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Just lost my farm in Downeast Maine  RSS feed

 
Lina Schofield
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Hello everyone, I am so upset right now that I can't even remember my old login so I created a new one.

My name is Lina and I was renting two acres and a house for the last two years up here, I worked really hard to restore soil quality, build a rain barrel/drip irrigation system, no till/dig raised beds, spiral beds, and ponds with an aquaculture system as well as raise ducks and rabbits and chickens. When I moved up here the ad was posted as an ad attracting someone looking for a place to farm and raise a family, which was perfect because my son was three at the time. The ad was posted by farmers that are well known in the community who operate their farm across town, I just honestly never thought a farmer would do this to a young farmer with a small child who provides for the entire family.

Last night I was given thirty days to vacate my farm because the landlords decided that they wanted to work on the house so they can sell it. No prior indication was ever made that they were even considering this, and I still don't understand why they couldn't work on the house with us living there, or why they decided to do this after planting had already taken place. My husband is a disabled veteran who is in the process of applying for his disability, and I had been using my student loans from college and profits from the farm to support the household after quitting my job last year to pursue my PDC and start farming full time. My loans don't come in again until the fall and I had already used the loans I was given in the spring to build and amend more gardens and ponds and add more trees as I was under the impression that everything was fine since I pay my rent on time, I have already planted 75% of the seeds I bought and now will never even have the chance to harvest my crops. I also have no idea what to do with my animals, and am not looking forward to explaining any of this to my five year old son who loves his farm life here, in this home, on this land.

Because I had asked them for a new lease and they hadn't provided me with one I appear to have no rights in this situation, they legally only have to give me thirty days notice. I was foolishly waiting for them to provide me with a lease that actually stated the correct dates on it as the one they provided at the last re signing period had the wrong months listed on it, and after three months of pneumonia I thought it could just feasibly wait until the next resigning period in mid-May so I didn't bring it up. These people are always difficult to get ahold of which doesn't make anything easier.

If anyone is aware of any opportunities to work for or lease from ethical people in New England, please let me know. Unfortunately I have poor credit due to medical bills that were incurred when I had just turned 18 and I was hit by a car while walking across the street, so leasing is really my only option at this time.

I was in the process of completing my final design for my PDC when I found this out, as it was for this property it is a bit too painful to look at it for the time being but I will eventually complete it and submit it to gain my PDC, aside from the design the course has been completed. I have several years of experience aside from operating my own farm as well.

Any suggestions are deeply appreciated.

I hope you are all enjoying the spring and the weather has been kind where you are.
 
Cj Sloane
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Sorry to hear that.

Did you see this thread:
http://www.permies.com/t/26066/eastern-usa/acres-Maine-helpers
 
Jessica Gorton
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Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Lina, I'm so sorry that you're in this position!

My first suggestion would be to try to take a deep breath or several, and then write a letter to your landlords expressing your feelings in a compassionate and gentle way (even if right now you don't think they deserve either). Put forth the idea that they could put work into the house while you still live there. Maybe offer to help do some work they might need, if that is something you could do. Put together a list of all the improvements that you've made, and tell them how much of a hardship it would be for you to have to move right now (especially in 30 days!). But understand, and express, that this is their property in the end.

It's interesting timing, really. To be honest, if they were going to be putting the property on the market, now would be the time, not after whatever improvements they are making are to be finished. Maybe express that as well, that you can help them get the property perfect over the next year, with the understanding that you would move out next spring when they would be putting the place on the market? That would at least give you some time to find another situation, since I for one wouldn't want to keep putting energy into something that is obviously unstable.

As someone who has been both a tenant and a landlord, let me say that your landlords don't want to have to evict you. It will take them some time and money to do so. I am loathe to suggest this option, and I would if I were you try to work out a more reasonable and equitable solution with the owners. That being said, you could probably squeeze out two or three more months (stressful ones, to be sure) before they could legally get you off their property - and at that point, they would be looking at a very short season in which to sell before winter comes on again (and nobody's looking to buy in Maine in the wintertime).

