You know how your memory can be jogged into thinking of something you haven't thought about in a long time? That happened to me today and I started reminiscing about when we first bought this piece of property eighteen years ago.
We have eleven acres, mostly wooded, with each of the properties on either side of us consisting of bigger pieces of land. Both families on these properties had lived on their acreage for several years before we purchased our land in between them.
To the west, a heavily wooded area divides us from those neighbors and we rarely hear a sound from that direction. Once in a while when the wind is blowing from just the right direction, but not often. They couldn't be nicer folks.
On the east side, a smaller patch of woods separates the two properties, but we can't see the house. These neighbors have become good friends and are simply wonderful. They do so much for us that we have a hard time keeping even.
When we bought this land, it was owned by a gal who had moved to Florida years before and the property had been rented out to various different people for several years. It was an undesirable case of an absentee landlord. Our daughter had graduated from college and was living away when we purchased the property and when she learned exactly which piece of land it was, she commented, "Um, you do know that was a big drug house when I was in high school, don't you?" Ooops. No, we didn't know. Nor did the real estate agent think to mention it. (Ahem.)
We did know we got a good price on this particular piece of real estate because the "house" on it was a crude 16' x 40' building that was at one time a bunk house at a resort on a lake about 30 miles from here. And we did know the property was a terrible mess. Lots of junk lying everywhere, piles of garbage scattered in the woods along with old appliances, a shower stall, various outdoor grills (most of them smashed), broken windows, hundreds of beer cans and liquor bottles, disposable diapers (used, of course) by the dozens, and an old boat and trailer parked near the driveway. The "yard" out the front door was littered with dog poop so thick I had to rake it up rather than using a shovel.
Yup, it was a dream piece of property, that was for sure.
The building was so bad we took it down to the studs (ask me how I tore my rotator cuff) and started over.
In the clean-up operation we found discarded syringes and other things about which I won't go into details. We even found a grave-like mound of rocks in the woods with a huge, crude wooden cross at the head of it. Let me tell you, that gave us pause. I was all for calling the authorities until Papa Pea convinced me the ground was so rocky and full of tree roots that it would have been impossible to actually bury a body there unless one used a back hoe. We did finally get big and brave enough to dismantle the "grave" and found nothing underneath the mound but more rocks and tree roots. No bones, no nuthin'. (Whew.)
The whole area to the south of the existing building had been heavily covered with gravel as someone, at one time, had visions of starting a trucking business. This was the only logical area for us to put our gardens so we removed all the gravel.
One day while I was raking up debris behind the house, I saw what looked like a leather strap sticking up out of the soil. I unearthed it and saw it was a dog collar with tags attached. The phone number on one of the tags was our neighbor's to the east. When we showed the collar to them, they said at least they finally knew what had happened to their dog who had gone missing a few years previously. Not a happy situation for any of us to contemplate.
These good neighbors have told us stories of wild parties that had gone on making the neighborhood less than desirable. They continue to say over and over how very happy they are that we moved onto the property and changed it so drastically from what it had been.
The bottom line to this little trip down memory lane is that despite what we went through to turn this into our happy little homestead, it was all worth it. And we were so very fortunate to get fantastic neighbors in the bargain. Which we all know counts for a whole big lot these days. Maybe we weren't so crazy after all.
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