Friday, December 16, 2005

North to Wisconsin
...continued from Our Journey
We started taking day trips into Wisconsin looking mostly around the outskirts of small towns in the southern region. If anything in the real-estate papers looked interesting we'd drive out and take a look scouting and exploring the area's. We did this for quite awhile and soon decided to start traveling further. We decided that perhaps we would look way up in the north western part of the State , where Kelli's family was originally from. We just new that if it was meant to be then we'd know the place when we saw it.

Eventually we saw an add in the area newspaper that described a 90 acre piece of property. It sounded really nice and for a pretty reasonable price. We didn't have much money so looking at properties in more remote area's was seeming a more likely option in order to be able to afford what we wanted. Anyway this 90 acre parcel sounded good and we were excited to run up and check it out. We had a really good feeling about it.

We set out on a Friday afternoon when I got home from work, drove most of the way up in our 1984 Ford Van then got a motel. We would head out early in the morning to locate the land. During the night it snowed. It was right in the middle of hunting season so the owner of the property told us to be sure and bring some fluorescent orange clothing. Before then we never owned anything like that, with us being city kids, we never really had the opportunity to go hunting. Not that city folks don't go hunting but, in our families nobody did. So off we went at the break of dawn to find our land. We had detailed directions of how to get there. We drove and drove for what seemed like forever. Everything was white and the road was a little bit snow packed. The further we went the colder it seemed to get. Pretty soon the area we were heading to seemed to be getting more and more remote. The tree's started getting denser and closing in around us. Finally after what seemed like an eternity we came to the road where we were supposed to turn right and the land would be just 3, 1/2 miles in. We turned and went about half way and Kelli and I just looked at each other both thinking the same thing. It sure seemed to be out in the boonies. Too far out! This sinking feeling settled into me and I wondered what in the world would I do to support my wife and two very young children. We unanimously decided to turn around and go back home.

We were a little discouraged but, on the way home Kelli told me about when she was a kid her family used to vacation over by Eagle River. It had been a long time but, she was pretty sure the area was a little closer to civilization being more of a vacation type area. So we decided that the next year we would plan a vacation and visit that part of the State. In the mean time we didn't stop our dreaming and looking over real-estate guides still keeping our options open if the right place did happen to show up.

Finally we made our vacation to Eagle River in the Fall of 1989. We rented a cottage at local camp ground. We would be staying for more than a week with the camp ground being our base from which to launch our daily searches. We poured over the papers and real-estate guides and selected some likely prospects. Land was still pretty reasonable even though it was fairly close to populated area's. We drove hundreds of miles that week and still hadn't found that place that would jump out at us liked we had imagined. Our time in Eagle River was drawing to a close and so far turned up not a single lead. Once again we were disappointed but by now we were getting kind of used to that feeling. Anyway we did have a very nice vacation. It was a great family time. So the last day rolled around it was time to pack it up and go home. At least we got a real good idea of what the area and the lay of the land was like. We liked it. Lots of woods and lakes mixed with some open area's. The open area's were usually pastures or potato fields. The area is home to a number of potato farmers.

So back home we started. We decided to travel down a road we hadn't yet been on during the week so that we could keep our eyes pealed on the way out of the region. Then not ten minutes into it we see this old dilapidated homestead with a
Century 21 sign out front. We quickly wheeled around to take a better look. There was a tiny little house and a couple of small old barns and an old ancient looking structure with the roof falling in. An eyesore to some but a thing of beauty to us. The little house was quite ugly even for our standards with it being completely sided in what appeared to be roof shingling. But here it was a beautiful little homestead that was surrounded by an aging barbed wire fence. The area inside the fence looked to be perhaps an acre or two. We looked beyond the fenced in area to an open field which was what we figured to be about 40 acre's. We wondered if the property for sale included the field which went back to a vast tree line. We were too excited. For the first time in all the years of searching this finally had the looks of being the "place". That "know it when we saw it" place.

We quickly jotted down the phone number on the real-estate sign and raced to the nearest gas station to give them a call. We were blown away by what we heard. Not only did the land for sale include the little homestead area, it indeed did go back to the tree's. It went back to the tree's and beyond. All together there was 120 acres for sale and at an incredibley low price. One that even we could afford. The real-estate agent had the key to the gate so we would have to drive to her office to get it.

We finally made it back to the place armed with both the key and some papers which listed the details. We pulled up, opened the gate and in we went. We walked all around the homestead and could just imagine all the things we could do with the place. We drove around behind the buildings to get a better look of the field and woods. There was 80 acres of woods. Kelli and the kids stayed in the van and I hiked out to take a look. It was like a country wonderland, everything I could have ever dreamed of. Kelli said she became a little afraid as I ventured further and further across the field as it was full of little rolling hills and I would completely disappear from view. Eventually once I made the tree line I did disappear completely from her sight and she said that she felt very alone sitting there with just her and the little ones in such an unfamiliar place.

I could have stayed out there all day but, I had to get back to Kelli to tell her all that I saw. To her relief I arrived back at the van and we took the key back to Century 21. We told the agent that we were definitely interested and would go back to Illinois to make arrangements. When we got back to town we told my parents the exciting news and much to our surprise they offered to help us out by going in on it with us.

The rest is history we bought the farm, em well, we purchased it, by January of 1990. But it would take an additional 8 years before we actually made the move. In the mean time we paid the property off and spent countless weekends camping on and exploring the land. It was always "next spring, we are moving up", but I suppose God still had some things to work out in us before we could up root ourselves and transplant to our beautiful northern homestead. During those years of waiting we learned all we could about living off the land and contemplated all kinds of endeavors with which to make a living off the farm. Until Next Time


Blogger Herrick Kimball said...

I'm enjoying your story, Russ.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Northern Farmer said...

I'll second that!


8:07 PM  
Blogger JM said...


More, more, more!!

I love it.


10:35 PM  
Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

All I can say is then when I was reading this my "heart began to race", which I attribute to that "hope" we hold to one day have a stretch of land such as the one you describe.

Not that we need that much,
but the “knowing” I think many hold in their heart of hopes for what their minds eye has imagined and seen long before it in time becomes evident. Well written, say on dear fellow………..

11:21 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Thanks Folks,

I appreciate the kind comments. Very encouraging.


6:32 PM  

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