As for other options for living situations...where are you located? Are you settled in your community, or would a move somewhere else be possible? In Maine, or elsewhere? Start considering what you want, because it sounds like you'll be making a move either now or in the near future. By all means, grieve for this situation, but try to take from it lessons, and also try to feel some excitement for what tomorrow could bring.

Best of luck.
 
Craig Dobbson
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I think the advice Jessica gave is good. I would just be clear with the landlord and say 30 days just isn't enough time given the situation. Then be kind while you let them know you'll do the best you can to help them out while you are looking for a place to go. Make it clear that you can be cooperative but that being pushed won't make the situation move any quicker. Keep paying them. If they cash the check, they can't boot you easily. The other option is to ask them to PAY YOU to leave. It may be in their best interest to pay you to leave. They could pay a lawyer to fight you for the next 4 months while you squat in protest or they can make it easy for you to pay a moving company to neatly move your stuff and make a down payment on a new rental.
be nice but don't let them walk on you.

 
Amedean Messan
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:I think the advice Jessica gave is good. I would just be clear with the landlord and say 30 days just isn't enough time given the situation. Then be kind while you let them know you'll do the best you can to help them out while you are looking for a place to go. Make it clear that you can be cooperative but that being pushed won't make the situation move any quicker. Keep paying them. If they cash the check, they can't boot you easily. The other option is to ask them to PAY YOU to leave. It may be in their best interest to pay you to leave. They could pay a lawyer to fight you for the next 4 months while you squat in protest or they can make it easy for you to pay a moving company to neatly move your stuff and make a down payment on a new rental.
Be nice but don't let them walk on you.



I think this is good advice. Considering the "added value" in your constructive work on the property, I think you have a good position to speak from.
 
Lina Schofield
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Thank you everyone, I appreciate you taking the time to respond and offer your advice.

They seem pretty committed to being unreasonable at this point in time unfortunately, and since they have a track record of being inconsistent, uncaring, and dishonest it may be for the best that I am being given an opportunity to get out of dealing with them any longer and losing more because of it in the long run.

I have pretty much resigned myself to leaving after trying to talk to them, the whole thing is illogical on so many levels in my opinion that I
can't invest any more time or energy into trying to understand it at this point. They are in their legal right to do this and that is all that seems to matter to them, even if it is less practical for the selling time they are choosing, and the rent they are losing by having us leave during the repair time etc. Getting them to pay me isn't an option either unfortunately, they aren't empathetic individuals when it concerns money, (or more accurately) having to separate themselves from it in any fashion.

I have a small child and don't feel up to the squatting battle (especially because law enforcement could become involved) and that seems like that would be the only other option right now, it just isn't worth the stress and potential turmoil it would cause.

I am now going to focus on trying to find work farming or in a greenhouse that would allow me to at least make some money until I can afford a place. I know how to make herbal medicinal and beauty products so possibly I could find something doing that as well. Fortunately I have friends in New England, and while they are not in a financial position to help , I can probably stay somewhere until I can earn enough to get a place at least.

If anyone hears of any job opportunities that are paid anywhere in New England please let me know. I am flexible on the location, I just don't think I can gather enough to move further than New England for awhile.

It just would have been so much easier if they would have let me know at the beginning of the season before I planted and when people are avidly seeking out apprentices, field workers, and farm managers for the full season rather than temporary unpaid interns.

I am hoping that this will somehow lead to a better situation in the long run, and am working to facilitate that however possible.
 
Bob Grundstein
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Lina,

don't move. Force him to evict you. It will take months and you'll get your crop raised.

Haazen
 
Mark Warren
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Location: Maine
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As a disabled Vet - I know the issues.

Would you consider Northern Maine ? I have an acre or two that you can work on in exchange for helping me. Work the acreage properly and in short order you could be making money. This is an excellent area to live. Almost all the people are just plain good. There are jobs available as well. We could build you a Cabin on skids. When you put together about $ 3000.00, I know of many in the area that will finance you. Especially if they can see the work you have already completed. Load the cabin on a truck then move to your own place. You will also have the outbuildings you will need to be up and in operation. Things you will need like an outhouse, woodshed on skids, smoker on skids, etc.. I think you get the idea.

