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.