Possession

We took possession of the land on June 20, 2014. A couple of weekends before I met with the sellers, Harald and Val, out at the land to go over a few things and also purchase some extras that we would need: a John Deere 48” riding mower, gas powered weed whacker, farm-grade Round-up (I feel slightly guilty about this), backpack sprayer for said Round-up, and a trailer to haul crap (although we did not yet have a truck – a story for another post).

Harald also went through setting up the irrigation pump for the trees and the pump/water heater for the shop bathroom as well as miscellaneous good-to-know information for the land.

I took 6-7 pages of notes. The irrigation pump setup is incredibly complex. There’d be no way we would have figured it out on our own. Fortunately he also gave us a handy photo of the pump set-up for us to cross-check. Funny thing is we actually tried to set-up the pump a couple weeks prior… we hauled the 100+lbs beast several hundred feet from the shop to the river’s edge, plus all of the hoses that we thought it needed. After two hours of trying to get it working, we settled on admitting our failure and pathetically we hauled it all back up the hill – sweating and cursing – and into the shop. After Harald told me how to set it up, I had to laugh – we weren’t even close.

-K

SOLD

sold

We sat down the next day with Ron Learned, the realtor selling the 13 acre lot. When we looked up the property on MLS, I recognized the name. I used to work at Ultimo Euromoda clothing store in University and would regularly sell clothes to Ron. He’s a great guy and I knew we could trust him.

When Ron came to the door of our house he looked around our house and said. “I’ve been in this house before. Did a Dutch guy sell it to you?”

Joel Van der Schaaf (as Dutch a name as there ever was) sold us the house. Joel and Nicolette had lived in the house for 3 years and renovated it extensively. The sale was private and we became good friends afterward. Joel and Nicolette, coincidentally had sold the house to purchase 160 acres of organic farmland that they hoped to build a net zero home… Which also happened to be riverfront.

“I sold Joel that land,” Ron said.

When we sat down to make the offer on the 13 acre lot Ron told us, “you know guys, I have another lot for sale nearby. My sign had blown off so you might not have seen it. It’s a bigger lot, more money, but boy if I could’ve bought it I would have. It’s a 25 acre lot with the gates at the front.”

“The one with the heron on the front?!?”

“Ya, it might be a heron.”

We looked it up on MLS with him. Sure enough, it was the lot that we had driven into and drooled over the location, the view, and the trees. No way. OMG.

“It’s been on the market for over a year. They just dropped the price about 30% too.”

Not only that but it had a 2400 sqft shop with a bathroom, two power boxes (one to the shop and the other to the building site), a well, septic tank, a road, a trees in building site with geotechnical survey done, and it was nearly twice the size as the other lot! And it had over 1/3 mile of river frontage!!

Darcie and I looked at each other.  We’ll take that one:)

We put in our offer and two days later the sellers accepted it without a counter.

The next 8 days was a whirlwind. We hadn’t been approved to purchase land so we had to get financing, land appraisals, and house appraisal on our own house done in warp speed. Incredibly it could not have gone any smoother. We removed conditions with two days to spare.

Sold.  We were land owners.

-K

(Originally posted July 10, 2014)

The Blue Heron

IMG_1962

We weren’t looking for land. In fact, we had agreed that we would try to be content with what we had. No more craving for something else. We had what we needed in our current house and were comfortable enough living where we were. We really didn’t need to make a change. However a couple years ago we agreed that if we happened to find the “right” place – something we just couldn’t pass up – then we would jump on it. It was a series of interconnected and fateful events that led us to this property.

My grandparents have owned an acreage just outside of the city since the 1960s. Less than 10 minutes from town it’s an amazing piece of land. Since they’ve been there the city has grown closer and closer to it. Estate acreages of 3-5 acres selling for $200,000+, their 80 acres seemed pretty spectacular.

My grandfather’s health had been failing and although my grandma was still very active, maintaining an acreage seemed neither safe nor wise.

“Well maybe we could buy it then?”

Could it be feasible? It seemed to be something that had strangely never crossed my mind until my mom proposed the possibility to Darcie and I.

Woah, this could happen. It was my grandparents land. Why wouldn’t they want their grandchildren to enjoy what they had had for 50 years?

Now our potential dream of a sustainable acreage could happen.

