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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Blogging, and tracking the journey

I've (Charles L Petersheim) been writing most of my life, studied journalism at U of Pittsburgh, wrote an unpublished novel, thousands of letters, hundreds of letters to the editors, dozens of newspaper articles, and the marketing copy for Catskill Farms, and all related entities for twenty years.  And I used to keep this blog very updated.  It was scandalous in its day, tracking my ups, downs, wins, losses, defeats, paybacks, etc..., all written well and on point.

Now that life has stabilized a bit on this entrepreneurial journey, it seems the need to express is less, less to confess, less to offer and less to reveal.  The blog was never like social media, where only the prettiest picture is painted of pretty beaches, athletic kids, all short and filtered.  The Blog was never filtered, and never 120 words or less and never painted with pretty pastels.  It was a mainline into my thinking, strategy, emotions, a counterintuitive way to market expensive homes for sure.

But, for better or worse, it set us apart as authentic and real, not glossy and overproduced. 

But those days are over, those perilous over-leveraged, under-experienced days that produced an unlikely success story.  Now I struggle to be inspired by the daily outrages I encounter, struggle to be inspired by the wrongs hoisted on me - now we just call someone and solve the problem.  We may even yet fail, or achieve less over the next 20 years than we did in the previous, but that denouement would be more methodical and controlled than the wild stallion of the ride over the last 20 years and 200 homes, where every day brought some insurmountable issue that required cash we didn't have and experience we didn't possess.  Now I'm surrounded by professionals of all sorts, at all levels, and our cash flow is strong, our sales consistent, and our brand pronounced.

Had to head down to Miami to scout locations for my 50th birthday party, which will be attend by 20+ family and friends for 3 days of relaxation.

One of our favorite farmhouses that Catskill Farms built a few years back in Olivebridge NY is being sold and we are honored to represent it through our real estate company, Lazy Meadows Realty.

The youth football league I coached - 8-10 year olds - went 8-0 including winning the championship.  Lucas, my son, was the QB so that was neat.  He can be a bit ornery when it comes to Dad-coaching, so I'm glad and relieved to report that we pulled it off, relationship intact, trophy in hand.  GREAT group of kids.

Fun group of kids over for Lucas' 11 birthday party.  Fit all 9 in my car for a short drive.

Continue to improve my residence in Milford PA, this fall concentrating on the front hillside that was overgrown and untamed.  May Landscaping did a great job reclaiming the hill, carving a small path, and planting a bunch of wildflowers.  Next spring should be spectacular.

Having a large stone wall built.

 And this past September did long road trip from Santa Rosa to Seattle with 2 college friends and one of their friends.

 And even remembered to buy a card for my Ex for her birthday.

That's a small sampling of the events in the Life of Charles Petersheim. All is good, even for a 'restless and jealous mind' (John Prine lyric).

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Recent Sales of Real Estate in County Sullivan & Ulster

Sales continue to be brisk in this 19th year of business.  We are closing on a new home every 3 weeks or so, throughout real estate in the Catskills, recently Bethel, Olivebridge and Narrowsburg.

In Sullivan County, we just finished and sold Ranch 33 and Barn 31 in the small Birches subdivision in Bethel NY.

The Ranch, on Lot 19, has calming tree house feel to it and The Barn sits on a bluff above a pretty pond and open field.

These are our 8th and 9th home in this project that lay dormant for 12 years until we arrived on the scene.

Barn 31 - Sullivan County Real Estate.

Then our mini-ranch in Narrowsburg was a big hit at 820 sq ft, sporting 7 acres and 2 bedrooms.  Sullivan County Real Estate

We have this first of its kind American Four Square in Olivebridge NY - Farmhouse 53, adding to our Ulster County NY real estate portfolio.

Ranch 28, Ulster County Real Estate.  Also located in Olivebridge NY.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Periodic Water Testing

Well water is fantastic and refreshing, and water from your catskills real estate can be fresh as the day is long.  But still, when something is drawn from 400' in the ground and then runs through a bunch of plastic, holding tanks and faucets, it's not hard to see how purity can be impacted (and fortunately, somewhat easily corrected).

Image result for fresh filtration

Testing your water once a year by an area professional is never a bad idea.  They can test for 'potability', meaning safety (bacteria) as well as for hardness, softness, iron, sulphur, etc....

We like Titan Wells and Water Treatment out of Arkville for those who live in Ulster County, but there are others that probably do a fine job too, like Aqua Check (http://www.aquacheckllc.com/).   Valley Water (https://valley-water.com/) is a fine company for those with real estate in Sullivan County.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Ready for Winter? Tips

Anyone's who has been up here for any length of time, knows it's too late to order dry and cured firewood.  But everything else is still on the table.

