We’ve all been there. Humans, in general, are dreamers. It’s one of the many things that makes us unique among creation. We can imagine quite vividly an image of how we would like a thing to be. But things don’t always work out the way we picture them. Sometimes we change our minds (humans are also fickle) and sometimes life makes the decision for us.
There is a piece of land that was once in my family for several generations. It originally belonged to my great-great grandparents — my grandfather’s grandparents, to be specific. Once upon a time they owned a huge chunk of land that they farmed. Over the years, pieces were given away to their heirs, who then sold them and broke them up over time. Suddenly all that was left was 17.5 acres.
One of the many questions this whole situation has left me with is WHY do families disperse such historical land to strangers? Doesn’t it matter to anyone else to keep things that have belonged to the family for generations? It would take generations more to reassemble all the land into a single ownership again, much less turn it back into a farm.
The land also once had a big log barn, which my great-great grandparents originally lived in. It was torn down and the lumber dispersed. I get so frustrated just thinking about. How special it was! Why, why, why?
But I digress. Back to the 17.5 acres and the small 3 bedroom, 1 bath house. The home was built in the 1940’s and has gone through many changes since that point. Somehow the little house and 17.5 acres held on long enough for me to enter the world.
My very first memories — ever — are recalled from that property.
“The Farm,” as we have always called it in my family, was the first place I lived as a child (not counting the first few months of my baby-life, at which time we lived in Hawaii). My parents and I put our hand prints in freshly poured concrete off the back porch — those prints have since been covered either by a wall or new concrete. The Farm is the first place I encountered goats, too. I can vaguely remember my mom’s two LaManchas, one of which jumped on my back one day and knocked me out by propelling my head into the concrete.
There was a neighbor within walking distance that I liked to visit. One day, after the neighbor had moved away, I disobeyed my mom and ran down the hill to visit. When I reached the door, some strange man opened it, and I finally had to accept that my friend no longer lived there. Although I didn’t take it well at all and started crying!
We left The Farm when I was about 4 years old, because my parents wanted me in a better school system. We moved into the house we still live in now. The Farm was sold out of the family not long after that.
Flash forward many years later, and I started dreaming about buying back The Farm and returning it to its former glory.
I started doing research with the hopes of securing a rent-to-own agreement on the property. Much to my surprise, I found a realtor listing the land for sale. Of course I immediately had to call him up. The good news was that the owner wants to sell. The bad news was that he would not consider lease-to-own (he had already been burned there) and would not accept owner financing. Because the house is unlivable, that disqualifies the property for certain types of loans as well — not that I could get a loan from a bank to begin with. Thanks, student debt.
Still, my dad and I decided to visit it that same day. The realtor advised me that the back door was unlocked (actually, it was hanging open), and that we could go take a look. So we did.
Oh, the poor Farm. It’s been through the ringer in the twenty-some-odd years since my family left it. It was never again kept up as it should have been, and add to the that a string of terrible renters, and we have a big, big mess.
Most of the windows are broken. One was even shot out by a shotgun. (Again, why? Why do people feel like it’s okay to create further damage just because a structure is sitting unused and in disrepair?)
Underneath the disgusting carpet, the wood floors were mostly okay, with a few boards that would need replaced. Under those floors was the original rough wood floors from when the house was first built. How cool would it be to go all the way down to those boards and restore the original floors?
From the many broken windows, the completely overgrown property is revealed. It’s grown up all the way to the house. No one has even been cutting the grass.
In the living room, the ceiling has fallen in. The ceiling fan is hanging down to the floor, and water damage is evident on the roof. The whole roof would need to be replaced. I, personally, would have replaced it with tin, like it originally had.
They also decided for some reason to do this bizarre vault to the ceiling…and they didn’t do a very good job of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love high ceilings, too, but…this is just a hot mess. As you can see, the last people to live here also just left piles of crap everywhere when they moved out.
There also used to be a fireplace there in the corner, which has been removed. (How many times have I said why?? today?)
This room was my bedroom as a youngin’ when we still lived here. It has one surviving window and desperately needs that nasty carpet yanked out.