No cost to you. Come let me help.
 
steve bossie
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Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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thats a hell of a offer mark! i have to commend you on your generosity! not many people would do that for a stranger. but then vets know what it is to take care of each other. I'm a disabled army vet myself. I'm up in the st. john valley. i hope she contacts you back. landlords like that don't care about the family living there when monies to be made! thank you for your service!
 
Mark Warren
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I got hurt in March of 05 - they threw me in the trash after almost 34 years - then Katrina - 5 years later I was still living on the street. One day two people put their monies together and sent me to Maine. I got help, I got my VA - I got my SDI - Now I have land - Now I can help others. I have a debt to repay to those that didn't need to help me, but, did.
 
steve bossie
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i hear ya man! good job spreading the love !
 
Mark Warren
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Just Life - I have to pay forward - Are you willing to use some of this land to help yourself and others ?
 
steve bossie
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i don't know how much i can do myself but ill help any way i can! if we can get more people on board all the better! whats your land look like? is it old farmland, forest? what do you have for equipment? how does setting up a you pick berry farm sound? i have a lot of raspberries and there is a new kind of primocane blackberry culitivar that will grow up here. they are easy to grow and would produce berries the next year. could plant blueberries and elderberries also. i think to start that would be dooable. maybe start a apple orchard also. depends how much of your land is open. the berries can be done in a small area.
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Steve, where do I begin ? Ever since I got back on my feet in 2010 after five years basically homeless I worked with various organizations & groups. All controlled by others. In every case they were in it only for the money. Then I had another stroke, while I worked to get back on my feet & functional I realized that the only way I could get what I wanted to work was to own the land. Not just any piece of land. It needed it to be semi-remote, preferably in an unincorporated location. I didn't want to have any battles with zoning or covenant issues. Finally, I found a piece that I could afford that met all my requirements. The land is located on Tar Ridge Road in Prentiss, Maine 04487. If you enter that zip code into a google search it comes up as Springfield, Maine. Another small piece of luck.

The land after survey equals 12.7 acres. The land has been in tree growth for the last several decades. Finally the tree growth was worth the harvest. There is no marketable timber left. The land has been butchered. Saying that, it is flat, high & dry, except it a few small areas.There is an area that equals about 1 and a 1/2 football fields where everything has been removed. It is now a field of waste from the harvesting.

I just got a quote from a company, { $1500 } to bulldoze & remove all stumps, and leave the remains at the North end of the clearing. For an addition { $2500 } they will install a pad of gravel 36' wide by 300' long X 12".

Another company will drill me a well { 8" } for about { $3500 give or take }

Now I have an area prepared for development & a true supply of water.

This pad cannot be seen from the road, even in winter with all foliage died back.

Now, I can begin build infrastructure.

I need to first build a 14' wide by 12' high by 20' long stick frame shed on skids. Local sawmill just down the road.

A friend and past associated will lend me his tractor w/loader and a large assortment of implements, after the shed is complete, for an extended period of time.

At this point you may be wondering what is next.

Well that will depend on who wishes to assist and what their needs and wants are.
 
steve bossie
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hi mark. I've heard of prentiss but I'm trying to picture where its near. you're not far from orient right? my buddies father just bought a camp not far from you. i have no needs other than to help. i want my own land also but moneys not available right now. so i help others w/ theirs. I've been playing w/ ideas for fast growing firewood trees. i believe that hardwood is going to be hard to come by soon as the logging companies are cutting it much faster than the trees can regrow. and they cut a hardwood ridge and replant spruce. i think if someone planted hardwoods that grow quickly it could be very profitable or could be used for yourself. black locust is a very fast growing tree that can grow to 30ft. in 15 yrs. it also grows back from the stump when cut so you never need to replant. it will grow on poor soil and is a nitrogen fixer so it actually fertilizes the soil. the wood puts out more btus than sugar maple and is one of the most rot resistant woods in the country. maybe plant some of these on the worst parts of your land. id build a coop and get maybe 25-50 chickens they will forage for themselves in the summer and their manure will slowly fertilize your soil. you will have meat and eggs from them. if you insulate the coop well and put it in a protected area, you shouldn't have to heat it in winter. id take at least a cleared flat acre and find a landscaper to buy some dump truck loads of good topsoil and compost to put down. plant vegetables in half and berries in the other half. if you could dig a small pond then you could stock it with fish. those are just some ideas id do if i could. if you could get at least a few acres cleared then we could start work on that.
 
