't wait to be able to walk out my front door and have all the room to do these things (and so much more, eek!) without having to go anywhere or pay anyone!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Trail Camera

*This post is a little out of order, there are still some I need to do to catch up but I wanted to go ahead and add these cute deer*

We see new little footprints almost every time we are out at the land. David, being the country boy he is (or maybe it's common knowledge that I just didn't have) identifies the different prints no problem. Lots of different size deer feet, some raccoon prints, dog prints, bunnies...
Fortunately we haven't seen any evidence of coyotes or hogs but we wanted to make sure there weren't any in the woods since it's harder to see evidence back there. And, David of course wanted to see what deer were out there (though we are NOT shooting them on our land). He borrowed a trail camera from a friend right before Christmas and I got him one for Christmas so we set them up and let them do their thing.
We have only had them set up a couple weeks and have hundreds of pictures and about a hundred videos. The video is set up in the actual woods and the camera is set up out on the land. I think I enjoy looking at it more than David now because I think all the animals are so cute. There is one little one I've named Spike, so far that's the only one I've named. I don't want to name too many of them because when we live there and they are eating my plants I might not be so against hunting on our land. Haha. Here are a few pictures and maybe if I can figure it out, a video.

This guy shows up more than most of the boys. His antlers are very distinguishable at least. Maybe he will get a name.

I included this one because I think he's cute. Poor guy, haha.

Deer partaaayyy!

Wish you could see his face better.

This lady is in a lot of videos. She loves to eat. There are some cute ones with raccoons and bunnies too, I will try to add them later!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Little Treasures

I can't say that I've walked the entire 20 acres yet. There are some spots that are so thick with briars and weeds we have stayed clear, except to drive through. Surprisingly we haven't come across much trash, a little bit here and there- but for land that hasn't been touched in years it's very clean.
Though we haven't found much trash, we have found some other things. Glass bottles. Probably 100's. Clear, green, brown and a couple broken blue ones so far. They are in random spots in the woods, mixed with old cans (looks to be a lot of Budweiser cans). We filled a box up one day in October and brought them home to look up. Some of them we found online and figured out they stopped being made in the 1960's. I already have ideas of using several of them as décor in the house when we build. I think it will be neat to look back and know that decorations in the house actually came off the land.
Once some of the weeds started dying on their own, we came across some antlers laying out in the grass. I haven't decided what I will do with them yet- if I can keep them away from Rigby. He recently discovered them sitting on a bookshelf and keeps carrying them around the house when he thinks nobody will notice.
We came across an old deer stand one day in the woods. We each took a turn climbing up the spikes in the tree but neither sat on the chair :)

Tax Assessor Problems

          The first real problem (thankfully, the only real problem so far) we encountered with the land was when we had to go to the Tax Assessor's offices. The county line runs through the back of property, so that complicates things somewhat. The majority of the land is in Edgefield County, with the back part being in Aiken. We headed to the Edgefield County Courthouse first (it was awful, early December, and poor David had been so sick for a week, but was determined to get some things done). Because the land hasn't been owned in a while (besides it being bank owned) we needed to get the county to go appraise it so that we would be paying taxes on what they say it's worth now, not a few years ago. This appraisal is different than a bank appraisal (I had no idea, haha). Thank God that we did-- 1. we found a pretty big issue by doing so and 2. it reduced the amount we will be taxed on by A LOT (we will be taxed on a third of what we would have been taxed on in Edgefield if we didn't do this).
We actually did not find this out in the tax office, but we walked next door to find out what to do to get our address and found out that where we planning to build, we didn't own. UMMM, EXCUSE ME?? If you know me, you know my mood went from bad to awful and I was not happy. It of course wasn't their fault. They pulled up our lot numbers while we were talking to them, just to look basically (can't get the address until building starts because it will depend where we put the house). If you look in the picture below, the two blue areas are the land it was showing we owned. The white area outlined in red is still owned by the neighborhood developers. It is kind of confusing to explain on here, but basically we knew that the side easement and "triangle" weren't ever ours. It was our understanding though, that the easement between the two lots was ours and did not have to stay an easement. PANIC! We were planning to build basically in the middle of the two lots. We had to go back to the tax office to see if their computer was showing the same thing (we had filled out paperwork to get it combined into one lot instead of 2 when we were in there, but it obviously could not be done if we did not own a strip between the two). As we walked back to the other office we said that if we didn't own it or had to "buy" it again for more money that we would possibly just sell the land and start over. When we got back in the tax office we found it was showing that way on their program as well... so we left super frustrated and called the Real Estate Agent. He "assured" David it was just a glitch in paperwork somehow and that the owners did not think they still owned that strip and that everything would work out just fine. He was right, within about a week, after a few phone calls and trip back to the courthouse, we were in the clear and the two lots were combined.
Next came the problem in Aiken County. It wasn't as big of a deal, but basically we had to go through the same thing. This time though, we were told it would get reappraised this summer when it was time to do the billing on it. We found out that we owned less land in Aiken County than we thought and that Edgefield had to readjust their numbers. An extra trip and a little bit more frustration but that was taken care of pretty easily as well.
All in all, it was a pain in the butt (when is doing stuff like that not a pain though?). It was of course worth the pain because we were able to fix the land issue before we got ready to build and it was flagged anyway, and we got our taxes lowered.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

We Have Trees!

