Laughing Bird Farm is our second property. Our first consisted of 10 acres of raw land we purchased in Tennessee several years ago. We were determined to build a house and make a go of it on that property, but we had to live in town for work in the meantime and could only get to the property on weekends. A two hour commute each way is far too long for practicality, and there were no decent jobs in the area. This proved to be infeasible, especially once it got close to time for little T’s arrival, so we sold the property and looked for something closer to town.
This necessitated a lot of trade-offs. Our property in Tennessee cost one-fourth of what we paid for our current land. Of course, it was raw land, two hours from the metro area, and didn’t have a house. Before we started our property hunt we sat down and made a list of the features we needed and wanted. Here’s a short list of the necessities: a house on at least an acre lost, a decent commute time to work, lots of usable gardening space, and no restrictions. Our wish list included lots of storage space, a fenced back yard for the dogs, and a workshop area.
None of this would have been hard to find if we had a larger budget. But we both have modest incomes, and we wanted to find a property where it would be possible to make the payments on one income. This was an absolute requirement of mine; I’m not willing to risk losing our land because we bit off a larger mortgage than we could chew. Our particular wants and our low budget gave our wonderful real estate agent a lot of headaches, but she stuck with us while we looked at property after property over a three month period. We had one deal fall through when the house failed inspection (to the tune of $50k+ of foundation work!) and another when we were outbid. Those properties didn’t work out because the one we purchased was meant to be. I’m not normally a believer in fate, but this worked out nicely.
We found the property late in July. Both of us obsessively checked the online listings several times a day, looking for anything new that might pop up. I had already checked the listings before I went to work, but I hadn’t been there an hour when Kelly called me. She sounded so excited I had a hard time understanding her at first. A new listing had just come onto the site –the posting time was about five minutes before she found it. It looked absolutely perfect and was actually under our budget cap. I called our agent right away and we both took off work early to see it, with our 6 week-old daughter in tow. We submitted our offer right away, at full asking price with only the home inspection as a condition, and waited nervously to hear whether or not it was accepted.
Some back and forth ensued, but the owner finally accepted our offer, and by that time two other couples had submitted offers and there were others lined up! It’s a good thing we jumped on it that morning.
So, about the property itself. Laughing Bird Farm is just over an acre. It’s a mini farm of course, but there’s lots you can do with a mini farm when you do intensive gardening and permaculture. The property is a rectangle running east and west. The east side of the property is bordered by a major road. The north side of the property is fenced off and on the other side sits an upscale subdivision. Other middle and upper class subdivisions are in the area, but our property is located in the county and is completely unrestricted.
The west and south sides of the property are totally enclosed by a thick hedge of hollies, hackberries, roses, and crabapples. Our house sits near the front of the property behind a small lawn. We have an old farmhouse, only 1300 square feet but enough for us. There are three bedrooms (though one is really small) and the house was built in three sections by the family who used to own our land and much of the surrounding land. It needs lots of updates but that’s okay by us. We’ll be doing most of them ourselves as time and funds become available.
Behind the house is a backyard and a garage/workshop that’s almost as big as the house at 1200 square feet. The yard wasn’t fenced when we closed on the house, so that’s the first thing we did. The rest of the acreage stretches out beyond the yard and garage and is perfect for gardening and a food forest.
Our first priorities this year are to get the food forest planted and start our annual garden and our mushroom patch. We have several trees and berry bushes on the way, including pawpaws, pears, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries.
Our adventures have just begun. I’ll post some pictures soon.