Mark Warren
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Cash Poor - That I can understand - You want land ? - I will lend you a section where you can create your vision. - In exchange you help me create mine. - What say you ?
 
steve bossie
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sounds good! only problem is I'm 2 hrs. from you but i could come down and camp out for a couple days at a time. time i have plenty of as i work weekends only. now if the snow can melt! oh yeah .. you guys don't have snow down there. well my mid april might be time to get that plot cleared. you fish? lots of good places around you. could bring down my boat and get some white perch or trout in between working on projects!
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Steve: It has been awhile since I was last fishing. I would really enjoy that. I must wait until Mid-May for the land to be matured. Then the well. After that maybe you will visit and we can locate where you would like your new mini-homestead to be ?
 
steve bossie
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sounds good mark! ill be in touch!
 
Mark Warren
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Hello Steve: How goes things ?
 
Robbie Asay
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Mark is there property available in the area? I'm shopping around/educating myself for my future homestead. So far I've been online window shopping in Montana and New Mexico in areas where there is snowfall. I used to live in New England.

http://www.permies.com/t/54845/real-estate/seasons-land-permies#454413

Have you started your own thread? I'd be very interested in watching you "grow" your property especially if you post pics! I'm a sponge!

If the OP is still checking in here once in awhile(the thread is a year old) I hope you found something that worked out for you. I'm living on someone else's farm right now and have chosen not to put in a lot of work here because my income is very small, I'd never get it back and the owner doesn't want to put any money into this place and I'm not going to subsidize his property improvements. I'm not being cheated in any way. We were both clear with each other and we're good so far but I have to keep in mind that a situation could come up at any time(his death, issue with house, etc) where I'd have the same 30 days notice. I hope you are doing okay now.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Robbie Asay wrote:Mark is there property available in the area? I'm shopping around/educating myself for my future homestead. So far I've been online window shopping in Montana and New Mexico in areas where there is snowfall. I used to live in New England.

http://www.permies.com/t/54845/real-estate/seasons-land-permies#454413

Have you started your own thread? I'd be very interested in watching you "grow" your property especially if you post pics! I'm a sponge!

If the OP is still checking in here once in awhile(the thread is a year old) I hope you found something that worked out for you. I'm living on someone else's farm right now and have chosen not to put in a lot of work here because my income is very small, I'd never get it back and the owner doesn't want to put any money into this place and I'm not going to subsidize his property improvements. I'm not being cheated in any way. We were both clear with each other and we're good so far but I have to keep in mind that a situation could come up at any time(his death, issue with house, etc) where I'd have the same 30 days notice. I hope you are doing okay now.


I'll butt in to say hell yes there's land

There are properties available all over this general area, and they're actually affordable if you're looking for something raw/unimproved, away from Portland/Augusta. The biggest piece of advice I could give with looking for property in Maine is to scout the smaller realtor websites and put in some calls to local realtors. Someone on a different forum, when I was camping up here and looking at land in 2012, hooked me up with a guy that does logging and he had some stumpland (recently logged) that he was looking to offload. I looked at a beautiful piece out in Prentiss that he hadn't even logged. He also had some choice marshy "meadowland" he was looking to sell in chunks of 20 to 50 acres for as low as $1k around the howland/enfield area that were pretty nice - it was cut a decade or so ago and we almost worked a deal out on that, but the town was a bit too snobbish for my taste In fact, I was just looking up his online listing and saw he has a few over in Prentiss right now for decent prices (I'll moosage you the website address). I found this little gem while traveling out to see another one of his properties and fell in love. Definitely do some more window shopping in Maine to see if it's something you'd enjoy.

