Blog: R.E. Tales
(Hey, they all can't be pretty...)
After a year of occasional long trips to West Virginia, we had a long weekend coming, the pickup loaded for the long trip south. This particular trip generated a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. Without a single place to look at, all we had was the time to spend. Not one lead, back to Square One, knocking on doors. That, I might add, is not a productive use of one’s time, especially when you must drive so far to get there. Glancing at the mail just before we left, I saw ads from United Real Estate in New York. Hey, their properties looked pretty good this time. But I’d been down that road once before. Grasping at straws, I made a long distance call to the agent and, holy smokes, those places were still for sale and they sounded as good from his description as they had in the brochures. Was that possible? Since the truck was already packed and no one was expecting us at the other end, we decided to find out. We simply headed north instead of south.
I don’t remember the agent at all any longer, but I sure remember his wife. Partway through our conversation she came in, wearing tight pants. Her slacks were not slack, not in the least. They were white, bright white, except at her crotch which had a prominent dark triangle displayed under the white. I had a hard time looking away from that and was relieved when we finally got out of there with the agent showing us the properties we’d come to see.
The one that initially had us excited was a one hundred eighty acre farm for eighteen thousand (no typo). We found the barn stripped of everything, just a shell left. The stable was walls and floor with a loft overhead, nothing else. Well, it seems basically sound. OK, with work and some money, it could be converted to something usable. Work was not a problem for us and at eighteen grand we could expect to have some money available for the extras we’d have to buy. What did anyone expect at that price? We walked out to see the land as a railroad hid it from the road. We weren’t keen about sharing quiet times with trains. Gosh, the land looked pretty flat, too flat. Unless the soil is gravelly or sandy, flat means rainwater cannot get readily leave; it stays too wet to be very useful. This was clay land, which is wet even when it slopes adequately. Bad sign, very bad. But I kept thinking about that low price.
The house looked hopeful, so I hadn’t given up. Actually, it was kind of cute, white, with a roof and trim of green. We went inside and were hit with this sickening odor. It wasn’t dead mice, nothing so nice. When we found the basement, the source became apparent. The septic, if there was ever one, no longer functioned and the people there slowly filled the basement with what the septic should have received. Simple fix, and it holds a lot more than the septic too. In the bathroom, we found the tub filled 3’ deep with used toilet paper. That meant there’d been no showers for the inhabitants in a very long while. That didn’t help with the odor either. On the second floor we found a kid’s single bed with a grayish bottom sheet, no top. It had concentric brown rings emanating from the center. These folks had a champion bedwetter and had decided to stop changing sheets and just let him rip. Needless to say, this was not a good buy at any price. But it got us looking up there instead of West Virginia.
New York had thousands of dairy farms. Heck, most of what was for sale were dairies. Naturally this made our thoughts turn in that direction and I started making plans on paper, which of course led to being bitten by the dairy bug. From my DHIA work, I knew more than a little about the business; I visited dairies every day. If we did dairy, the problem of a job was no longer an issue. We’d receive a check twice a month, which we’d need as we’d have a far larger mortgage with a dairy. Insecurity over our potential income had always been a big strike against West Virginia, one we never made go away. So, we decided that we’d rather work at something we liked for seven days a week than have a regular job and live for the weekend. That changed our options radically. To do the dairy project, we would need to get into debt in a very real way, but our cattle would provide us the means to get out from under it. The rest is history and at times it kept me busy twelve to fourteen hours a day, a story for another day.
Some are merely amusing. some can help you immensely. All are interesting.
After 40 years, I've learned a lot, & acquired unforgettable experiences. Follow these long enough and you'll eventually get the whole book. (Names probably changed, for obvious reasons.)