Farm Land For Sale... Sort of
Well, we're coming to the end of settling my mom's estate. Almost all of the assets have been distributed. My sister is buying my childhood home (a fact which thrills me greatly, as I can't imagine a stranger living in that house).
One of the last things to address is the sale of some farmland my mom owned a couple of counties away. It goes up for auction on Thursday. It may not seem like much, but I guess this sale has been bothering me more than anything. I've never really wanted to sell the land, but all my reasons for hanging onto it are completely emotional and none are very rational.
The reasons to sell the land are pretty sound. I don't have time to be a land owner. It's an hour away and who has time to travel there periodically? There's that constantly nagging voice reminding me I have two kids to put through college some day. My funds are better used on more practical things than buying out my siblings' shares. The list goes on. And on. And on.
But then there's the romantic, adventurous, sentimental side of me. This land was tenant farmed by my grandfather before he purchased it. My mother inherited it from her parents when they passed. We hung out there quite a bit as children. I walked quite a few of those 80 acres, across fields and through timber. I seem to recall a failed overnight camping excursion when I was about 10 or 11.
Added to my angst is my creative side. A lot of people who will show up for the auction on Thursday are farmers who will use this as farmland or grazing land. They will look at its CSR measurements and decide what it's worth. What nobody at the auction will think about are the gently rolling hills that still make me pause and admire how the beauty of the countryside. The bidders probably won't see how cool it would be to build a log cabin on top of the hill overlooking the lake at Mormon Trail State Park directly to the south. (Oh, did I forget to mention the historic significance of this area when the Mormons trekked from Illinois to Utah?) The auction attendees have no concept of planting anything other than corn or beans - say, a vineyard perhaps? - in this agricultural mecca.
It's probably that last paragraph which has caused my mopey-ness of late. The people buying this land - MY heritage - are only looking at what it IS, no what it COULD BE. I guess my dreams and fantasies and ambitions are just that: mine. Given land prices these days, I'm confident we'll fetch a good price for it, and soon my obligations as executor of my parents' estate will be complete. My kids will have a decent college fund. I'll have a little more for retirement and perhaps a home improvement project or two more. And rationality will win out over romance.
But as one who spends semester after semester teaching my students to following their dreams, to create new realities, and to imagine what could be, I'll admit to feeling like this auction is a bit of a cop-out... like I'm selling out to the "safe and rational" voices in our collective heads, the ones I challenge regularly, the ones I tell my students to challenge, the ones I tell my clients to challenge. I'm probably being too hard on myself. Someone will buy the land. They'll till it. They'll graze cattle on it. And it will stay farmland, which is probably what needs to happen. (But a part of me wishes somebody buys the land who has a true vision of what it could be... wouldn't that be cool?)
If you're that one true visionary, here is the link to the auction next Thursday. I hope you're the high bidder.