In my previous post I mentioned that we had a lot of trees on the land. That is no exaggeration. The woods are filled with hardwoods- mostly different types of oaks. There are a few pines, some cedar, holly. I have walked through several times but until spring/summer when I can get a good look at everything I won't know what all is back there for sure. Too hard to identify when most of the leaves are gone. I love trees, it ended up being one of the "had to haves" on our list when we were comparing land. Old beautiful trees just cannot be replaced.
The front part of the property has several varieties as well. It was cleared out several years ago so it doesn't really look like "woods". There are a lot of smaller pines. Normally I am not a big fan, but because of them being evergreen and us having enough room to clear out any falling on our house, I am happy about it. A nice border in all directions! There are some oaks in the front part of the property ... and we have some fruit trees! Persimmons, Chickasaw plum, and cherry trees! The persimmons and plums are edible, the cherry trees are edible for birds. We have to cut most of them down (the ones near the house and pasture) but will leave several on the far side of property. When the leaves fall off in the fall they produce cyanide - obviously toxic. Our "neighbors" have some in their pasture, but I am a weirdo and won't take the risk. I have counted several pecan trees as well, but they aren't mature enough to be producing any pecans yet.
Here is a pretty, pretty pecan tree.
Though I will definitely be landscaping, I plan to keep things more natural looking than most of your typical neighborhoods. Though it is a neighborhood, the lots are all large and kept up with in a "natural" way. (AKA a lot of the grass is cut by the horses, ha!) It would look out of place to pick up my house and yard where we are now and sit it in that neighborhood. I've learned so much about plants the past couple years, but I feel like I have to almost start over. A totally new look, I'm excited! Instead of that Georgia clay, it appears that the soil out there is actually sand. It was much easier to plant the trees in and the water absorbed much easier.
I can't wait for spring to see how these trees will look. I am hoping for a pretty show. I certainly was not disappointed with this permission tree in the fall.

Land Prep

The week that we signed on our land I met with a man from the Clemson Extension office in Edgefield to find out some basic information on the land and where to even begin. We walked through the land and he pointed out different trees, potential issues, weeds, how to get rid of things, steps to take for deeming the land agricultural, and farmland information. I know he will be one of the best resources we have throughout this process. On one hand, I found out we had some awesome trees (so excited!), on the other hand I found out we had SO much work to do. There is cactus randomly throughout the property, but worse than that, sand spurs.
We have worked on the land a little bit here and there, cleaning up some trees (cutting down, cutting off bottom limbs) and cutting some of the weeds down with our riding mower. We haven't done a ton, but since we have only had the land a couple months and they were the holiday months, I'm pleased. Now that we have the tractor and it should be warming up (got to love Georgia!) in the not so distant future, things will be busy preparing the land.
We have a BUNCH of trees- the woods we are leaving natural at this point. Once we are living out there we will start cleaning out some of the under brush and dead limbs/trees. The front part of the property has a lot of trees as well. We will of course be leaving a lot of the trees, but our plan is to cut down all the ones we need/want to take down on our own in the next couple months. We will be cutting all the weeds (some taller than I am) in the next few weeks. Once the trees are down and the weeds are cut, we will plow everything under. It should be the easiest way to get rid of the weeds/cactus/and especially sand spurs. Then we will plant grass... and hope we get rain so it grows.
The first weekend that we had the land (signed on a Friday) we went out and planted two trees. I just HAD to have them planted right away, I thought it would be so neat to look back over the years and know that those trees were planted right when we got the land. We planted the trees on the area we plan to be a pasture, there's not as many trees in that area so they will stand out and be even more pretty!

