We’ve started out search for the perfect ten-plus acres for our homestead! Yay, Pioneers! On the surface, this is fabulously exciting. Yet, in reality, it’s just plain exhausting.
Like any house hunt, there are a plethora of things to take into consideration. What is the shape of the roof? What is the neighborhood like? Are the schools any good? How secure is the septic? On and on and on we go. Now add homesteading to the equation. What’s the soil like? Is the well pumping enough water per minute to give you confidence there is a vast underground supply? Is the land so reasonably priced because it’s smack in the middle of a flood zone? Head. Throbbing.
The elder generation of pioneers, Mosses and Poppy, have been out twice doing a little reconnaissance. Their first stop took them to a mini-farm with 12-plus acres, 2 homes and more outbuildings than you can shake a stick at. What they found was that the only hope for the original 1910 ranch house was for a match to land on it. Moses and Poppy are not prima donna home buyers. They have bought their fair share of fixer-uppers and aren’t afraid of putting some elbow grease into the manse to make it a home. It helps that they both have a history in real estate. They are not rubes in the realm of relocation.
Round two took them to six different properties in a forty-five mile area. They came home looking like they’d been through a midnight bombing and six months in a prisoner of war camp. Moses walked through the front door and went straight to her bedroom where she slept for fifteen solid hours. Poppy gave us the scoop. The first 5 houses were not to be considered. Clearly the photos and info garnered on the farm website where we researched were a bit doctored. As in, no way did a 5′ x 2.5′ crawl space with no windows count as a bedroom. And while tell of a gorgeous barn, original to the farm, sounded ideal, in reality it was held up entirely by the blackberry bushes and poison oak that snaked its way through the weathered boards. One of the houses was still on oil heating from its origins. Two were so completely isolated from the world you could hear the dueling banjos on the breeze. One was so close to the main road that if you took too large a step leaving your front door, you were in jeopardy of getting run over by a passing manure spreader. The last property, he confessed, was either a maybe or they were just too beaten down by the others to know. We made a plan to take a family field trip to the “maybe.”
The “maybe” was located in a rural farming town that has a pretty good rep. There are fewer than a thousand souls in residence and probably a hundred times as many sheep. The terrain was breathtaking! Rolling hills, farm land, rivers, woods. All I could think of on the ride there was that I was on my way home, I knew it. When we pulled up to the property I experienced a feeling of reserved optimism. We hit the barn first. Loved it. Big enough for necessary storage but not so big as to overwhelm. On to the house. It was attractive from the outside but inside was like the seventies threw up all over the eighties. The space was great though. Over three thousand square feet with a very workable floor plan for our family of six. Wrap around porches on both levels that overlooked the woods expanded our outdoor living space. There was a nice wood stove and fireplace.
On to the outdoors! We knew that the forest acreage outnumbered the farming acreage but were surprised to see how little 3 acres of cleared space really was. I would guess that in reality it was more like an acre an a half. Clearing the woods for planting would be a huge chore. Then the husband noticed the shake roof surrounded by large trees and shook his head. No way. Our last home in California was nearly consumed by the San Gabriel fires. Pass. The ride home left us shell-shocked.
Our lovely realtor further complicated our choices of towns by declaring one full of pot-heads (and that was just the town council), one was full of ex-cons, another had a meth problem and another still seemed to have a reputation for incest. Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me? One of the two towns she recommended had a school system that was below the state average, nixing that possibility. The town we are in has great rural area but not much for sale in the 10 acre arena and we are looking at twice the price for it. No longer living in California means that our income opportunities are not the same, therefore, paying a million dollar price tag to homestead seems a bit absurd.
Anyhoo, that’s the update from the Pioneer homestead hunt. We are taking a break for a couple weeks and trying to rebuild our intestinal fortitude to hit it again. All good vibes, prayers and happy energy you want to send our way is welcome!