Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Farm Tour: Preston Christmas Tree Farm

This morning I visited a second potential farm for purchase: a 50 acre former Christmas tree farm in Preston, CT.  The property was listed for $299 (the same as the Windham Gentleman's Farm), but with 8 times the amount of property and a location closer to Mystic.

Though geographically closer to Mystic, we found that it actually took longer to get to Preston than it did to get to Windham because it is most directly accessible through windy back roads.  The property was located in a pretty farm-filled neighborhood, right down the street from a large dairy farm, a feed supply, and an elementary school.

The house was, well, a disappointment.  I keep telling myself that I'm not buying a house, I'm buying a farm, but it is difficult to make such a large investment in a home I can't see raising a family in.  After being greeted by a large ash tray on the front porch (a major turnoff for me), the small raised ranch was decorated with a cat or two in each room (another major turnoff).  Most of the kitchen was taken up by a large, non-functioning wood stove.  The layout was sort of awkward, as well.  There was only one bathroom in the house, but it was just as large as the master bedroom.  The other bedrooms were downstairs in the not-so-finished basement, which seemed pretty wet.  The house was livable and decent, but not something to get excited about.

I was excited to tour the property.  The satellite images showed that it extended straight back from the main road - small Christmas tree fields lined either side of a farm road and there was a sizable wooded buffer between the neighboring houses (always helpful for maintaining good relations).  As we began to tour the property, it became clear that those images linked from the real estate site were about 10 years old.

There was a well-maintained grass path directly through the property, but it was difficult to see the land on either side because it was so overgrown.  Several large trees were toppled across the road.  As we walked it seemed like a very large portion of the property was a rock ledge (I climbed all the way to the top, but didn't get a better view of anything).  The opposite side of the road seemed to have a pond - the land was extremely soggy and I could hear what sounded like a small stream.  The Christmas Trees (what was left of them, anyway) were very large and overgrown.

There were two small sheds (formerly used for selling trees) and a larger shed (which looked to me just to be a two car garage) on the property as well.  None of the outbuildings were capable of providing animal housing, but they would make for good storage.

All in all, it was voted a dud!  While the property certainly had potential (I think, though it was sort of hard to tell how much usable land there was between the rock ledge and the pond), it would be far too costly and labor intensive at this point (and after that sizable a down payment) to return the property to farmland.  And I'm still recovering from an asthma attack over the cats, which doesn't leave me with warm and fuzzy thoughts of home.  That being said, it was really good to tour another property, meet a great farm real estate agent, and be able to  cross a property off of my "Possibilities" list.

Up next: we're headed back up to Windham to tour two more potential properties!

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