Furnaces - regardless of the age or type - should be maintenanced each year.  The filters should be changed and the calibration and efficiency tested.  The cost savings of a good running furnace can't be understated, plus it's probably creating healthier air as well as prolonging the life of the furnace.

Radiators - for those who own our pre-2013 homes, you might have radiators.  If you do, these should be 'bled', which purges air and allows maximum water capacity and circulation.

Exterior faucet - unhook the hose to prevent freeze-ups that show up inside the home.

Low Heat Alarm - whether it be through one of our alarm systems or one installed post sale, they are a great insurance policy.  And don't neglect the 1-800# call when they phone if you do have a problem.

Turn off the water - when you leave for the weekend, turn off the electrical breaker for the well pump.  Doing this prevents any additional water than what is in the pipes (very little) from entering the home if a freeze up would occur.  This is actually a great thing to do year round, since it would protect against a burst fixture, leak, etc... in any season.

Plow and Sand - don't forget to renew that relationship before the first storm.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Catskill Farms' Founder Charles Petersheim Announces Philanthropic Fund

Charles Petersheim, founder of Catskill Farms (and writer of this blog, and a ton of letters to the editors) announced the creation of a donor-advised fund that will give back to the communities he works and lives in.  The Petersheim Fund, administered as part of the Greater Pike Foundation, is intended to give to organizations that I respect and play some part in, as well as finding a way to make micro-grants to kids in need of band instruments, sports fees, SAT prep, etc...

Quoting myself, "We've been giving as long as we have been earning. What we are doing with the GPF is organizing that giving a little better, as well as spreading the word a little further.'

See the local news article here - Pike County Courier Petersheim Fund.

Friday, September 13, 2019

I don't recommend Pell Tree Service and Landscaping of Phoenixville PA

I sign and oversee $1,000,000 of construction projects each month, month after month, year after year.  For 20 years.  Alls sorts of contracts - surveys, septics, construction, sales, purchases, landscaping.  Even with that volume, I've never seen the inside of a courtroom and most disputes and disagreements can be resolved.

Dead tree, week 2.

So my unfortunate entanglement with John Pell Tree Service of Audubon sticks out for it's unusualness if nothing else.  A $60,000 landscape project where most things died within a month of plantings, 3000 sq ft of yard never grew, 200 sq ft of sod looked bad when planted and died soon after.  Weeds grew so resiliently through our new landscape beds and had root balls the size of softballs.   A big tree died, and 12 rosebud trees (or whatever you call them) looked quite distressed very quickly.

So you can imagine my surprise when John Pell said it was my fault.  And that, frankly, he doesn't warranty his work, and never has, and never will.  And by the way, where's the $5k out of $65k that you owe me?

The idea that this was supposed to be the final hurrah of a $500k reconstruction of a community hall, and instead turned into a disappointing - to say the least- dying, weed strewn apocalypse.  Heart-breaking is not too strong a word.

So old Johnny Pell of Pell Tree Service of Phoenixville PA and Audubon PA quickly learned that this isn't our first rodeo with crappy subcontractors and we have a few tools in our tool bag.

So after some kicking and screaming and crying and being just a pompous self-important asshole, John Pell was smart enough to let his capable office staff take over and figure out a compromise, which in the end, consisted of coming back and spending 60 man/hours improving what to any casual observer was a landscape in distress, overgrown with weeds, trees dying.   And they did a great job, and spruced things up, tidied things up, and did right by me.

So I was surprised, but not really, on thursday, after the final check had cleared that I get an email from John Pell of Pell Landscaping and Pell Tree Service telling me that everything I'm doing on the property is wrong, and fuck you, and he won't ever come back on the property, and don't even dare write him back.

Now, remember, I'm happy at this point.  Satisfied at this point.

So, my point in writing this, is construction is tough, and there is always potential for problems. And how you solve those problems define you not just as a business but also as a person.    And d John Pell's 'I'm the smartest, you're a dumbass' approach to stressful problem remediation just makes me shout 'STAY AWAY FROM THIS GUY'.   There are so many other options of people who actually respect their clients, respect their concerns, and respect their goals and even their fears.

I cannot say loud enough that this guy does not deserve your business.  Every single thing he touched was dying or never grew.

Dead Sod, week 3.

Weeds, weeds, weeds.

Rosebud trees that look beyond sickly.  Week 4.

 Grass that never grew a blade.

Our 9/11 Journey

Catskill Farms is a 9/11 story, as many of you know.  Working in Soho on the new Scholastic building on Prince, eating breakfast on the 11th floor with a clean shot of the planes hitting the towers, somehow getting a hold of my girlfriend although most cell lines were overloaded, gathering at bars to huddle and think, walking home to Berkeley Place in Brooklyn, where cars and stoops were covered with ash.  Making my way down to help out one day.   Losing my job.  Losing my lease.

