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Heart Versus Brain

Farm shopping has turned into a rollercoaster of emotions. The high as a new property is located, the internet stalking of photos and google earth imaging, the unstoppable imagining of what life would be like there. Then comes the crest of the car as we schedule the appointment and turn our car onto the drive followed by the seemingly inevitable crash as the reality doesn’t match the imagined. The big old BUT that wasn’t mentioned prior to looking. The prison a mile down the road. The house 10 ft from the main road. The lake separating the property in an unmanageable way.

The entire process has been emotionally and mentally draining as well as time consuming and we are struggling with the thought of settling to just be done with it all. The issue is that I’m not sure what to even settle on. Amount of land? School quality? Distance from work? How quiet it is? I don’t even know anymore what it important and what is not.

The crux of the issue is my coming to terms with reality. The reality of where we live and what the area is becoming. Nobody wants 30+ acres around here. They all want 6-10 acres, maybe less. Tiny farmettes that give the illusion of country life without giving up on the amenities or requiring much effort in up keep. Larger plots are getting sectioned into smaller ones and sold at high rates. You mention a farm to an agent and they send you 3-5 acre plots with massive houses. That’s not what we want. I’m not sure we live in the right area to get what we want. At least not with a 30 minute or less drive to work.

This dream I have held within me for two decades may never come true. That’s a hard pill to swallow. But the truth of the matter is that the dream was created so many years ago. Back when commute times, school quality and resale value weren’t even terms I knew existed. Back when I didn’t have a job that required a location close to hospitals, pharmacies and labs. Back before I made a whole bunch of decisions that led to where I am now as an adult with a family to raise and business to run.

My heart still wants the dream I concocted when I was 10: 100 acres of pristine land bordered by woods and a creek, horses gleaming in the sunshine, no noises outside that of the earth moving and breathing around me.

The problem is that my brain is screaming at me about commute times, school quality, the time suck of having to maintain that much land on top of working a full time job and raising Wyatt.

Dusty and I have been doing a ton of talking about this. I’m not the only one involved here. Maybe we should settle for something smaller, closer to town and in a great school area. Plan to live there 20 years then when Wyatt goes to college beat a hasty retreat to the mountains. Get our dream then.

Of course life loves to throw curves all around us and who knows if we would ever be healthy enough when I’m 55 and he is 60 to want to retreat to the mountains. Who knows what life will be like in 20 years. Maybe we will be looking to move to the ocean or into a townhouse or across the world. It’s hard to make plans for a week from now let alone two decades.

Why be in a hurry? Wait until the perfect farm comes up even if it takes 5 years. Ah. We can’t do that. Wyatt begins kindergarten next fall. I don’t want to make him change schools. No, it won’t kill him. I moved a lot when I was young and it didn’t do me any harm. But I’d rather not if I can help it. No farm land is available in our current school zone so I’d rather move by next fall. Seems possible but not with what is on the market currently.

It is a lot to think about. A lot to ponder. Looking at a long held dream through the glasses of reality isn’t pretty. It is hard to give up on a dream. To light the match and throw it on. Maybe it is too soon to be talking like this but after 3 months of hard core searching and one dream farm being ripped away from us, it is hard not to take a step back and re think the plan. Re evaluate the necessities from the wants. Figure out what makes us happy as a family and what is expendable.

We have a second showing of a place today. This place is nice. Really the only issues are the schools aren’t that great. Well, the elementary and high school are good. The middle sucks. It’s also closer to a main road than we’d like. A bit noisier than we’d hoped for. I don’t though. The rest is pretty nice.

Then we have a showing at another place next week. Wonderful schools. Quiet road. But the land is smaller than I want. 30 acres but only 12 in pasture. Oh and the state prison is a mile down the road. Not sure how I feel about that. Pretty house though. I don’t know.

Currently I just hate everything and want to move to a different state and start over but I have roots here. My parents. My business. My husbands business. This is where we are now.

Time to move on and figure this thing out.

