Last week there was a new listing at Realtor.com that immediately sparked my interest. We’d already seen the farmhouse during one of our drive-bys to see in person other properties on this same road in New Portland. It seems, in my area, and with my commitment to stay within my kid’s school district, the only community giving up farmland right now is New Portland.
When we saw the place earlier this year it appeared to be vacant, but the old farmhouse with the wooden sign above the door reading “Swinging Bridge Farm” peaked our curiosity, and we recognized it immediately when the property popped up on our daily inspection of current real estate listings.
Named for the wire bridge that was built in 1840 to cross the Carrabassett River just north of New Portland, the classic cape-style farmhouse was built in 1880, and has not been remodeled or updated yet. This might be a deterrent to most, but it is exactly what I have been looking for. I want something with history and character, and I can’t afford the beautified old farmhouses that have been renovated with modern conveniences. Besides, a farmhouse still in need of updating allows me to do the remodeling to suit my own particular taste. I can do it my way.
I was dismayed though to see the house was only listed with 4 acres─a dealbreaker for me as a farmer with lofty aspirations for a conservation farm.
But Paul is very good at sleuthing out information online and he found in the New Portland tax registry that the house is attached to a much larger chunk of acreage, and that it’s currently managed by a Land Trust. I asked Leah to contact the seller’s agent to ask whether they might consider selling the old house with the larger chunk of land that it sits on, and if they would be able to work with the long drawn-out process that is FSA financing.
That was on Friday.
It was a long suspenseful weekend lol, but yesterday Leah forwarded me the selling agent’s response: “They are willing to sell the entire parcel and understand the time issues.”
This is huge. I mean: HUGE.
Right out the gate with this property I’ve overcome 2 big obstacles: the time-line issue (for which I thought I would have to write a love letter and sell my soul to convince someone to wait 5-6 months for a sale) and the housing/acreage situation.
I was at Johnny’s when I got the message and it was all I could do to get through the call I was on before I ran through the building with my megaphone leaping joyfully and shouting the news for all to hear.
…..okay, so I didn’t have a megaphone, and it wouldn’t have been appreciated had I gone through the entire office building shouting─but I did share (rather exuberantly) the news with a number of coworkers lol.
The sellers admitted that the house isn’t perfect and that it’s going to need some work, but I had fully expected that─and welcome it. The property has not been farmed in a long, long time, and whatever fields there once were have grown up into forest. At this point there’s only a few acres open to begin cultivating on, but that’s enough to get started and Paul has intentions of utilizing silvopasture methods to open up the land.
We’re going to see it Friday. Which, coincidentally, is the same day Runamuk’s FarmRaiser campaign is scheduled to launch.
Could it be? Are the stars finally aligning for me and for Runamuk?
With the agreement from the seller for the entire parcel and their willingness to work with me on the timeline, I feel as though the first big hurdle is already overcome. Yet there is a level of suspense and anticipation that is palpable, I won’t breathe easy until the online listing says “Pending”. And then there will be other hurdles following in succession to overcome in acquiring the financing. This is the beginning of a long road to farm-ownership, I know, but it’s the first step, and a momentous one.
Be sure to share with friends to spread the word about our upcoming campaign! And local readers should mark their calendars for the big Runamuk FarmRaiser Party on October 1st! Stay tuned for more updates coming soon! new list