The one tiny bathroom would likely have to be gutted. Not just to make it “modern” and attractive, but because tiles are falling off, the tub is filthy, and the toilet…lets not even talk about the toilet.
For some crazy, unknowable reason they also chose to make the kitchen SMALLER for the sake of adding a tiny little closet to the master bedroom. Who does that?? Kitchens are so much more important than having an additional, very small closet. Buy a dresser, people. Really.
Here’s the master bedroom in all its glory. Most of the bedrooms escaped without too much damage except for ill-thought-out structural “improvements” and broken windows.
And in the third bedroom, which would make a wonderful office and craft room, they left dirty dishes in the closet.
The biggest problem in this room, though, is the awful watermelon color scheme. Their kid probably loved it, but BLECH.
Did I mention that they caulked the front door closed? And that’s the ceiling fan hanging down in front of the door.
The kitchen windows miraculously have survived the deluge of mistreatment. This was the first thing I saw when I walked into the house. I LOVE these big windows right over the sink. Of course the kitchen lacks most appliances and has been made smaller, but the cabinets weren’t too bad. A little TLC and a new farmhouse sink and it would be a nice kitchen to work in. The dining room, which I didn’t grab a picture of, was decent, too.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, so a nice kitchen can cover a multitude of decorating sins.
As for the land itself…
It’s horribly overgrown, like I already mentioned. I couldn’t even find my way over to this little barn, which my dad built for my mom’s horse and goats.
This little structure was made after we moved out, and I couldn’t help thinking that it would make a nice milk room with a few repairs.
There is a good chunk of usable land here, but it would take some time to get the necessary fencing in place to put goats out and let them do their magic on the weeds, briers, and small trees. I also heard many dogs barking as we walked the property, which would make me uneasy even with good fencing and my guardian dogs.
Oddly enough, there is a well maintained path back through a good chunk of the property. It had even been used recently — we think it’s been a four-wheeler path for nearby kids.
Much of the remainder of the property is covered in trees, both living and fallen down.
And the worst bit of the land is these huge gullies that run down the majority of the property down to a pond at the bottom of the hill. My grandfather, when helping his grandfather, would grab hold of a cow’s tail and have her help pull him back up this very steep hill.
It would take a lot of time and money to repair this land and make it usable again. It could be done, but I don’t foresee someone who doesn’t care an awful lot about the history of the land taking the time to do it.
Although the state of the place was discouraging, I still spent a lot of time brainstorming.
I even drew out the changes I would make to the house to renovate it. A lot of people — most people — would look at this and say it just needs to come down. In fact, that’s probably what is going to happen, which is so saddening to me. I look at it and see history and potential, not a rotting pile of junk.
I would re-expand the kitchen and get rid of the added closet. I’d add a deep farmhouse sink. The floors would all be stripped back to wood, and the tile in the bathroom replaced. I’d put the fireplace back in the corner and make it double sided so that the master bedroom had a small wood burning fireplace, too. I would expand the front porch across the whole front of the house, and on the back where there is currently a sad little porch-like structure that was added on, I would build a master bath. I’d take up just a little of the large laundry/mud room that they added where our original back porch used to be to add the master bath and still keep one window in the master bedroom. And then I would build a patio.
But, alas, there’s just no way. I tried thinking of all the possibilities, but I can’t afford to buy it. Especially considering that a bank would laugh me out of its door and the cost of the additional repairs would be so monumental. Add in the fact that I don’t actually want to live in that area for the rest of my life, and the fact that it has very close neighbors and very close roads (both being things I deeply dislike), it doesn’t make sense to try.
Sure, if I were rich I’d do it in a heartbeat just to get it back in the family and fix it up. I know my grandfather would love to see it cared for again. But being that I am not rolling in the dough over here, it’s just not to be.
I’ve had time to think, pray, and cry about it, and now I am just accepting it. The memories and stories made on The Farm will be in the family forever, and that will have to be enough.
But…I am (really) going to ask the realtor if I can buy the kitchen window. Because I think it would be a beautiful, meaningful addition to whatever home I do eventually find. He may look at me like I have three heads, but hey…it never hurts to ask.