22 thoughts on “Heart Versus Brain”

  1. I’ve been enjoying this series of posts and sympathizing. I remember crying over a property that seemed perfect. My husband drew a circle on the map around his work and said, “We’d search in the circle.” The property we bought was 5 minutes outside that circle. And was not horse-ready, and not horse ideal. But we did everything ourselves and it is better than the one I cried over. And I’m so glad it’s only 5 acres, because it’s so much work, that small. I don’t have the complications that you have (a kid, a job), so I can only imagine. If I could express the biggest mistake we made – it was that our property was not really designed for horses, and it is not tractor accessible. Everything we do here is done by shovel, by hand. With only 2 animals it’s not awful, but it would be so nice to be able to have gravel delivered to my actual paddock and not the street, for me to shovel scoop by scoop away to the horse area. Living near a prison sounds so much nicer.

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    1. Yeah we are looking at properties for feasibility. We made that mistake on a house in suburban when I was in school. The driveway was so narrow no trucks could come through so mulching the gardens and such was all shovels from the road.

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  2. Sorry, property in my area is unreasonably expensive so my dreaming includes lotto winnings or moving my family from all we know. I cant imagine being so close to the dream but not able to obtain. I dont think id want to be near a prison. If only the middle school is bad by the other, maybe private for a few years, or just extra work at home? Is the propeety big enough to maybe someday out another house tucked back into a quieter area and use current one for aging parents or something? I hate our current house, but our neighbors are awesome, schools good, etc. I’m willing to sacrifice for kids right now and sounds like you are too. I will have to just stay healthy enough to get my dreams later.

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    1. The kiddo comes first for sure. The prison is a bigger deal to me than my husband. It’s not the inmates that I care about. It’s the visitors that come and go. Hopefully in 20 years we can go to the mountains

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  3. The cutting up of land into small ‘country’ lots is everywhere. I can totally sympathize with your plight- it took me a long time to find what I wanted and we compromised a bit- we had to build everything but the house. 12 acres in pasture is pretty nice though and then you can cut trails in the rest.

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  4. I can completely sympathize- all I ever wanted my entire life was horses at home. When we moved to Concord, we rented a home for 18 months to make sure we liked the area before committing. About 4 months before our lease was ending, we came across a perfect place- 7 acres, good school, barn, pastures, nice house. It had been on the market for over a year and had just come down into our price range. As we were getting in the car to go make an offer (it was By Owner), the guy called to let us know he’d just accepted an offer. Byyye farm.

    Then we made an offer on a home with 10 acres and a workshop that could easily be made into a barn. The price was low enough that we could add all the fencing, stalls, etc, so we made an offer and it was accepted. Then something made me double check after the RE agent…and sure enough, it was zoned residential so no horses allowed without rezoning. We went through the whole application process to rezone it, went to the hearing…and they said no. So byyyyye to that also.

    At this point we had 6 weeks before we had to be out of our rental and there was nothing else suitable for sale. It was too late to purchase land and build and I didn’t want to make Justin change schools potentially 2 more times. He’d already changed halfway through Kindergarten when we moved from the military base to Concord, and if we rented another house while we kept looking, he might have to change again. So there went that- we ended up buying a nice house on an acre overlooking woods (and a private horse farm on the other side of the woods) but I still have to board. It turned to probably be for the best- Matt now has a job that keeps him out of town every other 2 weeks, so between my FT job, the kids/activities, having to maintain a farm, even a small one, would have probably stretched my sanity. But still, I’m hopeful someday to have horses at home.

    So no advice here, but I get it. Being an adult sucks sometimes.

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  5. My biggest dream has also been to have a big farm and lots of property. I hate how “adulting” has modified/ruined that dream! C’est la vie, but still makes me grumble. I find myself hoping that “one day when I retire” I’ll finally have my dream somewhere… I hope y’all find your dream and it works so that all of the other adulting goals can be fulfilled, too!

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    1. Your current home is so gorgeous and the access you have to nature is amazing!! I’d love something like that but I just don’t live close to anything like that. We made another offer to a different place, so here is hoping!

