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I took a second trip to the Lebanon Farm (#5 on our Saturday Marathon) this afternoon to learn the property boundaries, as well as meet the homeowner and listing agent (who were unavailable on Saturday when we saw the home).
I had a pretty long list of questions, about the land, the neighbors, the disclosures, and town services (trash, mail, emergency). It was great to have all of them answered and to learn more about the home. It was built, by hand, by the current owners. It was great to hear their attention to detail and how much they loved the house, but they are passionate about dairy and need a MUCH larger farm to pursue their interests in making cheese.
I was especially grateful to walk the property with the owner and learn more about the land. I was disappointed to learn that the back 2 acres of the property are wetlands, under a conservation easement that prevents the owner from doing anything on that land. I was really hoping to use that land for grazing, and wouldn't have known that from looking at a map. The other approximately 3 acres of wooded area are also considered wetlands. This land can be grazed, but not cleared. Within that parcel are about 100 sugar maples, which the owner taps each winter for syrup.
Even though the usable land is significantly less than I initially thought, I still think the farm has a lot of potential. In the very back of the property there is a beautiful brook and over 2,000 acres of preserved forest and hiking trails. The biggest benefit is that Lebanon is an agricultural community. At first, I was intimidated by the size of some of the very large dairy and poultry farms, and how rural it seemed. After driving around a little bit, however, it is a really beautiful community. It just makes sense to start a farm in a farming community.
The current owners really want to sell to someone who will love the house and use the land and offered to help with any questions I might have down the road. Even though I am admittedly having some anxiety over how quickly this is coming together (and the reality of having to FINALLY take the leap of starting my own business, and spending all of my savings), I have a really good feeling about this farm. My parents, K, and even my real estate agent are excited and supportive - more so than with the North Stonington property I made my first offer on (that didn't work out). It feels good to be working as a team.
Tomorrow afternoon I'm meeting with my real estate agent to put in an offer on the Lebanon Farm. I still haven't decided on a price quite yet, but I'm ready to just go for it. I'm nervous, of course, but I'm even more excited.
If I had known how nerve-wracking this whole experience was going to be when I got started...well, I probably still would have gone for it. Having my own farm and my own home is my dream and I know I'll do whatever it takes to make it work. Clear eyes, full hearts...can't lose!