View From Our Place
Now that we finally have our own land, the possibilities seem endless.
A Virginia family shares its quest for the perfect farm property.
Ican’t remember when I first wanted land of my own. Luckily, I married someone like-minded. My husband, James, is the son of a pastor whose family of 10 rented an old farmhouse and occasionally worked on the farm.
James fell in love with the land as a 4-year-old boy, playing in the creek, chasing cows, picking beans and sitting in a tree while eating ripe mulberries.
As for me, I ran wild outside at my grandparents’ house. They gardened a lot, kept bees and had fruit trees. There was a pond for fishing and dipping, plus plenty of room to just be a kid full of imagination. I remember picking up the potatoes as my grandfather dug them and then letting the dirt run through my fingers. Married life, college and work made me doubt the likelihood of my farming dream coming true. But when our firstborn made his appearance after 10 years of marriage and two miscarriages, we wanted to give him the moon. To us, that meant land, so our “someday” would have to start right then.
Selling our house took years. But once it sold, browsing for property turned into looking in earnest. We were flexible on many factors, and our radius was large. Still, our first year of searching ended with no purchase. In the second year, we made an offer that was refused. And we discovered that decent land was not only hard to come by, but it was exorbitant in price.
After seeing the cost of several promising properties, James and I would joke, “There’s gold in them there hills!”
Year three of searching yielded our second miracle: Now we had two boys who’d need wide-open spaces, trees, and work to keep them busy as they got older.
We learned that a lot of the land here is in heirship; in some cases, multiple people had inherited part of a single property, making things complicated, to say the least.
We looked at beautiful land, and we looked at land that wasn’t perfect but that we could make a home out of. For one reason or another, nothing panned out.
Then one ordinary day, we learned that a property in nearby Russell County we’d passed on because of size had been combined with an adjacent lot. We went to look at it as a family, then signed a contract a few days later.
I expected something to fall through, so imagine my surprise when we (along with the bank) became the owners!
We’ve worked hard to make the land usable, and we’ve played quite a bit, too. In the process, we’ve fallen in love with our piece of ground all the more.
There’s a stream where the boys can race their imaginary boats. On hot summer days after work, we splash in the water together. We’ve picked berries, had bonfires, gone four-wheeling, hiked, hunted and watched sunsets. With help from their dad, the boys have built roads for their dump trucks.
They’ve relished getting dirty, learning about trees and animals and picnicking on the grass. I have thousands of snapshots in my mind of the memories we’ll make here.
While we don’t live on the land yet, we have a camper that we’ll be moving there when the weather gets warmer. Our foundation is finished and we plan to have our home under a roof by summer’s end. That will be a good thing, too, because it gets harder to leave every time. Logan, our 5-year-old, says, “I can't wait to live here all the time.” Younger brother Luke cries if he can't go to the land they are ready to call home.
We’re planning for livestock. There are places for chickens and pigs, goats and sheep and a few cows. We’ve cleared overgrown pasture and planted 600 trees, not to mention wildflowers.
We’ve taken rock from the areas we’re improving and lined over 1,000 feet of ditch. Every rock has been touched by me, James, Logan or Luke. We’ve torn down a barn from a Tennessee farm that was subdivided, and now we’re in the process of rebuilding it here.
Most importantly, there’s room for two little boys to grow up playing with rocks and dirt and picking mulberries. We can make it our bit of heaven. As we were planting some fruit trees the other day, I let the dirt run through my fingers and couldn’t help but laugh. After an almost five-year journey, we have our own dirt!
It’s wholesome, honest work with honest results. At the end of a day or a month or a even a year, you can stand back and say, “We did this.” Still, what I love best about building our farm is the time it allows us to spend together, grow together and create something special that will last. I can’t think of any hobby, career or anything else that provides a family the quality time this life has given us. For that, I am most grateful.
We say the land is ours, and that’s true. But after all the time spent working on it, walking on it and enjoying it, we have found that we belong to the land just as much as it belongs to us.
“We’ve worked hard to make the land usable . ... In the process, we’ve fallen in love with our piece of ground all the more.” - ARANDA VANCE
Their search was long but the land was worth the wait.
James, Luke, Logan and Aranda love the country.
Two little helpers and their dad stack wood to rebuild the barn.
James plants the first mulberry tree on the farm.