PeterC and I decided to do some driving around and explore roads we had never been on. In the process, PeterC noticed a sign for a 94 acre farm for sale. As we drove further down the road he mentioned it several more times. Finally, after we stopped for a bathroom break I declared we should go back and take a look. So we did. We couldn't get up the driveway to look at the place proper but the owner had a some information sheets at the end of the driveway. "94 Acre Farm for Sale to Settle Estate. Includes House and Garage. $175,000.00" and the phones numbers he could be reached at.
Both of us were floored. This is the cheapest listing we have ever seen in this area that included a house. We've been looking for a place we could afford that had a house, even if it needed some work, to live in while we get the farm going. So we took the sheet home and gave the man a call. He said the house had recently been refurbished but still needed some repairs. We thought great we're pretty handy with repairs and made an appointment to view the place the next day.
Yesterday dawned cloudy and cool, a perfect day for tromping around 94 acres to see what we were getting ourselves into. We arrived at the driveway a few minutes early to find the owner was already on is way to unlock the gate. As soon as we started up the driveway we noticed there was a lot of cat tails, willows, and other wetland species. No biggy for us since we want to encourage native species as much as possible. Besides the driveway was going uphill and the house sat at the peak of the hill.
We pull up to park next the the house and several things immediately. There is no siding on the house; the house has been added onto at least once if not more; the house is very small even with the add ons; most of the visible screens are ripped and torn; there are dead vehicles every where; the "garage" is an old buggy house that is on its last legs; there is a barn buried in the trees that is falling down; and there is a remains of another building which already fell down. All of this right around the house.
The owner, an older gentleman, arrived quicker than we could survey much beyond the quick look from the truck and driveway and let us view the house. To say it needed repairs was a severe understatement. There was no drywall or siding in any room. The house was essentially two rooms, 1 up and 1 down, and had been designated into separate areas by partially built cabinets. Down stairs was the living room and kitchen. Upstairs, up a spiral set of stairs with no railings, was the bedroom and a bathroom. The bathroom was interesting in that it was a toilet and a small shower stall that got its water from a recycled barrel. The floors were plywood with very thin carpet remnants stapled to it.
The addition was designated as the furnace room that housed a large wood boiler that had been modified by the rather proud owner. He then went on to proudly tell us he had wired the whole house for 200 Amp, but when PeterC looked at the panel there wasn't a ground connected anywhere. In fact the owner seemed pretty damned proud of the whole house as if he had created some beautiful place. Don't get me wrong, the house had character and had a great deal of potential, but it was definitely in worse shape than he suggested over the phone.
Next we went to the basement. To access it you had to lift a bench that hid the basement hatch, and climb down another set of spiral stairs. The basement was gravel floored and absolutely jam packed with crap. I counted 4 hot water heaters but only one was connected. There was the water pump for the dug well. The power panel was to one side, near the remains of the sump pump. Electrical wires ran every where, higgle dee piggle dee, in, over, and around the plumbing wires. The water tank was rusted pretty badly, support posts didn't touch the ground, and barely enough room to walk to the panel and back without stepping one each other.
We headed back up stairs and tried to get a look at the furnace room. I say tried because the guy kept saying we couldn't go in there because of the dog and blocked us from get much more than a peek through the open doorway. From what I could see the floor was dirt, electrical wires spider-webbed their way all over the room, and there was a cast iron wood stove in there. Add all the stuff he had in there and his own admission that a good wind would blow the room away and we decided it was unsafe to push the point of wanting to see the room entirely.
Finally satisfied with the house we decided to walk the back are. There were fields full of ragweed, golden rod, asters, and other native plant species. The owner had been keeping paths cleared through the fields and brush so we walked on of the paths. The field was nice and high but the bush began where the path turned down towards what he claimed was a creek that was the East boundary. It was a bit boggy but not to bad back there. Mosquitoes made my life hell while we stood there, but Monarch butterflies flitted from one bunch of flowers to the next feeding on the wild nectar. Definitely a good place to have bee hives.
He continued to regal us with the plans he had for the place and the work he had put into it during the entire walk. While he talked I looked and saw a great number of features that I was really looking for in a farm. Fertile ground, established wind breaks, stones for fences, and plenty of wildlife. Unfortunately, I saw several things I didn't like. There were more dead vehicles hiding in the high grass and bush than I could count. There were no mature fruit trees, and there were no fences.
We got back to the house and told the owner we would have to look at financing, and after the fourth attempt we got away from him. He was disappointed that we hadn't agreed to buy it and had spent at least 1/2 an hour talking to us about the place, and then his history and childhood. I guess on top of wanting to sell the house he was also a little lonely and wanted someone to talk to.
We started analyzing the place and by the end of it decided the property was exactly what we wanted but the house was not livable. Even if we bought the property we would have to come up with another $50,000 immediately to fix the wiring, plumbing, and get the heating up to code. All while living here at Sparrow Haven.
In the end we decided we just couldn't do it, unless we win the lottery. We've bought a couple of tickets and we're crossing our fingers that we can win the money we need to buy the place so we can gut the house and start all over to create our dream come true. So here's praying we win the lottery and can finally start the rest of our lives on a nice, big, fertile piece of land.