Our Land !

A.H. Trimble HomesteadThis is the second post in a series of articles about my wife and I searching for, buying, and developing a homestead (retirement home & bugout location & vacation home). If you didn’t read the first article you might want to do so now.

< Click here to read the first article >

So, we got back home settling back into our normal daily lives and about a week later our agent called and said the 40a property was in-fact going to be put on the market. I asked him if he made the offer and he replied, “No, because he wanted to talk to us first.” I was a little irritated and told him to make the offer, we would follow-up the verbal offer with a written offer if they were agreeable.

We also talked to him about owner financing and he told us that the owners were not interested in that option. We didn’t want a conventional mortgage but we might be looking at that if push came to shove. He talked to a couple of lenders for us and no one was in the lending business for “land only.” It was time for my wife and I to have a hard conversation. And remember, we had only seen a very small part of the land and that much only from the road. But, that small voice whispered again, “this is your property.”

Two days later he called back, the price was very acceptable to us and the offer was acceptable to them…the full-price offer was on! The offer was completed over the phone and an electronic signature. He said he would and call us back when he heard their formal answer.

Now dear wife and I had to finalize how we were going to pay for it. Making a long story short, the purchase price was going to come out of our IRA/401(k) accounts. Yup, we would take the money out of our savings and we were going to pay cash for it. Yes, we would have to pay taxes and yes, we would have pay the early withdrawal penalty for her IRA withdrawal. But, we did the math and we were OK with that decision. And, there was this incredible emotional and secure feeling about owning the property outright. Yes, no mortgage payments!

Then disaster struck…and it was pretty crushing.

The owners, a family trust, had put a very attractive price on the land. A price we were completely willing to pay. When our agent called us the next day he told us that they rejected our offer immediately and didn’t make a counter offer. The owners figured they had priced the land too cheaply based on us putting in an offer so quickly and for the full price. Our agent tried to explain to them that it was all about timing, and we were ready, willing, and able to buy it. The owners still rejected the offer, they wanted more people to see it and get multiple offers to maximize how much they could get.

Our agent tried to do his dead-level best to encourage us to be patient and that all was not lost. It didn’t make much of an impact on us, we were heart-broken. I mean we were really, really disappointed. I was beside myself, I thought this was really “our property.”

You see, we had nothing but the feeling, a prompting, that this was the right property for us…period. We had prayed about it and we were sure that this was the property that we were meant to have, meant to build on, and meant to retire on…and if needed, the property to face TEOTWAWKI there as well. But, they had turned us down. Not just turned down our full price offer…they didn’t even come back to us and tell us what they would sell it for. There was something wrong with this picture…it was their price we were willing to pay!

After about five days we had gotten over it, I told our agent to keep looking, and my wife and I were ready to return to looking once again. Back to the computer and online ads…but, I still had the deep-seated feeling that we had just missed out on “our property” and would not find anything else. Then the voice came back…”this is your property.” I tried to be positive and encouraged…but it was tough.

The day after our resignation to fate our agent calls…they now want to accept our offer. What???? There was no offer to accept, they had turned it down. But, they wanted to revive it, our agent had already told them “yes” because he knew we still wanted it and he knew in his heart that it was the place for us. We agreed, signed more papers electronically, and we were back in business. They wanted the original closing date, which was ten calendar days away. I figured no way that could possibly happen.

Yes, way! The title company was amazing…we had the closing papers in our hands in a matter of days, we had already sent in a decent deposit, plus the escrow funds. We had to review the well report, the title search results, and a ton of other papers as well.

The well report was encouraging, it was a good well, plenty deep, and 2” larger in diameter than the regular domestic well…a 6” well. That means that more water can be pulled from the well than just a normal domestic (or house) well. The reserved rights were normal for the area (i.e. fence-out grazing rights) and we were satisfied with it.

With the final amount due figure in hand we wired that money immediately. And then the waiting game started…again. See, the deal isn’t really done until the sellers have signed all of the closing documents. We were nervous that they might back out again. It was torturous…except for that voice again…”this is your property.”

Three days later we got word that the title company had just recorded the deed…the property was ours!

Less than two days later we were in my truck pulling our trailer loaded with the UTV and a bunch of tools, etc. The drive was amazing; we were like two kids on our second date.

When we got there it was really special to pull in through our gate, located in our fence, protecting our property. We found the right camping spot, got out and had a prayer to give thanks for the incredible blessing that had just been entrusted to us. We were home…our home…and it felt absolutely amazing. I still tear up thinking about that trip…I did so again as I edit this article…it means that much to us.

We immediately started to look around, exploring our nirvana. However, when you go camping what is the first thing you are supposed to do? If you said “set up your tent” you would be right…and we didn’t.

Since this was the 4th of July weekend it is technically in the first few days of the Arizona “monsoon season.” Now, don’t get too carried away…there is no “monsoon” in monsoon season in Arizona. For July and August maybe 2″ – 3” of rain will fall each month during normal times…meaning the monsoon season.

But, true to form here came the rain. We ended up putting up the tent in periodic waves of light rain. But we got it done just in time for the clouds and rain to disappear. We were off to do more exploring.

