Click here to read the short version (note that we were still calling the farm "Green Acres"). Or, read on...
Green Legacy Farm wasn't always called Green Legacy Farm...it's a name we've affectionately given our homestead in honor of the family who cared for it for many decades of the 20th century. The people who built and owned our home, the 5 1/2 acres still attached to it, and the surrounding acreage were Charles and Blanche Green, my husband Byron's great-grandparents on his father's side. In 1911, Charles Green's parents bought 51 acres and sold it to him in 1913...shortly before he married Blanche. Though we don't know if they lived on this land early in their marriage, we do know that he cleared much of the land by hand and used it as a dairy farm for most of his life. The house we now live in was built in 1928 in the typical farmhouse style: two rooms below, two rooms above (though there was a small third bedroom made for a boy they later adopted). Here they cooked, farmed, raised two daughters (Annie Mae and Ivye...Annie Mae being my husband's grandmother) and an adopted son, and lived out their lives. Though I have many wonderful memories of my own grandparents on my side of the family, from the stories I've heard, I wish I could have known the Greens, too. I wish I'd had the chance to sit on the back porch listening to the lids of Grandma Green's freshly canned preserves popping as they sealed. Or eaten green apples fresh off a tree long gone...or watched as Granddaddy Green loaded jugs filled with fresh milk to be taken downtown and processed. Theirs was a different life and they lived in a much different world than we live in today.
After Charles and Blanche Green passed away, the land and house eventually passed on to Byron's dad and his dad's two sisters. In the 1980s, the home was lovingly restored and added onto by one of Byron's aunts, but has been out of the family since the early 1990s. Since Byron would hunt on the land and occasionally bring the guys out for a bonfire (he was actually reminiscing recently about the "bachelor party" bonfire he had there), he maintained a relationship with the family who owned the house for almost two decades. In the spring of 2009, he ran into the owner, who told Byron he was thinking about selling the place. Byron and I had moved a couple hours away from the area two years previously and had considered looking at land, but after that conversation, we began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, we'd have the privilege of buying the farmhouse and 5 1/2 acres of the original farm back into the family. Months passed, and it became a bit of a pipe dream. We worked on several projects at our home two hours away, planning to stay there and turn our minuscule downtown lot into an urban garden with a movable chicken coop we'd rotate around the yard. We figured we'd bless complaining neighbors with free eggs.
In January 2010, the phone rang.
The man who owned the farmhouse was ready to sell. We couldn't believe it...really, couldn't believe it. We'd invested in our home, and were slowly trying to make a life in an area that remained somewhat foreign to us despite its abundant natural beauty. Buying land close to our current home - or even back closer to the farmhouse - wasn't an option on a teacher's salary. We weren't even sure we'd be able to afford the farmhouse before we met with the owner and agreed on a reasonable price based on the repairs we knew had to be made. We were working on being content with what the Lord had provided for us before this door swung open.
It swung open, but was difficult to walk through because of months of negotiations among three lawyers. At times, we began to plan more projects for our home because we assumed the entire deal would fall through. There were many people who didn't even know what was going on because, well, neither did we. The whole idea of owning the farmhouse where Byron and his family had spent hours and hours visiting and creating memories was at times tangible and at times impossible. But we knew it was the only way we would be able to own land - and what land! Five and a half acres of family history, and a chance to live more sustainably and take care of ourselves. Living that two hours away for three years had taught us much about the importance of knowing where your food comes from and the beauty of local harvests. And to a family on a budget, greatly reducing huge monthly grocery expenses had its appeal, too.
I can honestly say that on the way to the lawyer's office to close on the farmhouse, I had my doubts that it would all work out. But as of the end of April 2010, we were the owners of the home built by Charles and Blanche Green. Then in May, Byron got a job up here. The last piece of the puzzle that needed to fall into place was selling our other house. But if you've read any of this blog, you'll know that our attempts to live sustainably have been waylaid by structural and cosmetic problems with the farmhouse and owning that second home that took a year (shy about six days) to sell. But somehow, God provided for our needs during that time. We've had help from family, yes. And friends - from a gift rain barrel to homeschool materials to an electrician offering to help us with our bathroom renovation project. It's been humbling, but the grace shown to us by others has been a constant, constant reminder of the grace of salvation and the unconditional love of Christ. And that trial revealed many of our shortcomings and showed us how much more we need Him. But we're happy here, and we know this is where we're meant to be. It's our hope that this house and land stay in our family for generations, and that we can learn - and maybe teach - something about being good stewards of what the Lord has blessed us with.
I have a feeling that would make Charles and Blanche Green quite happy.