Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Brain Needs Brakes

For several months, as Kathy and I pursued buying an old farmhouse, we kept telling each other that there may be something horribly wrong that we cannot see. Termites. Bad septic. Broken furnace. Something so wrong with the house as to torpedo the sale. We kept telling ourselves not to count our eggs, not to plan, not to get our hopes up until our offer was accepted and an inspector had checked the place thoroughly.

The inspection was last Friday. My heart sank as we entered the house. No heat, and water sprayed from the bathroom wall. No heat, burst plumbing. This was going to be bad... But that was the worst of it. The heat was turned on, the bathroom water turned off. One leak. Other than a few hundred dollars in plumbing repairs, we were seeing a remarkably updated and solid old farmhouse.

So now many months, years, of dreams came crashing in. My mind will not stop. What should we plant? Where? How will we dig up the garden? Do we need a tractor? A truck? How exactly do you use a barn? When should we get goats? No, we need fences before goats. What kind of fences? Where? Do we need barn cats? Dogs? Is eight acres enough? Too much? After months of supression, my mind is running 100 mph, with no brakes. Yeehaw!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Another Naturalist Shops for an Old Farm

Many years ago I purchased a book about a celebrated nature writer, Edwin Way Teale, and his experience in purchasing and then living on an old farm. I enjoyed the book, but more than the book, and enjoyed the fantasy, the dream of owning a few acres of land and an old farmhouse. I knew it was unlikely to happen. I am a bureaucrat by day, and thus lack the luxury of living wherever I choose. I am destined to live near a city, where acres are expensive and farms rare. Public servants are paid a fraction of their counterparts in the private sector. Furthermore, most houses are "new." By "new" I mean built since WWII.

Although I have been in the process of actually purchasing an old farm for several months, it is only in the last few days that the reality is beginning to sink in. Built about 1880 (positively modern by New England standards, but old for Michigan) with 8 acres and a 20 minute commute, it is all I could ask for. There is one more hurdle (inspection) and then closing in a few short weeks. How did this happen?

Let me start at the beginning... the Christian creation story. Setting aside the distraction of the evolution controversy, humans are imitators of an Artist obsessed with creating, especially creating life. This cultivating and creating is something my wife and I enjoy and have turned much of our city lot into gardens and (very) small plots of native prairie. But we want honeybees, and fruit trees, asparagus beds, and tomatoes, and goats, chickens, and turkeys.

Will it happen? Tune in next week...