View From Our Place

Now that we fi­nally have our own land, the pos­si­bil­i­ties seem end­less.

Country - - CONTENTS - BY ARANDA VANCE Rich­lands, Virginia

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.

24

Two lit­tle helpers and their dad stack wood to re­build the barn.

James plants the first mul­berry tree on the farm.

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