A week of firsts

Not many, but the first berries of the season are always the most exciting.

Well, it has been a week of firsts. I registered our farm with the USDA (a lot of stress, but actually incredibly easy!); the first of the real blackberry harvest is in; and now my first blog post (also stressful, and NOT incredibly easy). So here goes. About me, and why I should probably be fitted for a straight jacket right now.  I wanted land; I wanted a farm to grow any and everything! I thought we had a pretty good grounding for starting an agriculture adventure. My father-in-law grows the best garden you have ever seen, so my husband got that gene.  As for me, growing up, I was always helping aunts, cousins, and friends with livestock; I owned a horse most of my life; and I’ve spent my fair share of time in the garden.  How hard could it be?

It started like all good horror movies, in the middle of the night on a Friday. I had to be up at 4am the next morning to work for my husband’s small business; I should’ve long been asleep, but one more check of the real estate sites for that perfect property just within my budget that I knew must be out there. “WAKE UP! It’s back! Can we go see it!?” There it was, that adorable house on 50 acres just within driving range and just within our budget. The price had been dropped almost $100,000 a few months before (red flag #1) and had went under contract the day we were scheduled to go and have a look. Now, it was back on the market after the original contract fell through (red flag #2).

My unconscious spouse’s response of “Do you mean right now?” did nothing to deter me. First thing the next morning, I was on the phone to my saintly real estate agent, Nettie Bergh, and since we were out of state, she put us in touch with an agent in South Carolina for viewing. Incidentally, if you’ve never bought a house or have heard mixed reviews on real estate agents, get one and make sure it’s a good one. They are worth their weight in gold and then some.

The yard could have been used for a hay field the day we purchased our property. I couldn’t wait to get started on renovations!

So down to God’s country we went to see the house. I have been a lot of things in my life, but naive is potentially the worst. The house was fair, everything inside and out needed painting, all new appliances were needed, the landscaping was terrible, and the barns were in terrible disrepair. We decided it wasn’t the place for us, told the agent thanks but no thanks and went home to suburbia and lived happily ever after, THE END.

But really, I think the roof could have been falling in or worse and I still would’ve begged my husband to buy it; for one reason: fifty acres. Do you know how much fun you can have on fifty acres!? Neither did I, but I was willing to find out. Plus, Toby needed land to run on, did my husband really want our precious baby to grow up in a concrete jungle?

July 2017: We proposed to renovate this into a three stall horse barn.

Negotiations for a new roof were thrown in, the house in the suburbs was sold, we signed away the next 30 years of our lives, and it was ours! That was the end of June. The month of July we worked from before dawn until after dark on the weekends and every spare minute after work during the week getting things in order. I wanted to rebuild the barn for my one horse, clear at least 10 acres of pasture, demolish the horrendous aboveground pool and rotting deck on the back of the house, and fix the sunroom by the end of July so we that could start focusing on getting a fall garden in. What is it they say about paving the road to hell? Most of the barn and two acres of fence were up in time to bring in the horse before his lease was up at his boarding barn by August 1.

Toby is not particularly “handy.”

The first month in a new house is always interesting. You learn so many new things and find some features of the house that you didn’t notice when you moved in. Sometimes its additional storage under the stairs, other times, you’re not so lucky. That first month, if we survived it, we can survive anything. The things we found out we are still working on to this day. I really wanted to name the place Kilby Farm after the prison establishment in Alabama, but got voted down.

So enamored were we with the idea of land and a house where we couldn’t see the neighbors when we looked at the property, we didn’t notice/care that the water supply well is ¼ mile from the house at the barn; the former owners apparently attempted to set the porch on fire; the multitude of debris piles throughout the property; or the crazy amount of land clearing that was needed, just to name a few issues. But in spite of all of these challenges, buying this land has given us a great sense of accomplishment. We can look around and see progress all the time, and we will never run out of projects.

One unintended side effect of the home buying was that I have become a picture taking fool. If I forget how awful the place was when we started or think something still doesn’t look “complete,” I just look back at the photographic evidence and feel better about myself. And it’s a FREE way to feel better about myself, which I’m all about these days. I am happy to report that these days, we focus more on expanding our livestock and clearing pasture than on repairing water lines and painting.  Herein lies the adventures of our life on the farm. Please feel free to comment and make us feel better or tell me I definitely need professional help!

Over a year in, and I was still painting and working on landscaping.

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