the story behind our land

Thursday, January 26, 2017

It began back in 2013, once we moved to California...

We were there for around 3 years total, and in that time, we were surrounded with an abundance of local, fresh produce, sparkling ocean views, and eternal sunshine. We were spoiled.

If you couple this with the fact that Marshall studied horticulture (a facet of agriculture which focuses upon the cultivation of plants) in college, it was quite an exciting experience. We lived smack dab in the middle of two quality farmer's markets, in Oceanside and Carlsbad. They were on different days of the week and generally Marshall was working on base, so I went many times... just to take it all in. It was a glimpse into our future..

Marshall knew he wanted to get land.. Somewhere in east Texas... And has been searching since the time we moved to the west coast. In actuality, it didn't take long to find what we wanted. We wanted to be close to a major city, but not too close. An hour commute is ideal. The county seat would be nice, too. Something just outside city limits, in case there would be any ordinances that would prevent anything we may want to do on the land. But something local, close to other businesses, small town feel...

Remember I mentioned we found the tiny house on Craigslist (of all places)? Marshall enjoys just searching the web for anything and everything, because we may in fact come upon an incredible deal for something we have been keeping an eye out for. Well, there's a website kind of like that.. Maybe a few, actually... for property. It may have been TexasLandAndFarm.com but beside the point, he was just keeping an eye out on that site to see if anything came up... And it did!

I don't even remember the listing, but it was exactly the property we were looking for. It was in the region of east Texas we really liked, really close to town but outside city limits, an hour from the big city, driving distance to many towns around it that have regular farmer's markets. And it was various, too - by this I mean wide open pasture, 3 ponds, a well, clusters of trees, sandy soil (ideal), beautiful property.. Right on a state highway.

That location - how ideal is that for a business?! This was it. 40 acres just outside of town... And the price? We wanted to snag it before anyone else realized the deal that it was. We were originally thinking we'd only be able to afford something with half of that acreage, but this came up as an estate, which means we got a deal, for sure.

It also means that it took 6 months to close on the property, because every individual in the owner's family had to sign off the property with a notary public. Looking through the paperwork, they lived all over the state, a few in other states, as well. Dozens and dozens! If even one of those people said no, we wouldn't have gotten the property. Isn't that alone just incredible!? No wonder it took so long to close! We put in an offer in the summer, and finally closed around November 2014.

So what did we do? We got on the next plane to Texas to see what we actually bought! Yep, that's right.. We never even saw the property ourselves before we closed on it. We knew enough - the price, acreage, location - and we had our parents go and check it out for us. We also had a survey- which is an absolute must for land. This was it! Finally, Marshall was able to secure leave, and we saw the land in February 2015. (Yes, that was the first time we saw it ourselves, in person!)



We loved it. We couldn't wait to move out. My mother in law draws house plans, so while we were still in California, she drew one up for us. I put it up on the wall in our office. We were so excited to move back to Texas and get going. We even considered starting to build the house before we moved... Because at that time, we had absolutely no idea when we would be moving back home... We just knew that we were going to eventually, and had the means to get the land, so since the perfect parcel came up, that was that.

Sometime around that, Marshall put in for the OVER (Officer Voluntary Early Release) program, in order to get out before his contract states. 8 years went down to 4 years, and with this, we left California behind after Marshall served in active duty 3.5 years, in July 2015. Can you believe we had the land in our possession for a year and a half before we moved back to Texas permanently?!

And even once we came back home... We didn't have a place to live. The third trimester just started with Taylor - he would be here in less than 3 months! We lived with Marshall's parents while house hunting. Because of the time constraint, lack of ready utilities there, and the time of year, we didn't want to build on our land yet. So we found a house 25 miles down the road from it, and bought that (the house we are trying to sell now). We moved in less than 2 weeks before Taylor was born. Can you imagine that?!



Once we were out here regularly, going to church and getting groceries in town, becoming a part of the community, we really just wanted & needed to get onto our land. And we saw what was around our land. We have 40 acres that have access to a state highway on one end. Behind that acreage, is another 6 acres, give or take, that have an old house on it, which gives access to the FM (farm to market) road. We've had our eye on that old place for a long, long, time. It finally came up for sale as a foreclosure, and we snagged it with cash, to ensure it was ours (there were multiple showings daily - - so we could not risk losing it). We closed on the old house and additional acreage in April 2016.

So when do we move out there?! We walked through the old house with an electrician and our parents.... And it didn't sound good. It needed at least 30k of electrical work alone done. All the appliances and wiring were stolen, and so were many fixtures. Not to mention the plumbing. And the plain condition of the drywall (or lack of), the carpet, the unusually low ceilings, the multiple rodents and bugs who have made homes there... There were too many things wrong with the house. But we didn't buy it for the house, remember? We needed access to our land on the other road, and how perfect is it to live behind our land and farm?! We also saw the value that this property had water (city water access AND wells!) and electrical on it at some point (the 40 acres didn't) so in that case it would be easier to get that extended out to our land when it comes time to farm. So yes, we see that house as.... essentially... trash. One day we are going to tear it down and build a new house in its place, and that will be a very happy day! It's just an ugly, sad place.

So we had the additional acreage.... We had to come up with a plan to move onto our land. But that is something we shelved for a while, because it just didn't feel like a good time. Yet with how much that happened to us in 2016, as I mentioned the other day, it was time to make a decision about what's next - and became now or never to move onto our land. This is where we got the tiny house on our property! (Also a Craigslist find! Can you believe the abundance that is the interwebs?!)

Fast forward quite a few months... And here we are. Living in our tiny house on our big chunk of land (46 acres in fact!) in east Texas. We are finally here! We started this process back in 2013.. bought the land in 2014... and finally moved out at the new year, 2017. Wow - look at how long it's taken to get where we wanted. FOUR WHOLE YEARS! Well... longer, if you consider the time leading up to it all since we met at A&M. But besides the point. We still have a few legal things to do with the land, get a new survey, and refinance, but we have it, and the time is nigh.



It's  here! This is where we will start Newsom Natural Farm... small beginnings, but big dreams, y'all. On this site I'll continue to share about the journey of farming + tiny living + small town life... And I may even visit some other local farms and farmers markets in east Texas and share about the experience...

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