We knew though that given the cost of land in Corman Park (the rural municipality surrounding Saskatoon) we would only be able to afford 10-20 acres. So we would need to subdivide the land for us to purchase and then the remaining 60-70 acres could be sold off. I called the RM and found out that 10 acres was possible to subdivide. Amazing! We were pumped.

Ok but do we really, actually, really want this? Like for real?

We had to sit down and figure this out. We wrote a pros/cons list. Initially I thought our current living situation might be what we wanted… But it wasn’t even close. The pros of owning land massively outweighed the cons.

We were in.

Then things started to fall apart. Turned out the RM didn’t really tell us that you can only have 1 house per 80 acres. Meaning if you subdivided off 10 acres the other 70 would have to stay as bare land, making fit far less valuable to any purchaser other than a farmer. Also the waiting list for subdivisions with the RM was several years long. With the huge amount of rapid development of Corman Park they are in a state of transition and trying to control the development and work with the city on its expansion. So if we wanted this to happen in the next 5 years- maybe there was a chance. Unfortunately we didn’t have that time. My grandparents wanted to sell and we had to say that we couldn’t do it.

However now we had a predicament. We knew we wanted land. We had pictured that life and realized that that’s what we desired. Now to be content in our house and little piece of property seemed like a major task.

And so Darcie started to scour MLS again. It wasn’t more than three days later that there it was: 13 acres, riverfront, south of Saskatoon, undeveloped bare land.

The photos left a lot to be desired. It was one photo of a couple trees and water. But we drove out that very night to see it anyways, the price was right and land on the river just seemed too good not to check out.

Normally in Saskatchewan people don’t get too excited about the prairies. It’s like being on a boat in an ocean of wheat and canola and peas, but this particular drive has rolling hills, large expanses of trees, and a view of the flood plane. There are numerous landscaping gardens along Valley Road, the Berry Barn restaurant (for a tasty waffle), Strawberry Ranch, Solar Gardens (for succulents and also wood fired pizza), a golf course and even a corn maze!

When we finally arrived at the land we drove over a hill and there was the river. We saw the for sale sign and drove into the lot beside it (there was no road on the one for sale). We walked to the end of the lot and stared at the river. “Wow, could we do this?” I asked Darcie. “Could this be our life?”

“Yea we could do this.” She said.

And just like that we decided we would buy land.

There were a few other lots there but none with houses on them. There were 3 with large metal walled shops. We drove to the end of the grid road and onto the last lot. The one with gates and a Blue Heron marking the entrance. We drove in and got out of the car. “Wow whoever owns this has it made,” I said to Darcie. This lot was larger than the others and was pie shaped with the long side of the lot facing the river which curved around the property. There was a horse shoe shape of mature poplar and pine trees four rows deep surrounding a spectacular building site. The view was ridiculous. Over 180 degrees of river view.

Not wanting to linger too long on someone else’s property we left. Excited to call the realtor about the narrow undeveloped lot- dreaming about making it something like the one with the Blue Heron on the gates.

-K

(Originally posted July 1, 2014)

A New Adventure Begins

For years we have been looking for a piece of land, not sure if it was just a pipe dream or if it was something that we truly were searching for. Darcie, always the real estate junkie, had scoured MLS for the past 5 years, looking for various properties that we could use to create the life we had always wanted.

Although we have a beautiful old house in an exciting community and Neighbours that have become close friends… We’ve always come back to the desire to live more sustainably: To have space, land, a garden, animals, be close to water, and to have a sustainable house.

Living in the city, in a large 102-year old house, on a small urban lot – just wasn’t enough. Certainly we could live here comfortably, but unfortunately… or fortunately for us, neither Darcie or I usually take the easy road.

And so our adventure begins.

-K

(Originally posted June 30, 2014)

Consciousness

theland

“There is no way that we who have been caught in the meshes of the global economic web can go back to the ‘primitive’ ways. We no longer have the possibility of developing unconscious behavior patterns that will lead to a restored and sustainable relationship with nature… From here on we are doomed to consciousness. We must know, understand, be aware of, comprehend our relationships with the total biosphere on which our future depends.”

– Raymond F. Dasmann

Quoted from “the Greenest Home” via “Toward a Biosphere Consciousness”

(Originally posted June 30, 2014)