Well, I’ll open with an apology. It’s been a zillion years since we’ve posted, and I’m sorry. Now the excuse.
I didn’t want to mention it earlier, but for the past few months we’ve been working on buying property. There are a lot of reasons for this:
- We would have more flexibility to do what we want on the farm, especially in regards to permanent infrastructure improvements like barns and irrigation
- We’d be building equity with all our work
- We’d embrace our role as legitimate, upstanding pillars of the community
OK, that last one is a little heavy-handed, but the general idea holds true. When we started looking, we knew it would be a long search, as our requirements were pretty specific: 5-10 acres, farmable, good sun exposure, within our price range, and in a very specific region of the county where we have made a lot of friends and like the scenery. But amazingly, we found not one but TWO candidates almost immediately. One turned out to be a dud for several reasons, but the other really was about perfect. “Gravel Creek,” as we started to call it, met the criteria in most areas. In addition, it had a creek running through it (hence the name), more acres than we need (32), and a derelict cabin.
But the big bonus was the price, which was close to our price range. After making no income for nearly 4 years, with Peace Corps and the subsequent recession, we had a very low payment threshold. But as it turns out, this property was “distressed” and not very appealing to most buyers: No electricity, no well or water supply, not legal for a residence under current zoning, and required a 4×4 to get down the driveway… which has an inadequate bridge over the creek that must be replaced before the fire department would serve the place. But for us, this is OK… even with all that, it was WAY nicer than where we lived in Guatemala. And we just happened to have all the skills, resources, and personal connections to overcome all these obstacles. Here’s Emily with one of our Guatemalan machetes, on our hike to find the far corner of the property. It took three hours of hacking through rainforest to get to the edge and back; on the way, she found a pair of dropped elk antlers that were over three feet long each.
To make a very long story short, months of negotiations followed, which culminated in us finally signing the deal on December 21st, the longest night of the year and the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar. This strikes us as very auspicious; a start of a new era for us, beginning a climb out of a great darkness, and maybe even the Mayan gods thanking us for two years spent serving their people.
So, here we are. Peace Crops now has a permanent new home. What next?
I am starting this week on a months-long process of renovating the cabin into a livable dwelling. There’s a lot to do- we have to install a well, electricity, replace the exterior siding (leaking), repair water damage inside, install plumbing and wiring, replace windows, install cabinets, make a kitchen and bathroom. Wow. Luckily, a lot of friends have offered to help, and I’m going to call in decades worth of favors I’ve saved up. This is a happy thing, too- our home will have a piece of every one we know in it, built with a few drops of everyone’s sweat, a real community effort. That sounds a little shamanistic I guess, but that’s how we roll.
As for the farm, Ryan and Farmer Ned are allowing us to keep growing vegetables on our current plot for another season. There is no way we could possibly get our new ground ready for planting AND remodel the cabin by spring, so we’re not even going to try. Emily is going to manage the farm (with occasional labor help from me) and I’m going to manage the remodel (with some labor help from her). All in our spare time. We won’t get to relax until fall, looks like.
There will be ongoing posts about the remodel in the coming weeks, and we will resume the farm related posts as well, now that we’re over the hump of winter. Wish us luck! (By the way, the pretty picture on the blog header is very close to where the new property is located; we’re just off the frame to the right.)