I don't care who you are; the most organized, cheerful, confident, cup-half-full sort of person still gets overwhelmed now and then.
That was me, way back in 2010, when we bought land with the intention to build a small farm, with a house and a couple of barns. Because we had children, we couldn't just live in our RV while we worked. We needed a proper house from which to stage our project. We searched for, and found a small Victorian house near the land, in need of renovation, and priced to sell. It was clear we were going to buy it, regardless of it's shortcomings, which pleased the Realtor. We've subsequently become friends, but at the time, we chatted lightheartedly about what were mostly cosmetic improvements that needed to be made to the old house.
Leaning over the chipped white enameled sink, I peered out the old window and gazed at the house next door. It appeared to be a genuine Colonial structure, which was overgrown with weeds, peppered with peeling paint, strangled by Virginia Creeper.
"What's the story on that place?" I asked the Realtor.
Recognizing the glint in my eye, my husband beat the agent to the punch, replying, "I'm sure we'll find out as time goes by. Let's focus on this place for the time being. Ok?"
His gentle chide was received with good humor. I was in love with the rickety old Victorian we ended up calling Appleside Cottage. I wrote several blogs about the renovation process, the latest of which can be found here: winterrestfarm.weebly.com/blog/the-gift-of-an-old-girl-second-edition
Five years later, having realized that building our farm from scratch without the benefit of lucrative jobs or independent wealth, was going to be financially impossible. We'd improved the raw property with a large pole barn, a long driveway, and a pond stocked with fish.
As the reality of our financial shortcomings began to dawn on us, we started to look around for derelict farms that had the land we wanted, along with a house and barns. In our region, as dairy farmers retired out of the business, many farms were simply left to return to the county or state, and auctioned off to the highest bidder for taxes owed. It was a good way for people like us -without deep pockets- to get into farm properties that needed us as much as we needed them. We had no luck finding anything in our kid's school district that we could afford, and we couldn't in good conscience move them again, after wrenching them 700 miles from their childhood home of North Carolina.
One chilly day, as we were pondering what to do, my husband leaned over the same kitchen sink, and stared out the window to the run-down Colonial property next door, which not only featured the farmhouse, but a vintage barn, along with a workshop, well house, and 20 acres of land.
"I want that property." He said. "It's perfect for us. It has everything we need, and nothing we don't."
The condition of the inside of the house wasn't much better than the outside. The last owner was in her mid-90s when she finally had to move to a nursing home. The home had been empty for years, and showed the sad state in it's stained walls, cobwebs and sticking doors. We knew, however that all of that was temporary and fixable. Excited, we set about moving with gusto, and finally crammed the last box into the barn just as the first flakes of winter began to fall.