• Christy Murdock

My Latest Hare-Brained Scheme



Everyone who knows me knows that I love a plan. I can handle virtually anything if I know that there is a systematic process -- whether developed by me or someone else -- to address the next step and the one after that and the one after -- well, you get the picture.


That's why I find myself at an interesting moment in my life, one that I never really expected. I don't have much of a plan. Like so many of you, COVID has pretty much upended my life in ways both good and bad, and I find myself with very little sense of what to do next.


I don't know if you have ever been in a position like that, where the best-laid plans that you've put together seem determined to come undone. On the bad side, for planners like me, it can feel very upsetting and even dangerous to move into the future with no plan of action. On the upside, well, it means that anything -- no, really, ANYTHING -- is possible.


I know that everyone who writes a blog is supposed to be endlessly oversharing and soul-baring. I am old enough and Southern enough to find that kind of transparency vulgar and in poor taste. Yet here I am, sharing with you, Dear Reader, the things that have changed for me since last year. I don't do it out of grief or anger or any kind of emotion -- I've pretty much worked through all of that. I just do it to provide a context for the rather odd, hare-brained idea I've come up with.


Here, then, is a recitation:

  • Last summer my husband and I decided to separate after 22 years of marriage. The catalyst was, of all things, a jar of olives. He had VERY definite ideas about how groceries coming into the house had to be processed before consumption in order to avoid Germs. I had a new bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin and a very bad day to deal with, so when I opened a newly purchased jar of olives without the required Silkwood-scrubdown, it led to a Very Serious Conversation in which we agreed to stop being married. (Don't worry, it's all very amicable and civilized. Really.)

  • My older daughter was accepted into a university many hours away from home and will start school there in the Fall. I could not be more excited for her. Also, when I think of her leaving it feels like I can't breathe. I will miss her more than I can possibly express.

  • My younger daughter is driving and growing up and looking for her first job and thinking about her future and not really needing me very much anymore. Like her sister, she is anxious to get started on her own journey -- one that will, no doubt, take her far away from me as well. I am crying as I write this, even though it will be Awesome because she, like her sister, is Awesome.

Okay, now that you're all caught up, the past months have left me rudderless and completely without a navigational thingamabob. (I don't know. I didn't go to boat school.) This has, of course, been exacerbated by the craziness of quarantine and all of the ways in which the past very long, very strange year has changed everything.


I have run through a lot of "plans" by which I mean that every day or two I think of something that would be neat to do and I read some articles online and I watch some YouTube videos and they all seem kind of fun and interesting, maybe, perhaps even plausible and whatnot.


Thus, over the past few months I have planned to do each of the following:

  • Become a witch.

  • Move to Panama.

  • Move to Canada.

  • Move every two years to a different city that I have visited and mildly enjoyed (and a couple I have never even visited), including New York City, Portland (seems weird), Los Angeles, Austin (seems fun?), Miami, and maybe one more, I can't really remember.

  • Move to one of those Cheap Property EU places in Greece or Italy or France and sit there like Michael Corleone in the third Godfather movie (the one I normally don't acknowledge). If you haven't seen it, he looks like this picture on the left (Spoiler Alert).

So as you can tell, I've been doing great.


So what's the plan already?


Okay, now you're all caught up. So here's the "plan" I have in mind, the weirdest hare-brained scheme yet. But this one feels different, like it might just stick.


Okay.


I want to buy a farm. And I want to do it for free, or nearly free.


Now, hear me out.


I love those documentaries about farms that are like mini-ecosystems, where everything works together in perfect harmony. Have you seen them? Someone takes a barren, played out piece of farmland, replaces the monoculture with native grasses, shrubs, and trees, and turns it into a burgeoning, fertile, productive mini-paradise.


In other words, I want to take what was lost and fallow and bring back life and meaning and purpose. I want to take a piece of land that doesn't seem good for much and turn it into a little piece of heaven.


What can I say? I'm a writer. Ya girl loves a metaphor.


Afterwards, I want to find a way to create some type of preserve or conservation area so that my regenerated, renewed piece of earth lives on after I'm gone. That appeals to my desire for a legacy and to my desire to do something good for the environment. It seems fitting to me, in a way. I've made a living from real estate. Let my legacy be giving something back to the land itself.


So the catch is that I have a lot of bills to pay and two kids to see through college. I'm not really swimming in disposable income for investing in my Old-Age Hobby Farm®.


But as I understand it, there are programs out there to help people finance farmland, especially if they are willing to do something to bring it back to life. There are places that are looking for people to settle in for little or no cost. To quote my mother, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and I want to figure out a way to move forward, a little at a time, toward this rather odd goal.


In the meantime, I'm doing what I do best -- researching. I'll be looking for cheap land, saving up money, researching grants and programs, reading books, consulting experts and creating -- Oh, Joy! -- a Capital-P Plan.


Hare-brained? Maybe. Who knows where it will lead? Not me! And maybe that's part of the appeal. For a planner, this is the ultimate challenge. At best, it will be everything I'm dreaming of. At worst, I'll learn a whole lot in the years ahead.


Listen, I get it if this is not the property description-related content you come here for. I promise I'm not going to make every blog post about this. But I hope you won't mind if I check in from time to time and let you know what's going on.


And you -- let me know what you think and what you know. Are you a land expert? Do you know someone who's a consultant who knows a lot about this stuff? Do you have secret dreams of retiring and piddling around on a big piece of land for the rest of your days? Do you have some other decidedly odd goal in mind? Do you have a great book or documentary I need to check out? I'd love to hear from you.


When it's all over and I have a little tiny house on a big piece of land with some pretty trees and meadows and birds and ponds, you can stop in and see me. We'll have a picnic and I'll take you out to the back 40 and, if you like, I'll even make you a Bombay Sapphire martini. Extra olives.

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