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  6. Having just wrapped up the property hunt…it’s painful. My husband and I work within a few blocks of each other in one of the hottest markets in the country; Austin. Now, to find land we could afford within a tolerable commute. Oh my lord. We spent a few months hunting. One we had earnest money down on, and then we walked away from before that time period lapsed due to the sheer volume of WORK that house would need, the land would need.
    We’re on 13.5 right now, and the house isn’t ideal, but the land was what we wanted. However, it’s 50 miles, one way, from work. We get up at 4:30am and get home at 6:30pm. My daughter is currently in daycare for 12 hours a day. We take the bus to work. She’ll be moving to the daycare right across the street from my office, so at least some of the day will be spent as a family on the bus. But the weekdays are LONG. I get home, race to change clothes and bolt outside with my daughter in tow to ingrain in her how we go and feed the horses, fill the troughs. Weekends are spent outside working the property. We had to shred down the back pasture which took my husband the bulk of a day, and it’s not as low as it needs to be (we need either a new shredder or to sharpen the blades on ours). Clean up the debris the previous owner left. Put up car ports. Every weekend is currently spent working with occasional days stolen for fun. Plans laid out for where the (future) bee hives will be kept. Building the chicken tractor or a permanent coop. What kind of cattle do we want so we can keep our ag exemption.

    I know in about 5 to 10 years all of that work will be done and then it’s just maintaining it…but there are days I miss boarding. Someone else to feed my horses and I could just come out and ride and use the trails or the arena on the property. Now I’m looking for the ideal spot for my round pen. Do I want an arena someday? Not sure.

    I will say this; our mantra was “They’re not making MORE land. A house can be improved or removed. But the land we get is what we’ve got. Get as MUCH of it as you possibly can.”

    Husband told me yesterday he wishes we had 30 acres. And we’d looked at a property that was 21 acres, but it was outside the drive we were willing to make (and no mass transit). It also had active pumpjacks on the property. House was a gut job, and we’re not that handy. Also, as you said, right next to a busy road.

    We, however, were in a bit of a rush. Our (then) current home was under contract and, while the buyers were willing to lease it back to us, my husband didn’t want to do so.

    The right thing IS out there. And new properties come up constantly. If you needn’t rush it, my personal advice would be don’t. This is your HOME. Where Wyatt will be making memories with you. Make it as close to ideal as you can. 🙂

    GOOD LUCK!! House hunting is painful.

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    1. Buy all the land we can has been our motto as well, but it seems like that amount keeps shrinking 😦 The time to get to work is pretty rigidly set at this time. I don’t want to drive more than 20 minutes and that is hurting us in our search. If I was willing to drive 50 minutes I could get everything else I dream of, but I’m not and that is something I have had to come to terms with.

      We found one place that we really like and checks off all but 1 box of our wants/needs, so hopefully it will work out. Thanks for the encouragement!

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      1. Fingers crossed for your family!!! Hey, nothing wrong with being honest and saying “This is as LONG as I’m willing to drive to get to work! Let’s look in this circle.” SOMETHING will come available, and it sounds like you found one that’s pretty close to everything you’re looking for. And…hey…if you’ve found one…should…well, I’m not going to jinx it…but sometimes lightening DOES strike twice if it needs to! 🙂

        Good luck!! Can’t wait to see it!

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  7. ugh i can totally understand what a struggle this is 😦 hopefully things become more clear soon, and your decision making will be easier!! hang in there!

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  8. catching up but oh how do i know that BUT when you see a potential property. UGH. we have been looking at both farmettes and houses with an acre or less because there is so little inventory where we live (De/Pa area) and what comes up gets snatched up so fast and it is usually way overpriced. Three things we looked at lately sold in 2 days or less and i would have had to be paid to live at those three. UGH. It is so hard. We find a house we could live with and it is near a road,, or near a crappy crappy city that is rundown and pretty much done for but still there as an eyesore. The thing with that is that the house is great but the taxes are high and the schools are crap/ WTF?? We don’t have kids but realize resale values will help if a good school is around. It is very exhausting and I am ready to give up for the year but my realtor has spent so much time with us i think she is scared to let us stop looking. LOL UGH I just hate looking at things that look so good on paper or online then you go and see them. You summed it up perfectly in your blog post. Anticipation followed by letdown! Good luck and you are not alone 🙂

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