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Amy Arnett

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since Oct 21, 2016
Nara, Japan
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Recent posts by Amy Arnett

Had a spot of a typhoon the other day.

3 days ago
Long story, short: We tried to do similar and gave up before buying land. 

I grew up in the Champlain Islands and my parents still live there. I wanted to have my first birthing experience in my home state, so after seven years abroad, I returned home; with my husband (Japanese citizen). Since having my first kid in Vermont was set in stone, we thought we would try to make our life there. 

Ultimately, many factors drove us back to the warm embrace of Japan, but I will try to stick to those that will apply to you.

First, this: 

Eribeth Ballanfield wrote:  Any experiences with financing a non-traditional structure as a primary residence?  We don't have a huge pile of cash sitting around, so there would be a need for some financing.  But, we are pretty debt averse and looking to keep this number as small as possible.   

Financing and not wanting debt were the biggest contributing factors to our giving up. 
Credit scores are bull shit and all the banks(that we talked to) cared about. So I had been out of the US for seven years, so no credit activity for seven years. My perfect credit score all the years before that meant nothing. We were told, even with my "rich" parents cosigning, that we had to build our credit score for at least a year before we could be considered for a loan. So get your free, yearly credit report and start building your score if you are looking for a loan. 

A credit union I wouldn't recommend: NEFCU 
They are kind of posh...I'll leave it at that.

A credit union I would recommend: VESCU
They were the most willing to work with us, gave us advice about raising our credit score and what they needed to approve us. They give nontraditional loans.

Also, this. 

Eribeth Ballanfield wrote:  Structures that are winterized that also are not too much house, fit our budget, and come with a reasonable amount of land (2-3+ acres) are hard to come by.


Anything we found on the market that fit our, looking back, unrealistic expectations, was way out of our price range. Anything in our price range was too far in the boonies or needed major repairs. Since we were more interested in land (we wanted at least ten acres) than house, I used Landwatch as my primary searching tool. Smaller lots are listed on there also. You can fiddle with the search options and only return results with buildings. There were many lots when we were looking that had septic already and no building. 

Eribeth Ballanfield wrote:
Any subcontractor recommendations (foundation/water/engineering, specifically)?


Not sure if they work in your area, but two recommendations from the islands:
DC EnergyThey do solar and general electric. My husband worked for them for a time. They do top notch work and take care of and respect their customers. 

Palmer constructionThey did foundation work on my parent's house and septic repairs, and my parents would recommend them. Haven't worked with them personally. 

Eribeth Ballanfield wrote:
We have also been considering an on-wheels-tiny option, which has it's own legal issues.  I know around here you can get away with *a lot* if you don't bug the neighbors, but we're also looking to be reasonably in the law and environmentally responsible.


Yeah, it only takes one person to start a fuss, and if it's illegal, you're done. 

North Hero, where my parents are, is ridiculously strict. I've heard of town official following trucks with sheds on them to make sure the owner has a permit for their shed and payed the fees.

Alburgh, the town next door, however is a free for all, do what you want, nobody cares.

Front Porch Forum is pretty popular in Vermont as a town email newsletter type thing. You can sign up with the address of the property you are looking to buy and read the back logs to find what people complain about.

If you searched north hero's you would find such gems as "who is the person inconsiderate enough to mow their lawn so that the grass blows onto the road and not clean it up?!" and "How dare a nonprofit supporting the arts buy a barn and restore it into an art gallery and event space next to us! It will be too loud and too much more traffic!"

Anyway, I was able to have a very positive birthing experience (highly recommend UVM and the midwife team there), and now we are living happily in Japan again. Vermont just wasn't for us. Hope you find what you are looking for!

Happy to answer other questions you might have!

4 days ago
Just put up most of a fence and now have to build gates. I'm curious what everyone's gates look like.

We have heavy deer, wild boar and monkey pressure. For now we are happy to just keep out the deer and boar, but would like to at least use a latch that the monkeys won't figure out. We will add electric fencing for the monkeys later.

What does your gate look like?

What do you like about it?

What would you change?

4 days ago
Cast iron.

Had our first BBQ on our new land. We like to make a fire and use the coals from that in our "BBQ set" and put the skillet on the BBQ set. A little dark but you get the idea.

We enjoyed beef from the cows that made the compost that was shown being delivered in my compost post on this thread!
6 days ago

Mike Feddersen wrote:Amy,
Do you plant the floaters, or the sinkers?
How long do you soak?

We soak for a day (although we didn't get to these for two days...) and plant the sinkers.
The soaking is more to kill any bugs that have bored into the acorns.
6 days ago
We got rice straw from some neighbors and used it to cover some of our newly refurbished farm plots. The farm land had been "mulched" with plastic and corrugated metal and all kinds of stuff for several years. For the time being, we spread crimson clover seeds and mulched with the rice straw.
1 week ago

Lif Strand wrote:4  food as medicine

To me, beauty is food for the soul, and when the soul is fed the body becomes healthy.  And because I'm attracted to unusual views of the real world, here's a food image that makes me feel good to see.

Nice one, Lif! I always take time to watch the cream mix in before drinking. I'm glad someone else appreciates this beauty also!
1 week ago

Lif Strand wrote:
Maybe someone will take pity on me and tell me how everybody is getting those cool  images into their posts.

Lif, I had to look it up the first time, it's not so intuitive!

Img tag is for a picture that's already online. "img]http:// Put the url here [/img".

For uploading pics from your pc or device, click the attachments tab at the bottom and upload file.

Also, nice abstract water trough!
1 week ago
In addition to similar combinations of what others have mentioned, now that I live close enough, I like to go to the beach and breath in the salty sea air. Works best for me if it's warm enough to swim and really wash out my sinuses. If it's cold I'll just splash my face and gargle and suck some seawater up my nose.

When I was land-locked in Vermont, I would just mix sea salt and water and do the same. There is a salt water nasal spray for sale, I think it's called "sea spray", which is the "proper" concentration.
1 week ago
We have a lot of trees in pots close to our house until we build a deer fence. The weeds in the cherry tree's pot were too easy to pull, sure enough the pot was full of grubs! I picked them all out.

When I find them in the ground, I generally toss them toward the wilder part of the garden. I used to have a dog that loved to eat them.

I know that many species look similar. When I lived in the US, we assumed they were Japanese beetle larva and threw them to the dog. Living in Japan now, I guess they are just beetle larva. They are called  マメコガネ, Mamekogane-mushi, 豆黄金 golden beany bug. I have noticed a few here and there, but there aren't the problem they are in Vermont...

Do grubs turn into anything beneficial?

What do you do when you find them?
1 week ago