Dang! You know it honestly felt like Christmas morning already knowing you got really cools toys under the tree in those beautifully wrapped presents. We walked around and loved it. 43a is a fairly good sized piece of property when you are used to nothing more than a building lot in the city. We just enjoyed the walk. But, we also had another important task at hand…dinner! And not just any dinner…Grumpy Jakes BBQ!

We got back to the property just at dark and headed to our little campsite, I had the basics of a fire ready, lit it up, and we sat there for a long time talking about the future, retiring together, what the cabin would look like, and how lucky and blessed we were. Then the next blessing dawned on us as we sat there…we could see the lights of Taylor, AZ off in the distance. It was such a cool sight to see, but it got better.

We decided to turn in for the night, it had been a long day and we were physically tired as well as emotionally spent. The fire had died down, I banked it for the night, and we turned off the solar LED lights we had brought with us. The darkness settled in all around us. And here came another little piece of amazement…the stars. Rather, I should say the “universe” came out for us to see. I had forgotten what it is like to see trillions of stars in an ink-black sky. We just laid there in amazement and gratitude gazing at one of God’s true miracles.

The next morning I got up and fixed a cup of hot chocolate…and then it hit me. It was cool enough for “hot” chocolate! It was in the lower 60’s that morning and I was loving it!! An easy 15 degrees cooler than back home.

Since my wife is not a morning person I struck out on an early morning hike on my own. I was in heaven! I just walked around drinking my hot chocolate and enjoying the morning. Even though it was light outside I heard a bunch of coyotes off in the distance. No, not the dirt bag Mexican coyotes that traffic in humans, drugs, and cartel cash…I mean the four-legged versions. Hearing the coyotes reminded me that I would have to set-up the property to be a safe place for our dogs as well.

Finally I heard my wife calling to me in the distance…yes, “distance” and that has such a nice ring to it. No, not because I don’t want to hear my wife, I just like there being distance on our property. I headed back that way and we had a great breakfast of eggs and bacon omelet kind of thing, more hot chocolate, and then off for more exploring…this time in the UTV.

Here are some of things we found –

  • Most of the border fence was on the ground. It was obvious that some had been cut, some had just fallen, and most of the “T” posts were actually missing. Cattle were roaming around on the property. One of those “rights” I referred to when I was discussing title issues were grazing rights. The ranch that this 43a piece was cut out of reserved the right to graze cattle. If the property owner (us) didn’t want cattle to graze on the property we had to fence the property to keep the cattle out. We have some work to do.
  • There is a two-track cutting the property in half. It wasn’t well used, but it was, or had been used. We traveled it from one end to the other and knew we had to put the fence back up where the two-track had crossed over. Yes, the fence was laying on the ground and whoever had driven on the two-track had simply driven over the fence as it lay on the ground. Leaving the two-track open would eventually give an argument to have it open all of the time. We had to reestablish our property line, borders, and rights.
  • There is a seasonal creek that runs pretty much parallel to the two-track I mentioned above. It cuts the property in half. We love it! It adds so much character to the property it is amazing. There are some very square looking natural stone in the creek bed that we want to haul out and do something with around the cabin. And, for some of you…there is some black sand in the creek bed…you know what that means
  • Although there are no larger trees, there will be plenty of firewood for our wood burning stove…enough for our lifetime at least.
  • There is deer out there aplenty…and some elk as well.

Let me delve into the “cabin” for a minute. Remember I mentioned that it had a manufactured home on it? Well, more like a mobile home in reality…trailer if the truth be told. It was added onto and nicely skirted…at one point. The whole place now is nothing more than a rat trap, literally. It will have to be removed, destroyed, or something because it is completely unusable for anything. And on top of that, we don’t like the physical location of its placement. Way too close to the road, too visible.

After an amazing and wonderful day came another great night with a big campfire watching the stars come out. I can’t begin to tell you how marvelous a star-filled sky is when you are out away from a city, or even a town. It truly soothes the soul. Add in a campfire and you have a combination that can make a man know he is where he should be…home…on his own land.

We turned in when we decided we were tired, no need to worry about what time it was, time is not important out there. The next morning was already a loose schedule of events starting with church. We got up fairly early, enjoyed a Mountain House bacon and egg breakfast, cleaned up a little and headed into town for church. We were amazed…less than twenty minutes after leaving the property we were pulling into the church parking lot. Second surprise…the parking lot was almost full! As we were walking into the building people were smiling, greeting us, shaking our hands, and generally being small-town friendly. And most of the vehicles in the parking lot were trucks…and they had mud on them. Sweet…no city truck queens here!!

We spent the rest of the day just enjoying ourselves with the exception of moving a bunch of stuff into the storage building. We want to start moving our stuff that will eventually be permanently stored there. But, there is no secure storage on the property itself. Problem solved…rental storage building. We rented a 10’ x 15’ storage room at a storage business about 12 minutes away. We had brought stuff with us, it found its new home in the storage building with room to spare for a couple more trips. We will have to upgrade to a 10’ x 20’ pretty soon if we are to move all of our extra stuff here. We are on the waiting list.

We enjoyed the rest of our initial stay and hated to leave, but our daily working life was beckoning to us, it was time to go. We hated to leave!

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