Buying a $25k 300 sq ft house without plumbing or heat (or siding, etc…)  ‘upstate’ with a credit card check that arrived in the mail shortly thereafter.  Adopting a stray cat and stray dog, both that got pregnant and having 5 puppies and 7 kittens running around – surely a headline if the SPCA would have caught wind.  No car.

And starting Catskill Farms with no money, shallow experience, no connections, no talented labor supply and hardly a relationship.  With a simple idea that we still work at today – that buying upstate didn’t/doesn’t have to be a compromise, or a 2nd choice, and there was no reason that smart people wouldn’t buy good houses if given the chance.

That was 20 years ago.  And 200 homes. And we remarkably still remain far from perfect, even with our daily effort to keep improving.

Borrowing from Winston Churchill – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

On behalf of my entire team, I would like to thank you each and every one of you who has joined us in this journey.  My biggest regret of this entire thing of ours is that I’m too busy introducing new people the Farm that I don’t get to know better all the amazing people we’ve done business with.  Maybe that’s the next chapter.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Week in Review

I'm a big reader - always have been.  Newspapers, magazines, onlines, and books, but recently the book thing has been less than fruitful.  Several started and not finished which is very unlike me since just out of principle I like to finish what I start.

I stumbled onto Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and finally got reading mono back. Written in 2016, it tracks the history of Nike (greek for goddess of victory.  Nike was almost named 'Dimension Six'.

He writes " We wanted, as all great businesses do, to create, to contribute and we dared to say so aloud.  When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer or better, and when you do it all crisply, and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but seldom is - you're participating more fully in the whole grand human drama.  More than simply alive, you're helping others to live more fully, and if that's business, all right, call me a businessman.  Maybe it will grow on me."

There is little doubt Catskill Farms does what he describes, has been doing it for 20 years, and continues to improve every day.  In the end, I think that's what makes of seemingly invincible - we keep getting better, leveraging each lesson from each day into a better process and product.  Running a large business with the dexterity of a small entrepreneurial shop.  Our logo could simply be 'We improve lives'.

We got a lot of real estate stuff going on - with 4 homes going up in Stone Ridge near Kingston (all reserved), 4 homes going up in Kerhonkson (2 reserved), 2 going up in Bethel (2 reserved), 2 going up in Narrowsburg (2 reserved), buy 4 building lots in the Beechwoods, 1 in Olivebridge, 2 in Saugerties and looking at another 25 in Saugerties.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tour Around Town - Catskills, Sullivan County, Ulster County Real Estate

I get around.  

In the course of any given week, I do a lot of traveling around the Hudson Valley and beyond.

Just this morning I was in Bethel reviewing Ranch 33 and Barn 31 before heading out to Narrowsburg in Southwestern Sullivan County to check out 2 houses, now in contract, that will be selling shortly.

Been wet again this year, with postponed little league games every week, tough construction weather, and just a general malaise about the whole thing.  Upside has been a series of really fine weekends for sure.

Barn 28, selling for a little under $400k to an owner of Italian descent, 

And Ranch 34, selling for just over $300k, to owners of Indian descent.

Since I was in the area, I road up the small lane on which my first 3 houses reside, Farm 1...

 Farm 2 and 

Farm 3.

There was a crazy windstorm that blew through last spring (2018) and while dozens of trees were blown over, the houses stood up well against the gale force winds.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Ranch 28, Ulster County NY Real Estate

A new Ranch, hot of the presses sold last week, as did a resale of a Ranch we built on a nice piece of real estate in Saugerties.  It was interesting to see a 6 year old Ranch 14 (as seen here and here)sell for $643k and our new one sell for $575k.  Means we are still offering so much value, and leaving a lot on the table for our clients.  I guess that's why there is only 1 Catskill Farms, and our competition remains unnoticed and unseen, except for house here and there.

Ranch 28 below - 

A classic form that has been well-received over the years.

Interiors of the main living space and the mountain views from the master bedroom.  Some of the best real estate in the Catskills.

We make good use of our ground floor space in these ranches.  Terrific, well-lit spaces with a ton of form and function.

More pics of the new home can be found at Ranch 28 on our Catskill Farms website, which features 20 years of our Catskills homes.

Summer time is here, with summer activities in the Catskills.  Little league, dog walks, hikes, and all sorts of related fun.

 Son Lucas.

Catskill Farms Chief, Chuck

And Dog, Lulu.

Other Catskill Farms digital assets can be found at - 


For our Zany videos at  - https://vimeo.com/catskillfarms

And of course our Website,  www.thecatskillfarms.com