We began this adventure over 8 years ago, when a good friend called and said he had some property he was going to sell. He said he wanted just the right buyer, someone who would make something out of the place. It wasn’t just land he was selling, it was 4 acres bordered by hundreds with creek frontage, woods, cleared land, a spring,…and a burned out shell of a house.
It was and wasn’t a hard decision. When we went for the first time, we were smitten. It was beautiful, and yes we wanted it. But the burned out house…no, it’s too much for us. We were newly married with 3 teenage daughters in school, and 1 son in college. Roy worked full time plus and I worked part time, both in a town 30 minutes away. But it had always been a dream for both of us, and it was so beautiful. We waffled back and forth for a long time.
We talked to family and friends, we prayed, and we weighed the options. It would render us completely debt free, because all we owed was the mortgage. We wouldn’t have much money to work on the new “house”, though. We decided we wanted it bad enough to make the sacrifices necessary and we put our 4 bedroom/2 bath house on the market. There were still a few things that needed to be done on the house before we sold it, and we worked long hours to get it done.
We also started working at “the property”. One of the first things we did (Roy did) was clear the garden spot and get it plowed so we could have a bigger garden than we could in town. He also cut back and bush hogged the cleared part of the property. In an effort to be good stewards, as we cleaned and cleared, we gathered up all the old metal we found and piled it up by the “house”, so we could sell it for scrap. It was surprising how much there was laying around. When we finished we got over $80 for it.
The biggest job we faced, though, was cleanup. The “house” we bought had burned 4 or 5 years earlier and it had just been left exactly as it was the night of the fire. The mess was indescribable. A house full of what houses are full of, was burned and then rained on for all that time. It left a deep, soggy, black pile of mashed down, stuck together stuff. The whole house…well, foundation…was covered in it. I have to say, we ignored it for a while.
We came out often to work and just enjoy it. Roy built us a structure out of crooked cedar that could serve as a tripod for our cooking pot or a shelter when covered with a tarp. We ate quite a few meals here and enjoyed dreaming about what we could do with the place.
Roy’s brother and his wife came to spend some time with us many months after our purchase, and we decided it would be a great time to tackle the stuff. We figured we needed a 30 yard dumpster to hold it all. It took 4 adults and 3 kids 10 hours to shovel and haul it all and we were afraid the last wheelbarrow load wasn’t going to fit. But it was finally done!
It took over a year to sell our house and we were very discouraged at times. While we waited, we planned and crunched numbers to figure out how in the world to start. And where to start. To be honest, the plans changed a lot. (The girls joked about the “plan of the hour”). This was going to be hard, even though we wanted it. One thing we had to do was set a new budget. The biggest thing we had to do was simplify. We just had too much stuff. We had to decide what was really important to us and also figure out what to do with what we kept. During the year of waiting, we purged and organized and packed.
Finally, we sold the house! We were very excited and a little apprehensive. By most people’s definition, we were homeless. We were also told we were crazy. But here we are, and that’s how we got here.