Autumn Blaze Maple & Bald Cypress

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This Land is Our Land

After we started focusing on land things got somewhat overwhelming. Some were in neighborhoods, some weren't. Some were 3-4 acres, some around 10, some closer to 20 acres. South Carolina, Georgia. Appling, Lincolnton. Edgefield, Aiken, Trenton. Some were cleared, some all woods. Ponds, no ponds. Flat, not flat. Some perked, some didn't. County water, well water. Ridiculous HOA rules. You get the idea, the list goes on and on.
We started a list of the potential properties and started marking them off. After only really liking 2 houses, options was a good thing. A whole bunch of comparing and we had the list down to just a couple. We had three main contenders.
Though we liked several in Georgia, only one seemed to make it to the final countdown. It was in an equestrian "waterfront" neighborhood in Lincolnton. The neighborhood has several ponds, nobody has built in it yet, and we found a decent size corner lot we liked pretty good. There were things we didn't love about it, but the price seemed good enough to keep it in the running. It was a little further than I wanted to have to drive into Augusta, and for David to have to drive home every night.
The other two were in South Carolina. One was in Edgefield (I think) -- it wasn't a neighborhood though. Just a side road with a whole bunch of land. It was big acreage and really pretty, really out in the middle of nowhere. One day we rode out to look at it again and much to our surprise on one side of the road a logging company had come in and cut down all the trees. The lots were still for sale across the street, but that ruined it for me and that one was out.
The land that we purchased is in fact in an equestrian neighborhood, and it was a different lot that got us in the neighborhood in the first place. We really liked it and called the real estate agent only to find out that though the listing said it was close to 10 acres, it was marked wrong (long story that actually made perfect sense) and was only about 6 acres- however the price was the same. Made things kind of tough. David would point out the other lots for sale in that neighborhood and I wasn't loving the idea of any of them. One day though, he made me get out and walk the lots and then called to meet the real estate agent out there to figure out where exactly property lines were. (The backside of the lots have woods, and if the woods weren't included in the lots I did not want them). Once he met him out at the land and we got an idea of the actual property lines it moved quickly into first place. 
David did a lot of comparing and figuring. Did research to see how much acres were going for in similar type neighborhoods. We decided to send in an offer, on not just 1, but 2 lots.
The real estate agent did not think that the bank would accept our offer. We didn't think the bank would accept our offer either. (HA!) But it wasn't long until we heard back that they had accepted. We had thirty days to agree or decline. 
We agreed! October 25, 2013 the papers were signed on 20+ acres!
It felt like it took forever to find land that we both loved. Looking back it probably didn't really take us THAT long and we had fun doing it. We drove all over, spent hours in the car talking and singing with the windows down. Saw so many summer sunsets, walked through so many pieces of property enjoying the fresh air. 


Fishing in a pond we found. And yes, that's a branch stuck on the jeep.
It really was fun, I would maybe even do it again, except that I love where we have ended up!

The Search: Failed Attempt

It's been over a year since my last blog, whoops. We recently purchased some land and I know that the next few months, err, year or two, are going to be very busy. I want to be able to look back and remember some of the small details, funny stories and memories made in this whole long process. I have no doubt that it will be hard and stressful, but I know that the end result will be awesome and I can't wait. It will hopefully be enjoyable to look back and see the transformation of this piece of property turning into our new home.
I am starting a little late, we purchased the property in October of 2013. Of course the search started before that, so I have some catching up to do. I hope to get caught up fast because I know as soon as it warms up enough to be out there working, that is where we will be.
We decided a while ago (talked about it even a couple years ago, but not seriously until 2013) that we wanted to move. Several reasons. David already owned our house when I met him and I moved in a couple years back. Since then, I have changed basically everything about it that I could. Painted, new floors, new furniture, an almost perfectly manicured yard. It's not that it's a bad house, it definitely isn't. It's a great house. And since I had never owned a house before, I don't know that I wouldn't have happily chosen this house myself.. but now I know I want different, different, and more different, at least for OUR lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, I love our "home"-- just not this house, this neighborhood, this part of town that has taken off and has way too many people and not enough room on the streets, or the brand new middle school that is in my backyard.
In the spring we started looking at both houses and land. We had a few things on the list that we definitely wanted but besides those things were basically just looking at everything. It made it easier for me to figure out what I wanted, by figuring out what I didn't want. The three main make or break points we began with were: 1. LAND (no typical house on top of each other neighborhood) 2. OPEN FLOOR PLAN and 3. DRIVE TIME TO WORK.
We looked at hundreds of houses and pieces of land for sale from the spring through the fall of 2013. HUNDREDS. Online and in person. Almost every day that David was off of work, we spent all or most of the day driving around a 45 minute - 1 hour radius of Augusta. David was born in Carolina and I have no ties to keep me a Georgia resident, so we were looking in Carolina and in Georgia.
By early summer we had found some pieces of land that we liked okay, nothing that we had to have. All of the houses we were coming across were big fat NO's. Until David found a house in Lincolnton, GA that was bank owned and reduced. I went to look at it by myself at first and loved it. Once we got inside though, we found major issues. We made up plans to fix these problems and kept coming back to it. It was a 20 year old house with definite issues, but in our minds we could still fix it and it be worth it. The property was gorgeous (4 acres, pond, pool, old trees, antebellum style house) and it was in the country. We put in an offer and went back and forth with the bank. While that was going on we met with a contractor and got an estimate to "fix" the house. YIKES! There were just too many problems, more and more each time we went. We withdrew the offer and that was that.
Isn't it beautiful though? Withdrawing our offer put a HUGE damper on the whole process for me (I think David too, though he hid it better). I am more than okay with it now, it was for the best.  After we withdrew our offer we pretty much stopped looking at houses all together and focused on finding land to build on. The plans and potential sitting in front of us right now are more than I could have hoped for with the house I thought I had to have. Can't wait!