I keep saying - we need more permies up here
 
Robbie Asay
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Oh good! I know who to talk to about areas to avoid! I was thinking about somewhere near Indian Island but I don't know the area so I'd definitely have to come up that way. I miss the snow!
 
Mark Warren
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Thanks Tristan - You answer was great.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Mark Warren wrote:Thanks Tristan - You answer was great.


No problem - love to see more permies getting to doing their thing up here. If you haven't already, definitely set up a project thread for your land - get some pictures and/or video now and then post updates as things progress. I know when I was thinking of getting started, it was those kinds of threads that really gave me the inspiration I needed See my "The Camp" thread in my signature. I'm a little over an hour south/west of Prentiss - would love to come out to help if you have any project days (mass plantings, putting a on roof a structure, etc). The logging industry out here can really do a number on the soil textures and waterflow patterns when they cut an area - that's what we're struggling with here. A lot of the soil higher up on the property eroded down to the lower half, leaving the clay subsoil nearly exposed up top and creating a boggy mud puddle at the bottom. At least I know where my fertility went though!

Beautiful area where you are with a lot of good texture to work with. I'll second the black locust, too - those things grow like weeds out here and will provide you with fertility, canopy, bee forage, usable wood for construction and fuel for fires in practically no time Cold Stream Farms is where I ordered mine and they were good quality at very cheap prices. Just bewater that in a "normal" year, they tend to ship them out when there's still 2 or 3 feet of snow on the ground here.
 
Mark Warren
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The company that will be doing my dirtwork won't be available until Mid-May. So many have asked me to set up to show the progress from the beginning. I really don't know how. Saying that I guess I will just have to learn. If all goes well and I am able to work with the Farmers Veteran Coalition I should have assistance when needed. Saying that, I won't look a gift horse in the mouth too hard. More the Merrier I was taught. I did follow the link to " The Camp ", I have so much to do !!! LOL > I have not walked all of the property as of yet. I was thinking of organizing a big picnic, and giving to a group who produced the best resource map of the property some type of, " I don't know, something. " With my gammy leg it sure would be a major assist. What I think of as a asset, may be only just the obvious. Others may and most likely see things that I would miss and most likely never knew to be an asset.

Two Crows Farm

Dirtwork then well.

Then I guess the fun begins.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Mark Warren wrote:The company that will be doing my dirtwork won't be available until Mid-May. So many have asked me to set up to show the progress from the beginning. I really don't know how. Saying that I guess I will just have to learn. If all goes well and I am able to work with the Farmers Veteran Coalition I should have assistance when needed. Saying that, I won't look a gift horse in the mouth too hard. More the Merrier I was taught. I did follow the link to " The Camp ", I have so much to do !!! LOL > I have not walked all of the property as of yet. I was thinking of organizing a big picnic, and giving to a group who produced the best resource map of the property some type of, " I don't know, something. " With my gammy leg it sure would be a major assist. What I think of as a asset, may be only just the obvious. Others may and most likely see things that I would miss and most likely never knew to be an asset.

Two Crows Farm

Dirtwork then well.

Then I guess the fun begins.


Sounds like you'll be in good shape with people to help and lots of good resources available - I agree, the more the merrier when it comes to getting things done! You'll definitely have to get out there and start walking the property - observe everything you can and take notes/pictures. Things change fast once the ball starts rolling and the land will look completely different after a few years of work. If you have or can pick up a cheapo video camera, or even just a regular digital camera ($15 at wally world), you can use that to help document the changes over time. With permaculture techniques, everything you do tends to have huge, long lasting and replicating effects - digging a trench in the desert leads to forests

If you do the picnic, definitely let us permies know - I know there's quite a few of us out here that haven't even met one another yet and a picnic at Mark's just might be what's needed to get us off our lazy butts
 
Mark Warren
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A Fall Harvest Fest maybe, as picnic theme ? I won't have anything this year, but I would love to meet everyone as well.
 
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