Last Christmas, the hubby bought me a 23-quart pressure canner, complete with a 200+ page canning guide. It is an exciting harbinger of our life to come, when we will have abundant extra produce from our very own farmette. He wanted me to break it out and start pressure cooking some stew or something right away, but I deferred, saying, “We’re moving soon, let’s keep it in the box so it will be one less thing to pack.” We hadn’t even identified a house, or even a county yet, but I was ever optimistic in the dead of winter.
Well, now Lent is upon us, and so last weekend I took the pressure canner out for its virgin stovetop experience to use up the last of the meat in the freezer. (Us Orthodox Christians give up all animal products for Lent.) A beautiful, four-pound, grass-fed chuck roast took exactly one hour, start to finish, in the pressure cooker to turn from tough stringy bits into succulent tender morsels flavored by the red wine, onions, carrots and squeeze of tomato paste. I invited the ol’ Greenbranch gang over to help us eat it all, a small way of giving thanks for all the knowledge, food, and farm fellowship that they bestowed on us last season. We had hoped it would double as a celebration of our purchase of a farm to call our own. But despite our best efforts and intentions, we’re not there yet.
That farmette we made an offer on a couple of months back? To make a long story short, we are still waiting to hear the final word on that from the seller’s bank. You see, it’s a “short sale,” which is like a step before foreclosure. The sellers still own the home, not the bank, but the bank has said “okay” to them selling the home at a price that might be below what they still owe on it. The owners of the home hope to “short” the bank a little, and the bank has agreed to consider that option because foreclosures are cumbersome, costly affairs that might end up costing more money than they will lose in a short sale.
What we were warned of, by our ever-patient Realtor, Bud, is that there are no rules in short sales. Okay, forget about making the long story short. Here it is in bullet points:
- Back in mid-January, we made a reasonable offer to sellers, less than 10% below list price.
- Seller accepts. Our offer is forwarded to the bank. Two weeks go by.
- Bank counter offers at price substantially ABOVE the listed price. (This was our first ??#($-^*x? moment.)
- Frustrated, but undaunted, we make another counter offer, above our first offer, but still below the original list. It is a fair price for the property.
- The bank counters AGAIN, but this time their number is pretty close to ours, so we ACCEPT their counter offer, and sign paperwork. Hoorah, we think! We bought a house!
- We were surprised when the bank replies that they just have to get the offer “approved” by their “investor”. What do you mean, we think? You, the bank, came back with a counter offer, wasn’t that “approved” by someone there?
- The investor does not approve of the offer. He sends another number down to the bank, again, and the bank gives us another counter offer. So, at this point, the bank is counter-offering itself. We had already accepted their counter offer, after all. We’re lost. The real estate agents are lost. The bank is clearly lost. (Did I mention that this is Bank of America we’re dealing with? The Bank of America? The one that sucks, according to pretty much everyone?)
- To save the day, the seller agent suggests we “resubmit” our last offer and see what happens. Uh, okay. So we did. We’re still waiting to see what happens.
The blow-up satellite image we had of our new home came off the wall. The place-specific naming of our farm and logo development was put on hold. The online order of seeds from Southern Exposure remains unsubmitted, pending a shipping address. Ditto for for the day-old chicks and chicken processing equipment. We remain in limbo, continuing to scour the real estate sites daily, putting all other major purchases on hold to keep our financial picture picture-perfect until the mortgage is locked in.
Meanwhile, the daffodils are coming up in our yard. And to top it off, one of our Greenbranch guests brought a salad full of tender PEA SPROUTS and baby arugula from Calliope Farm. Nothing says spring like pea sprouts! Farmer Ted spoke of waiting for a non-windy day to stretch the plastic over his jumbo hoop house. His wife Julia invited me to help out on the next greenhouse seeding day–their greenhouse is 2/3 full already. I consoled myself by buying $35.00 worth of greens at the Salisbury Organic Farmer’s Market today, the year-round one at Asbury Church every Tuesday, Rain or Shine, from 3-5pm. It was like a little reunion, running into all the old characters from the farm, like Eileen from Twin Posts, Bob from Nice Farms Creamery, and Jeff was there too, picking up his CSA share from Calliope Farm, where his girlfriend–the one with the pea sprouts–worked.
So as the days get longer, we’re feeling the pressure to get planted and start planting! But, where? We know that wherever we land will be the best place for us, that maybe it just needs a little more time in God’s oven. Or maybe it’s us that isn’t done cooking yet. A little pressure can be a good thing. Just ask the chuck roast.