Friday, August 14, 2009

Farm For Sale

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," ancestrally rooted in the fabulous Appalachian mountains! Go ahead. Take that vacation to Paris. As for me and my house, we will go to the holy hills.

This is the final remaining view from my family farm in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. At one time there were other vistas -- one even more beautiful than this -- but the viewing points have grown up in pine forest. In my lifetime.

I own one-sixth of this farm through a complicated strategy for dispersal that my grandfather thought was fair. Granddad had three sons. Rather than split the land three ways, he left the entire property to all three jointly. My dad had two children. My dad's younger brother had three. Uncle, the only one still living, has three living children. See? It's complicated.

My share of the property taxes on this 75 acres and its minimalist house has never been a burden. Seventy bucks here and there, twice a year. Seemed fair enough.

Then Bedford County decided to do an appraisal and dump a 2010 fair market value on the land.

They say the property is worth $133,500.

My brother-in-law crunched the numbers. If the property is used solely as a vacation place (probably its only feasible use), the yearly taxes will be $11,000 -- of which one-sixth will be my responsibility.

Doesn't sound like a lot, especially in two yearly payments. But I've got one daughter already in college, and another on the way. And some of my cousins are worse off than me.

So this farm will go up for sale, probably within a year or two.

I would be all in favor of trying to find a tenant. There are quite a few Old Order Mennonites up there in the Polish Mountain area right now, and some of them work in the furniture-making business. But the house is hardly habitable in the winter, and the basic carpeting and kitchen tile would seem worldly to Mennonites. And before we could rent, nine cousins would have to agree on renting, and someone would have to serve as landlord.

Sis and her husband want to sell. Cousin who lives nearest to the land wants to sell. Cousin who is current custodian of the land wants to move out west.

Anne sits in New Jersey with the blues. And also the reds, because how Bedford County came up with that selling price for land that can't be either farmed or timbered is way beyond me.

Do you need a quiet place -- and I mean QUIET -- with no white light to block the stars, no neighbors to stare as you perform Ritual skyclad, no one shooting at the deer in the meadow? Let's talk.

As an added bonus, Four Quarters Farm Interfaith Community is in the same Zip code. You could attend Drum and Splash or Burning Man and be home by bedtime!

Farm for sale. Sad. So sad.


THE Michael said...

I REALLY wish I had that kind of money. 75 acres of peace and quiet and blessed night skies without light pollution would certainly be worth it.


ronan said...

Anne, if this land were to become a Pagan monastery dedicated to the worship of sacred Thunderbirds, it would be tax free. I'm just saying...

Lavanah said...

Oh Anne, I really wish I could ride to the rescue. For you, and also for S.L. He, too, comes from rural farming stock, but the farm is long gone. We went to look at it once, the road still has the family name, but the family is gone. My family is essentially rootless, so I can only witness your pain. (is it even possible that you could get all 9 cousins to agree to sell? or do you need to just buy out select family members?)


oh sad for you...but im with ronan...not a bad idea..ha

Sarita said...

If I had the money and wanted to move out there, I'd think about buying it and letting you visit. As it is, I'm a poor college kid whose roots are as firmly set in Oregon as yours are out there.

I personally like Ronan's idea. Any chance you could convince your cousins to go along with it?

Mama Kelly of 2 Witches Blog said...

If only my economic standing was better hubby and I would be more than happy to be custodians of the land for you

Goat Yoda said...

Three words- Irrevocable Land Trust.

The land becomes a tax free entity of its' own and cannot be sold, the buildings on it are owned privately by the family.

This is what has done with their property here, besides being a legal 501(C)3 church. We are also considering it. right now, we are a sub-chapter 'S' corp- Glastonbury Farm Inc.

Your attorney or CPA can set it up for you.

Anne Johnson said...

Yoda, et. al., I love all these ideas, and if the place was mine free and clear, it would most certainly become a vulture sanctuary. But I have a sister and 6 cousins who need some jingle in their kicks. If only I could buy them out, I would most certainly set up a 501(C)3 of some sort.

liminal-spaces said...

Anne, you might see if there's a local conservancy who might want to buy it, something like the League for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (I live in NH, and I have no idea what groups might be doing the same thing in Pennsylvania...but I'm sure there are some). You might not get the full appraised value, but it sounds like you're unlikely to get that amount anyway.

word verification: cherbola: (n) a virus that creates a desire for tattoos, skimpy costumes, and '70's pop music. Highly infectious.

Anne Johnson said...

Liminal, that's an excellent plan! The farm actually is bordered by state forest land.