Hiring Contractors, volume 1: Selection

At some point in a farm’s life, an improvement will become necessary. Whether it is remodeling the house, building animal shelters or sheds for equipment and things, or maybe it is a repair. Unless you are a fully skilled do-it-yourselfer, you will need to hire out some or all of the work. We have hired help many times in the past, but for some reason this year has presented challenges like we have never experienced before. The first project was an outbuilding (chicken coop), and the second was the attached chicken run. Seems simple enough, right? So we thought…

The first contractor had done work for us several times before with good result, and was originally recommended by a friend. One would expect this experience would be the same as “always”. Well, he had only done small projects for us, and this job was a little larger. It turns out, it was out of his range. Everything started out well, but as time went on his other projects and clients seemed to call for his attention more urgently. Gaps of time with no progress became longer and longer. In the end, we became frustrated, it got a little ugly, and our long standing and solid working relationship with this guy was demolished. Looking back, I realize my mistake. Hopefully he does as well. I should have asked if he had done a project of this size and scope before. Even the best of intentions on both sides going into a project are not enough to make up for inexperience in projects of this size and type.

The second project this year also required a contractor, so this time I looked to Angie’s List and Yelp for recommendations. I found a contractor that was listed with the highest rating on both sites. Should be foolproof, right? Well, not so much. The contractor had great recommendations, but they spoke of a father and son team. When I interviewed the contractor, he mentioned his father had retired and he had taken over. At that moment, I should have asked for current references from projects similar to ours and in the time frame since his father’s retirement. Our experience with this contractor was the exact opposite of the reviews on the web, and hands down the worst construction experience we have ever had. His workers revealed that many of his recent projects were house flips, so there was no client and no family living at the home.

Interestingly enough, when things were still going well with contractor #2, we asked for an estimate on a project we haven’t started yet. My husband told him hp front that we were getting several competitive bids. He never submitted the bid after several reminders to send or bring it. Hmmm, not interested when presented with competition? Not a good sign.

When selecting a contractor, there are a plethora of resources available to consumers. Checklists, sample questions to ask, instant verification of their credentials, and access to comments from other clients such as yourself. Take your time to do some research before inviting someone into your home or onto your property. The Federal Trade Commission has THIS advice about hiring contractors. Great information. I the meantime, I hope you have taken away these tips for selecting a contractor to go along with the FTC’s recommendations:

1. Ask for and check current references.
2. Ask the contractor if they have done projects similar to yours, and then verify those references.
3. Get competitive bids, and make it known you are doing so.

Happy Improving!

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Introductions, Part 2

Goats & Llama

Our goats are all Nigerian Dwarfs. For us, their purpose is weed/grass control. We chose these goats for a few reasons. The first was convenience; the breeder is only a few minutes away. The second, as their breed name suggests, they are smaller and lighter than their full size counterparts, which makes them easier to handle.

Sweetie, our llama, is the guardian of the goats. Her wool is shorter, so we only shear her to keep her cooler in the summer.

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Dogs

Our beloved Zeus and Hera. We love all of our animals, but Zeus and Hera are our children. They are siblings from the same mixed breed litter, and have never been separated. We got them from a rescue at 7 weeks old, and they are now 9 1/2 years old.

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Introductions, Part 1

What is a farm without it’s characters? Not a very fun farm, I say. 😉 Our animals bring us constant joy and entertainment. Chickens may have pea sized brains, but they have big personalities as diverse as we humans are. The goats are endlessly playful, when not eating. Our llama, probably the least prominent personality on the farm, but I suppose it comes with her position as head guardian. Silent but wise. The dogs, well, they are the heart of our world; our children.

Part 1: Chickens

We have a variety of chicken breeds for the purpose of diversified egg color. We also appreciate and find interesting the variety in colors, combs, sounds, and other features. We used to free range our chickens, but after coyotes killed some of our hens we decided to build an enclosed chicken run for their safety. We have 5 surviving chickens obtained over the last 3 years:

Roo-front (Buff Orphington, King Rooster) and Auri-rear (Americana, Resident green egg layer, vocal, pleasant):

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Pittipat (Rhode Island Red/White Silkie mix, shy, evasive, and very fast on her feet!):

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Lucy (Red Star, Best egg layer, and very pleasant disposition):

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Popeye (unknown breed mix, Queen, and quite cranky):

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New chicks obtained this summer (names to be earned as their personalities mature):

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The eggs:

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Goats, llama, dogs, and flip flops coming soon.

Hey, thanks for reading, liking, and/or following! 🙂

The Beginning

Welcome to Flip Flop Farms

Howdy folks! I’m Christy. This journey began three years ago when my husband and I moved from suburbia to a small farm. We brought two dogs with us, and have added five goats, a llama, and a slew of chickens to our family. Introductions coming soon. Prior to moving here, we had little to no experience with farm animals, gardening, or self reliance, and I would say we are still beginners. We are entertained, educated, and humbled by the farm, and that is what I intend to share with you. A little bit of life in general will slip in as well. So buckle up, and enjoy the ride. I know we have! 😉

Oh that’s right. Can’t have Flip Flop Farms without flip flops! Where do they fit in, you say? Well, I just love them. I wear them almost every day. Whether just in the house in the winter, or all day long in the summer. At some point a pair of flip flops enters my day. Is this a good idea? Well, on the farm probably not. Okay, definitely not. I just can’t help myself, and I have the battle wounds to prove it. Free your feet at your own risk!

Disclaimer: This blog and all of its content is based on my opinion, my preferences, and my experiences. I do not expect or intend for anyone to take what I write, display, or advertise as advice. I am not an expert. Please, do your own research, and form your own opinion. This blog is intended for entertainment purposes only.