Monday, October 11, 2010

True Wealth

I once heard Chris remark that the only true material wealth is land. Not your house, or business, or the buildings on it. But the soil, the earth; the land itself.

For currencies can fail; stocks become worthless; even all the jewels and gold in the world are only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for them. But with enough land to feed and house you, you and your descendants will never be poor.

This idea was a driving force for us when we purchase our home, and we were lucky enough to not only find a house that was everything we could need and more, but one that came with a property large enough for us to begin farming it and make the land work for us. Yet lately that has had an even greater meaning for me.

Unfortunately, the health (both mental and physical) of my grandmother is failing. It is hard enough to watch as she becomes like a little child again; confused and angry when her body and mind let her down, or to hear of the effect this is having on my grandfather; who used her as such a point of strength and support. But now I learn that "The Farm" she owned will be up for sale, and most likely sooner than later.

I use the word farm loosely; though in the days my great-grandfather owned it it was a working cattle farm, right now it is 49 acres of pristine meadows, forest, and lake.

I remember as a child, going up for days at a time and just running free. Playing in the grasses, walking through the woods, having refreshing snacks under the great maple trees that shaded the patio. We were super-heroes there; pioneers; even Sailor Moon! And to hear my mother talk, she has similar memories, of visiting her own grandparents and playing in the fields, being as carefree as a child can be in such nature.

And now, as I think about The Farm leaving the family, I am filled with such a sense of mourning. Not just that it has been with the family now for two generations, but the fact now that even if anyone wanted to, there is no way any of our family could ever afford to purchase that kind and amount of land ever again. It must be worth a fortune.

But I honestly don't care about that. I am saddened that such a gift will be leaving the family. To me, something like that is to be cherished, passed from one generation to the next. I do not care who in our family owns it, as long as someone does.

I do not blame my grandparents; they must do what they feel is right, and I suppose it really is none of my business. What angers me is that it seems like no one realizes what a loss this will be. Everyone is so focused on the here and now, that they give no mind to what my generation's children, or their children's children could be doing with such land. As one of my relatives mentioned, "we've all enjoyed the farm over the years, and it's fair to say that that era is coming to an end." It is spoken as if it was just a place to have fun (which it was), but it boggles my mind that no one realizes the value of The Farm, and not just the monetary value of it.

I just wish I could do more. I know emotionally I can be there for them, offer my support, and I will always be there, no matter what happens. But I just wish I could do more.

I wish I had the funds to buy The Farm outright. It would be in the family, they could spend as much time as they wanted there (or any family members for that matter), but not have to worry about it being a money pit, or about having to keep paying the taxes etc. on a place they just can't live at (the winters can be hard there, the driveway alone is a chore to navigate once the snow arrives).

I wish a bunch of us in the family could go in together and buy it. There is so much that could be done! The Farm could be rented to a family to actually farm it. We could turn it into a CSA; have it available to the Scouts to use as a camp ground (which they used to, I remember as a child walking through the forest and seeing the tree forts they had built); or use it as a venue for re-enactors. It could be lent to a university or school to experiment with various environmentally-responsible gardening techniques.

Now part of me did know this day would eventually come. But I still feel so helpless. I know it's not my place, but I just wish I could do something! Once The Farm is gone, not in any of our lifetimes would we be able to acquire such a thing again. It's sad.

A few months ago, before my grandmother began to get so ill the boys and I went to visit her, and took some great photos. I am afraid they will be all I'll have left to remember such a place, and only hope I can get back again to see it at least one more time. It really is amazing.


  1. The feeling of loss that you describe, in some respects feels like lossing a loved one. Though "the farm" had never truly been farmed, so to speak,it was of great importance that we kept it within the family. For shall there never be again, such beautiful untouched scenary and landscape in our reach. A shame indeed.

  2. Thank you, to whomever wrote that comment. It is comforting to know in some small way that I am not alone in feeling like this. Thank you, it meant a lot.


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